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Drug Offenses

Some of the more common forms of drug charges include distribution, possession, and possession with the intent to distribute. These charges can be heightened if an arrest occurs in certain locations, such as school zones, day care centers, or churches.

What Types of Drug Charges are Covered Under NJSA 2C?

  • Possession of an illegal substance: A charge of possession of an illegal substance may result from possession of a controlled dangerous substance in either a small or a large amount. The controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”) may be found on the person, in the home, in a car, or in luggage. A conviction for a drug possession charge typically invoices a fine and can also result in up to 10 years of state prison time.
  • Possession with intent to distribute: Sometimes, when drugs are found in your possession and within your control, you may be charged with intent to distribute them to a third party. Possession of methamphetamine, heroin, or crack cocaine carries particularly grievous penalties. Typically, a charge of possession with intent to distribute arises after the sale of a drug to an undercover police officer. The decision to charge you with intent will be based upon the weight or quantity of the drug you possessed and where you were located at the time of your arrest.
  • Trafficking of drugs: It’s very difficult to escape a drug trafficking charge in New Jersey. Drug trafficking is one of the most serious crimes you can commit, and most prosecutors are very aggressive with these charges. They pledge to get drugs off the street and to severely punish traffickers. You have probably read in the news about drug lords and gangs being busted by the drug task force. Many of these gang members’ arrests are for drug trafficking. What is drug trafficking? Simply put, when a person is in possession of a large quantity of illegal drugs and is believed to intend to distribute them, a drug trafficking charge may be made. The drug trafficking criminal defense team at Mark | Lavigne, LLC handle such cases.
  • Paraphernalia: Drug paraphernalia charges are based upon the use of equipment, products, or material of any kind designed primarily to assist in the use of illegal narcotics.

Mandatory Penalties

Many drug charges carry mandatory jail time, fines, probation, counseling, probation, and random drug testing. Marijuana and heroin are Schedule I drugs; cocaine and methamphetamine are schedule II drugs. If you are found with Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, the penalty almost always includes jail time and fines.

Drug Court

The drug court is an alternative to a guilty plea or period of imprisonment. Following an intensive screening process, with the goal of keeping non-violent drug offenders off the streets and free from drugs, and with a strict monitoring program, the statewide drug court program can be an excellent intervention for those in need of help. The mission of drug court is stop abuse of drugs and alcohol and related criminal activity by placing the defendants into a team of court staff, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, substance abuse evaluators, and treatment professionals who work together for the benefit of the participant.

Conditional Discharge

A conditional discharge is a statutory program that allows a defendants a stay from conviction, and eventually a dismissal of pending charges, provided the program is completed. The program is available with respect to disorderly persons offenses, typically drug possession charges stemming from the Municipal Court. To be eligible for a conditional discharge, you cannot have had a prior conditional discharge or pre-trial intervention admittance. A conditional discharge is made by motion to the Municipal Court judge, who then decides if a period of supervised treatment and random drug monitoring is appropriate. Most supervisory treatment plans last one year, but they may be imposed for up to 3 years. Once full compliance with the terms imposed by the judge are met, the charges will be dismissed. This means that you must no have a relapse, be arrested, and or fail a random drug screen. Six months after the discharge, you may apply for full expungement of the charges. If you fail to comply with the court’s terms and conditions, the charges will be reinstated, and you must face trial or work out a plea deal with the prosecutor. The cost of a conditional discharge are nominal compared to the benefit. Costs include a fee of $45 to apply, a mandatory $500 drug enforcement and demand reduction (DEDR) penalty, $50 in lab fees, and $33 in court costs.

At Mark | Lavigne, LLC, our team has years of experience defending criminal drug charges. As a former prosecutor, Jamison Mark understands the inner workings of the system. If you or a loved one have been arrested and are facing drug charges, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you find a diversion program. Contact us by clicking the link, or call us at 908-460-8996. Our team will aggressively defend you and do what is in your best interest to protect your rights.

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