Drug Paraphernalia Attorney Linden NJ
Serving Clients across Westfield, Elizabeth, Plainfield, Linden, and the greater Union County area
If you have been charged with drug offense such as drug paraphernalia in New Jersey, you may be subject to various fines, penalties, and jail time. Almost anything can be deemed “paraphernalia” under the law, including straws, plastic bags, ceramics, scouring pads, pipes, clips, rubber bands, screens, needles, tourniquets, and more. Attorneys in our firm understand this area of the law and how to fight the charges, so contact us for help today.
What is a paraphernalia charge?
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2, drug paraphernalia means anything or object that is “intended for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled dangerous substance.” In short, if there is any way for a police officer to make a connection to the object found, and drugs, you can be charged with drug paraphernalia in New Jersey.
Probable Cause in Drug Crime Cases
For example, an officer may stop a motor vehicle and claim to smell marijuana. If he says that he smells marijuana, whether burnt or raw, he can search the car. The search is based on “probable cause” to believe that an offense was committed. During the search he may find a bowl, pipe, tin foil, or even plastic bags, All of these items can be deemed “paraphernalia” under NJ law – even something as simple as a plastic bag from the grocery store can be deemed paraphernalia.
Paraphernalia Charges Accompany Possession Charges
Usually, police find drugs or some indication of drugs together with the paraphernalia. Depending on the situation, the paraphernalia can be charged on its own, or in addition to other charges or tickets. Sometimes police find a drug like cocaine and then find a straw in your car. Despite the fact that the straw may have been used for a lawful purpose, the cop can charge you with paraphernalia in addition to cocaine possession.
Paraphernalia Charges in a Vehicle
In many cases, it is not the driver of the car that has paraphernalia and it may be an occupant. It makes no difference, as the police can lawfully charge the driver and all other persons in the car with the drugs and paraphernalia. Unless someone owns up to possessing these items, every individual arrested at the time will face prosecution.
How can I prove that the object is not paraphernalia?
Almost any item deemed as paraphernalia has a dual purpose. For example, a plastic bag (small Ziploc style bag) that can be used to package drugs can be considered drug paraphernalia. If the bag actually has marijuana inside, it will likely be deemed paraphernalia. However, if the bag is empty and in the back seat of the car while the drugs are in the front, it can be argued that it is just a plastic bag. Notably, if the bag is tested and tests positive for marijuana, this defense does not apply. Similarly, just because a person has a straw in their vehicle does not mean that the straw is to be used for drugs. If the person had a fast-food cup in the console with a straw in it, and drugs were located in the trunk, arguably, the straw is just a straw. The court must consider the totality of the circumstances surrounding the find when making a determination if an item is paraphernalia.
What happens when I am charged with paraphernalia?
Drug paraphernalia is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey. Unless you have been charged with a companion felony drug offense, the complaint will go to municipal court as a disorderly offense. A disorderly offense is not a “crime,” but is punishable by a variety of serious penalties.
Specifically, a disorderly persons offense carries possible county jail time of up to 180 days. In addition to a county term, the court can sentence you to pay a $500 drug enforcement demand reduction penalty (DEDR) as well as a $50 lab fee for testing the drugs, $33 on court costs, a $75 Safe Neighborhood Fund Fee, and a loss of license.
To add insult to injury, the court can sentence you to probation and require that you meet regularly with a probation officer. You may also be subject to random drug testing.
Contact an Elizabeth New Jersey Drug Crimes and Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
Attorney Edward S. Cooper has accumulated an impressive body of experience representing clients charged with a wide variety of drug offenses. For a consultation about your drug case, fill out our online form or call Attorney Cooper’s Linden offices anytime 908-481-4625. Mr. Cooper will ensure that you have a complete understanding of the charges you are facing, as well as the appropriate next steps to successfully resolve your case.