Getting arrested for a New Jersey drug offense of any kind can be a frightening experience. The thought of having a criminal record and the negative impact a drug conviction can have on your future can leave you feeling overwhelmed. The assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney can help alleviate some of this stress — If you are facing criminal charges for any drug offense contact the experienced attorneys at Sarofiem & Antoun, LLC today to discuss how we can help with your defense.
New Jersey Drug Offenses and Their Consequences
New Jersey has a variety of laws that cover what constitutes a criminal drug offense in the state. These laws cover everything from possession to distribution, as well as different types of drugs. The consequences for these drug offenses also vary greatly, depending on the circumstances and other factors such as what type of drug was involved, and how much.
Some of the most New Jersey common drug offenses and their consequences include:
New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice (N.J.S.) section 2C:35-10 covers the crime of drug possession. Under this law, it is illegal to “knowingly, or purposely” obtain or possess a “controlled dangerous substance.” Controlled dangerous substances include drugs such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other illicit drugs.
- Consequences: The consequences for a drug possession charge differ greatly depending on what type of drug you had in your possession and how much of it you had. Penalties for a drug possession charge are based on a schedule which is set according to drug and amount.
- Marijuana: If you were in possession of less than 50 grams, it is considered a disorderly persons offense. This misdemeanor charge can result in up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. If you were in possession of more than 50 grams, the penalty is more severe. You can face up to 18 months in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
- Cocaine, Heroine, Methamphetamine, and other Illegal Narcotics: If you are found in possession of one of these illegal substances, the penalties are more serious. Possession of these types of drugs can mean a penalty of 3-5 years in prison and up to $35,000.
- Prescription Drugs: (J.S 2C-35:10.5) If you are in possession of prescription drugs, without having a lawful prescription, you can face criminal penalties. Depending on how many pills are found in your possession you can face jail time (up to 18 months) and hefty fines (up to $10,000)–these penalties become more severe if you have 100 or more pills in your possession.
Under N.J.S. section 2C:36-2, it is also a drug offense to be found in possession of drug paraphernalia like pipes, bongs, needles, etc. Drug paraphernalia can be anything that is used to “introduce into the human body a controlled substance.”
- Consequences: Even if you do not have drugs in your possession, you can still face penalties for having drug paraphernalia. This offense is considered a disorderly persons offense which means up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
If you are discovered with a large amount of drugs, you may be charged with a drug distribution charge. N.J.S. 2C:35-5 prohibits manufacturing or distributing controlled substances. This section also makes possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance crime, meaning you do not have to actually sell the drug to be convicted on this charge, just have the intent to sell.
- Consequences: Like the penalties for drug possession, the criminal penalties for a New Jersey drug distribution conviction vary based on the drug being distributed or sold, and the amount of the drug in possession. Once again, a drug schedule is used to determine sentencing. When it comes to drugs like heroin and cocaine, the penalties are severe including up to 20 years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine. Marijuana distribution also has serious consequences that range from 18 months-20 years in prison, and large fines. The severity varies greatly depending on how much marijuana was in possession (the less you had, the less serious the sentence) and if you were also involved in growing marijuana plants.
What to Do if You Are Arrested for a New Jersey Drug Offense
If you are arrested for a New Jersey Drug offense of any kind, remember that you have options. You do not want to be pressured into a plea, without considering the options you have to defend yourself. You will want to reach out to a skilled New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible who can help make sure your rights are protected and you are given the opportunity to fight your charges.
There are a variety of defenses available that can lead to the dismissal of drug charges including:
- Demonstrating that you were not actually in possession of a drug
- Showing you had a valid prescription
- Showing that your marijuana was obtained legally for medical use
- Demonstrating that the drugs were discovered as a result of a violation of your constitutional rights
- Demonstrating you had no knowledge of illegal drugs in your possession
An experienced attorney can also look at the facts of your case and to see if the charges can be reduced. For example, many times a drug distribution charge can be reduced to a simple possession charge by showing that you had no intent to distribute drugs. Additionally, an attorney can look to see if alternative sentencing such as drug diversion programs are available if this is your first drug offense.
Get Help Today
If you or someone you care about is facing a charge for any type of New Jersey drug offense, do not hesitate, reach out to the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Sarofiem & Antoun, LLC today. As experienced drug offense defense attorneys, we are ready to provide a diligent defense in your case. You can contact us anytime, 24/7, for a free case consultation. Call or text us at (201) 792-3333!