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Stuffing Bra? Use Tissues, Not Baggies of Heroin

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Route 80 has a reputation as being a "drug highway," but I doubt that most police officers would expect to find over 300 packets of heroin in a woman's bra during a routine traffic stop.  The woman was charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute heroin after New Jersey police stumbled across the relatively large quantity of heroin during a roadside traffic stop in the early afternoon. During  the stop, the officers ordered everyone out of the vehicle, at which point they observed what they believed was drug paraphernalia associated with heroin. While the online article does not provide details with regard to what happened next, I am sure that the police began to question everyone. At this point, the driver admitted that she was hiding additional heroin in her bra. The woman was arrested, taken to the police station, subjected to a strip search, and the search led to the discovery of over 300 baggies of heroin.

Possession With Intent to Distribute Charge

The woman was charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute, which would be equivalent to a Possession With Intent to Deliver charge in Pennsylvania. A Possession With Intent to Deliver charge in Pennsylvania is a felony offense and thereby subjects a person to substantial criminal penalties, such as jail time and fines, and also collateral consequences, like license suspensions and prohibitions on receiving financial aid for college.

Given the relatively large quantity of heroin involved, a Pennsylvania conviction of Possession With Intent to Deliver, in violation of 35 P.S. ยง 780-113(a)(30), could subject the person to mandatory minimum penalties under the "drug trafficking" statute. "Drug trafficking" is intended to impose much more severe sentences and fines on people that deliver larger quantities of drugs. It would be up to the prosecutor's discretion whether or not to pursue the drug trafficking mandatory sentence.

Passengers Charged? Proving Possession of Drugs?

The online article stated that at least one of the passengers in the vehicle was also charged with Possession With Intent to Distribute. Unless the man admitted to being involved or the woman provided incriminating evidence, I question how the prosecution will prove the "possession" portion of the charge. In Pennsylvania, there are generally two types of possession, actual and constructive. Actual possession means that the drugs are on the person, like the woman having the heroin in her bra. Constructive possession requires proof that the person knew about the drugs and had the ability to exercise dominion or control over them. Here, I wonder how the prosecution can prove that the man knew about the heroin baggies in the woman's bra without an admission from the man or a statement from the woman.

Had the woman simply stuffed her bra with tissues as opposed to over 300 baggies of heroin, she wouldn't be in this position and needing the services of a drug defense attorney.

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