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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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3 Little-Known Situations That Could Result in Possession Charges

Possession of drugs or other illegal items, which is often known simply as “possession,” is a common criminal charge in New Jersey. Possession may be either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the type and amount of controlled substances or other items involved. While most people think of possession as having items on your person that belong to you, there are other situations that can result in possession charges—even if the drugs or items in question aren’t “yours.”

Here are some of the lesser-known situations that can result in a possession charge:

Access to the Place Where the Substances are Kept

If controlled substances are sitting in your pocket or purse, you are considered to have actual possession of them. But what if the substances are in a locked box across the room, and the only thing in your pocket or purse is the key to that box?

Under the legal doctrine of “constructive possession,” you are still considered to have possession of the items in the box because you have the key—and the key means you can access those items without needing anyone else’s permission.

Holding Something “For a Friend”

Having drugs or other items in your pocket, purse, or bag still counts as possession, even if the items are not yours. For instance, holding something “for a friend” still means that you are possessing the item, even if you cannot use it without your friend’s permission. The legal consequences are the same even if the item isn’t “yours.”

Being Inside the Same Vehicle

When you accept a ride from a friend, do you own everything in their car? Probably not. But, for the duration of the ride, by law, you are considered part-owner of everything in their car—unless it is in a locked part of the vehicle, such as the glove box or trunk, to which you do not have a key or other access. But if there is an illegal substance found anywhere else in the motor vehicle that you are catching a ride in, you can still be charged with “possession of drugs in a motor vehicle“, even if the drugs are not yours.

If you’ve been charged with possession, don’t wait: contact an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney who can help you. Your lawyer can help protect your legal rights, inform you about the charges against you and the likely outcomes, and help you fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Contact John Tumelty law today to begin discussing your legal options.


The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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