Marijuana possession and distribution are the most commonly charged drug offenses. Relative easy accessibility to marijuana and growing social acceptance frequently creates a false sense of security for those who choose to indulge. However, if arrested and charged with either marijuana possession or distribution, do not assume that a conviction will result in the proverbial slap on the wrist. The arresting officer will determine whether to charge a possession or distribution offense based on the totality of the circumstances and the total weight of the marijuana the defendant possesses. If convicted of a New Jersey marijuana crime you may face the following penalties:
- Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana or 5 grams or less of hash is a disorderly persons offense . The statute authorizing punishment is N.J.S.A. 2c:35-10(a)(4) There are 28 grams in an ounce. A disorderly persons offense will appear on your criminal record if convicted. The penalties for possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana are a possible jail term of up to 6 months, a fine of up to $1000, a $500 DEDR penalty and a possible suspension of your driver’s license for up to 2 years. If the offense happens in a school zone, the court will impose 100 hrs of community service upon conviction.
- Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana or more than 5 grams of hash is punishable under 2c:35-10(a)(3). If convicted, the defendant is guilty of a fourth degree offense. This means that the individual will have an indictable/felony offense on his/her record. A convicted felon is burdened both legally and socially in any future endeavors. The penalties for this offense are up to 18 months in state prison, a fine of up to $25,000, a $750 DEDR penalty, loss of license for up to 2 years.
As previously stated, the more marijuana an individual has in his/her possession, the more likely a charge for distribution or possession with intent to distribute. Of course, if the allegation is that a sale transpired, a distribution charge can result not matter the weight of the CDS. The following are the penalties for distribution, possession with intent to distribute, and cultivation.
- Marijuana in a quantity of 25 pounds or more or 50 marijuana plants (regardless of the weight) is a first degree offense punishable by 10 to 20 years in state prison, and a fine up to $300,000.
- 5 pounds or more but less than 25 pounds of marijuana, 10 or more but fewer than 50 plants is a second degree offense punishable by 5 to 10 years in state prison and a fine up to $150,000.
- Marijuana in a quantity of 1 0z or more but less than 5 pounds is a third degree crime carrying 3 to 5 years in state prison and a fine up to $25,000.
- Distribution of less than 1 0z is a fourth degree crime. Fourth degree offenses carry the possibility of up to 18 months in jail and a fine up to $25,000
If the alleged distribution offense happens within 1000 ft of a school zone, the defendant will be charged accordingly. A possession with intent to distribute within 1000 ft of a school zone offense carries with it a mandatory period of incarceration. If the defendant is charged with distribution of less than 1 oz of marijuana in a school zone, the court will impose a 1 year mandatory jail sentence upon conviction. Marijuana distribution over 1 0z in a school zone may result in a mandatory 3 year jail term. Mandatory in school zone cases means that the defendant shall not be eligible for parole during the period of mandatory incarceration.
In my experience, constitutional search and seizure issues pop up time and again with marijuana arrest. Filing motions to suppress the evidence for lack of probable cause has proved to be a winning strategy on several occasions. Challenging the state’s proofs with regard to intent to distribute mens rea (mind set or intent) is also an effective method of downgrading marijuana offenses and obtaining excellent results. Additionally, the best drug possession and distribution defense lawyers understand the legal loopholes in the drug possession/distribution statutes. A comprehensive understanding translates into better trial results and less exposure for my clients. If you are a first time marijuana offender, or if you have multiple prior marijuana convictions, I can help you win your case and avoid conviction, possible jail time, and heavy fines.
The Law Office of Todd Palumbo serving all of New Jersey, including Essex, Hudson, and Bergen Counties, Newark, Jersey City, Irvington, Hoboken, Weehawken, Maplewood, Millburn, Short Hills, Verona, Montclair, Cranford, South Orange, Livingston etc.