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South Jersey Possession with Intent to Distribute Attorney

Drug crimes, especially those that involve the sale or distribution of drugs, are always closely monitored by police in the “War on Drugs” era that we still live in. Because of this, drug possession with intent to distribute (sometimes called “PWID”) is a crime that police in Southern Jersey crack-down on.

This guide will help explain the crime of possession with the intent to distribute, sell, or deliver drugs and drug manufacturing. If you have been charged with possession with intent to distribute in South Jersey, this information may help explain your charges to you.

What is Possession with Intent to Distribute?

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 is the New Jersey statute that prohibits possessing drugs with the intent to distribute them. Specifically, the statute bans manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing drugs with the intent to do any of these things.

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This statute has a few features that are worth noting before we move on to penalties. First, the statute specifically extends to the production, sale, or distribution of fake drugs as well. This means that if someone is selling something they claim to be drugs, but it turns out not to be an illegal drug, that seller can be punished as if the drug was real. Second, the statute covers all steps of manufacture and production, distribution, or actual sale. This means that a maker, distributor, or seller, regardless of their level within a distribution chain, can be found guilty under this statute.

Along with this is the last point, that there does not need to be an actual sale nor actual delivery to be found guilty under this statute. The wording includes not only selling drugs, but even includes giving drugs to someone else for free. The statute also criminalizes possession with the intent to distribute. That means that you do not need to be caught actually selling or distributing drugs in order to be found guilty under this statute.

The intent to distribute or sell drugs can be proved many ways. Short of actually catching a defendant mid-sale, there are manyr factors that police and prosecutors can use to prove the intent to distribute. First, the actual words that a defendant uses may indicate the intent to distribute. Additionally, facts about the quantity of drugs (i.e. more than enough for personal use), packaging of drugs (e.g. in many small containers), paraphernalia (e.g. possession of scales), and amount money on a defendant may help prove the intent to distribute drugs.

Drug Penalties in New Jersey

Most of the penalties for possession with intent in New Jersey are based on the amount and types of drugs. Most drugs are classified in “schedules,” which indicate how dangerous the government considers each drug, with Schedule I being the highest and Schedule V being the lowest. Some examples of Schedule I drugs include marijuana, psilocybin (the drug in hallucinogenic mushrooms), heroin, MDMA (as well as MDA and MMDA – this includes drugs like Ecstasy and Molly), and LSD. Schedule II includes opium and opiates, cocaine (both powder and crack), and OxyContin/oxycodone. Schedule III includes methamphetamines, ketamine, PCP, and amphetamines (like Adderall). Schedule IV and V have less common drugs, or prescription drugs – which are illegal to possess without a valid prescription in your name, and are always illegal to sell unless you are a licensed pharmacist.

In general, New Jersey’s crimes are organized into the following categories and penalties, listed highest to lowest:

  • First degree crime, with ten to twenty years in prison and up to $200,000 in fines
  • Second degree crime, with five to ten years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines
  • Third degree crime, with three to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
  • Fourth degree crime, with up to eighteen months in prison up to $10,000 in fines
  • Disorderly persons offense, with up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines

Many of the drug statutes increase the fines by over double, and some even change prison minimums.

For PWID involving five ounces or more of heroin, cocaine, or the derivatives of either, the statute ensures that at least one third of the sentence for a first degree crime will be served, and increases the fine to $500,000. One half ounce to five ounces is punishable as a second degree crime, and less than one half ounce is a third degree crime with up to $75,000 in fines.

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For most other drugs, the designated amount threshold creates a second degree crime, and anything under that threshold is a third degree crime. These amount thresholds are based on weight and, as such, change depending on the drug. For instance, since marijuana is less dense, its threshold is five pounds, and because LSD is so concentrated, its weight threshold is a mere 100 milligrams.

Contact a South Jersey Defense Lawyer for Intent to Distribute Charges

If you have been charged with possession with intent to distribute in South Jersey and are looking for a criminal defense attorney with experience in dealing with possession with intent charges, contact the Law Offices of John Zarych. John Zarych is a criminal defense attorney who has been practicing for over forty years, and is currently accepting new clients. To set up a consultation, call (609) 616-4956.