Can You Be Arrested for Drug Possession Even If It Is Not Your Stash?

Yes. If a controlled substance is discovered in a vehicle with many occupants, all of those people may face criminal possession of narcotics charges. It does not matter whether you found the narcotics by accident; ignorance is no defense against drug possession accusations, so you must get help from a criminal defense attorney.

Possession Law in New Jersey: Actual vs. Constructive

Everyone in the automobile can be arrested for narcotics possession under New Jersey law, regardless of who actually had knowledge of the drugs. Actual possession and constructive possession are the two main types of possession. 

1. Actual Possession 

Whoever is found actually to be in physical possession of the drugs will likely face possession charges. When someone is physically possessing narcotics, they carry them around with them.

Actual possession of drugs in the state of New Jersey is defined as the knowledge that a controlled substance is physically present in one’s person.

2. Constructive Possession.

When numerous people in a car are caught for drug possession, constructive possession is typically used as the basis for criminal charges. To be guilty of the crime of “constructive possession,” it is unnecessary actually to have the drug on your person.

A person must be aware of the kind and quantity of a controlled substance in order to be in constructive possession of it under New Jersey law. Possession charges can be brought even if the drugs were not found on your person but rather in the vehicle you were in.

Drugs kept in a glove compartment, a trunk, or even a suitcase within the car’s cabin could be considered constructive possession.

Drug Possession Penalties in New Jersey

A drug possession conviction in New Jersey carries a possible maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $35,000. The precise repercussions of your sentence will be determined by the schedule and quantity of the narcotic identified. Drugs in Schedule I are the most harmful, while those under Schedule V are the least addictive and carry the lightest penalties.

It is a third-degree felony to be in possession of a controlled, dangerous substance (including a counterfeit version) that falls under schedules I, II, III, or IV. Three to five years in prison and/or a $35,000 fine are possible punishments.

Schedule V narcotics include opium and codeine in prescription medications and are deemed a fourth-degree felony if found in possession. A fine of up to $15,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 18 months is possible for this offense.

Repeat offenders may face harsher punishments. Even a first-time offender may face harsher punishment if a crime is committed in a school zone, public housing development, or public park.

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