When Does a Drug Offense Become a Felony in NJ?

Drug Crimes in New JerseyAs the opioid epidemic continues to plague the United States, more and more people are being arrested and charged for committing serious drug crimes. While the number of people who are charged with drug crimes continues to rise, many people do not know that drug crimes can actually be graded as criminal offenses of varying degrees. In most states, a felony drug charge is the most serious degree of drug charges that one can incur. In New Jersey, felonies are typically defined as those criminal offenses which carry exposure to a minimum custodial sentence in excess of six (6) months. Drug charges can, however, also be graded as lesser offenses, called disorderly persons offenses (or misdemeanors). Disorderly persons offenses in NJ only carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail, and those who are convicted of disorderly persons offenses are often only sentenced to pay fines and to undergo a specified term of probation. Because the length of one’s sentence for a drug conviction can be dramatically influenced by the grading of the drug offense, the critical question one needs to know the answer to after being arrested for a drug crime in New Jersey is this: When does a drug crime rise to the level of a felony? The answer to this question is usually determined by a number of different factors, including the type of drug, the quantity or weight of the drug and certain aggravating factors.

Basic Factors That Influence Whether a Drug Crime Constitutes a Felony or a Lesser Offense  

While every state has its own criminal drug laws, most state laws consider certain basic factors when determining whether a particular drug crime constitutes a felony or a lesser drug offense. In New Jersey, these factors can include:

  • Whether the drugs in a person’s possession weigh over a certain amount?
  • What types of drugs were involved in the crime?
  • What was the person’s purpose for possessing the drugs at the time he or she committed the offense?  

Usually, those drug crimes that involve the possession of significant amounts of drugs, the possession of Schedule I or Schedule II narcotics (such as heroin or cocaine), and the possession of drugs with the intent to knowingly distribute or sell the drugs to others are more likely to be graded as a felony offense than as a lesser offense.

Contact Experienced Hackensack Criminal Defense Lawyer Adam M. Lustberg for a Free Initial Consultation

If you have been arrested for a serious drug crime in Hackensack, Paramus, Fort Lee, Fair Lawn, Lodi, Garfield, or anywhere else in Bergen County, NJ, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend you and to help you get the charges dropped, altered, or downgraded. Experienced criminal defense attorney Adam M. Lustberg provides just the type of legal counsel you need to help beat your felony drug charges. Contact Lustberg Law Offices, LLC via our online contact form to determine the best course of action for your case.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.