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.
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 are 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.
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 201-431-7556 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.