Drug Crime Lawyer in NJ: Tips for Avoiding Drug Arrest
Whether it’s a routine traffic stop or something a little more serious, encounters with the police can be anxiety-inducing. Having drugs or paraphernalia in your possession only increases this feeling. If you’re found with drugs on your person or in your car, you can be facing some hefty fines and possible jail time. A conviction for drug possession, whether misdemeanor or felony, can stay with you for a very long time. You don’t want to be denied employment, benefits, housing, or even education just because of one lapse of judgment. Knowing your rights could be the difference between freedom and conviction. Here are a few tips from a drug crime lawyer in NJ about avoiding a drug-related arrest.
Don’t Incriminate or Entrap Yourself
If you are in possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia and you’re stopped by an officer, it’s important not to incriminate yourself. Anyone who’s seen any cop show or movie knows the most popular Miranda right: the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer their questions, or otherwise divulge information, especially something that may incriminate you. Instead, you can assert your right to remain silent. You can also ask if you are being detained, or if you’re free to go. If you are being detained, you can again assert your right to silence or ask to speak with a lawyer.
If you are on the street or in an area where drug activity is frequent, you may also encounter undercover officers who are out to find unsuspecting criminals. Do not allow yourself to be entrapped into doing something illegal that you would not otherwise do, such as purchase or offer drugs. You can avoid entrapment simply by steering yourself away from any stranger that approaches you and asks for you to buy or sell drugs.
You Have the Right to Refuse Consent to Search
Any drug crime lawyer in NJ will tell you that you also have the right to refuse your consent to a search. Officers cannot lawfully search your person or property (such as your bag, car, or house) without a warrant or probable cause. If you’re pulled over and you’re in possession of drugs or paraphernalia, make sure it is somewhere hidden from plain sight. A pipe or small baggie on your back seat gives an officer probable cause to search your whole vehicle.
Also, make sure that you’ve eliminated any possible odor that could tip the officer off. Marijuana has a very distinct smell, even unburned. Remember, the smell of alcohol provides enough reasonable suspicion for an officer to detain you and search your car. The same is true with the smell of marijuana.
But if there is no odor and no visible evidence that you’re in possession of drugs, then you are well within your right to refuse a search. Any passengers in your vehicle can refuse searches as well. These same rules apply outside of your car as well. An officer cannot frisk you without your consent and without probable cause.
As with any encounter with police, a drug crime lawyer would advise you to use caution. It’s important that you assert your rights, but also be respectful of law enforcement. Don’t be aggressive or overly defensive, as this can often lead to increased suspicion. For instance, if an officer attempts to frisk you, you can refuse your consent but do not physically touch the officer. This can lead to your arrest for “assaulting an officer,” which is a felony offense.
If you are asked to step out of your vehicle, you should do so. However, make sure that you roll your windows up, lock your car, and keep your keys with you. Leaving your car unlocked (or otherwise open and accessible) or handing the officer your keys are indications of your consent to search your car.
A Note About K9-Units
If a drug-sniffing dog identifies the presence of drugs during a legitimate traffic stop, the police have probable cause to search your car. However, the chances of being pulled over by a K9 unit is slim, and police are not allowed to detain you solely in order to wait for one to arrive at the scene. Again, you have the right to refuse searches and ask if you are being detained. If a K9 unit does not arrive in the time it takes for the officer to stop you, run your plates, and write your ticket, then you are free to go. If the officer purposely dawdles during the process in order to allow the K9 unit time to arrive, a drug crime lawyer may be able to move to have any evidence discovered from that search thrown out.
Drug Crime Lawyer in NJ
Remember, the best way to avoid arrest for a drug related crime is by not having them with you in the first place. However, if you were arrested for drug possession, paraphernalia, or distribution, time is of the essence. Thomas V. Campo has decades of experience defending cases of drug-related crimes. He will help you find the best course of action. Don’t wait! Contact us today for your consultation.