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NJ man toked outside courthouse while there to face pot charges

According to a news report, a 23-year-old Union man traveled to a Fort Lee courthouse on Dec. 5 in order to respond to criminal charges stemming from a September marijuana incident. During a break in the legal proceedings at 11:15 a.m., he stepped outside and was confronted shortly thereafter by a passing Port Authority police officer who was leaving the building. The reason for the interaction was that the young man had allegedly been smoking marijuana.

According to a Port Authority spokesman, the police officer allegedly smelled a strong odor of the drug on the man as he passed him. Although the exact details of the chain of events were not reported, a marijuana cigarette was somehow obtained from the man's jacket pocket, and he also is said to have admitted to smoking it just moments earlier. The man has been charged with criminal possession of marijuana.

Drug crimes, including the charge of marijuana possession, are considered to be serious in nature. If convicted for drug possession, penalties could include jail time, loss of employment and other life-changing consequences.

When attempting to render a conviction, a judge may consider many items of evidence. In this case, the legal issue of probable cause may come into play. Without probable cause, the Port Authority officer may have lacked the legal right to confront the man in the first place. Such a finding could possibly result in the charges being dismissed. A criminal defense attorney may be able to advise a client whether or not such a defense may prove ultimately successful. If the grounds for the police stopping the man are considered legitimate, the attorney may alternatively advise a plea bargain that may reduce the potential penalties.

Source: NY Daily News, "NJ man facing marijuana charge caught smoking pot outside courthouse: cops", Thomas Tracy, December 06, 2013

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