Burlington County, NJ Law Blog

Friday, October 9, 2015

Four Common Defenses of Drug Crimes in New Jersey

I am facing a criminal drug charge, what are the best defenses to consider?

As an experienced practitioner of criminal drug defense, I am aware that there are a number of evidentiary objections that may be raised in the preliminary stages prior to the trial itself. The following are four common defenses to drug crimes in New Jersey. There are, however, dozens more than may apply to your case:

#4: Improper Chain of Custody: When the police seize alleged contraband, such as drugs, weapons, or even diagnostic test results, this evidence must be stored safely and securely until the trial. More specifically, police and lab technicians must properly document the whereabouts of evidence every time it is transferred or moved – otherwise the risk of contamination or specimen confusion raises dramatically. If chain of command cannot be established, the contraband could be excluded.

#3: Wrongful Entry: In order for police to lawfully search your home, you must give consent for them to enter – otherwise, a warrant is required. It is insufficient for police to obtain consent from a houseguest or any other non-owner. Accordingly, any drug evidence seized as a result of a wrongful entry will likely be excluded.

#2: Improper Interrogation: Police use a number of techniques and tricks to interrogate a suspect without counsel present. One such way is to mince words over whether the “conversation” is actually an interrogation (when a suspect can invoke his right to counsel) or a mere interview. If asked, the police must unequivocally state whether the suspect is free to leave and, if not, must cease the interview if the suspect invokes his right to an attorney.

#1:  Improper Seizure: Police must have a warrant to seize evidence from your person or vehicle – subject to narrow exception. If you were stopped for seemingly no reason, and police demanded you exit the vehicle so a search could commence, this scenario likely in violation of your constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment.

If you are facing a criminal drug charge in New Jersey and would like to discuss your options, please contact Sitzler and Sitzler today: 609-267-1101.

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