If you have been arrested or charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) or unlawful possession of a weapon, you may be overwhelmed and confused. Often, it is difficult to understand why drivers and passengers in the same vehicle were charged with possession no matter where the illegal item was found. The state of New Jersey recognizes several different types of legal possession under the NJ Criminal Code. Understanding the differences between these types of legal possession can help you understand why you were charged with in the first place and what the state needs to prove to obtain a conviction.
Why Was I Charged with Possession in Morris County NJ?
Before explaining the different types of legal possession in New Jersey, it is important to note that there is a difference between possession and ownership. A person does not need to have any kind of ownership of an item or property in order to be in possession of it. Lack of ownership does not prevent you from being charged with any of the possession crime involving possession.
Types of Criminal Possession in New Jersey
Actual possession is the easiest type of possession to explain and understand. In these cases, you would have had to have actual possession of an illegal object on your physical person. Some of the common charges of actual possession include a firearm, BB gun, stolen property, underage possession of alcohol, fake identification (ID), or illegal drugs.
Constructive possession typically occurs when there are multiple people in a vehicle where an illegal substance or item is discovered by law enforcement. In cases of constructive possession, you do not need to be in actual possession of the illegal object, but rather the state must prove that you had knowledge that the item existed, understood what the item was, and had an ability to exert control over the item. In these cases, you can be charged with possession of drugs or an illegal item in your vehicle, even if it is not directly on your physical person at the time law enforcement discovered it.
Possession can also be divided into sole possession or joint possession. If charged with sole possession, one person alone has actual or constructive possession of an item. In joint possession, two or more persons know about, share information, or actual possession of an item. For example, if you are alone in a vehicle, and illegal drugs or a firearm is discovered, you will be considered to be in sole constructive possession of the item. If you are in a car with three other people, and drugs or a firearm is discovered by law enforcement, all of you can be charged with joint constructive possession. If one person actually has the item on their person, they may be charged with actual possession.
One final type of possession is called fleeting possession, which occurs when a person only has possession of an item for a very brief period of time. For example, if a customer provides a fraudulent 100-dollar bill to a shop owner, the shop owner will technically have possession of that illegal item. However, if the shop owner immediately returns it to the customer, then the possession will be considered a fleeting possession. If the owner is unaware that the item is fraudulent or takes step to contact the appropriate authorities after becoming aware of its existence, then the shop owner is unlikely to be charged with or convicted of a possession offense.
Arrested on Possession Charges, What am I Facing?
The penalties for possession are diverse and ultimately depend on what specifically was discovered by law enforcement, and possibly the quantity of the item or items as well. For example, the penalties for possession of illegal controlled dangerous substances (CDS) varies. More dangerous drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine have no medicinal value and a high rate of abuse and addiction. When it comes to possession charges, these drugs will have higher penalties than marijuana possession. Additionally, the amount of an illegal drug in your possession may affect the penalties imposed. If the item possessed is a gun or another weapon, consequences can be extremely severe and even lead to mandatory prison time.
Getting Help for Your Possession Case in Morristown
If you were arrested and charged with possession of CDS, gun possession, unlawful possession of a weapon, or other item in New Jersey, contact us now for answers regarding your charges. A seasoned criminal defense attorney in Morristown, NJ can help you understand your rights and your legal options. If you so choose, we are thoroughly prepared to defend you in court in Morris County or a local municipal court in Rockaway, Dover, Denville, Boonton, Roxbury, Parsippany, Florham Park, and surrounding communities.