Sentencing Guidelines for First Time Schedule I Drug Offenses
In New Jersey, drugs and illicit substances are classified as “Schedules.” Drugs will be classified as Schedule I, II, III, IV, or V, with Schedule I being the most serious and Schedule V being the least. If you are arrested for a drug-related offense, it may be challenging to determine which Schedule your offense may fall under. Drugs and controlled substances are often classified based on their proper chemical names rather than street names.
Schedule I drugs and controlled substances are considered to be the most serious and these kinds of offenses will be punished the most severely. Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and have little to no accepted medical uses in the United States. Possession of a Schedule I drug will be charged according to the amount of the drug in your control – the greater the amount, the greater the penalties. There may be additional penalties under certain circumstances, such as having drugs near a school.
If you have been charged with an offense related to a Schedule I drug, you should speak with an attorney right away. Our South Jersey drug offense lawyers can help you determine the extent of your potential penalties. You can arrange a free legal consultation with our team by calling the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.
How First-Time Offenders are Sentenced for Schedule I Drug Crimes in New Jersey
A complete list of Schedule I controlled substances can be found under N.J.S.A. § 24:21-5 of New Jersey law. According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5, it is illegal to manufacture, distribute, or possess any illegal drug or controlled substance. If you possess a Schedule I narcotic drug in an amount of one ounce or more, you may be charged with a second-degree crime. For an amount less than one ounce, you may be charged with a third-degree crime.
It is important to consult with an attorney about the details of your case because certain kinds of Schedule I drugs receive different treatment under the law. For example, heroin and marijuana are both classified as Schedule I drugs, yet both come with different penalties. Having five ounces or more of heroin may lead to charges for a first-degree crime. However, you must have at least 25 pounds of marijuana to be charged with a first-degree crime.
The law does not differentiate between first-time offenders and subsequent offenders when it comes to Schedule I drug offenses. However, as a first-time offender, you might be eligible for certain diversion programs. Drug offenders who may be eligible for New Jersey’s drug court program must be non-violent offenders with serious substance abuse problems. Completion of the program may allow you to avoid incarceration and a criminal record. While being a first-time offender is not necessarily required, it may help you get into the program. Speak to our New Jersey drug offense attorneys about the penalties in your case.
Which Drugs Are Schedule I in New Jersey?
The list of Schedule I drugs and controlled substances, as stated above, can be found under N.J.S.A. § 24:21-5. The list is very long and includes many different types of controlled substances, such as heroin, LSD, acid, MDMA, and marijuana. If you are unsure how your allegedly possessed controlled substance is classified, speak with our New Jersey drug offense lawyers to determine where you stand.
Drugs and controlled substances are classified into different Schedules based on several factors. These factors include the potential for addiction and abuse and whether the substance has an accepted medical use in the United States. To be classified as Schedule I, a controlled substance must have a very high potential for abuse with a serious chance for addiction. Also, Schedule I drugs have almost zero accepted medical uses. Any existing medical uses are considered too dangerous even under medical supervision.
It is crucial to speak with an attorney about your charges because your penalties will be different for different types of drugs. Not all Schedule I drugs are treated the same. Laws regarding some drugs, like marijuana, are currently in flux.
Marijuana as a Schedule I Drug in New Jersey
Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug in New Jersey. In years past, a drug offender charged with marijuana-related offenses would face rather serious penalties. However, marijuana has recently been the topic of political discussion, and many states are legalizing or decriminalizing it. While New Jersey still classified marijuana as Schedule I, it is not punished as harshly as it used to be.
As mentioned above, a very large amount, like 25 pounds, of marijuana may be charged as a more serious crime. However, smaller amounts may be met with far less severe penalties. As of 2021, anyone in New Jersey may possess up to 6 ounces of marijuana with no penalty. However, you may not consume marijuana in public places or while driving. Essentially, having marijuana only for recreational use is no longer a crime. However, possession of large quantities with the intent to illegally distribute may be met with legal action.
In general, having small amounts of marijuana is no longer the crime it used to be. However, the sale of marijuana may still be illegal, and possession with the intent to distribute may still lead to criminal consequences.
If you are facing marijuana-related charges, speak with our New Jersey drug offense lawyers about your case. As laws change, law enforcement may be slow to catch up, and your marijuana charges could be unnecessarily high. The debate surrounding marijuana is ongoing, and the law regarding marijuana offenses may continue to change.
Call Our New Jersey Drug Offense Attorneys for a Consultation Today
If you were charged with a drug-related offense involving a Schedule I controlled substance, you should speak with an attorney as soon as you can. Schedule I drug offenses are some of the most serious offenses and may be met with harsh punishments. Speak to our Cape May drug offense lawyers by calling the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956.