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Cape May Drug Charges Defense Lawyer

Narcotics convictions in Cape May can lead to costly fines and lengthy prison terms under New Jersey’s tough drug laws.  If you’ve been charged with simple drug possession, possession with intent to distribute, or other drug crimes such as manufacture, cultivation, transportation, or the possession of drug paraphernalia, you need an experienced team of criminal defense lawyers on your side in court.

To set up a free and confidential legal consultation with an experienced Cape May drug crime lawyer, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 today.  When the charges against you are this serious, you simply can’t afford to go it alone.

Types of Charges Our Cape May Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys Handle

The Cape May drug crimes defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych bring more than 45 years of combined experience to every case we handle.  We defend Cape May residents against a wide variety of drug charges and pride ourselves on taking an aggressive, results-oriented approach, and have obtained favorable outcomes for many of our clients. We will investigate the circumstances of your search and arrest to determine whether your Constitutional rights were violated by law enforcement.  You may have been the victim of an illegal search and seizure, or an unconstitutional traffic stop.  We will leave no stone unturned when scrutinizing the admissibility of the evidence against you.  We may also be able to help you qualify for the Pretrial Intervention Program (PIT), which allows participants to avoid prison and be placed on probation instead.

The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) classifies, or schedules, controlled substances according how dangerous and addictive they are. Drugs are divided into five numeric categories, with the lowest numbers representing the most dangerous substances – and typically, the most severe criminal penalties.

Prescription drugs are scheduled alongside illegal street narcotics. It is illegal to possess prescription medication without obtaining a legitimate prescription from a licensed physician – even if the medication itself would otherwise be legal.

At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our Cape May drug charge defense lawyers have extensive experience handling charges involving all types of narcotics and controlled dangerous substances (CDS), including but not limited to the following:

  • Schedule I
    • Marijuana (Cannabis)
    • Heroin
    • LSD/Acid (Lysergic acid diethylamide)
    • Ecstasy
    • Peyote
  • Schedule II
    • Cocaine
    • Methamphetamine
    • Methadone
    • Oxycodone/Oxycontin
    • Fentanyl
    • Adderall
  • Schedule III
    • Steroids
    • Testosterone
    • Ketamine
  • Schedule IV
    • Xanax
    • Valium
    • Ambien
    • Soma
  • Schedule V
    • Cough Syrup (e.g. Robitussin)

We will analyze and debate every point of evidence to seek a weakness in the prosecutor’s case, including the legality of the search, the intended use of the substance, and determining who exercised control over the property where the substance was found. With nearly half a century of experience on our side, we know exactly what to look for – and how to challenge it.

Penalties for Drug Crimes in Cape May: Fines and Sentences

The fines and sentences for drug convictions in Cape May are not uniform.  New Jersey’s criminal penalties for drug offenses vary based on factors such as:

  • Whether the defendant has a prior record of offenses.
  • The type of drugs involved (e.g. marijuana, heroin, cocaine).
  • The quantity of drugs involved.
  • Whether the drugs were intended strictly for personal use (simple possession), or were meant to be sold and distributed (possession with intent to distribute/deliver, or PWID).  PWID is the more serious of the two charges.  The quantity of drugs can impact whether a defendant is charged with simple possession or PWID, particularly if the defendant was also in possession of items such as scales or baggies which would indicate intent to distribute.

Most states use the terms “misdemeanor” and “felony.”  New Jersey calls misdemeanors “disorderly persons offenses” or “DP offenses,” while felonies are known as “indictable crimes.”  Indictable crimes range by degrees, with first degree crimes being the most serious offenses.

In accordance with N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-10a4 (Possession of Marijuana), possession of marijuana in amounts of less than 50 grams is a disorderly persons offense, or misdemeanor, subject to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  Other consequences include suspension of your driver’s license and rehabilitation and counseling for substance abuse.  Marijuana possession in amounts larger than 50 grams is a fourth degree indictable crime, or felony, subject to 18 months in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000.

Other, non-marijuana controlled dangerous substances (CDS) are addressed separately by N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-10a(1).  Offense gradings and penalties vary, ranging from disorderly persons offenses to felony indictable crimes.

As noted above, offense grading and penalization for PWID, cultivation, manufacturing, and/or transportation are even harsher than the consequences for simple possession.  All of the offenses listed below are categorized as indictable crimes.

  • Marijuana PWID
    • Less than 1 oz – Fourth Degree Crime
    • More than 1 oz, less than 5 lbs – Third Degree Crime
    • More than 5 lbs, less than 25 lbs – Second Degree Crime
    • More than 25 lbs – First Degree Crime
  • LSD (Acid) PWID
    • Less than 100 mg – Second Degree Crime
    • More than 100 mg – First Degree Crime
  • Cocaine/Heroin PWID
    • Less than 0.5 oz – Third Degree Crime
    • More than 0.5 oz, less than 5 oz – Second Degree Crime
    • More than 5 oz – First Degree Crime

Can I Go to Jail for Drug Possession in Cape May?

Drug possession for personal use is referred to as simple possession, which distinguishes this offense from possession with intent to distribute (PWID). Simple possession of controlled substances is penalized harshly by the state of New Jersey, whose courts can impose fines reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. You could also lose your driver’s license, spend years in prison, and be forced to participate in counseling.

