I am currently representing a defendant in an Essex County Municipal Court who is charged with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana. This would be the third time that she has been charged with an offense of this type. What makes this case a little unusual is that she has never used her conditional discharge, which is a deferred adjudication program typically reserved for first time drug offenders.
The maximum penalty a defendant can face when charged with a disorderly persons offense, possession of marijuana charge is up to 6 months in jail, $1000 fine, and a six month loss of license. Typically speaking, for a first, or even a second conviction, most courts will not sentence a defendant to jail. But probation will almost be certain, in addition to the loss of license.
In this particular case, the defendant is not so concerned with the conviction on her record, but what she does not want is probation or loss of license. She does not want to use a conditional discharge (assuming that it would be available) because that would be tantamount to probation, but she would not lose her license.
The bottom line is if the prosecutor does not offer a straight plea with no loss of license and no probation, than I may have to take the case to trial and risk having my client sent to jail for a third conviction. My client understands the risk, but insist that she cannot be on probation.
I give this example because it illustrates how a particular client’s objectives dictates defense strategy. Most client would gladly accept a disposition where the charges would be dismissed following a period of probation with no loss of license, but not everyone.
As an Essex County and New Jersey criminal and traffic defense lawyer, I understand that individual goals of a client may control how I proceed. I may not always agree with them, but it is my job to attempt to achieve the result desired.