Drug charges can carry very harsh or surprisingly lenient penalties. These penalties tend to fluctuate based on the details surrounding your case. Not only do drug charges vary widely depending on the types of drugs involved, but they are also commonly connected to other criminal offenses and charges. Handling drug charges on your own may feel overwhelming, and you likely want an attorney to fight on your behalf and help you make decisions regarding your defense.
If you or a loved one was charged with a drug-related offense, our Atlantic City drug charge defense attorneys can help challenge the case against you and ensure that your rights are defended. For a free case review, contact our team at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Call us right away at (609) 616-4956.
What Kind of Drug Charges Could You Face in Atlantic City?
There are an incredible number of different drug charges in New Jersey. You could be charged simply for having drug paraphernalia or other drug-related instruments. Here is a brief description of the drug-related charges that are most common:
Possession is one of the most common drug-related offenses in Atlantic City. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10, it is illegal to knowingly possess or have any controlled substances under your control. This includes illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and drug analogs or fake drugs. Possession charges tend to be less intimidating because possession is a non-violent offense and does not really involve a “victim.” However, your charges could be quite serious if the drugs involved are classified as such.
Controlled substances are grouped into five Schedules based on addictive properties, the potential for abuse, and medical uses. Drugs that are highly addictive, dangerous, and have no medical purposes are likely to be grouped in Schedule I or II. In contrast, less serious drugs or those with medical uses are more likely to fall into a less serious Schedule. Under the statute mentioned above, possession of Schedule I, II, III, or IV drugs is charged as a third-degree crime. Possession of Schedule V drugs may be a fourth-degree crime.
Possession with Intent to Deliver
If the police have evidence to believe that you were in possession of drugs because you intended to sell or distribute them, you could face additional penalties. The supposed intent to distribute the drugs in your possession will only upgrade your charges and penalties. However, law enforcement and prosecutors must be able to back up their claims of distribution for you to be convicted.
You can also be charged for making the drugs in question. Drugs do not simply fall out of thin air. Many drugs are produced or manufactured by dealers or others involved in the drug trade. Charges for manufacturing controlled substances, under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5, can be charged very seriously. For example, manufacturing heroin can be charged as a first-degree crime. However, much like possession, manufacturing charges may depend on the Schedule of drugs involved.
How Drug Charges Can Be Upgraded in Atlantic City
Like most other criminal charges, drug charges can be upgraded or enhanced based on certain aggravating factors surrounding a case. Aggravating factors are details about your case that make your situation worse. Often, charges and penalties become more serious in the presence of aggravating factors.
One such aggravating factor is the location of your alleged drug offense. While it is always illegal to possess certain drugs, having them on school grounds is considered especially serious. If you were arrested for a drug offense that occurred on a school’s campus, you could face additional criminal charges.
The presence of minors generally tends to make drug charges worse for defendants. While you could face charges for simply having drugs on school property, there are even more charges if a minor was involved in a drug transaction. Dealing drugs is bad enough, but there are additional charges for dealing drugs to minors. Talk to our Atlantic City drug charge defense lawyers about your case as soon as possible.
Drug charges are not always isolated events. Many drug charges are connected to other criminal charges, making for a very serious case with steep penalties. For example, gun charges are often found among drug charges in many cases. Weapons and gun charges may be applied independently of your drug case, but the two together could lead to more serious penalties. Many crimes are upgraded when a deadly weapon is used.
Fighting Against Drug Charges in Atlantic City
There are potentially a number of tactics you could use to defend against drug charges in Atlantic City. Our Atlantic City drug charges defense attorneys can help you fight your charges by challenging the evidence against you and actions taken by law enforcement. If there is no evidence to support your charges, you should not be convicted.
First, we can challenge any evidence we believe was seized in violation of your rights. The police must search for and seize evidence under a valid warrant in any criminal investigation unless a special exception exists. With no valid warrant and no special exceptions, any seized evidence is tainted and must be kept out of your trial. If you believe the police searched your home without a warrant when they found the drugs in question, we can challenge the drugs and hopefully prevent them from being used in court. This could seriously hinder the prosecutor’s efforts and lessen the likelihood of conviction.
We can also challenge the sufficiency of other evidence in your case. For example, if the police believe you intended to distribute drugs or were distributing drugs to minors, they need evidence to prove those claims beyond a reasonable doubt. Without enough reasonable and articulable evidence to demonstrate your offense, the charges should not stand, and we can move to have your case dismissed.
Our Atlantic City Drug Charge Defense Lawyers Can Help
Drug charges in Atlantic County are not to be taken lightly. Even a single charge for simple possession deserves careful attention. Our defense attorneys are here to provide you with the best defense possible and make sure that your rights are defended. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych right away at (609) 616-4956 for a free initial case evaluation.