That fact that drug possession is a serious crime is obvious to most people. Hopefully you’ll never be forced to find out just how serious.
Unfortunately, if you (or a loved one) are charged with drug possession, you’ll soon discover the severity of such an offense and how significantly it can impact your finances, your liberty, your employment and your relationships. Therefore, the first step you should take after an arrest is to hire an attorney. Not just any attorney, but a drug possession charges attorney in NJ. Here are 7 reasons why:
1. You’re not dealing with a traffic ticket.
There are many criminal defense attorneys in this state, but not all of them are qualified to be a drug possession charges attorney in NJ. The applicable law is complex and the process of dealing with it contains pitfalls almost every step of the way. Given what’s at risk, you need a lawyer who knows the law inside and out. That lawyer should also be able to identify issues that are relevant to your particular case and have the experience to develop the strongest case possible.
A drug possession charges attorney in NJ possesses the solid background required to effectively deal with the charges.
If money is an issue, you may be tempted to forego the use of a private drug possession charges attorney in NJ and rely instead on the services of a court-appointed public defender. Unless you have absolutely no choice, don’t. This is not to criticize the competency of the public defender’s office. Many of the lawyers who work there are well-trained, competent and dedicated individuals. They also have too much work and too few resources. A drug possession charges attorney in NJ, on the other hand, is highly experienced in the specific area of drug possession charges and has sufficient staffing and other resources to conduct whatever research and investigation your specific defense will require.
2. “You have the right to remain silent…”
Regardless of whether they’ve had a brush with the law, most people are aware of their so-called Miranda rights. But there’s more to dealing with a criminal offense arrest than simply remembering not to say anything without having an attorney present because “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” The criminal justice system can be a maze. You need someone who can navigate it smoothly.
There are timelines that must be met and documents that must be filed. A successful defense can only be built on knowing such things as what facts to present, what evidence is prejudicial and what questions to ask at trial. Only an experienced drug possession charges attorney in NJ is fully qualified to mount such a defense.
3. Loss of job means certain loss of income (and the potential loss of everything you’ve worked for).
Think about this factor very carefully because it may happen even without a prison sentence. Depending on your profession, the industry in which you work, or the rules of your employer, a conviction of a criminal offense may result in termination of your employment. If you lose your job without finding a new one fairly quickly, you’ll soon be left without income. If this situation persists for too long, you’ll be unable to pay your monthly expenses such as your mortgage or rent, car payment, utilities, credit card statements and other financial obligations (prescription costs, for example).
If not rectified quickly, even your ability to just put food on the table may be in jeopardy. Clearly this isn’t an outcome you can afford. A drug possession charges attorney in NJ may be the only thing standing between you and losing everything important to you.
4. Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
It may surprise you that, depending on the specific offense, conviction on a drug possession charge can result in a suspension of your driver’s license. An inability to operate a motor vehicle can have a very significant effect on your daily life. You will no longer have the freedom to go where you want when you want.
Public transit or the kindness of friends, families, or coworkers will become your primary methods of transportation. Where driving to work was part of your reality, you’ll now need to make alternate commuting arrangements. Simple things such as picking up your children from school, driving them to weekend soccer games or “popping out” to the grocery store will no longer be possible. In short, without a driver’s license your daily routine will no longer be convenient.
5. Modification of child custody or visitation order.
While not in and of itself sufficient to alter them, a criminal conviction can be used by a family law court to modify or terminate existing custody or visitation rights. A drug possession conviction can be used as evidence that you are an unfit parent. If the court accepts that argument, you may no longer be entitled to single or joint custody or visitation rights. Even supervised visitation may no longer be available to you.
6. Court-ordered drug education and/or rehabilitation programs.
If your arrest ultimately results in a conviction, mandatory participation in such programs is almost a certainty. While attendance itself may not necessarily be a bad thing, it may affect your work schedule, your ability to engage in recreational or volunteer activities or your availability to meet your child custody obligations, just to name a few.
7. Criminal record.
Among the primary reasons for hiring a drug possession charges attorney in NJ is to avoid getting a criminal record. A criminal record not only stays with you for a long time (if not forever) but also has the ability to impact your life in various ways. Here are some examples:
- Disqualification for employment. Many, if not most, job applications include questions which ask whether you’ve ever been convicted of a criminal offense. Unless you are able to convince a prospective employer that your case involved circumstances that mitigate the conviction, you can be pretty well assured that you won’t be seriously considered for hire.
- There are, as well, certain professions that consider a conviction on a drug charge automatic disqualification from consideration. Most state bar associations, for example, view felonies and crimes involving moral turpitude or dishonesty as absolute barriers to admission.
- A criminal record renders you ineligible for coaching or other volunteer activities involving children. Most educational institutions or volunteer organizations will not consider someone who has been convicted on drug possession charges. Society has little tolerance for knowingly exposing children to anyone with a criminal history.