About New Jersey Drug Charges
Drug crimes are among the most serious in New Jersey. If convicted, defendants face potentially life-altering penalties, up to and including the imposition of a jail term. As a result, if you are charged with a drug offense in New Jersey, it is critical that you have an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney representing you.
The State may bring charges for possession of any illegal drug or substance, including marijuana, hallucinogens, methamphetamines, heroin and cocaine. Crimes involving allegations of drug distribution are generally more serious and present more significant penalties.
Marijuana charges are among the most common in New Jersey criminal courts. A person can be charged for possessing even seemingly miniscule amounts of the drug, including a seed or residue in a pipe. Charges of this nature can result from motor vehicle stops, searches of person or property, police intervention in college parties, etc. It is also common for individuals to be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in connection with marijuana cases. These items can include pipes, bags, rolling papers, and other things.
The penalties for marijuana possession can be significant, including fines, loss of driving privileges, criminal record and, in some cases, jail. First time offenders may be eligible for a diversionary program, such as a conditional discharge or pretrial intervention (PTI).
If you are charged with marijuana possession in New Jersey, it is important that you have an experienced marijuana criminal defense attorney. These cases often involve complex legal issues, including search and seizure, chemical testing, custody of lab results and proof of actual possession. Your lawyer can review all of the evidence presented against you and recommend options for defense.
Charges may also be brought for unlawful possession of prescription drugs. In fact, charges involving pharmaceutical drugs, such as pain killers, are becoming more common and widespread. If an individual is found to be under the influence of prescription medication for which he or she does not possess a prescription, such possession may result in criminal charges. Penalties associated with these charges often hinge on the amount of the prescription drugs possessed. For instance, a defendant convicted of possessing five or more doses of a prescription drug may be charged with a fourth degree crime, which can result in up to 18 months in jail. If the possession consists of four or less doses, the defendant may be charged with a disorderly persons offense.
In order for an individual to obtain medication, he or she must first have a prescription from a licensed physician. That prescription is then presented to a pharmacist, who is authorized to supply the medication. This routine process has resulted in criminal efforts to obtain and use prescription drug pads. Such theft and prescription drug fraud is prosecuted just as seriously as other drug charges. These crimes are generally brought as third degree offenses, which can result in up to 5 years in state prison.
It is also unlawful for a person to distribute prescription drugs without a license to do so. As with possession charges, the penalties are based on the amount distributed: second degree charges for 100 doses or more, third degree charges for 5 to 100 doses, fourth degree charges for four or less doses. These charges all expose a defendant to the potential for considerable time in jail, ranging from 18 months to 10 years for each charge.
The law also prohibits forgery of prescription scripts and prescription drug fraud, both crimes of the third degree. If convicted, defendants face up to 5 years in state prison.
Distribution and Possession with Intent to Distribute
Generally, allegations involving distribution present more significant penalties. Penalties are often determined based on the type and amount of the drugs possessed. Also, consequences may be increased based on the location of the defendant at the time of arrest. For instance, if a defendant is found within a certain distance from a school or public park, the penalties are enhanced.