A Middlesex County man was recently arrested for having more than a pound of marijuana shipped to his home. He was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute after South Brunswick police received a tip about the drugs and performed a controlled delivery of the package.
In any marijuana possession case, the prosecution has to prove the element of possession beyond a reasonable doubt. Although possession is usually fairly straightforward, it can be tricky when dealing with mail-order drugs. Anyone can send someone else a package, after all, and simply receiving a package doesn’t prove that the recipient ordered it or knew what was inside it.
To obtain enough evidence to prosecute defendants for receiving drugs in the mail, police usually perform what’s known as a “controlled delivery.” Once they become aware that a package contains drugs—whether due to a tip or because the package was opened and inspected during shipping—a police officer disguised in a postal uniform is sent to deliver the package. The police officer will then ask the recipient to sign for the package, even though most packages don’t require a signature, and if the recipient signs the police can use this as evidence of possession and arrest him. The recipient may still be able to claim ignorance regarding the package’s provenance at trial, but if he accepts the package the police can usually get a warrant for additional evidence such as emails and financial records documenting the purchase.
Controlled deliveries are often effective, but recipients can avoid being arrested by following a few simple steps:
Never order marijuana or other drugs from overseas—international packages are frequently scanned and searched when they go through Customs, but domestic packages are only searched if they’re damaged or obviously suspicious (e.g., marked with drug information or giving off marijuana odors)
Never sign for a package containing drugs—if a signature is required there’s a good chance that the package has been intercepted by law enforcement
Never use a check or credit card to purchase mail order drugs—money orders, bitcoins, and more anonymous payment methods leave less of a paper trail
If you’ve been arrested for receiving marijuana in the mail, contact the Law Offices of Palumbo & Renaud and schedule a free initial consultation with Anthony N. Palumbo at 908-337-7353.