After you read the following NJ Criminal Statute (Loitering) you may decide that you need the help of a lawyer, or need a legal interpretation of how this statute applies to your case. The firm of Villani & DeLuca has experienced criminal lawyers with over 20 years of experience, including a former municipal prosecutor. Call the number above for a free 24×7 phone consultation or read more about the disorderly conduct charge.
In general, loitering refers to wandering, circling, prowling, or remaining in a public place with the intent to buy or sell a controlled dangerous substance. The behavior may occur on foot, on a bike or even in an automobile. A public place can be a public highway, street, alley, sidewalk, park or shopping area. A public place may also mean a private area that the public generally has access to, such as an amusement or theme park.
The loitering statute describes ways in which the prosecutor can prove the element of intent since it is rather difficult to do without any guidelines. The prosecutor may prove intent to buy or sell controlled dangerous substances by pointing to a few types of actions, such as: (1) repeated beckoning to or stopping pedestrians or motorists in a public place; (2) repeatedly passing objects or receiving objects from pedestrians or motorists in a public place; or (3) repeatedly circling in a public place and, on one or more occasions, giving or receiving an object from a pedestrian or motorist. Of course, the prosecutor must also prove that the objects being passed were in fact drugs, money to purchase drugs, drug paraphernalia, analogs or any other controlled dangerous substances.
Since the intent of the statute is to deter the trafficking of controlled dangerous substances, raising the defense that you were not engaged in that sort of activity may work. Of course, you would have to prove that the items being exchanged were not controlled dangerous substances or any type of drug. Presenting evidence that you were not engaged in exchanging prohibited items through witness testimony may help get your charges reduced or dropped. You may also refute the charge by presenting evidence that tends to show that you were not in a “public” place according to the statutory language.
If you are charged with loitering, you may also be charged and convicted with possession of CDS or drug paraphernalia. For the loitering charge alone, you could face a fine of up to $500, possible jail time, community service and even restitution if your loitering caused any property damage. Call Villani & DeLuca, P.C. today for help from an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.
a. As used in this section: “Public place” means any place to which the public has access, including but not limited to a public street, road, thoroughfare, sidewalk, bridge, alley, plaza, park, recreation or shopping area, public transportation facility, vehicle used for public transportation, parking lot, public library or any other public building, structure or area.
b. A person, whether on foot or in a motor vehicle, commits a disorderly persons offense if (1) he wanders, remains or prowls in a public place with the purpose of unlawfully obtaining or distributing a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog; and (2) engages in conduct that, under the circumstances, manifests a purpose to obtain or distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog.
c. Conduct that may, where warranted under the circumstances, be deemed adequate to manifest a purpose to obtain or distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog includes, but is not limited to, conduct such as the following:
(1) Repeatedly beckoning to or stopping pedestrians or motorists in a public place;
(2) Repeatedly passing objects to or receiving objects from pedestrians or motorists in a public place;
(3) Repeatedly circling in a public place in a motor vehicle and on one or more occasions passing any object to or receiving any object from a person in a public place.
d. The element of the offense described in paragraph (1) of subsection b. of this section may not be established solely by proof that the actor engaged in the conduct that is used to satisfy the element described in paragraph (2) of subsection b. of this section.
Disclaimer: A copy of this statute has been provided for your information. This wording was current from the NJ website lis.njleg.state.nj.us as of August 2012.