In addition to these already harsh consequences, you will also be burdened with a criminal record, which can create major, lifelong obstacles when it comes to housing, federal student loans, assistance programs, employment, and professional licensing and certification. You could lose your ability to pay for college, or be turned down for jobs you are otherwise qualified for. In short, a drug possession conviction can change the rest of your life for the worse, depriving you of basic freedoms and countless opportunities.

When the potential consequences are this severe, you simply cannot afford to challenge a prosecutor without dedicated legal support behind you. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, we have over 45 years of experience handling possession charges in Cape May. We offer free initial consultations and will keep your information confidential. To set up an appointment with our drug defense attorneys, call our law offices at (609) 616-4956 today.

Penalties for Simple Possession of Marijuana and Controlled Substances in Cape May, New Jersey

Most states refer to offenses as misdemeanors and felonies. New Jersey uses different terminology. Misdemeanors are roughly equivalent to disorderly persons offenses (DP offenses), while felonies are referred to as indictable crimes.
While the language is slightly different, the end result of a conviction is much the same: lengthy prison terms, costly fines, license suspensions, mandatory counseling, and other negative consequences.

Unfortunately for defendants charged with these types of drug offenses in Cape May, New Jersey takes one of the nation’s less lenient approaches to prosecuting and penalizing simple possession and other drug crimes. Criminal penalties by offense grading are outlined below:

  • First Degree Crime
    • Sentence – Up to 20 years
    • Fine – Up to $200,000
  • Second Degree Crime
    • Sentence – Up to 10 years
    • Fine – Up to $150,000
  • Third Degree Crime
    • Sentence – Up to 5 years
    • Fine – Up to $15,000
  • Fourth Degree Crime
    • Sentence – Up to 18 months
    • Fine – Up to $10,000
  • DP Offense
    • Sentence – Up to 6 months
    • Fine – Up to $1,000

Penalties can be enhanced if the crime occurred in a school zone, which means within 1,000 feet of school property or a school bus. While DP offenses are not technically crimes, a conviction will nonetheless result in the creation of a criminal record. Make no mistake: the penalties for DP offenses may be lesser than those imposed for indictable crimes, but that doesn’t mean there are no repercussions.

Drug possession charges can be graded as DP offenses or indictable crimes depending on factors like the type and quantity of substance involved. As the quantity of the substance increases, or the drug becomes more dangerous according to DEA scheduling, the penalties tend to become more severe.

Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana

The distribution or sale of marijuana (cannabis) is subject to special fines and penalties under New Jersey law. All marijuana sale offenses are graded as indictable crimes. The criminal penalties for marijuana distribution in Cape May are outlined below:

  • Under 1 oz
    • Fine – $25,000
    • Sentence – Up to 18 months
  • 1 oz or more, but less than 5 lbs
    • Fine – $25,000
    • Sentence – Up to 5 years
  • 5 lbs or more, but less than 25 lbs
    • Fine – $150,000
    • Sentence – Up to 10 years
  • 25 lbs or more
    • Fine – $300,000
    • Sentence – Up to 20 years

If the crime takes place within a designated school zone (within 1,000 feet of a school building, school playground, or school bus), the penalties are enhanced: up to five years in prison, plus a maximum fine of $150,000. Penalties are also enhanced for sales or distribution to minors or to women who are pregnant.

If you were arrested for selling drugs in Cape May, or if your loved one has been incarcerated, you need an experienced drug lawyer fighting in your corner.

What Are the Penalties for Drug Distribution in Cape May, NJ?

Crimes involving controlled substances are penalized harshly in the state of New Jersey. Drug distribution, or possession with intent to distribute (PWID), is an even more serious offense than simple possession (possession for personal use only).
Sales and distribution offenses are classified as indictable crimes, which are equivalent to felonies in other jurisdictions. Offenses are graded based on the quantity and type/schedule of drug involved.

Is it Illegal to Possess Drug Paraphernalia in Cape May?

Some drug charges do not involve any narcotics at all.  N.J.S.A. § 2C:36-1 makes it illegal for New Jersey residents to possess drug paraphernalia.

While paraphernalia is typically thought of as any item used to ingest or administer a drug, such as a pipe or a bong, N.J.S.A. § 2C:36-1 uses a much broader definition.  This definition extends far beyond inhalation and injection devices, extending to include “all equipment, products and materials of any kind which are used or intended for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog.”

In other words, items like baggies, scales, and grow kits are all classified as drug paraphernalia, even though they are not explicitly used to ingest or administer controlled substances.  All of the following items are prohibited by N.J.S.A. § 2C:36-1:

  • Bongs
  • Chillums
  • Masks
  • Pipes
  • Roach Clips
  • Spoons

Paraphernalia possession is a disorderly persons offense, which is equivalent to a misdemeanor in other jurisdictions.  The criminal penalties for paraphernalia possession include up to six months in jail, and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Contact Our Cape May Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys Today

At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our attorneys have achieved favorable results for numerous clients arrested for drug possession in Cape May. We may be able to have the charges against you dropped or reduced, or negotiate for you to be admitted into Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), which would enable you to avoid being convicted.

A drug-related conviction can have a negative impact on the rest of your personal and professional life.  Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule your free, private case evaluation with our experienced drug crime and criminal defense attorneys in Cape May today.

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