How a New Jersey Drug Crime Lawyer Can Help
There are many ways a New Jersey drug crime attorney benefits your case. Even if you’re charged with a low-level crime, a drug conviction can leave you with a criminal record and a bad reputation.
When your future is at stake, a private attorney helps by:
Providing Insight into New Jersey’s Drug Laws
Our lawyers have decades of trial experience and a deep understanding of New Jersey Law. We know your rights and are comfortable defending them in the courtroom.
Challenging the Evidence Against You
The prosecution has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A defense attorney is aware of the evidence the prosecution needs to convict you in a drug case and can challenge and discredit it before the jury sees it in court. As former prosecutors, our lawyers know exactly how to challenge the prosecution’s evidence to have drug charges reduced or dismissed.
Providing You With Options
When you hire a defense attorney, your options open drastically as opposed to you defending yourself. An attorney evaluates your case and the evidence brought against you to determine the best course of action. Whether that is seeing if you qualify for a diversionary program or providing a solid defense in court, your drug crime attorney will help you choose the best option for your future.
Defending Against New Jersey Drug Charges
Under New Jersey law, drug crimes range in severity.
C&N takes all types of drug cases:
- Drug possession – N.J.S. 2C:35-10 makes it illegal to possess a controlled dangerous substance. We handle cases for possession of cocaine, ecstasy, fentanyl, or marijuana, among other illegal substances
- Drug trafficking – N.J.S.2C:35-5 makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled dangerous substance. We’ll defend you against all charges related to possessing and illegally distributing drugs
- Prescription drug offenses – N.J.S.2C:35-24 states specific guidelines for possessing prescription drugs. Whether you’ve been charged with unlawful possession or distribution of prescription drugs, we’ll handle your case
- Possession of drug paraphernalia – N.J.S.2C:36-2 states the law regarding drug paraphernalia. If you were in possession of any drug-related equipment or material, you could be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia
Penalties for New Jersey Drug Crimes
Whether it’s your first offense or subsequent drug offense, you could face steep penalties. In New Jersey, criminal offenses are not referred to as misdemeanors or felonies. Instead, crimes are categorized as disorderly persons offenses and first, second-, third-, or fourth-degree crimes.
The following penalties you could face for drug crimes include:
- First-Degree Criminal Offense – 10 to 20-year prison sentence; fines up to $200,000
- Second-Degree Criminal Offense – 5 to 10-year sentence; fines up to $150,000.
- Third-Degree Criminal Offense – 3 to 5-year prison sentence; fines up to $15,000.
- Fourth-Degree Criminal Offense – 18 months in jail; fines up to $10,000.
- Disorderly Persons Offense – 6 months in jail; fine of $1,000.
- Petty Disorderly Persons Offense – 30 days in jail; fine of $500.
Examples of Specific Drug Crime Penalties
Drug penalties are general and for more information regarding a specific drug in your possession, refer to the links below.
- Simple possession of cocaine – Up to 5 years in prison; fines up to $35,000
- Possession of less than 5 ounces but more than a half-ounce of ecstasy – 2nd-degree offense carrying a 5–10-year prison sentence; fines up to $150,000
- Possession of drug paraphernalia – Months in jail; fines up to $1,000
You can see that depending on your specific charges; your penalties could change dramatically.
Factors That Worsen Drug Crime Penalties
Drug penalties in Monmouth County are unique in that they range due to numerous factors. Here are some factors that can worsen your drug penalties.
- The quantity of drugs – In most cases, drug penalties are dependent on the amount you have. Being charged for selling .5 oz or less of cocaine is a 3rd-degree crime, while selling .5 to 5 oz of cocaine is a 2nd-degree crime.
- The type of drugs – Drugs are classified by schedules ranked based on their potential for abuse. Penalties for a Schedule I drug are far different than a Schedule V.
- If you have any prior convictions – Prior convictions will limit your options. First-time offenders have options for pretrial diversion programs to reduce charges. Subsequent offenses might make you ineligible and vulnerable to steeper penalties.
- The location the drugs were found – New Jersey law states that it is a 3rd-degree crime for distributing or possessing with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet from a school.
- Having a weapon – New Jersey law states that it is a 2nd-degree crime for anyone who has a weapon for unlawful use while committing a violation.
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You Have Options When Facing Drug Charges in New Jersey
Being arrested on drug charges is not the same as being convicted. A skilled attorney can craft a solid defense strategy for your case.
Lack of Probable Cause to Stop or Search
Many drug arrests begin with a traffic stop. Suppose police officers did not have probable cause to pull you over. In that case, a drug charge attorney can seek suppression of any evidence obtained from an illegal search or stop.
Likewise, police officers cannot search your home without a warrant signed by a judge. Even then, the warrant is probably limited in scope and only includes specific areas to search or items of interest.
Failure to Follow Due Process
Police officers should read your rights as soon as you are arrested. They also cannot question you alone if you request an attorney. Any failure to follow the due process in arrest, questioning, or processing may be grounds for the dismissal of drug charges.
You could get the charges against you dismissed if an eyewitness falsely identified you. This defense also includes an unfair or skewed lineup of potential suspects.
Flawed Test Results
Laboratories make mistakes. Police officers do not always follow the proper chain of custody. Any flaw, error, or omission in a drug test may be enough to get the charges against you dismissed.
First-Time Offender Diversionary Programs in New Jersey
When first time offenders are charged with drug crimes due to a debilitating addiction, you may be surprised that New Jersey courts look favorably on those who wish to seek help. There are many options for those who wish to attend a diversionary program, and your charges could be reduced depending on the type of charge. Some options include:
- Drug Court
- Pretrial Intervention
- Veterans Diversion Program
- Conditional Discharge Program
Qualification for these programs vary. It would be beneficial to speak with an experienced drug attorney about any programs you may be qualified for.
Drug Charges FAQ
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about New Jersey drug charges.
How Are Drugs Classified in New Jersey?
The New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act classifies narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and anabolic steroids into five groups called Schedules.
Controlled dangerous substances (CDS) are ranked from I to V according to their potential for abuse, absence of medical use in the United States, or lack of safe use in treatment by medical professionals.
- Schedule I Drugs – These substances have the highest risk for addiction and abuse and no accepted medical use (except for medical marijuana).
- Schedule II Drugs – While Schedule II drugs might have accepted medical use (with restrictions), they carry a high risk for abuse with severe physical dependency.
- Schedule III Drugs – Schedule III drugs have less potential for abuse but are a risk for physical or psychological dependence. These substances are currently accepted for medical treatment in the United States by a licensed practitioner.
- Schedule IV Drugs – Controlled substances within Schedule IV have a low risk for addiction. They are commonly used in medical treatment and have a limited potential for physical or psychological dependence.
- Schedule V Drugs – Schedule V controlled substances have the lowest potential for abuse or addiction. Doctors commonly prescribe them to treat various types of conditions.
Which Controlled Substances Lead to Criminal Charges?
It is illegal to possess, use, distribute, or manufacture most controlled substances. In some instances, possession is only legal with a valid prescription from a licensed doctor.
Many drug convictions involve substances that include:
- Crack cocaine
- Molly or Ecstasy