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Burlington NJ Traffic Stop Leads to DUI and Cocaine Charges

Burlington DWI ChargesOn Thursday, a 19-year-old driver in Burlington, NJ was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) and felony possession of cocaine. When the driver was stopped by police, they allegedly smelled alcohol on this breath. He registered a blood-alcohol content level of 0.11. The police reportedly found open containers of alcoholic beverages in his motor vehicle, as well as cocaine. He was taken to Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly, NJ for processing.

This incident illustrates how a single motor vehicle stop can lead to multiple criminal charges. In order to pull over a vehicle, police must have reasonable suspicion of a violation of the law. Reasonable suspicion requires suspicion of a violation based on specific facts that the officer can articulate. If a driver is speeding, swerving, breaking a traffic law, or doing anything that could indicate they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the police can pull them over and the driver is required by law to stop.

Typically, in order to protect an individual’s 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure, police must have a warrant to conduct a search of your personal property. A few exceptions apply including, but not limited to, evidence in plain view and a search of a motor vehicle with probable cause.

Under the “plain view” doctrine, the police may seize evidence of a crime or contraband that they are able to observe in plain view from a place they are lawfully located.

The motor vehicle exception to a search warrant allows police to search a vehicle for evidence of a crime or contraband if they have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and a search is likely to produce evidence of that crime. Note that probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion.

Once the police make a traffic stop based on reasonable suspicion, they may observe specific facts that create probable cause to search the motor vehicle. In a situation similar to the case involving the 19-year-old man in Burlington County, NJ, described above, if a police officer smells alcohol on the breath of a driver, they will likely administer a breathalyzer test. New Jersey has an implied consent law, which requires drivers to submit to breathalyzer tests or face serious penalties.

A variety of factors, including failing a breathalyzer test, having the smell of alcohol on your breath, your behavior, and your speech, could establish probable cause for the officer to place you under arrest for driving while intoxicated.

Under the plain view doctrine, open bottles of alcohol in your vehicle that can be viewed by the officer from outside of the vehicle can be seized without probable cause to search the vehicle and you can be charged with having open bottles of alcohol in your motor vehicle.

Those bottles can also create probable cause for the officer to search the vehicle for additional evidence that you are driving under the influence and/or driving with open bottles of alcohol. In addition, if you are placed under arrest for DUI, the police may search your vehicle for evidence related to your arrest without a warrant under the search incident to a lawful arrest exception. Note that under this exception the police are only allowed to search for evidence related to the charges you are being arrested for. For example, absent additional probable cause, the police could not search your vehicle for drugs if you are being arrested for driving with a suspended license.

During a lawful search of a vehicle, if the officer finds drugs—like the cocaine found in the case of last week’s Burlington County driver—you can also be charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS).

While an officer would not have the right to pull you over and search your vehicle for drugs without having reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place, you can see from this example how one lawful traffic stop can potentially lead to multiple charges.

Facing DWI Charges in Burlington, NJ?

If you are facing charges that arose from a traffic stop in Burlington County, New Jersey, contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers to review your case and determine what defenses may be available to you. The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison is thoroughly equipped to defend your innocence, so call 856-427-6888 or send us a message today to arrange a free consultation.

Why Probable Cause Matters in Your New Jersey Criminal Case

Mount Holly Probable Cause Criminal LawyersIf you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey, there are some key legal principles that may significantly influence the outcome of your case, one of which is probable cause. “Probable cause” is a legal term that is often used in the context of search and seizure laws in New Jersey. Generally, police must have probable cause to initiate actions against you that would otherwise violate your constitutional rights—which means that it is essential to know and understand what the term means to protect your rights. At The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison, our experienced criminal defense lawyers aggressively challenge probable cause for unlawful searches that result in criminal charges against our clients. In this article, we explain the concept of probable cause and why it matters if you have been charged with drugs, weapons, or another crime after a search in New Jersey. For a free consultation about your case, contact our Collingswood office at (856) 427-6888 or contact us online today.

Burlington County NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains Probable Cause

The definition of probable cause is much more fluid than you might think. The law has attempted to keep the term flexible so that it can apply to a variety of situations. Nonetheless, it is still meant to be practical and based in common sense so the average person can understand when an officer may have probable cause.

