Possession of drug paraphernalia and being under the influence of a CDS (controlled dangerous substance) are two criminal charges in the state of New Jersey. Each charge has its own set of penalties and consequences associated with them. The best route of action to take if you or a loved one have been charged with being under the influence or with possession of drug paraphernalia is to call a New Jersey attorney like Leon Matchin.
Instead of navigating the confusing charges and penalties on your own, an attorney can help you understand the process and the next steps. Your attorney’s goal is to get your charges dropped or at least downgraded. Therefore, you can avoid some of the harsher penalties like jail time. As you begin to navigate these charges, and research attorneys, learn more about the differences between the crimes and what type of defenses could be used in your case.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
New Jersey law N.J.S.A 2C:36-2 states “it shall be unlawful to possess for use drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, covert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce the body to a controlled dangerous substance…”
In layman’s terms, if you have drug paraphernalia with the intent to use it for illegal drugs, you can be charged. Drug paraphernalia includes items like pipes, bongs, syringes, vials, digital scales, razor blades, etc. To receive this charge, the person does not actually have to have any drugs on them. If the officer strongly suspects the paraphernalia is intended for drug use, they will give the charge.
In the state of New Jersey, possessing drug paraphernalia is considered a disorderly person’s offense. Penalties include up to 6 months in prison, a fine of $500-$1,000, and suspension of driver’s license for up to 2 years. Fortunately, your lawyer can provide defenses to get the charge dropped or lowered. This allows you to avoid some if not all of these consequences.
There are many plausible, totally legal reasons a person might have drug paraphernalia. These reasons don’t relate to the use or solicitation of illegal drugs. Here are some potential defenses:
· The paraphernalia was someone else’s (ex: roommate, sibling, parent, etc.). The defendant was unaware that this paraphernalia was in their possession. This is a good defense if paraphernalia is found in a shared car or home.
· The paraphernalia is for legal drug use. For example, some people with chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes have to give themselves injections. Therefore, it is normal and legal for them to have syringes.
· Unlawful search and seizure. Fourth Amendment rights are violated if police officers at the scene perform an unlawful search and find drug paraphernalia. Therefore, the charges can be dropped.
Under the Influence of CDS
Under the influence of CDS is another drug related charge in the state of New Jersey. According to New Jersey law N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b), it is illegal for a person to use or be under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). This is unless it is for the purpose of treatment of sickness or injury as prescribed by a physician.
If an officer notices a person displaying physical or physiological symptoms indicative of drug use, they can charge said person with being under the influence of a CDS. These symptoms include, but are not limited to, needle marks, an altered gait, odor of drugs, and bloodshot eyes.
A charge of under the influence of CDS comes with a variety of penalties. These penalties include fines up to $1,000, jail time of up to 6 months, probation, driver’s license suspension for a minimum of 6 months. Additionally, there would be a permanent criminal charge on your record. Just like with the charges of possessing drug paraphernalia, there are defenses that your attorney can provide.
The prosecutor must prove that the defendant had physical/physiological symptoms indicative of drug use if the case is brought to trial. This can often be hard to prove, leaving an opening for the attorney to provide a successful defense. Here are some helpful defenses:
· The symptoms were due to something else, not illegal drug use. For example, there are many medical diseases like MS and Parkinson’s that could lead someone to have an altered gait.
· The symptoms were due to a legal drug. This defense can work if the person was under the influence of a legal, prescribed drug at the time. For example, maybe they had taken a prescribed pain killer after a surgery and ended up having a bad reaction to it. This could cause the police officer to think they were taking a CDS.
New Jersey Attorney
Both of these charges have a variety of penalties. In addition, they are based on a lot of assumptions on the part of the police. This allows for a New Jersey attorney to come in and create a defense. Your charges can hopefully be completely dropped. They may at least be downgraded so that harsher penalties like jail time can be avoided.
If you or a loved one have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia or being under the influence of a CDS, give Leon Matchin, a New Jersey attorney, a call at 732-887-2479 or contact him via email at [email protected]. He will set up an initial consultation to learn more about you and your case.