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Building a Defense for Middlesex County Drug Charges

Drug charges brought against residents of Middlesex County may range in severity from a disorderly person violation to a first-degree felony punishable by ten to 20 years in prison and a six-figure fine. In any drug case, though, from the most serious charges to the least, the prosecution must prove certain elements existed in order for the person charged to be convicted of the offense.

Each element of a drug crime provides an opportunity for defense. Furthermore, in some cases, criminal drug charges could also often be challenged based on procedural failings or other issues. Before starting to work on building a defense for Middlesex County drug charges, it could be important for you to know which defensive strategies may best fit the circumstances of your particular case. A knowledgeable drug attorney could help you identify which defense strategy may work best for you.

Challenge Every Element of the Alleged Offense

Every criminal charge includes various elements that the government must prove in order to obtain a conviction, and crimes involving drugs are no exception.  One key element in most drug crimes concerns the state of mind of the individual charged with the offense.

Both for a violation of New Jersey Statutes §2C:35-10 involving possession of a controlled dangerous substance, or for a violation of N.J. Stat. §2C:35-5 involving manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute controlled dangerous substances, the person charged must undertake the action "knowingly or purposely" in order to be convicted. Therefore, in many cases, it could be argued that the individual charged was unaware of either the controlled substance’s presence or its nature.

Another element that is essential to many drug offenses concerns possession of an illicit substance. Generally, in order to possess the substance in question, the person charged must either have it close to the body or someplace that is under their control. In some cases, the defendant and their legal team could argue that the controlled substance at issue was not in either their actual or constructive possession when building a defense for Middlesex County drug charges.

Procedural Challenges

Everyone has rights that must be respected by law enforcement authorities, and in order to protect those rights, lawmakers have adopted procedures which must be followed in criminal cases. When police or others involved in the process fail to follow required procedures, those failures could provide grounds to challenge the submission of evidence or even dismiss the case entirely.

For example, evidence regarding the presence of drugs or drug paraphernalia may be obtained during a search conducted illegally. If so, all evidence obtained during that illegal search could be suppressed. Similarly, if police use illegal questioning tactics to bully, coerce or trick someone into making statements against their interest, these statements may be challenged as well.

In other cases, a failure to handle evidence properly may provide grounds for suppressing that evidence. For instance, a substance alleged to be a controlled dangerous substance may never have been tested, or it may be misplaced and unavailable for production at trial.

Affirmative Defenses Provided in the Law

In certain situations, the individual statutes involved in drug charges provide specific affirmative defenses that may be raised in response to a charge. For example, if a person is charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs, the applicable statute provides an affirmative defense if that person takes action to renunciate the offense.

So, if the individual charged had a change of heart after planning to distribute drugs and later informed the authorities about the plan and took action to foil the plan, then such renunciation of the crime could be a defense against the charge of conspiracy.

How a Middlesex County Drug Attorney Could Build a Strong Defense

This is just a brief overview of some of the strategies that may prove effective in building a defense for Middlesex County drug charges. A lawyer with experience defending against criminal drug charges in local courts further explain your options in detail and devise a plan of action that best fits with the circumstances of a particular case.