Drug distribution lawyer hackensack nj
Drug Crimes

Last updated on October 13, 2023

When Does a Drug Offense Become a Felony in NJ?

As 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 charge 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.

NJ drug crimes attorney

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. If you have been charged with a drug offense, contact a New Jersey drug crimes lawyer today.

At Lustberg Law Offices, NJ drug crimes attorney Adam Lustberg has years of courtroom experience defending clients who are facing drug-related charges. Our team of skilled attorneys may be able to help you protect your rights and your freedom if you are charged with drug trafficking, possession of drug paraphernalia, or any other drug offenses in New Jersey. Contact us today at (201) 880-5311 to schedule a free consultation.

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.

Is Drug Possession a Felony?

In New Jersey, drug crimes aren’t labeled as misdemeanors or felonies. Instead, the state employs the terms “disorderly persons offenses” and “indictable crimes.” Those charged with disorderly persons offenses can face penalties including a maximum of six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000. On the other hand, the penalties for the least severe indictable crimes (categorized as fourth-degree) typically encompass up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. For specific fourth-degree drug-related offenses, the fines can escalate to $25,000.

Regarding drug possession, the laws in New Jersey distinctly state that the possession of 50 grams or fewer of marijuana, or having up to three doses of a prescription medication without a valid prescription, are the sole drug-related violations that do not qualify as indictable crimes. These indictable offenses include:

  • Possessing more than 50 grams of marijuana
  • Having more than three doses of a prescription medication without a valid prescription
  • Possession of any amount of cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine
  • Holding any measure of substances like oxycontin or ecstasy
  • Possessing any amount of other prohibited drugs.

Facing drug possession charges and the potential felony classification can be a daunting experience, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. At Lustberg Law Offices, our New Jersey drug crimes lawyers understand the intricacies of drug possession laws in the state. We can provide you with the guidance and representation necessary to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Take the first step in securing your future by contacting us today.

Topic Details
Felony Definition in NJ Felonies in NJ entail crimes with over six months minimum custodial sentence.
Drug Charges Grading Drug charges can also be disorderly persons offenses, with maximum six months jail, fines, and probation.
Factors Influencing Felony Level Drug crime severity determined by drug type, quantity, weight, and aggravating factors.
Importance of Classification Drug offense classification affects sentencing length and legal consequences.

Dismissing a First-Time Felony Charge

It is possible to have a first-offense felony charge dismissed in New Jersey. If you and your defense lawyer can prove that the way the drugs were found was flawed, your legal representative may be able to argue to have your case dismissed. This flaw in the police officer’s actions could mean that the way the drugs were recovered was in violation of the US or New Jersey Constitution. It is also possible to dismiss the charges if the particular facts or circumstances surrounding the case do not support the accusations.

Furthermore, completing a pre-trial intervention program can also help dismiss the charges. Pre-trial intervention places defendants on probation for a specified time period. Additional conditions could also be placed on the defendant while they are completing their pre-trial intervention. Once the defendant is able to comply with all the conditions, the charges could be dropped. 

At Lustberg Law Offices, our team of skilled drug crimes lawyers along with NJ criminal defense attorney Adam M. Lustberg understand the importance of protecting your rights and your freedom. We may be able to help you create a solid defense strategy to help you receive a more favorable outcome. To schedule a free consultation, call us today. 

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.

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