New Jersey Court Discusses De Minimis Crimes
In New Jersey, there are certain behaviors that are illegal, such as underage drinking, possession of illicit substances, and shoplifting, and people who engage in such activity may be charged with a crime. In some instances, though, the actual criminal activity will be deemed so insignificant in terms of risk of harm that it will be deemed a de minimis offense, and the charges arising out of the activity will be dismissed. What constitutes a de minimis offense was the subject of a ruling recently set forth by a New Jersey court in a case in which the defendants were charged with crimes after being caught with a small amount of marijuana. If you are charged with possession of marijuana or any other crime, it is advisable to speak to a capable New Jersey drug crime defense attorney to determine what defenses you may be able to assert.
The Alleged Crime
It is reported that the defendants were sitting on a beach in New Jersey when they were approached by a police officer. The officer noted that the male defendant had a lighter in his hand, and, as smoking on the beach was illegal, he questioned the defendants regarding their behavior. The officer ultimately discovered that the male defendant was in possession of approximately 8.4 grams of marijuana and a marijuana pipe.
Allegedly, both defendants were charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. The defendants both moved to have their charges dismissed as de minimis violations, partially due to the small amount of marijuana that was seized. The trial court granted the motion, and the charges against the defendants were dismissed, after which the State appealed.