DRUGS AND OTHER CONTROLLED DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES

DRUGS AND OTHER CONTROLLED DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES

The laws controlling and prohibiting the possession, manufacture, and distribution of drugs in New Jersey are varied and complex and in some instances outdated as the present laws were largely passed in 1987 as part of the Comprehensive Drug Reform Act. In fact, there are so many laws governing controlled dangerous substances that there are two separate chapters with subparts in the New Jersey Criminal Code specifically describing drug crimes and their penalties. Definitions alone span pages. From major trafficking of Heroin to simple marijuana possession, NJ drug laws are complicated and difficult to understand. Employing the services of a drug crimes lawyer to help you understand the nature of the charge and advocate the best possible defense is highly recommended. The most common drug-related crimes such as the Possession of Marijuana in NJ along with their penalties are summarized below.

MANUFACTURING, DISTRIBUTING OR DISPENSING

2C:35-5. Manufacturing, Distributing or Dispensing. the following chart demonstrates the penalties associated with creating, distributing, or possessing with intent to distribute certain kinds of drugs based upon type and amount. It stands to reason that one faces stiffer penalties for distribution compared to mere possession. However, an effective drug crimes attorney may be able to challenge the stop, search, or seizure and in certain instances may be able to challenge the accuracy of the State’s evidence and the laboratory reports leading to dismissal of the case.

MANUFACTURING AND DISTRIBUTING

Drug Quantity Penalty Statute
Heroin 5 oz. or more 1st degree mandatory incarceration with mandatory minimum. Fines up to $500k. 2C:35-5b(1)
Between 1/2 oz. and 5 oz. 2nd degree. 2C:35-5b(2)
Less than 1/2 oz. 3rd degree. Fines up to $75k. 2C:35-5b(3)
Cocaine 5 oz. or more 1st degree mandatory incarceration with mandatory minimum. Fines up to $500k. 2C:35-5b(1)
Between 1/2 oz. and 5 oz. 2nd degree. 2C:35-5b(2)
Less than 1/2 oz. 3rd degree. Fines up to $75k. 2C:35-5b(3)
Other Schedule I or II drugs including More than 1 oz. 2nd degree. 2C:35-5b(4)
Ecstasy, OxyContin, Percocet, morphine, and opium Less than 1 oz. 3rd degree. Fines up to $75k. 2C:35-5b(5)
Acid 100 mg or more pure or 10 grams or more adulterated 1st degree mandatory incarceration with mandatory minimum. Fines up to $500k. 2C:35-5b(6)
Less than 100 mg pure or less than 10 grams adulterated 2nd degree. 2C:35-5b(7)
Meth and PCP 5 oz. or more 1st degree. Fines up to $300k. 2C:35-5b(8)
Between 1/2 oz. and 5 oz. 2nd degree. 2C:35-5b(9)
Less than 1/2 oz. 3rd degree. Fines up to $75k. 2C:35-5b(9)(b)
Marijuana 25 lbs. or more or at least 50 plants 1st degree. Fines up to $300k. 2C:35-5b(10)
Between 5 and 25 lbs. or between 10 and 50 plants. 2nd degree. 2C:35-5b(10)(b)
Between 1 oz. and 5 lbs . 3rd degree. Fines up to $25k. 2C:35-5b(11)
Less than 1 oz. 4th degree. 2C:35-5b(12)
Hash 5 lbs. or more. 1st degree. Fines up to $300k. 2C:35-5b(10)
Between 1 lbs. and 5 lbs. 2nd degree. 2C:35-5b(10)(b)
Between 5 g. and 1 lbs. 3rd degree. Fines up to $25k. 2C:35-5b(11)
Less than 5 g. 4th degree. 2C:35-5b(12)
Any other Schedule I-IV drug such as Xanax and Valium Any amount 3rd degree. Fines up to $25k. 2C:35-5b(13)
Any schedule V drug including certain cough suppressants Any amount 4th degree. Fines up to $25k. 2C:35-5b(14)

 

 

EMPLOYING A JUVENILE IN A DRUG DISTRIBUTION SCHEME

2C:35-6. Employing a Juvenile in a Drug Distribution Scheme. It is a 2nd degree crime to use, direct, solicit, hire, or employ a person under 17 to help maintain a drug production facility or to distribute drugs. Mandatory minimum sentences apply and fines up to $500,000 or five times the street value of the drug.

CONTROLLED DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES NEAR OR ON SCHOOL PROPERTY

2C:35-7. Controlled Dangerous Substances Near or On School Property. A person who distributes drugs or possesses drugs with intent to distribute while on school property or within 1,000 feet of school property or a school bus is guilty of a 3rd degree crime. A prison sentence of at least three years without parole will be imposed. When the violation involves less than one ounce of marijuana, a mandatory 1 year parole ineligibility term applies. Fines up to $150,000 can be imposed.