Essentially, the term means that an officer has reason to believe that you are doing something illegal. The reason that they may think that criminal activity is taking or has taken place will vary, but once there is probable cause, an officer would be able to conduct a search or detain you. If the officer did not truly think you had committed a crime or that the search would result in evidence of a crime, they cannot lawfully conduct a search of your person or property.

Probable cause comes into play when:

  • An officer is going to make an arrest
  • You are about to be pulled over while driving
  • You are stopped on the street and searched
  • Your vehicle is searched after a stop
  • Police want to search your home

If the police do not have probable cause to take action, any evidence that they obtain because of that action can be disregarded or thrown out at trial. That means that it cannot be used against you in a criminal proceeding.

Examples of Probable Cause in New Jersey Criminal Cases

Perhaps the best way to explain probable cause is to set out a typical example. Imagine a pull-over situation from the perspective of a police officer. The officer has a speed gun set up and clocks you driving 57 miles per hour in a 45-mile zone. Because he knows you were speeding, he has probable cause to pull you over. Then, when he comes over to speak to you about the incident, he smells marijuana in the vehicle. The smell alone constitutes probable cause to search your car to look for illegal substances. Had the officer stopped you and searched your vehicle without knowledge of your speeding or the marijuana smell, he would not have probable cause, and the marijuana he found would not be admissible evidence at trial.

Keep in mind that your consent often “trumps” probable cause. That is, if you consent to a search, the police do not have to have probable cause for the search. Your consent makes probable cause virtually irrelevant.

Generally speaking, the police cannot stop you or detain you unless they have reason to do so. They cannot stop your vehicle unless they think you have violated a law. Some exceptions apply to this general rule, especially with regard to police doing investigations, including sobriety checkpoints. If police follow procedure for setting up a DWI checkpoint under New Jersey law, you can legally be charged with DWI at a sobriety checkpoint and probable cause for a motor vehicle stop is unnecessary.

Mount Holly NJ Probable Cause Criminal Defense Attorney

Whether an officer has probable cause is an extremely important part of criminal law and procedure. If police could simply act without probable cause, then there would be very little to protect your constitutional rights to privacy and to be secure in your person and property. If you have been arrested for a crime, it is imperative to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer examining your case to see if police lacked probable cause. The attorneys at our firm have been defending clients facing criminal charges in Burlington County, Gloucester County, Camden County, and throughout Southern New Jersey for over 20 years and we know how to find constitutional violations that pave the way for a dismissal. Contact us at (856) 427-6888 anytime for a free case evaluation from a knowledgeable attorney.

Medford Pharmacist Sentenced for Distributing and Dispensing Prescription Drugs

Prescription Drug Defense Attorney Burlington, New JerseyDuring a period of time that has become known as America’s opioid epidemic, “pill mills”—where doctors or pharmacists loosely hand out drugs—have become a worthy target for law enforcement and prosecutors. In fact, drug charges against medical professionals have become very common in Burlington County and throughout New Jersey.

While the criminal justice system aims to rehabilitate drug use violators with special initiatives like New Jersey’s drug court program, there is little sympathy extended to individuals who take advantage of and facilitate the chemical dependency of others for their own financial gain.

Such is the case with Doug Goldfield—a 60 year-old pharmacist from Medford Lakes, who was sentenced last Tuesday to 27 months in prison, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to illegally distribute and dispense oxycodone and other drugs, as well as oxycodone distribution. While Goldfield might not fit the stereotype of a drug dealer, prosecutors alleged that the pharmacy knew their customers were obtaining the drugs for resale or non-medical use, customers were traveling to the pharmacy from far way, they did not keep oxycodone in a locked area, and they even allowed customers to refill 30-day supplies of pills multiple times per week.

Goldfield pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally distribute and dispense oxycodone and other drugs and illegally distributing oxycodone. The crime of illegally distributing oxycodone probably sounds self-explanatory, but what is involved in the crime of conspiracy?

Conspiracy to Distribute Drugs in New Jersey

Under New Jersey criminal law, a person is guilty of conspiracy with at least one other person if “with the purpose of promoting or facilitating its commission” they: (1) agrees with another person or persons to engage in conduct that constitutes a crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or (2) agrees to aid another person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.” NJ Rev Stat § 2C:5-2 (2013).

