Drug Possession Charges

Offenses related to the possession, manufacture, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs are aggressively pursued by New Jersey prosecutors. These cases often arise when law enforcement makes initial contact with a defendant for reasons not related to drugs - for example, many people are accused of drug crimes when drugs are discovered during a traffic stop for a completely unrelated matter. Some of the more common drug offenses that people face include:

  • Possession
  • Possession with intent to distribute
  • Drug trafficking
  • Manufacture or cultivation

For this reason, there are often various legal defenses related to the way in which law enforcement officers conducted a particular search in cases related to drugs. The 4th Amendment prohibits law enforcement from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures, and violations of this rule can keep illegally obtained evidence from being used against you. A common example of this type of violation occurs when police search a person's car without probably cause to do so. Our attorneys will thoroughly review your case and determine whether any of these apply.

Penalties for Driving with Drugs in the Car

This violation is still considered to be a motor vehicle offense, so it is not a criminal charge. It also comes with a minimum fine of $50. For these reasons, too many people do not take this type of allegation seriously and choose to simply pay the fine and hope to move on. They do not realize that there can be many serious consequences of paying the fine, since doing so constitutes a guilty plea to the offense. Such a guilty plea can result in severe penalties including:

  • Mandatory suspension of their driver's license for at least two years;
  • Possible complications in a subsequent criminal drug possession case, including potential disqualification from drug court or other diversionary programs.

Loss of your driver's license can have a substantial effect on your life as NJ does not have any type of probationary license that allows you to drive to approved obligations such as school or work. Not having a license can have further professional consequences, as well, if your job requires you to have a valid license. Ineligibility for diversionary programs can result in a serious conviction on your criminal record, increased fines, and potential imprisonment. Therefore, pleading guilty to motor vehicle drug possession charges can have long-lasting consequences that reach well beyond a $50 fine.


Charges Under N.J.S.A. 39;4-49.1: Operating a Motor Vehicle While In Possession of Illegal Drugs

You can be charged under this New Jersey law if police officers accuse you of possessing illegal drugs while you were driving a motor vehicle. Traffic stops can occur for many reasons such as speeding or failing to signal or DWI. However, once you are stopped, in many situations police officers will try to find a reason to search you and/or your car. If officers conduct a search and find what they suspect to be a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), you can face the accusation of driving in possession of drugs.

If you have received a motor vehicle violation related to the possession of drugs in your car, you should not delay in contacting an experienced defense attorney at the office of Cozzi & Cozzi Counsellors At Law available 24/7 at 201-450-1505.

Defense for Driving While in Possession of Drugs

In order to build an effective defense against this type of allegation, you must have an attorney who understands the elements of the offense under the law. In order to convict you of this offense, the State must sufficiently prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You were operating a motor vehicle;
  • You were operating your vehicle on a roadway that is considered to be a "highway;"
  • The traffic stop was lawful;
  • The search of your and/or your car was lawful;
  • You knowingly possessed some type of unlawful CDS;
  • The CDS was located in the vehicle or on your person while you operated the vehicle.

These elements give many opportunities to defend against the allegations and the defenses that may apply to your situation will depend on the facts of your case. Our skilled defense attorneys have the resources to fully examine and investigate the circumstances surrounding your traffic stop and arrest to identify any possible legal defenses.

First, the law exempts certain individuals including certain medical professionals, drug retailers, or others who have permission to transport drugs lawfully. If you are not exempt, our attorneys will then evaluate whether either the traffic stop or the search violated your constitutional rights under the 4th Amendment. If the officer did not have the proper reasonable suspicion or probable cause, the stop or search may be unlawful and can be used as a valuable tool in your defense. Additionally, your attorney can demonstrate that you were not aware of the presence of the drugs, that someone else in the vehicle actually possessed the drugs, and more to defend against the requirement that you knowingly possessed the CDS. A successful defense can result in a dismissed case, significantly reduced charges and penalties, or a not guilty verdict at trial.

Do not Delay in Calling a New Jersey Drug Possession Defense Lawyer Today

Even if you may not consider operating a motor vehicle while in possession of drugs to be a serious offense, it is critical to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney who understands this New Jersey law. At Cozzi & Cozzi Counsellors at Law, we will always strive for the most favorable outcome possible for you. If your traffic stop and ultimate arrest for driving while in possession of drugs results in criminal charges, know that it will leave a blemish on your criminal record. If you meet certain criteria, you may be eligible for an expungement or sealing of your records. For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at 201-939-3381, help is also available 24/7 at 201-450-1505.