Drug Possession and Distribution Attorney: Essex County New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer

New Jersey Possession of Drugs, Distribution of CDS, Marijuana and Cocaine Charge Lawyer

Essex, Hudson, Bergen, Morris, Hunterdon, Somerset, Union County Criminal Attorney

This article summarizes New Jersey drug possession and distribution laws including intent to distribute. It addresses common drug offenses and the general legal concepts as they pertain to those charges. Each New Jersey drug possession and distribution arrest presents an offense specific set of facts that should be reviewed by an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer. For more information on other drug offenses, including prescription drug fraud, or if you have other inquiries, call the Law Office of Todd D. Palumbo for your free consultation.

The most commonly charged drug possession and distribution offenses typically involve marijuana and cocaine. See N.J.S.A 2c:35-10 (the possession statute and 2c:35-5 (intent to distribute). Harsher punishments are imposed for distribution offenses as a general rule.  The single most important factor in most drug cases is the weight of the narcotics. How much of any given drug a defendant has in his/her possession will likely determine whether a possession or distribution charge is appropriate.  As a rule of thumb, marijuana possession and distribution charges carry less severe penalties. Still, a person arrested and charged with a marijuana related offense faces possible jail time, a criminal record, heavy fines, and possible license suspensions.

For the record, the following is an outline of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th degree offense and the corresponding possible jail sentences. The ultimate sentence is up to the judge:

First degree              10-20 years

Second degree         5-10 years

Third Degree              3-5 years

Fourth Degree            up to 18 months

Disorderly Persons     up to 6 months

Getting back to the distribution v. possession distinction, in order for the state to prove the distribution charge, it must show that you intended to distribute. The intent to distribute is often a fact specific proof. For example, a defendant may have been observed during the course of a drug transaction or sold to an undercover officer. Another common scenario occurs when an arrested drug offender is in possession of packaging materials, like bags and scales. Other times, drugs are separated into many different packages. Although the decision to charge possession or distribution frequently boils down to a black and white “weight” issue, other factors, as illustrated above, may also contribute.

Many times, defendants charged with intent to distribute offenses will also face location specific crimes, such as school zone or public park charges. If the alleged selling or distributing of drugs occurs within a 1000 ft of a school zone, or 500 ft of a public park, a defendant convicted of the same will likely face mandatory jail time. Police frequently attempt to make arrest in these areas. Whether they could have made the arrest elsewhere does not matter. It is no defense that the defendant was unaware he/she was in a school zone. Take note that school zone and park charges only apply to distribution offenses. That being said, it is frequently the job of a skilled New Jersey drug distribution lawyer to show that his client did not have the intent to distribute.

More importantly, the best NJ lawyers will identify probable cause issues with your arrest. An individual cannot be arrested and searched without probable cause. Think of a probable cause as a totality of the circumstances assessment. It is more than a hunch, but less than certainty that a crime is or will take place. Frequently, the police work off hunches. This is a violation of your Constitutional rights. This issue arises most often with motor vehicle stops and searches. The law surrounding probable cause issues is frequently changing and complex. The police make split second decisions. As a result, a “bad arrest” sometimes happens. But the distinction between a good and bad arrest frequently lies within the small details of recently decided case law. You need an Essex County NJ possession and distribution attorney who understands and READS the case law as it is handed down.

A frequently overlooked detail in drug possession and distribution cases is the effect of a conviction on driving privileges. All drug convictions carry mandatory license suspensions of up to 2 years, unless your NJ criminal defense lawyer makes the appropriate arguments to keep your license.

The foregoing sections are in no way a comprehensive study of all the NJ drug offenses and the corresponding penalties, but give some initial guidance. If you have been arrested and charged with drug possession or distribution of CDS in New Jersey, contact a New Jersey drug possession attorney. Lawyer Todd Palumbo will help you understand New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substance Law and the consequences of your particular drug related offense.

NJ drug possession and distribution specialist serving South Orange, Newark, Irvington, West Orange, Jersey City, Hudson County, Essex County, Maplewood, Orange, Bloomfield, Montclair, Weehawken, Union City, Hoboken

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