Encountering a police officer face-to-face can be scary, especially if they just seized marijuana or other drugs from your possession. Being confronted with questions like “Do you have any drugs on you” or having a police officer show you the pills they seized from your car and ask for an explanation can be incredibly stressful, and many people ask our Atlantic City drug crime defense attorneys what to do in situations like these. The Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys explain what to do when you’ve been accused of committing a drug crime and how to defend yourself against drug charges in New Jersey.
Should I Answer a Police Officer’s Questions if they Find Drugs?
If a police officer thinks you have drugs on you or seizes drugs from your backpack, your car, or your residence, they will typically ask you questions to try to get more information. Most people understand that they have the “right to remain silent,” but when push comes to shove, many people forget about this right and answer police officers’ questions.
You always have the right to refuse to give up answers to questions that might incriminate you. You may be required to give your identification to a police officer, but beyond that, you do not need to tell a police officer things like where you were going or where you were coming from, and you do not need to give up information about drugs or admit to anything that might lead to jail time.
Refusing a police officer’s questions can be difficult, but you should try to be polite and firm. If you do not want to answer questions – either because you’re not comfortable answering questions or because they might lead to being charged with a crime – just politely tell the officer that you are not answering any questions until you have a lawyer present.
Should I Get a Lawyer for Drug Charges in NJ?
If you were arrested for drug possession in New Jersey or you think that you might face charges for drug possession or drug trafficking charges, it is absolutely vital that you speak with a lawyer. You should never try to handle criminal charges on your own when there is potential jail time on the line. Having an attorney guide you through any questions and having them work to suppress and block evidence from being used in court can often mean the difference between jail time and freedom.
How to Defend Yourself Against Drug Charges
Any time you have drugs in your possession, you could potentially be investigated by police and be arrested and charged with a drug crime. Still, there are some steps you can take to protect your rights and avoid drug charges by exercising your rights.
First, you usually have the right to say no to a search. Police are required to have a warrant to enter your home and search your belongings, and they must have “probable cause” to perform any search, even though they may not need a warrant to search a car or other moveable property. In any case, this means that police must have articulable facts that they can point to that made it seem likely to them that you had drugs. If you give a cop permission to search your belongings, they can do so without a warrant or any kind of probable cause. Refusing a search and asking for a warrant can often stop police searches in their tracks. If a police officer searches your belongings anyway, it either means that they had legal justification to do so or that the search was illegal and your lawyer can have any evidence they illegally seized thrown out.
Second, you do not have to confess or answer any questions. Once you have been arrested, it is even harder to say no to answering questions. This is where your right to an attorney and your right to remain silent are really important to use. Any confessions you make after being given your Miranda warning can be used against you in court. However, if you affirmatively say that you would like to use your right to remain silent, police must stop asking questions about these issues. Additionally, if you say that you’re not answering any questions until your lawyer is present, all questioning must stop immediately.
If you are arrested, you usually get a chance to make a phone call and contact a lawyer or someone to help you post bail. If you contact an attorney, they can step in right away and start working to resolve any charges or issues with law enforcement. Your lawyer can often come to jail to meet you and help you answer any questions. Your lawyer can also file for a bail reduction or ROR bail (release on your own recognizance) so that you can be let out of jail. After that, your attorney can handle basically everything for you. You may need to go over some facts with your lawyer so they know whom to interview or what evidence to present in your defense, but your lawyer can handle your case for you. From discussing dropping the charges with the prosecution or fighting the case for you in court, your lawyer can take over your case and work to keep you out of jail.
Call Our Atlantic City Drug Crimes Lawyer for a Free Case Consultation
If you are facing potential charges for drug possession in South Jersey or you have already been arrested and charged with a crime in New Jersey, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers represent the accused and work to get charges dropped and dismissed so our clients can keep charges off their record. For a free legal consultation on your case, call us today at (609) 616-4956.