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New Jersey Criminal Process

In 2010, three people were arrested in a Trenton, New Jersey on a drug bust during which officials seized about 200 Oxycodone pills and half a pound of marijuana. Oxycodone is in a class of medications called opiate (narcotic) analgesics used to relieve pain. The Oxycodone pills change the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. Police arrived at the scene on East State Street with a warrant for one of the men and discovered the pills, marijuana, $2,000 in cash, and a loaded handgun. After finding the drugs, police arrested two other residents in the house for drug and weapon offenses.

The criminal process in New Jersey may begin with a search warrant. The warrant authorizes police to conduct a search of a specific place such as a home. In order for a warrant to be issued by a judge, probable cause is necessary. Probable cause to search means it is more likely than not the particular items searched are connected with criminal activities, and the items will be found at the place requested to be searched.

Once the police finds the specific items with the warrant, the police may place a person under arrest. To arrest someone, the police needs probable cause, meaning there is reasonable belief that a crime was committed and the person arrested committed the crime.

After a person is placed under arrest, the person is protected by constitutional rights. Miranda rights allow a person to remain silent. Under the constitution, the defendant also has the right to have an attorney. The police must give the person arrested a chance to contact an attorney. The right to have an attorney prohibits the police from deliberately eliciting an incriminating statement from a defendant outside the presence of counsel after the defendant has been charged unless s/he waives a right to counsel.

After arrest the person goes through booking at the police station. After booking is when the accused should make sure s/he has an attorney appointed to help explain legal rights, and ensure that law enforcement did not illegally search or seize controlled substances. In New Jersey, if someone cannot afford to hire an attorney, and if charged with a crime that is punishable by incarceration, an attorney will be appointed to defend.

Drug crimes in New Jersey generally carry severe monetary penalties and prison time, especially if the person has a prior criminal record or large quantities of controlled substances for sale. To defend drug charges, an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney can work with the prosecution to have charges lessened. If any of a defendant’s constitutional rights are violated in the criminal process, the case may be dismissed.

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