If you are caught in possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) in New Jersey, you may be wondering what penalties you will face and what level of drug charges may be imposed upon you. What degree or level of charge you will receive will depend on, for instance, whether you had marijuana or heroin on your person and, critically, the weight of the CDS. Usually, there is some amount of prison time, various fines, license suspension and other potential consequences involved. We go into full detail about these drug possession charges and penalties below.
First, Second, Third, and Fourth Degree Drug Charges
Drug charges are categorized by degree and range, in ascending order of severity, from a disorderly persons offense to a First Degree indictable crime. The degree of the crime depends on the type of drug, the amount of the drug found in your possession and certain other facts. The closer to a First Degree crime you are, the the more severe the potential penalties are.
New Jersey penalties associated with the following drug crime charge degrees are:
- First-Degree Drug Charges – Up to 30 years, and in some cases life imprisonment, up to $1,000,000 in fines and possible loss or suspension of driver’s license.
- Second-Degree Drug Charges – Up to 25 years in prison, up to $500,000 in fines and possible loss or suspension of driver’s license.
- Third-Degree Drug Charges – 3-5 years in prison, up to $35,000 in fines and possible loss or suspension of driver’s license.
- Fourth-Degree Drug Charges – Up to 18 months in prison, up to $15,000 in fines and possible loss or suspension of driver’s license.
- Disorderly Persons Offense Charges – Up to 6 months in the county jail, up to $1000 in fines and possible loss or suspension of driver’s license.
Regular Possession Charges and Penalties
As mentioned, the degree of crime you will be charged with depends on the type of drug and how much of it you have. If you were only found in possession of it, and not found to have also had the intent to distribute the drug, the penalties are less severe.
Possible possession charges in New Jersey include:
- Less than 50 grams of marijuana – chargeable as a disorderly persons offense
- More than 50 grams of marijuana – chargeable as an indictable offense, the degree of which depends on the weight of the drug.
- Any amount of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, acid, ecstasy, GBH, and any other illegal narcotics stimulants, hallucinogens, opiates, or depressants – chargeable as an indictable offense, the degree of which depends on the weight of the drug.
- Drug paraphernalia such as needles, baggies, pipes, bongs – chargeable as a disorderly persons offense
- Unauthorized prescription drugs – Often charged as a third-degree offense
Possession with Intent to Distribute Charges and Penalties
New Jersey laws get more severe if a drug possession charge is accompanied by evidence of manufacturing, distributing, or possession with intent to distribute. This is because now your crime is not only affecting yourself but spreading those illegal substances within your community, often times for profit.
Degree of crimes for these level of drug possession and drug distribution charges are:
Less than one ounce = 4th degree
One ounce up to just under five pounds = 3rd degree
Five pounds to 25 pounds = 2nd degree
Over 25 pounds = 1st degree
Heroin or Cocaine
Less than half an ounce = 3rd degree
Over half an ounce but under five ounces = 2nd degree
Over five ounces = 1st degree
Less than 100 mg = 2nd degree
Over 100 mg = 1st degree
Any other drug and their potential charges may be found in New Jersey law N.J.S.A 2C:35.
Contact an Experienced Hackensack Drug Defense Attorney About Your Drug Possession Charges in New Jersey
Have you been charged with a drug related offense in New Jersey? A drug crime conviction can carry with it heavy fines, jail time and driver’s license suspension! That is why it is imperative that you speak with a qualified drug defense lawyer about your case. The lawyers at Lustberg Law Offices represent clients charged with use, possession, production, distribution and related drug offenses in Fort Lee, Fair Lawn, Bergenfield, Ridgewood, and throughout New Jersey. Contact us at (201) 880-5311 or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office located at One University Plaza Dr Suite 210, Hackensack, NJ 07601, in addition to offices located in New York.
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.