Like any crime, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant committed either the first or second condition of the crime of conspiracy, with the required intent, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Typically, the crime of conspiracy in New Jersey requires some type of overt act on the part of the defendant. However, one exception to this is a “crime of the first or second degree, or distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog.” NJ Rev Stat § 2C:5-2 (d) (2013). Essentially, this exception makes proving the crime of conspiracy to illegally distribute oxycodone easier than proving conspiracy in non-drug related crimes.

Defenses for Conspiracy Drug Distribution

There is one affirmative defense available in a charge of conspiracy—renunciation of purpose. An affirmative defense is invoked by a defendant when they admit to having committed a particular crime but claim they should nonetheless be found not guilty due to a recognized, mitigating defense. One example of an affirmative defense is self-defense. A person can admit that they assaulted another person but argue that they should not be found guilty because they were simply acting in self-defense.

In the case of conspiracy, the affirmative defense of renunciation of purpose is available when the defendant proves by a preponderance of the evidence (a lower standard than that required of the prosecutor—”beyond a reasonable doubt”) that after they conspired to commit the crime, they told law enforcement about the plan and “thwarted the commission of any act in furtherance of the conspiracy.” In other words, by telling a law enforcement officer about an intended criminal act, the defendant can avoid being found guilty of conspiracy to commit it.

Prescription Drug Defense Attorneys in Burlington, NJ

If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug offense involving prescription drugs or other controlled dangerous substance (CDS), do not delay in seeking legal help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison zealously protect the rights of individuals charged with intent to distribute and dispensing drugs in Medford, Mount Holly, and throughout Burlington County, NJ. Call (856) 427-6888 for a free consultation about your case or contact us online today.

Pretrial Detention Since Bail Reform in NJ

Mount Holly Detention Hearing AttorneysBail reform in New Jersey reshaped how pretrial detention and bail work in the state. On January 1, 2017, the Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act (the “Act”) became law. Before the Act, judges would set money bail amounts for each case a defendant had. If the defendant could not pay the amount in bail or bond then he or she would be held in jail before trial. The Act changed the process of deciding how and whether to hold someone in pretrial detention, based not on whether someone could monetarily afford bail, but a more nuanced, objective way of deciding based on risk of flight and danger to public safety. If you or a loved one has a pretrial detention hearing in New Jersey, it is imperative to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who can represent you. The lawyers at The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison use decades of experience to effectively represent clients at bail hearings in Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester County and throughout Southern New Jersey. Contact us today at 856-427-6888 or fill out our online form to arrange a free consultation.

Criminal Complaints Resulting in Detention

When someone is arrested, the first step is for the arresting law enforcement officer to decide what kind of complaint the person will be charged with, either a summons-complaint or a warrant-complaint. The decision between the two is based on an automated pretrial risk-assessment process. The summons – while still initiating the criminal process – is less serious and is basically summoning someone to the courts, while a warrant would allow law enforcement to more proactively bring the person to the court. Some crimes require use of the warrant-complaint against the defendant, such as murder, sexual assault, and robbery, which means, for those crimes, the defendant must be held for those 48 hours.

The main difference between a summons and a warrant for detention purposes is that if it is a warrant then the defendant must go to county jail for detention, to be held for up to 48 hours before a hearing to decide whether to hold or release the person. While he or she is held, the pretrial services program will develop their recommendation for the court as to what the judge should do with the person regarding pretrial release monitoring or pretrial detention. Upon motion by the prosecutor for pretrial detention, the judge then makes the final decision with all of this information during the hearing within those 48 hours. If the person is not released during the hearing, then they will be held until trial or a plea.

Public Safety Assessment of Risk

Risk-assessment is a computer generated process. It starts with taking the defendant’s fingerprints at the police station before the defendant goes to jail. Before the summons-complaint and warrant-complaint decision described above is determined, a “preliminary public safety assessment” is given to police and prosecutors. If a judge then approves a warrant-complaint, pretrial services will continue generating the risk assessment when the defendant is held for those 48 hours under the warrant.

