What is drug trafficking in New Jersey?
In the State of New Jersey, drug trafficking is categorized as the illegal sale, transport, production, movement, distribution of controlled substances and drugs which have been acquired unlawfully. The most commonly trafficked drugs in the state of the New Jersey and the United States are PCP, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamines, cocaine, and heroin.
What is drug possession in New Jersey?
Most states in the US look to control and regulate the possession of dangerous controlled substances by banning their possession without a lawful excuse to do so. The State of New Jersey is stricter on drugs that cannot be kept in possession of or be present with a person unless they are medically approved to do so or have a legal reason verifiable in court and have possessed the drugs illegally.
New Jersey classifies not only drugs such as Heroin, Marijuana, cocaine as dangerous controlled substances which amount to drug possession but also includes the compounds that are used to manufacture it.
Do the penalties differ for type of drug?
In New Jersey, there are different classes of drugs. Different classes of drugs are assigned in different schedules. Possession of such drugs is treated as a disorderly person’s offenses in the Municipal courts and hence most of the drugs are dealt with similarly with similar penalties. Only Marijuana and Cocaine are different drugs and are hence treated differently in terms of fines and penalties.
In the municipal court, they are treated in the same way because prosecutors in municipal courts are not allowed to plea bargain on any case related to drugs.
Marijuana vs. Narcotic Trafficking/Distribution
In the state of New Jersey drug trafficking, distribution and possessing with intent to distribute are aspects found in the NJSA 2C:35-5. There are differences in the way the law treats marijuana trafficking to the treatment of narcotics trafficking.
For Marijuana, if the dose in possession (to be trafficked or is being trafficked) is less than one ounce, it is classified as a fourth degree offense. If the amount of the drug is more than an ounce but less than five ounces, it is classified as an offense of the third degree. For any amount that is more than 5 pounds but less than 25 pounds, the offense is second degree while an amount of marijuana more than 25 pounds being trafficked or held for the purpose of trafficking is a first degree offense.
For narcotics, the New Jersey laws are stricter with a less than 100 milligram amount be trafficked or being possessed with the aim of being trafficked and distributed is a second degree offense. If the amount being held is more than 100 milligrams, the offense is categorized as first degree.
Penalties for drug trafficking in New Jersey:
For Drug trafficking under 1 ounce:
- 18 months in jail
- A fine of $25 000
For an amount of drug more than 1 ounce but less than 5 pounds
- A prison sentence of 3 to 5 years
- A fine of $25 000
For amount of drugs more than 5 pounds but less than 25 pounds
- A prison sentence of a maximum 10 years and a minimum of 5 years.
- A fine somewhere in the region of $150 000
For an amount of drugs that is more than 25 pounds
- A prison sentence of 20-10 years
- A fine of $300 000
Being a leader of the narcotics trafficking network gets
- A life sentence (i.e. they have to serve a minimum of 25 years in jail before being considered for parole)
- A fine of $500 000.
Penalties for drug possession in New Jersey:
For possession of drugs under 50 grams
- A jail time of up to 6 months
- A fine of $1000
- An additional fine if the possession of the drug is caught under 1000 ft of a school
- A sentence to serve 100 hours of community service
For possession of drugs more than 50 grams
- A prison sentence of 18 months in jail
- A fine of $25 000
Can I face charges at both a state and a federal level?
No, you can either face charges at a state level or a federal level for a particular drug offense. However, even if you are not caught in a drug offense, you can end up being charged at a federal level subject to a number of restrictions. For example, wanting to help and uncover a drug trafficking network can result in a lenient charge at the federal level not the state level.
What should I do if I am facing drug crime charges?
If you are facing drug charges, you need to call an experienced New Jersey drug offense lawyer right away. In some cases you may be eligible for a more lenient sentence or may even be able to find an acquittal. Using an experienced lawyer might result in you getting community service instead of prison sentence, lack of conviction or reduced penalties.
What is the court process if I am charged with drug trafficking/distribution?
Drug offenses that come under the disorderly person’s frame are dealt with in the Municipal court. Here you are either convicted or acquitted of the drug charges leveled against you. The State does not allow any plea bargain for these charges. If you are caught with a more serious drug offense or with large quantities of drugs, you will be dealt with in the County. Most drug trafficking cases are dealt with in the Superior courts.
If you are caught for drug possession you can apply for conditional discharge a diversionary program available only for first time offenders. This is sole discretion of the Municipal courts. You can challenge the lab report or ask for full disclosure to clear the facts in an attempt to clear yourself of the charges.
Call to speak with one of our New Jersey drug crime lawyers at Castronovo & McKinney for a free consultation or a second opinion regarding your drug crime charges. We can be reached at 973-920-7888 or by filling out our confidential case evaluation form.