Under 2C:37-7b the legislature carved out certain exceptions to the mandatory minimum prison sentence. Based upon the circumstances, a competent drug crimes attorney may be able to argue that the prison sentence should not be applied.

DISTRIBUTION TO PERSONS UNDER 18

2C:35-8. Distribution to Persons Under 18. For those people who sell drugs to high school kids (or younger), they should know that a person found to be guilty of distributing drugs to either a pregnant woman or a person under 18 shall be subject to twice the term of imprisonment normally imposed. This includes double the fines and double the period of parole ineligibility. In the case of less than 1 ounce of marijuana this can mean 2 years of prison without parole. For all other drugs it may mean 6 years of parole ineligibility.

STRICT LIABILITY OF DRUG-INDUCED DEATHS

2C:35-9. Strict Liability of Drug-Induced Deaths. The law states that the person who distributes certain hard drugs classified by the DEA as Schedule I or II that results in the death of the person who uses the drug is guilty of a 1st degree crime. Effectively this means that the drug dealer will be charged with the equivalent of murder if his customer dies from using the product.

POSSESSION, USE OR BEING UNDER THE INFLUENCE, FAILURE TO MAKE LAWFUL DISPOSITION

Drug Possession Laws in NJ

2C:35-10. Possession, Use or Being Under the Influence, or Failure to Make Lawful Disposition. It is illegal to knowingly possess drugs without a valid prescription. The fines and penalties turn on the type of drug and the amount of drug possessed. Possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana is the most common type. As the chart below explains it is a disorderly persons offense which carries up to 6 months in prison, $1,000 in fines, loss of driver’s license plus surcharges.

2C:35-10b. Use. In New Jersey it is a crime to be found under the influence of drugs, even if you are not driving. Often this is charged when police cannot locate the drug because it was lost, destroyed, or consumed.

2C:35-10c. Failure to make lawful disposition. In a somewhat bizarre statute, the legislature has made it an offense to be found in possession of drugs and not voluntarily turning them over to the nearest law enforcement officer. Most commonly this statue is used as a plea offer down from a charge of possession.

DISTRIBUTING OR POSSESSING PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

2C:35-10.5. Distributing or Possessing Prescription Drugs. While there is a separate statute specifically dealing with the distribution and possession of prescription drugs like Xanax, OxyContin, Ritalin, etc. prosecutors often charge the generic possession or distribution statute instead, which carries higher penalties. Your attorney may be able to argue that the statute dealing with prescription drugs should apply instead. The fines and penalties associated with distributing prescription drugs depends upon the quantity and whether it is for profit.

Degree of Crime Motive Number of Pills Fines

Degree of Crime Motive Number of Pills Fines
Disorderly Person Offense Not for $ 4 or less
4th Degree For $ 4 or less
3rd Degree For $ Between 5 and 100 Up to $200k
2nd Degree For $ More than 100 Up to $300k

Under 2C:35-10.5b a person who uses a prescription drug without a legal prescription is guilty of a disorderly persons offense.

Under 2C:35-10.5c a person who illegally possesses 4 or less prescription drugs is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. Possession of 5 or more pills is a crime of the 4th degree. The law allows the defendant to argue in some instances for dismissal if the person received the drug from someone who had a lawful prescription for it and the defendant was found to possess no more than 6 pills.

POSSESSION OF CERTAIN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

2C:35-24. Possession of Certain Prescription Drugs. The law requires that prescription drugs be kept in their original container. Therefore, even if you have a legal prescription for a drug, if you keep it in anything but the original container it is a disorderly persons offense. If you are found to be possessing less than a 10-day supply of the medication then certain exceptions apply. If you are have a prescription drug charge you should consider hiring a criminal lawyer to ensure the best outcome to your case.

POSSESSION

Drug Quantity Penalty Statute
Any schedule I, II, III, or IV drug, except marijuana, which covers nearly all other recreational drugs Any amount 3rd degree. Fines up to $35,000. 2C:35-10(a)(1)
Marijuana More than 50 g. 4th degree. Fines up to $25,000. 2C:35-10(a)(3)
Less than 50 g. Disorderly Persons Offense. Fines up to $1,000. If within 1000 feet of school property then 100 hours of community service will be imposed.
Hashish Less than 5 g. Disorderly Persons Offense. Fines up to $1,000. If within 1000 feet of school property then 100 hours of community service will be imposed. 2C:35-10(a)(4)

 

DRUG PARAPHERNALIA

To learn about Drug Paraphernalia which includes charges for pipes, wrappers, scales, empty bags, bongs, etc. see our drug paraphernalia page.

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