Sentencing Guidelines for First Time Schedule II Drug Offenses
Drug offenses are common throughout the United States. The prevalence of drug abuse has been a serious issue for decades, if not longer. Numerous laws exist regarding drugs, including illegal selling, producing, or even simply possessing them. While drug offenders tend to be met with a certain level of disdain, a first-time offender may be afforded more lenient sentencing options.
Drug offenses are often charged based on the Schedule of drugs involved. Drug Schedules are categories of drugs grouped by their addictive nature, medical uses, and overall dangerousness. The most serious class of drugs are Schedule I drugs, with Schedule II coming in at a close second place. While the penalties for a Schedule II drug offender are indeed harsh, an attorney can help you take advantage of alternative sentencing options for first-time offenders.
If you have been charged with a crime related to Schedule II drugs or controlled substances, our Atlantic City drug crime defense attorneys can help you. Call our team of attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free case review. We can help you fight your charges and minimize any criminal penalties.
What Are Schedule II Controlled Substances in New Jersey?
As mentioned before, drugs are classified into different Schedules. There are five total drug Schedules, each containing controlled substances of varying levels of risk. Schedule I is the most dangerous. Drugs in this Schedule tend to have a high potential for addiction and abuse and little to no recognized medical use. Schedule V drugs are the least severe, have a somewhat lower propensity for addiction, and may have recognized medical purposes. Schedule II falls right behind Schedule I and contains very dangerous controlled substances.
It is important to understand how drugs are classified because criminal charges are often based on the Schedule of the drugs involved. For example, someone charged with possession of Schedule II drugs will likely face harsher charges than someone charged with the same offense for Schedule V drugs. Schedule II drugs can be found under N.J.S.A. § 24:21-6 and include, but are not limited to, the following substances:
- Oxycodone and Oxycontin
- Amphetamine (Adderall)
The Schedule of your offense might also affect the possibility of alternative sentencing, especially for first-time offenders. A more lenient sentencing option, like parole or a diversionary program, may be offered for a first-time offender, although it is not guaranteed. Someone charged with a lower-Schedule controlled substance offense may more likely be granted alternative sentencing. Talk to our Brigantine drug crime defense attorneys about your charges as soon as possible.
Standard Penalties in New Jersey for First Time Schedule II Drug Offenders
Criminal charges may be assessed for the illegal production, distribution, or dispensing of controlled substances. Different charges can be assessed for the mere possession of controlled substances. In many cases, defendants charged with producing or selling drugs are also charged with possession. If you are criminally charged, talk to our New Jersey drug crime defense attorneys about getting help.
Charges for manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing drugs can be found under N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-5. Under this statute, you can be criminally charged for producing and selling drugs. You can also be charged with possession with the intent to distribute (PWID) if you have not yet distributed or dispensed any drugs. The charges will vary depending on what kind of drugs are involved and what amount you had. You could face charges for second-degree crimes if you are making or selling Schedule II controlled substances. Such offenses are punishable by at least 5 years in prison but no more than 10 years.
Possession of a Schedule II controlled substance may be charged under N.J.S.A. C 2C:35-10 if you have Schedule II drugs in your possession or otherwise under your control. If the drugs in your possession are of Schedule II, you may be charged with a third-degree crime punishable by at least 3 years in prison but no more than 5 years and fined up to $35,000. Call our New Jersey drug crimes defense attorneys for more information.
Adjusting Penalties for Schedule II Drug Offenders in New Jersey
The penalties listed above are standard for all offenders, first-time or not. However, criminal sentencing follows guidelines and may change depending on your lack of criminal record. Our New Jersey drug crime defense lawyers can argue for you to be sentenced within the lower end of the sentencing range because you are a first-time offender.
Sentencing tends to occur on a range. For example, there is a minimum and maximum term. Your sentence could fall at either end of this spectrum or somewhere in the middle. At your sentencing hearing, we may be able to convince the judge to impose a sentence closer to the lower end of the sentencing range. The judge will consider any mitigating and aggravating factors to determine the most appropriate sentence.
Aggravating factors are those that make you look bad. Aggravating factors often include the overall severity of the crime, the presence of violence, and a lack of remorse from the defendant. Mitigating factors make you look better and counteract aggravating factors. If your offense was non-violent, you have demonstrated remorse, and your role in the offense was smaller, we can present this information in support of a lighter sentence. Being a first-time offense is a major mitigating factor that must be presented.
You might also be eligible for standard probation as a first-time offender. According to N.J.S.A. § 2C:45-1, probation allows convicted defendants to avoid prison time and instead serve their sentence at home while conforming to certain restrictions and conditions. The terms of your probation will likely revolve around staying free of drug use, attending drug treatment and education courses, and avoiding criminal activity. Probation is often available to first-time offenders unless otherwise prohibited by statute. Speak with our Brooklawn, NJ drug crimes defense attorneys about a possible probation term instead of prison.
Alternative Sentencing Options in New Jersey for First Time Schedule II Drug Offenders
Not every criminal case has to end with a full jury trial. In fact, most cases in the criminal justice system are resolved through plea agreements rather than full trials. A plea agreement, plea bargain, or plea deal is an arrangement made between prosecutors and defendants. The prosecutor will agree to reduce the charges, and the defendant will agree to plead guilty and waive their right to a trial. Plea agreements may be available to any defendant if prosecutors are willing to negotiate. First-time offenders might have stronger bargaining power since they have no criminal history and may be less likely to re-offend.
Another possible option sometimes available for first-time offenders is Pre-Trial Intervention. This program may allow a defendant to have their charges dismissed if they comply with the program’s conditions. Pre-Trial Intervention for drug offenders is often open to first-time offenders with serious addiction problems. However, not all offenses are eligible if you are subject to a mandatory minimum incarceration period or ineligible for parole or probation. Our Cape May drug crimes defense lawyers can help you fight for alternative sentencing to avoid prison time.
Call Our New Jersey Drug Crime Defense Lawyers
If you are charged with drug crimes for Schedule II controlled substances, your charges may be very severe. Our Ocean County, NJ drug crime defense lawyers can help you fight your charges while reminding the court that you are a first-time offender. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 for a free case review.