Have You Been Charged With Possession of Drug Paraphernalia?
If you have been charged with possessing drugs, you probably were also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. This is a common charge in New Jersey, and across the nation, however, what exactly is drug paraphernalia is not always as clear.
What is clear is that in New Jersey you can be charged with a criminal offense for possessing drug paraphernalia under NJSA 2C:36-2, and this charge could potentially increase both your prison sentence as well as your fines. When you have been charged with a crime in New Jersey, your best choice is to hire an experienced criminal law attorney who can fight for your rights.
If you are facing drug possession and other related drug charges, don’t face the criminal litigation process or its potential consequences alone. Our simple drug possession defense attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience defending against a broad array range of drug crimes. The drug charge defense attorneys of the Law Offices of John J. Zarych fight strategically and aggressively to protect your rights and defend against the charges you face.
What is Drug Paraphernalia?
As mentioned above, possession of drug paraphernalia is a charge that is common to be in conjunction with other drug charges such as drug possession or distribution offenses including possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana and possession of cocaine. Some of the most common items that may constitute drug paraphernalia include:
- A pipe,
- Small plastic bags “baggies” plastic Baggies,
- Rolling papers,
- Cutting tools such as straight razor blades.
However, drug paraphernalia can also include any instrument that has been adapted for the use of a controlled dangerous substance. As you can imagine, many innocent items can be considered drug paraphernalia. Depending on the circumstances of your case an experienced criminal law attorney may be able to have these pieces of evidence excluded from evidence if they were gathered during an illegal search.
What Are the Penalties for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in NJ?
Anytime you are charged with a crime in New Jersey it does not necessarily mean that you are going to jail for the crime. The New Jersey legislature has put each crime into categories.
You should know that if you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia it is considered a disorderly persons offense, also known as a misdemeanor. While this might be considered a minor crime, these types of crimes and can negatively affect your future. If you have a series of misdemeanors you may find it hard to get into a school, may be denied for certain employment opportunities, and may even be denied a loan depending on your criminal history. Additionally, if you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia your driver’s license can be suspended from 6 months to two years. This charge also may make it impossible for you to apply for a hardship license, which means that you will not be able to drive to and from work.
While you make think that this charge being classified as a disorderly persons offense does not mean much, you should be aware that if you are charged and convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia that you may also be sentenced to jail time for up to six months. As noted above, this charge often is accompanied by other charges, which tend to be more severe; with this in mind, a simple possession of drug paraphernalia can turn into an aggravating factor that the judge will consider when he is determining sentencing.
What Does it Mean to be in Possession of an Item?
You may be wondering what it means to be in possession of an item. What if you did not have the pipe or bong on you, but it was in your car, or it was sitting on the table next to you? Can you still be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia?
Under New Jersey law, to “possess” an item under the law, you must have a knowing, intentional control of that item accompanied by knowledge of its character. So, if you are going to be charged with possession of an item such as a bong, pipe, or scales must know or be aware the item is in your possession, and you must know what it is that you have in your possession or controls that it is drug paraphernalia. You should also be aware that in order for a person to be convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia you cannot merely have passing control of the item. As the courts have made clear, to “possess” an item, you must knowingly procure or receive the item or be aware of your control of the item for a sufficient period of time to have been able to relinquish control if you chose to do so.
As with any criminal charge the State must prove each element of their case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. This is favorable to those who have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia because an experienced criminal law attorney may be able to negotiate on your behalf to have the charges reduced or altogether dropped depending on the state’s ability to prove their case.
Get the Help of Our Experienced Atlantic City Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you have been arrested for possession of drugs of any type in New Jersey, you face serious criminal penalties. Don’t delay in contacting one of our skilled criminal defense attorneys who can fight to protect your rights and freedom. To schedule a free and confidential criminal defense consultation call the Law firm of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 or contact us online. We are available seven days a week, including holidays.