Don't Let a New Jersey Marijuana Possession Criminal Charge Ruin Your
Arrested for Possession of Marijuana in New Jersey?
New Jersey laws, courts, and police still take marijuana possession
charges seriously. If you are accused of possession of marijuana/pot,
and were arrested or summoned to appear in a New Jersey criminal
courtroom, it is a legal matter than you need to take very seriously.
Medical marijuana laws were passed in New Jersey in 2010, but the
state has yet to set up a system making the substance available to those
patients who need it. This is due, at least in part, to the reluctance
of some lawmakers to make available a substance that has long been
considered a drug, regardless of what voters want. This lasting disdain
for marijuana is evident in how a defendant is treated when charged with
distribution or even mere possession.
Although attitudes towards marijuana have lightened somewhat over the
years, possessing it is still a crime and law enforcement and
prosecutors want to make sure there’s no misunderstanding there. If you
are caught with any significant amount of marijuana, you will
face criminal charges.
New Jersey Marijuana Possession Laws
Many people mistakenly believe they have to have the marijuana on
them to be charged with possession. This isn’t the case. If there is
reason to believe the marijuana is yours and it’s within your control,
you can be charged. This means keeping it
outside of your house or in the glove box of your car doesn’t prevent
criminal charges. If you do have the pot in your pocket, for instance,
it only makes things easier.
Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in NJ
Possession of marijuana is generally considered a disorderly
persons offense. This is true for any amount less than 50
grams. If you face a disorderly persons possession charge you could be
sentenced to a maximum of 6 months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
And even a simple marijuana/pot drug possession conviction could
result in penalties that include a
driver's license suspension.
If you are found in possession of more than 50 grams, you could face
a felony level indictable offense. Your charges could be elevated to a
crime in the 4th degree, something that carries up to
18 months in jail and $25,000 in fines.
Regardless of the possession charge you face, a criminal defense
attorney can look at the facts of your case and assist you in building a
defense. Helping you get the best results possible on your day in court
is their goal.
Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana
A far more serious offense, possession with intent to distribute
marijuana or even distribution can carry a much longer sentence. The
seriousness of these charges is based on the amount of marijuana you are
found to have in your possession.
For instance, if you are accused of distributing or attempting to
distribute less than one ounce, you will be charged with a crime
of the 4th degree and face up to 18 months in prison. Less than
5 pounds but more than a single ounce and that charge is elevated to a
crime of the 3rd degree with a 3 to 5 year prison sentence. Finally, if
you are caught with more than 5 pounds, the charge is a crime of the
second degree and carries up to 10 years in prison.
So, how does the prosecutor charge you with “intent” to distribute?
Many people think this is determined by how much marijuana you are found
with. While this can be a contributing factor, it isn’t always the whole
story. If you have other evidence of distribution it can also help the
prosecution prove your intent. Large amounts of cash, small packages of
marijuana, and a scale can all signify a sales operation.
In addition to years in prison, you have the potential to be fined
thousands of dollars.
When you are facing drug charges you don’t always get a second
chance. However, if this is your first offense, you may very well be
afforded that opportunity. A conditional discharge is a second chance
for small time marijuana offenders. If you have an otherwise clean
record, you could qualify for this opportunity.
Conditional discharge is like a period of probation. It may include
frequent drug testing and meetings with a supervising officer. But, once
you have satisfied the terms of the program, the charges against you are
dismissed. In other words, you are able to avoid a permanent criminal
record. Discussing your case with a criminal defense lawyer like me will
help you determine if this option might be available to you.
Marijuana charges are serious criminal charges, despite the growing
acceptance of the substance. If you are facing any marijuana charges,
contact me today for a free consultation on your case.
Matthew Reisig, Attorney at Law
New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer - Freehold, NJ (888) 628-8394 or locally at (732) 625-9660