There are a few important concepts that one must understand if he or she has been charged with a distribution drug offense under NJSA 2C:35-5. CDS is a legal terms of art and encompasses a wide variety of intoxicating substances. Obviously, some are more common than others, i.e cocaine, heroin, marijuana, Oxycontin and other opiates, meth, etc.
The basis for the maximum penalties you face in connection with a distribution charge will depend upon the quantity alleged to be possessed, distributed or manufactured. For example, if caught with five ounces or more of heroin, cocaine or meth, you will be charged with a first degree crime and face up to 20 years in jail with a mandatory parole disqualifier. An amount less than five ounces but equal to or greater than one half ounce is a crime of the second degree. Anything less is a crime of the third degree unless the offense happens in a park zone, which is a separate charge all together (2nd degree). Prescription legend drugs may be charged under this section or 2C:35-10.5. The point is that the more the police say you have, the harsher the charge.
Factors such as quantity, quality and packaging interpreted by a witness who is an expert in the drug trade may be used to show intent to distribute even when the police have no direct evidence of actual distribution. Additionally, modus operandi, cash on hand, etc. will also play into the proofs.
The State will have to prove the amount it alleges. The are not allowed to just make up an amount.
Distribution does not mean selling. Selling is distribution, but merely sharing with a friend or guest at a party is also considered distribution, even if the drugs do not belong to you.
If you have been convicted of distribution on a previous occasion, you will face enhanced penalties if convicted. This is called Brimage eligibility and exposes the defendant to mandatory extended terms. Also, if it is alleged that the distribution occurred within 1000 ft of a school zone, the defendant is also Brimage eligible and faces enhanced penalties. School zone offenses under NJSA 2C:35-7 are third degree crimes, but are mandatory jail crimes if convicted
I am an experienced lawyer and defend those charged with serious drug charges. I know the law and work tirelessly in all my cases to get the best possible result. This may mean trial or a meticulously negotiated plea deal. The above information is just the tip of the iceberg. If you need clarification or help, please call.