Risk-assessment examines a few qualities of the circumstances, including the nature of the offense – such as whether it was a crime of violence – and the defendant’s personal history, including age, prior violent convictions, and prior failure to appear. The system determines the likelihood that someone might not show back up to court and makes a recommendation on whether the person should be detained or released before trial. In sum, instead of being based on the ability to pay bail, the judge’s decision on detention and release is based on risk – using risk-assessment technology – that the defendant will not show back up to court or poses a danger. The judge will weigh the results of the Public Safety Assessment (PSA), as well as the arguments presented by the prosecutor and the defendant’s attorney. This is why it is so important to have a skilled New Jersey criminal defense lawyer who can demonstrate why you should be released during your detention hearing.

Consult an Experienced Attorney for Your Detention Hearings in Burlington, Camden, & Gloucester County, NJ

Having legal counsel for the pretrial detention hearing to provide advice and counsel is absolutely essential if you are currently facing criminal charges in New Jersey. In order to increase the likelihood of getting released on reasonable or no conditions, you should enlist the help of an attorney who regularly defends clients at detention hearings. Contact The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison at 856-427-6888 for a free consultation with an NJ detention hearing lawyer who will fight for your rights.

Why Letting Someone else Drive Drunk Can Get You Charged with DWI in New Jersey

Mount Holly NJ DUI Defense AttorneysGovernment agencies and non-profit organizations have been largely successful in getting out the message that driving while intoxicated (DWI) is dangerous. It is also against the law. New Jersey, like all other states, has DUI laws making it illegal to drive with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08 percent or higher. The penalties and punishments for drunk driving can be severe, even for first DWI offenses. As you might expect, the consequences of a conviction become more damaging for subsequent DUI offenses. However, New Jersey takes DWI enforcement another step further. The state also holds people responsible if they allow another person to drive while intoxicated. In other words, you can be guilty of DWI even though you were not driving intoxicated in violation of New Jersey DUI laws. Continue reading for more information about allowing DWI charges in New Jersey. And if you have been charged with DUI for letting someone drive drunk in Burlington County or South Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison at (856) 427-6888 for a free consultation with an experienced NJ DWI lawyer.

Can Passengers & Others Who Are Not Driving Be Charged with DWI?

Yes, according to NJ Rev Stat §39:4-50 (2016) you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) even if you were not the person operating the vehicle. The statute makes it illegal for anyone to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above in New Jersey. Additionally, the statute makes it illegal to “permit another person” who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs to operate a vehicle. The law does limit the responsibility of other individuals to vehicles that are owned by, or in the control and custody of, the person.

The consequences of allowing someone to drive while intoxicated can be serious. You could face the same DWI penalties as the drunk driver if you are found guilty of allowing that person to operate a vehicle while intoxicated. What does that mean to you Depending on the DUI offense, you could face the same penalties as the driver including:

  • Incarceration in jail
  • Substantial fines, fees, and surcharges
  • Increased insurance costs
  • Community service
  • Completion of Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IRRC) Program
  • Suspension or revocation of driving privileges

To give you an idea of what you can face if you are convicted of allowing someone to drive under the influence, the penalties for a first DUI can include:

  • Fines and fees of up to $905 plus a $1,000 surcharge per year for up to three years;
  • Suspended license for three months;
  • Up to 30 days in jail; and,
  • Twelve to 14 hours of treatment at an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC).

The punishments increase for subsequent DUI offenses or DUI offenses involving related alcohol offenses such as driving with an open container, while suspended for DWI, or in possession of drugs. DUI accidents and underage DUI can also enhance the penalties for a DUI conviction.

Experienced DUI Attorneys for Clients Charged with Allowing DWI in Mount Holly, Marlton, Moorestown, Pemberton, Chesterfield, Bordentown and Nearby Areas

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI for letting someone drive your car drunk, you need to contact a New Jersey DWI defense attorney immediately. We recommend that you utilize your legal right to remain silent and contact our as soon as possible. It is in your best interest to have experienced legal counsel representing you as quickly as possible after being charged with allowing DWI. Our experienced NJ drunk driving attorneys are ready to assist you in fighting these charges. We can help you protect your legal rights and your future by mounting a strong legal defense. Call (856) 427-6888 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.

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If you or someone you love has been charged with a criminal or DUI offense in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, finding the answers you need to make informed decisions is critical. Complete our contact form to request your free consultation or contact our offices in New Jersey at (856) 427-6888, Philadelphia at (215) 235-5240, or Delaware County at (610) 853-9494.


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