New Jersey police often take drug crimes incredibly seriously. Police work hard to ensure that their cases are strong and that they have all the evidence they need to convict you for drug possession, drug distribution, and other drug offenses. Because of this, it is important to have a strategic criminal defense attorney handle your case.
The Collingswood drug crime defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych have combined decades of experience handling drug charges. Our attorneys may be able to represent you on your case, fight the evidence against you, and work to have charges dropped and dismissed. For help with your case, call our law offices today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with our lawyers. Our number is (609) 625-3006.
Simple Possession and Possession with the Intent to Distribute in NJ
Drug charges commonly come in one of two types: “simple” possession and possession with the intent to deliver/distribute (PWID). “Simple” possession is charged for crimes of drug possession for personal use, whereas PWID is charged when there is evidence that the defendant intends to sell the drugs or give them to someone else.
Simple possession under N.J.S.A. § 2C:25-10 covers possession with the intent to use the drugs as well as actual drug use. Similarly, N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5 covers both possession with the intent to deliver as well as actual delivery. § 2C:25-5 also covers related offenses, such as drug trafficking and manufacturing offenses.
Classes of Drugs for NJ Drug Crimes
The penalties for drug possession and distribution crimes vary greatly depending on the type of drug possessed and the quantity of the drugs. Drugs are typically classified into “Schedules,” with more dangerous, addictive drugs classified as Schedule I and more medicinal drugs with lower risk of abuse classified as lower schedules. These schedules range from Schedule I to Schedule V. Most drugs lower than Schedule III are not commonly abused or sold as street drugs. Many drugs Schedule I-III are common, familiar drugs that are commonly sold illegally and used recreationally, including:
- “Magic Mushrooms,”
- Crystal Meth,
- And other drugs.
Both illicit and prescription drugs can be possessed or sold illegally. Unless you have a prescription in your name, you cannot possess the drugs – and you can never sell or distribute drugs unless you are a licensed pharmacist or similar professional.
Penalties for New Jersey Drug Crimes
Drug crimes range from the highest to the lowest level of criminal offense in New Jersey. New Jersey’s criminal offenses are divided into “indictable crimes” for serious offenses and “disorderly persons offenses” for less serious offenses. Indictable crimes are classified as first degree through fourth degree crimes, with first degree being the most severe.
Overall, drug crimes cover the entire spectrum of levels of criminal offenses. Distribution or PWID for more serious drugs like cocaine and heroin carry the highest penalties. Charges for 5 ounces or more of these drugs are classified as first degree crimes, punished by 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $500,000.
The lowest level of offense, as of the writing of this article, is possession of marijuana for personal use. This is a disorderly persons offense if you have less than 50 grams of marijuana (or 5 grams of hashish). This is punished by up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
The penalties for these crimes are often increased if they are committed in a school zone or in another way that makes the crime worse. Some of these modifying conditions increase the minimum sentence or require some of the sentence be spent incarcerated.
Defenses for Drug Crimes in New Jersey
When charged with a drug possession offense in New Jersey, the police must prove you possessed the drugs. “Possession,” under criminal law, can involve “actual” possession or “constructive” possession. Actual possession involves having the drugs in your hands or on your person (e.g., in your pockets or backpack). Constructive possession includes ownership and control of the drugs when they are not literally on your person. This can include possession of something found in the trunk of your car or found in your house while you are not home.
Many cases are won by challenging constructive possession. If you are accused of possessing drugs, but you had no knowledge that they were there or others had access to the location they were stored, it may be impossible to prove you knowingly possessed the drugs.
Other defenses may be available for cases where police violated your rights to obtain evidence. Evidence seized without a search warrant or other justification cannot be used against you in court. Similarly, if you were arrested based on an illegal stop or illegal search, your arrest may be thrown out. This can help keep evidence from being used at trial, potentially preventing the government from proving their case against you.
Collingswood Drug Crime Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one was charged with drug offenses in Collingswood, New Jersey, call our law offices today. The Collingswood drug charge defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych are available for free consultations. Call our law offices today at (609) 625-3006 to schedule your consultation.