Marijuana Possession Charges in Stafford NJ
Stafford New Jersey Marijuana Possession Defense Lawyers
Stafford Township, located in Ocean County, can easily be accessed via Route 72 over the Manahawkin Baybridge. Those from more northern New Jersey towns often frequent this location for rest, relaxation, and the rejuvenating breeze of the Atlantic Ocean. The township is made up of several towns, including Manahawkin as well as Beach Haven West, where marijuana arrests frequently occur. If you are arrested and charged with marijuana while traveling on the Garden State Parkway, Route 9, or even Long Beach Boulevard in Stafford NJ, it is imperative that you fully understand and vet all of your options before submitting to the many possible repercussions for the offense. Our local defense lawyers have dedicated over a decade to defending people in your situation, and we can assist with all manner of marijuana charges that you may face. Contact us at (848) 238-2100 now for a free consultation.
Possession of Marijuana in Stafford Township NJ
When dealing with a criminal case for marijuana possession, the amount of this controlled dangerous substance (CDS) governs what court you will attend and the degree of the charge. For example, possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana is a disorderly persons offense and is heard in Stafford Municipal Court. Similar courts in local municipalities throughout the state do not have jurisdiction over indictable felony crimes. However, the many of the same rights afforded for indictable crimes are constitutionally guaranteed in Municipal Court. For example, you have a right to have a trial and are innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, if you are found guilty, the judge in Stafford Municipal Court has the right to sentence you just as a Judge in the Superior Court would have the right to do.
The difference between the two courts in sentencing is that in Municipal Court, the Judge cannot send you to jail for prolonged periods, as the maximum jail sentence is 6 months. Moreover, the maximum permissible fine is $1,000 and the required mandatory fines are $625. Paying fines is required and it can be difficult to do if you lose your job due to a minor criminal violation like marijuana possession. It can be even more difficult to pay off if the judge suspended your license as part of the sentence. After all, the Judge has the authority to further penalize you by suspending your right to drive for 6-24 months.
Possessing over 50 grams of marijuana will automatically elevate your level of charges to a fourth degree crime. The jurisdiction to hear the complaint for this crime rests with Ocean County Superior Court. At this level, the possible term of imprisonment is up to 18 months for anyone who pleads or is found guilty of the offense. The violator can also be ordered to pay $25,00 in fines, suffer a license suspension, and be forced to pay a mandatory fee of $750. In addition, the court mandates the collection of the defendant’s DNA and fingerprinting.
Thankfully, there can be a way around some of the sentencing impositions for marijuana offenses, as you may be eligible for a conditional discharge, Pre-Trial Intervention, or have valid defenses that can be used to get the charge dismissed.
Charged with Marijuana in Stafford, Would you be eligible for a conditional discharge or PTI?
A conditional discharge or similar program is a mechanism utilized by Defendants, Prosecutors, and Judges, permitting a person to have his or her charges dismissed. This avenue of resolving your case requires you to abide by conditions set by the court. The conditions can be slightly intrusive or annoying, but the positive aspect is a guarantee that your case will be dismissed if you follow the rules. Before any rules are set and you agree to terms, the court must find that you are eligible. A determination as to who qualifies for conditional discharge or PTI will rest on several factors, including the amount of the marijuana involved as well as any prior criminal history and diversionary programs received. The eligibility criteria are reviewed in each case in which a defendant wishes to enter the program. The rules contain both state qualifications and factors that disqualify you as an applicant when seeking program entrance.
For a conditional discharge, the first requirement is that you possessed less than 50 grams of marijuana and that your case is being heard in Municipal Court as opposed to Superior Court. Next, the court will look at your prior criminal history. You are not eligible for a conditional discharge if you have had any prior disorderly persons offense for a drug crime. Also, if you had previously used a diversionary program it is unlikely that you will be accepted. Prior felony offenses generally disqualify you as well.
Switching gears, if you are facing charges for marijuana possession of more than 50 grams, you may not be eligible for the conditional program in municipal court, but could apply for a similar program in the Ocean County Superior Court. If your case involves a fourth degree charge for marijuana, you may be able to have it dismissed through Pre-Trial Intervention if eligible. PTI is similar to the conditional discharge program in Municipal Court, and it is important to understand the eligibility criteria. There are 17 factors that criminal division and the prosecutors look at when assessing your application. Realistically, the first factors that are reviewed are your criminal history and whether you had any prior PTI enrollments or conditional dismissals. In most cases, prior indictable felony convictions are a bar to you applying for PTI. An absolute bar to the application is a finding that you have previously taken part in a diversionary program in any other jurisdiction. Also, you may not be found eligible if you are facing enhanced charges for distribution of marijuana in larger quantities or manufacturing the substance. The good news is that if you are eligible for PTI, your charges will be dismissed after completion of any terms ordered by the court.
Facing Marijuana Possession Charges in Stafford NJ? Contact us for Immediate Assistance
If you have been charged with marijuana possession in Stafford, conditional discharge and PTI programs are not the only way to go about your case. We know that not everyone has access to these programs and for some, this avenue may not be a preference. At Proetta & Oliver, we have tried cases, filed motions to dismiss, and fought vigorously for better deals for all of our clients. Contact us today to discuss how our lawyers can assist with defending your Stafford marijuana case. A free consultation is at your disposal by calling (848) 238-2100 to learn more.