Published by New Jersey Drug Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
Do you have a drug problem and are you driving around with drugs in your backpack, bags and or pocketbook?? Have you been involved in a car accident and the police found drugs in your personal belongings??
What is the Law if Police Find Drugs in Your Car
In this day and age there is a serious prescription drug and heroin problem throughout the country. Many individuals are operating motor vehicles under the influence and getting involved in serious motor vehicle crashes. In State v. Sidorick the police went into the vehicle to obtain the drivers credentials in of this young woman’s pocketbook after their arrived at the scene of the crash. The driver was nonresponsive and incapacitated and the police were attempting to obtain her personal identification information. What is the state of the law under the circumstances if the police can go into the operators personal effects without a warrant to get such information.
New Jersey Law and Prescription Drugs
In the decision of state of New Jersey v. Sidorick decided on April 15,
2016 the Supreme Court addressed the factual question of whether the police can go into the car and obtain the driver’s credentials in her purse. Factually the police argued that because the driver was incapacitated they had to go back and get her pocketbook. When the officer went to get the materials out of her pocketbook they observed, in plain view, prescription bottles that had her name on it and a prescription bottle that did not have her name on it.
There have been other cases where the state courts have suppressed evidence when the police were able to ask the driver for her credentials and personal information because they were not incapacitated. However, in the facts of this case the driver was not able to communicate any facts due to her medical condition. This is a huge difference and a major factor in determining whether the police can go back into a vehicle involved in a crash and obtain the drivers credentials. In this case when the officer went back to the car to look for the bag he saw “in plain view” the alleged illegal substance. The court ruled because the driver was not able to assist in the investigation there was enough circumstances to ‘have probable cause’ for him to go into the car and be for him to look for the pocketbook. After he observed the materials ‘plain view’ was acceptable for him to continue his investigation.
What Can Happen if Drugs or Narcotics are Found in Your Car
How does this case affect you and the many other people driving around with illegal substances in their car with drug or substance abuse problems?
First of all, you should not be driving a vehicle on the road with illegal substances in your vehicle and while you were under the influence of such narcotics or any other controlled dangerous substance.
New Jersey Drug Offense Sentencing
Not only could you be charged with drug offenses, but you could be involved in an accident that resulted in significant injury to yourself or others and or death. New Jersey’s aggravated manslaughter statute requires a mandatory minimum of 10 years New Jersey State prison 85% to be served without parole while a second agree aggravated assault and or manslaughter requires five years New Jersey State prison 85% without parole. When you get into the car you were inviting significant trouble to yourself and those around you.
However, if you are one of the millions of American suffering from substance abuse and are functioning drug dependent individuals going to work on a regular basis you must take significant substantial precautions to avoid having “police find in plain view illegal substances” that they can charge you with.
Any and all illegal substances should be kept inside close containers and or bags and placed in the trunk of a vehicle and not in your personal passenger compartment of said vehicle. They should not be left in plain view for the officers to see in the top of any bags or pocketbooks well they are looking for personal identifying information if you were involved in a catastrophic crash.
Unfortunately these facts are all too familiar to the police and they play out virtually every day in all of the roads in New Jersey and around the country for that matter. Substance abuse and prescription narcotic medication abuse is a epidemic in this country and is affecting all people on all aspects of life. It is hard enough functioning with substance abuse issues taken care of family and working. Having criminal charges on top of these issues is even more difficult and makes matters much harder.
If you have any additional questions or are involved in criminal matters with these type of fax please call me at your first opportunity.
Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.