When Can You Be Charged with Manufacturing, Distributing, or Dispensing CDS Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5?

Illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin are called controlled dangerous substances, or CDS.  Dispensing, distributing, or manufacturing CDS are all extremely serious crimes in New Jersey.  Depending on the type and quantity of CDS involved in the offense, the defendant could face decades behind bars and tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in criminal fines.  The defendant will also receive a criminal record, which can make it much harder to get hired, find housing, or earn professional licenses.

What Must the Prosecutor Prove for a Defendant to Be Convicted of Drug Distribution or Manufacture of CDS?

In any criminal case, the prosecutor needs to prove every element of the offense being charged in order for the defendant to be convicted.  If even a single element is missing, the defendant cannot be convicted of that crime.  For a defendant to be found guilty of manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing CDS in New Jersey, the prosecutor needs to prove that:

  • The substance was actually a CDS (or analog), not just a look-alike substance.  Examples of CDS under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5 include:
    • Cocaine (Coca Leaves)
    • Heroin
    • LSD/Acid
    • Marijuana (Cannabis)
    • Methamphetamine
  • The defendant created or was in possession of CDS with intent to distribute, manufacture, or dispense them.
  • There are two types of drug possession: actual possession, which means having drugs in your bag or on your person, and constructive possession, which is more complex.  Constructive possession means the defendant had the ability to exercise control over CDS located nearby.

The prosecutor does not need to prove that there was a financial transaction, or that any payment was received, because this is not an element of the offense as described by the statute.

If the defendant possessed drugs, but did not have intent to sell or share them, he or she should not be charged under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5.  Possession of CDS for personal use only, which is a less serious offense called simple possession, is a different offense under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-10 (unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance).  For example, simple possession of a small amount of marijuana (50 grams or less) would be charged under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-10(a)(4).

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NJ Penalties for Manufacturing or Distributing Heroin, Cocaine, LSD, Methamphetamine

Most states call serious crimes felonies.  In New Jersey, felonies are called indictable crimes, or simply crimes.  The penalties for the defendant depend on whether the crime is categorized as a fourth degree crime, third degree crime, second degree crime, or first degree crime.  In turn, this categorization depends on the type and quantity of CDS involved in the offense.

The statute provides the following penalties for manufacturing narcotics or distributing drugs in New Jersey:

  • Heroin, Cocaine 
    • Quantity – Less than half an ounce
    • Crime – Third degree
    • Sentence – Up to 5 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $75,000
  • Heroin, Cocaine 
    • Quantity – At least half an ounce, but less than 5 ounces
    • Crime – Second degree
    • Sentence – Up to 10 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $150,000
  • Schedule I CDS, Schedule II CDS  
    • Quantity – Less than 1 ounce
    • Crime – Third degree
    • Sentence – Up to 5 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $75,000

Note this doesn’t include heroin (Schedule I) or cocaine (Schedule II), which carry the penalties shown above.

  • Schedule I CDS, Schedule II CDS  
    • Quantity – At least 1 ounce
    • Crime – Second degree
    • Sentence – Up to 10 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $150,000

Again, this does not include heroin or cocaine.

  • Schedule III, Schedule IV CDS  
    • Quantity – Any
    • Crime – Third degree
    • Sentence – Up to 5 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $25,000
  • Schedule V CDS
    • Quantity – Any
    • Crime – Fourth degree
    • Sentence – Up to 18 months in prison
    • Fine – Up to $25,000
  • LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide)  
    • Quantity Less than 100 milligrams or an “undetermined” amount
    • Crime – Second degree
    • Sentence – Up to 10 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $150,000
  • LSD  
    • Quantity – At least 100 milligrams
    • Crime – First degree
    • Sentence – Up to 20 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $500,000
  • Methamphetamine 
    • Quantity – Less than half an ounce
    • Crime – Third degree
    • Sentence – Up to 5 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $75,000
  • Methamphetamine 
    • Quantity – At least half an ounce, but less than 5 ounces
    • Crime – Second degree
    • Sentence – Up to 10 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $150,000
  • Methamphetamine 
    • Quantity – At least 5 ounces  
    • Crime – First degree
    • Sentence – Up to 20 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $300,000

Fines and Sentencing for Selling Marijuana Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5

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Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance alongside heroin and LSD.  However, marijuana crimes aren’t penalized like other offenses involving Schedule I substances.  The penalties for distribution of marijuana, or possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, are listed below.

  • Marijuana 
    • Quantity – Less than 1 ounce
    • Crime – Fourth degree
    • Sentence – Up to 18 months in prison
    • Fine – Up to $10,000
  • Marijuana
    • Quantity – At least 1 ounce, but less than 5 pounds
    • Crime – Third degree
    • Sentence – Up to 5 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $25,000
  • Marijuana 
    • Quantity – At least 5 pounds, but less than 25 pounds
    • Crime – Second degree
    • Sentence – Up to 10 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $150,000
  • Marijuana 
    • Quantity – At least 25 pounds
    • Crime – First degree
    • Sentence – Up to 20 years in prison
    • Fine – Up to $300,000

Contact an Experienced Atlantic City Drug Crime Attorney

If you or one of your loved ones was arrested for manufacturing drugs, or drug possession with intent to distribute in New Jersey, you are facing harsh penalties, including enhanced fines which are higher than the fines typically imposed for crimes of the same degree.  You need a skilled and experienced Atlantic City drug distribution defense lawyer on your side.

To set up a free legal consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 today.  We have more than 45 years of combined experience handling felony drug charges in Atlantic City, Galloway Township, Egg Harbor Township, Pleasantville, Hamilton, Ocean City, Wildwood, Cape May, and more.