Manalapan, NJ Day-Care Worker Arrested for Drug Possession
Recently, as reported in Patch.com, an officer with the Manalapan Township Police arrested Gabrielle Melamudov, 22, on charges of marijuana possession, following a traffic stop that resulted in multiple motor vehicle summonses. Discovering the Freehold resident had less than 50 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in her possession, the officer arrested her. Although authorities released Ms. Melamudov pending a future court date, the case could have become much more complicated because Ms. Melamudov is a day-care worker.
Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana is a disorderly persons offense under New Jersey law. Upon conviction, a defendant is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 plus various assessments to Drug Enforcement, laboratory analysis, Victims of Crime Compensation Board and to the Safe Neighborhood Services Fund that could total about $675. If the defendant has no prior convictions, the law carries a presumption of nonincarceration, but the law does allow the court to sentence the defendant to as much as six months in jail. Also upon conviction, the court must suspend the defendant’s driving privileges for at least six months and up to two years. For a day-care worker, these penalties certainly are onerous.
If there had been reason to believe Ms. Melamudov was in possession of the drugs while working at a day-care facility, the charges could have been worse. Fortunately for her, Police Captain Thomas Barstow decided, “We have no information that would enable us to pursue that avenue of investigation.”
A skilled and determined defense attorney could provide substantial help for a defendant in Ms. Melamudov’s position. There may be sufficient grounds to challenge the search of her car that led to the discovery of the drugs. Barring that, a knowledgeable lawyer might convince the court to allow her to enter the conditional discharge program. The program is open to first-time offenders and can ultimately result in the charges being dismissed.