Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, commonly referred to as CDS, is defined under 2C:35-2, which is a chargeable offense with serious consequences in New Jersey. With the exception of smaller amounts of marijuana, if you are caught with drugs you can spend significant time in prison and be assessed massive fines. Here’s a short guide to intent and distribution laws in New Jersey and the possible consequences of a conviction.
Facing charges related to possession of controlled substances, intent, or distribution in New Jersey can have serious consequences. If convicted, a drug offense can become a felony, leading to severe penalties and long-lasting repercussions. At Lustberg Law Offices, our proficient New Jersey drug crimes lawyer can navigate the complexities of the state’s drug laws, analyze evidence, and explore potential legal avenues to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. Contact us at 201-880-5311 for a confidential consultation to discuss your case and start your defense strategy.
Intent and Distribution Laws in New Jersey
Controlled substances in New Jersey include, commonly, LSD, heroin, molly, cocaine, ecstasy, PCP, methamphetamines, and the majority of prescription drugs if possessed without a legal prescription. It is important to note that there is a significant difference between possession of these illegal substances and possession with the intent to distribute, which comes with far harsher penalties. The scariest part of all is how much easier it is to be charged with intent to distribute than you may realize.
If someone is in possession of drugs that they plan to share with friends down the line, they can be charged with intent to distribute under 2C:35-5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. Whether or not you plan on selling the drugs is irrelevant. Distribute, when used like this, does not necessarily mean to sell, it simply means to hand off the drugs to another party. If someone gives drugs to a friend to share, they have just committed drug distribution without realizing it. Even if the amount of drugs is small, you can still be charged with drug possession and with intent to distribute.
Other facts can make a big difference between charges. An example is ⅛ of an ounce of cocaine, also known as an 8-ball. If the cocaine is in one bag on your person, you will likely be charged with possession and assumed the drug is for personal use. However, if you divide the cocaine between several different bags, all of a sudden the police may assume that you have the drug packaged for distribution amongst several people. The charge then changes from possession to possession with intent to distribute, which comes with a much more serious possible sentence.
The gravity of a distribution charge is most often regulated by the weight of the drugs in question. For example, 2C:35-5b(1) states that distribution or possession with intent to distribute cocaine or heroin in a quantity of 5 ounces or more is a 1st-degree offense (20-year statutory maximum jail sentence), 1/2 ounce to less than 5 ounces is a 2nd-degree offense (10-year statutory maximum jail sentence), and any quantity less than 1/2 an ounce is 3rd-degree offense (5-year statutory maximum jail sentence). The grading of certain other substances is similarly structured based on weight, however, pills are based on numeric quantity. More potent and serious drugs usually carry a higher gradation.
There are a number of other factors that determine the gradation of a charge, which is why if you are charged with either possession or possession with intent to distribute, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The circumstances of each case are different and only someone well-versed in the law can give you all the information you need regarding charges, sentencing, possible plea deals, as well as other strategies to avoid prison time. To learn more about other drug crime charges, such as if possession of mushrooms is a felony or a misdemeanor, check out our other articles.
What is CDS Possession?
Possession of Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) in New Jersey frequently leads to criminal charges. As per the state’s drug laws, possessing CDS is typically considered a motor vehicle violation. The “New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act” designates the following substances as CDS:
- Marijuana (up to 6 ounces for individuals above 21 years old).
- Controlled substance paraphernalia.
- Prescription drugs obtained without a valid prescription or drug form.
- Prescription drugs without a proper written prescription from a licensed medical practitioner.
- Drugs intended for treating or preventing human or animal diseases.
The penalties for drug offenses are outlined below. While CDS possession can result in imprisonment, it’s important to note that in certain situations, the judge may consider alternative options such as probation, diversion programs (like recovery court), and other sentencing alternatives.
- Crime in the Third Degree: Possession of any quantity of a Schedule I, II, III, or IV drug is considered a third-degree crime, punishable by imprisonment ranging from three to five years, a fine of up to $35,000, or both. Some drugs not listed as CDS in the schedules, like “date rape drugs” such as GHB and Rohypnol, can also be punished as third-degree crimes with a higher fine of up to $100,000. (N.J. Stat. §§ 2C:35-10.2, 2C:35-10.3.)
- Crime in the Fourth Degree: Possession of any amount of a Schedule V drug is classified as a fourth-degree crime, leading to a maximum prison sentence of 18 months, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.
- Disorderly Person Offense: Using or being under the influence of any controlled dangerous substance, except for medical purposes prescribed by a licensed physician, is considered a disorderly person offense. This offense is punishable by a jail term of up to six months and a fine of up to $500.
If you’re facing charges related to CDS possession in New Jersey, seek the guidance of a New Jersey drug crimes lawyer. At Lustberg Law Offices, our team can provide essential guidance and support. With extensive experience in handling drug-related cases, we are equipped to strategize effectively, safeguarding your rights and seeking the most favorable outcome for your specific circumstance. Don’t face this intricate legal process on your own. Contact us today and take the next step in protecting your best interests and safeguarding your future.
|Third Degree||Possession of Schedule I, II, III, or IV drugs: 3-5 years imprisonment, up to $35,000 fine. Some non-CDS drugs (e.g., GHB, Rohypnol): up to $100,000 fine.|
|Fourth Degree||Possession of Schedule V drugs: up to 18 months imprisonment, up to $15,000 fine.|
|Disorderly Person Offense||Under the influence of controlled substances (except medical use): up to 6 months in jail, up to $500 fine.|
What do CDS Schedules mean?
Certain drugs and compounds may be classified as controlled substances in New Jersey and federal law. These drugs can be divided into five lists or schedules. They are classified based on several factors such as their current medical use, the potential for abuse, and the potential to cause addiction if abused. Schedule I drugs can be considered the most dangerous and Schedule V drugs are the least dangerous.
A federal criminal case can also be filed against you if you are convicted of possessing, selling, or manufacturing a controlled substance. N.J. Code of Criminal Justice Section 2C:35-10 covers most CDS possession charges. The prosecutor must prove you were in physical or constructive possession of any drug or substance on one of the five Schedules to obtain a conviction for CDS Possession.
Anybody who violates New Jersey law and possesses a CDS listed in Schedule I, II, III, or IV is guilty of a third-degree criminal offense and may face a fine of up to $35,000. The possession of marijuana of over 50 grams of hashish of more than 5 grams is considered a fourth-degree crime that can result in a fine of up to $25,000.
Anybody who violates New Jersey law and possesses a Schedule V controlled drug is guilty in a fourth-degree offense. A fine of up to $15,000.
Based on the list of controlled dangerous substances, penalties for drug offenses may be harsher or more severe.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Drug Charges in NJ
Were you arrested or charged with possession with intent to distribute CDS in NJ? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Lustberg Law Offices, LLC have successfully represented clients charged with heroin distribution, or with marijuana possession with intent to distribute, throughout NJ. Contact us at 201-880-5311 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at One University Plaza Dr., Suite 210, Hackensack, NJ 07601, as well as offices located in 380 Lexington Avenue, 17th Floor 380 New York, NY 10168
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.