Facing charges for drug possession alone can, upon conviction, result in harsh criminal consequences. If allegations of drug manufacturing or the distribution of drugs are also leveled, you face even harsher potential penalties.
Furthermore, the informal consequences of a drug-related conviction can lead to a social stigma that can remain long after the formal criminal consequences have been served or otherwise satisfied. A conviction can permanently derail your life and dreams while leading to a host of serious consequences. These consequences can range from prison time and fines to lost employment and loan opportunities. Therefore, it is essential to mount a robust defense against charges of this type. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer is the first step to protecting your rights and freedom.
To schedule a free review of your charges, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 and speak to our drug distribution lawyers.
Arrested on Drug Distribution Charges in Atlantic City?
Selling or delivering drugs or possessing more than a certain quantity of drugs is considered drug distribution. Our New Jersey criminal defense law firm serves clients in New Jersey. Our drug distribution lawyers provide strong and knowledgeable representation for those charged with illegally distributing:
- Methamphetamine (meth)
- Prescription drugs
- Other controlled substances
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5, it is illegal for anyone to knowingly or purposely be in possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute them. Possessing drugs does not necessarily mean they have to be on your person. They simply have to be under your control.
This means that unless you have a legally justifiable reason, it is illegal to possess controlled substances or offer them or intend to offer them for sale or distribution. To prove drug distribution charges, the prosecution must prove each of the following beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt:
- The alleged substance is a controlled substance
- The defendant possessed or controlled the controlled substance
- The defendant intended to sell or distribute the controlled substance or actually did distribute it.
- The actions by the defendant regarding the distribution were knowing or purposeful.
Potential Penalties for Drug Distribution Charges in Atlantic City
The penalties one can face for the distribution of drugs are based on both the quantity allegedly distributed and the specific drug possessed. The most serious charges can be imposed for the distribution of more than five ounces of heroin or cocaine since first-degree criminal charges can be imposed.
First-degree charges can potentially result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Charges for methamphetamine distribution are similar but carry slightly less harsh monetary penalties. If you have been charged with the sale or distribution of any of the above substances, you face serious criminal charges that can have lifelong limiting effects on your professional opportunities.
The exact terms of a potential criminal sentence largely depend on the unique factors surrounding your case. For example, according to N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5(b)(1), someone convicted of distributing 5 ounces or more of heroin may be guilty of a first-degree crime and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. On top of that, the law imposes a mandatory minimum sentence for this offense of one-third to one-half the total sentence. So, if you are sentenced to 20 years, you might have a mandatory minimum sentence of up to 10 years. You might also be fined up to $500,000.
Under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5(b)(2), if you are convicted of charges for distributing heroin amounting to at least half an ounce but less than 5 ounces, you may be guilty of a second-degree crime. Such a conviction may come with a prison term of at least 5 years but not more than 10 years.
Talk to your attorney about the specifics of your charges. What kind of substances are allegedly involved? What is the amount or volume of these alleged substances? Your charges and potential penalties may vary greatly based on this information.
How You Can Defend Yourself Against Charges for Drug Distribution in Atlantic City
Talk to our team about how you can mount an effective defense against your criminal charges related to drug distribution. Having evidence in our favor is one thing, but having the right strategy to use that evidence is the key to the success of your case.
Challenge the Evidence
One tried and true method is to challenge the validity of the prosecutor’s evidence. There are very strict rules about what kind of evidence is admissible in a court of law. If the prosecutor’s evidence does not meet these rigorous standards, our drug distribution lawyers can file a motion to exclude it, and it should not be used against you. If key evidence – like the controlled substances that were allegedly in your possession – are excluded, the prosecutor might not have what it takes to meet their burden of proof.
To be admissible, evidence must be obtained lawfully. If the authorities violate your rights when they conduct searches and seizures, the evidence they obtain by doing so is tainted and should be excluded.
For example, suppose the police searched your home and found controlled substances. Now, prosecutors are planning to use those controlled substances to support charges for criminal distribution. Next, suppose that the police did not have a valid search warrant or a good reason why a warrant was unnecessary when they searched your home. In that case, they have violated your Fourth Amendment rights to be free from illegal searches and seizures. The evidence (i.e., the controlled substances) should be excluded. Without those substances, prosecutors might not have much of a case.
We can also challenge the evidence on other grounds. If the evidence is not relevant to the charges and only serves to make you look bad to a jury, we can work to exclude it based on irrelevancy. Other evidence is categorially barred, like hearsay evidence that cannot be authenticated or does not meet any exceptions to the hearsay rule.
Justifications or Exceptions
In some cases, it is better to admit that the defendant did indeed have possession of the alleged controlled substances but that they had a legal and valid reason. For example, licensed pharmacists make a living by distributing controlled substances. These substances have legitimate medical purposes, and the law makes exceptions for people like licensed pharmacists.
Some controlled substances are illegal to have unless you have a valid prescription. Perhaps you have a prescription, but you lost track of the documentation when the police seized the substances. If we can find documentation of the prescription from you or your doctor, we can work to get the charges dropped.
Maybe the drugs were in your possession, but you were not aware. This is sometimes a problem when a friend or family member is involved with drug distribution. They might have stashed the drugs in your home without telling you. The police, in their investigation, traced the substances back to your home, executed a search warrant, and seized the drugs from your house. It might be tricky, as the true culprits might be unwilling to come forward, but we can work to show you had no idea the drugs existed and had no plans to distribute them.
For some, fighting the charges in the hopes of an acquittal is a losing battle. However, you should not give up entirely and plead guilty. Your attorney can help you work out a plea bargain with prosecutors so that the penalties for your charges are a lot less severe.
Prosecutors are infamously overworked and have huge caseloads. As such, they are often open to making plea bargains. We might convince the prosecutor to reduce your charges from distribution to simple possession, which carries a lighter sentence. This way, the case is completed much faster, and you will not spend as much time incarcerated or pay such hefty fines.
There might be other reasons to work out a deal. For example, in a larger drug distribution scheme, there might be various parties at higher, middle, and lower levels of distribution.
You might be a lower-level participant, but the police want to go after high-level leaders to try and topple the distribution network. If you have valuable information the police can use to apprehend others higher up the ladder, prosecutors might cut you a deal.
Experienced Drug Distribution Defense Attorneys
Please call our drug distribution lawyers at (609) 616-4956 and schedule a free, private evaluation of your charges with the team at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych.