NJ Possession With Intent to Distribute Lawyers
What Does It Mean to Possess a Controlled Substance?
Under New Jersey law, a person is in possession of a controlled substance whether it is actually or constructively possessed. Constructive possession of an object means that it is found in a car, home or other property that belongs to you. In some cases, you could be charged and convicted of this crime even if you didn’t know that it was there.
For instance, an officer could still take you into custody even if the marijuana in the center console was put there by a friend who borrowed your car several days ago. However, it may be lawful to be in possession of a controlled substance if it was legally prescribed to you by someone who has the authority to do so.
How Does a Prosecutor Prove That There Was Intent to Distribute?
There is no purely objective way for a prosecutor to prove that you intended to sell or distribute a controlled substance. However, the state may use evidence such the quality and quantity of the marijuana, heroin or other substances that were found in your possession to infer your intent. Furthermore, the prosecutor may infer your intent to sell or distribute a drug based on how it was packaged or how much it is worth on the street.
The Possible Defenses to This Charge
It may be possible to assert that you didn’t know that you were in possession of a controlled substance prior to being taken into custody. If this claim is successful, you cannot be convicted of either the possession or intent to distribute an illicit substance.
It may also be possible to contend that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated when the drugs were found in your possession. Generally speaking, police officers cannot search a person or a person’s property without probable cause or a warrant signed by a judge. Assuming that there was no warrant or probable cause to look through your pockets, car or backpack, any evidence obtained while doing so will likely be deemed inadmissible in court.
Finally, it may be possible to claim that the drugs were planted on you either by a police officer or another individual. Alternatively, if another person claims ownership of the substances that are found with, that individual might be charged instead of you.
The Penalties You Might Face If Convicted
There is a chance that you will spend several years or decades in prison if you are convicted of a drug crime. The severity of your sentence will depend on the type of substance that was in your possession, where it was found and your prior criminal record.
If you’re charged with a federal drug possession charge, you will likely be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. In addition, the judge in your case may impose a fine, several hours of community service and probation on top of a jail or prison sentence.
It is critical to call an attorney as soon as possible after being charged with possession of controlled substance or any other drug crime. Legal counsel may be able to have evidence suppressed or take other steps to maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your criminal case.