In NJ, you can be arrested for the drugs you haven’t bought
Did you know that in New Jersey, police can arrest you for something you intended to do but never actually did?
NJ Statute 2C:33-2.1 is a disorderly persons offense. It that states that you can be arrested for wandering around or loitering in a public place with the intent to purchase, sell or use a controlled dangerous substance.
Some police departments in South Jersey are using the statute to stop and search suspects in known drug areas.
New Jersey defense attorney Greg Gianforcaro, who practices law in Phillipsburg, says what happens in these types of cases is “the officer will always say, based on my training and experience, I found the conduct of the individual, the defendant to have been suspicious.”
He says most of the time the suspects are found to be carrying a controlled dangerous substance.
“You know heroin, cocaine or whatever, and then this (charge) ends up being the lesser included offense," the attorney said.
However, he said in cases where the only charge is loitering, the suspect might under up pleading to lesser charges.
“There’s no real evidence of drugs, so then it’ll either likely be dismissed or at least you’ll end up working a deal for even a lesser offense," Gianforcaro said.
Gianforcaro said in some instances when police arrive at an area where someone is selling illegal drugs, even if the buyer hasn’t actually made a purchase yet, and doesn't have a controlled dangerous substance on their person, he or she may still be slapped with a loitering charge if police are convinced they were planning to buy drugs.
He adds if a defendant is wrongly arrested, “you argue that the officer did not find anything, and that by having charged him he’d almost have had to have been a mind reader. If you’re able to convince the judge your client has been unfairly accused, then you’ll get a not guilty verdict.”