Need a Marijuana Possession Lawyer in Ocean Twp. NJ
Ocean Township, located in idyllic Ocean County, envelopes portions of the New Jersey Pinelands Natural Reserve. This natural area is protected from destruction, as the township wants to preserve the habitat. But just because Ocean appears to embrace nature and protect vegetation does not mean you are free to smoke your own natural substance or vegetation, namely, marijuana. Marijuana has been and remains illegal to possess outside of the confines of New Jersey’s medical marijuana policies. In fact, if the little dime bag or combination of bags, tips the scales above 50 grams, you will be charged with an indictable felony of the fourth degree. If you have less than 50 grams, the charge is a disorderly persons offense. If police discover you in possession of marijuana in any amount, you will be arrested and charged accordingly, and will be compelled to answer the complaint in either Ocean Township Municipal or Ocean County Superior Court. Before you even consider going to jail for smoking a little pot, contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys to discuss the best ways to successfully dispose of your charges. You won’t know if you are eligible for a program like conditional discharge or Pre-Trial Intervention, or if there are other methods to have the charges dismissed or minimized, without having your case reviewed by a knowledgeable Ocean Twp. marijuana defense lawyer. Contact us at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation today.
Ocean Township Possession of Marijuana Charges
If you allegedly possess marijuana in Ocean Township, you will be charged with either an indictable offense or disorderly persons offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a). The degree of the offense depends on how much marijuana was in your possession at the time of the arrest, as well as any other locations searched and giving rise to the charges. If you have less than 50 grams, your case involves a disorderly persons offense. For this type of offense, you face substantially less jail time than for an indictable crime. Specifically, your total exposure is six months in the Ocean County County Jail, a $1,000 penalty, possible license suspension, and a drug enforcement and demand reduction penalty of $500.
As a result of possessing marijuana with a weight greater than 50 grams, the charge lodged against you will be a fourth degree crime. For a fourth degree crime, you may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed 18 months. You are also exposed to fines amounting to $25,000 and can lose your license for 6 to 24 months. To make matters worse, if you have a larger amount of marijuana or the court believes that you possessed the drug with the intent to distribute, your charges can increase to a third degree marijuana distribution offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5. The consequences under this provision are more severe than those associated with a fourth degree criminal charge or a disorderly persons offense.
Unfortunately, the weight of the marijuana is determined in the aggregate. This means that if the police find the marijuana in different locations or containers, they can add it together to determine the overall weight, leading to upgraded charges and penalties. Likewise, it includes parts of the marijuana that you would not use to smoke or get high such as the stems, seeds, or other byproducts. Say, for example, that the police pull you over along Route 9. Upon pulling you over, they claim to smell marijuana and conduct a search of the car looking for evidence to support a charge for marijuana possession. After searching you for officer safety, they find one joint located near the left front shirt pocket. The officer then asks if you have anything else on you. Thinking that it is better to cooperate, you tell them that you have some bagged marijuana located in the center console. The search of the car ensues, whereupon they find marijuana in the console in the approximate amount of 40 grams . The cops then search the remainder of the car, including the backseat and the trunk, which leads to their finding an additional baggie of approximately 10 grams in a backpack in the backseat and 2 joints in a cigarette box in the trunk. The police add together the joint in your pocket, the 40 grams in the console, the 10 grams in a backpack, and the other two joints in the trunk, for a total weight exceeding the threshold of 50 grams. In this scenario, what would otherwise be a misdemeanor becomes a felony offense.
Where do I attend court for Marijuana Possession in Ocean Twp NJ?
For drug offenses involving marijuana in Ocean Township, the case will either be heard in Ocean Township Municipal Court or Ocean County Superior Court. Indictable crimes for marijuana such as possessing more than 50 grams, will be heard in the Superior Court. However, in cases involving less than 50 grams of marijuana, the court session will occur at Ocean Township Municipal Court, located in Waretown at 50 Railroad Ave. In both courts, you’ll have a first appearance, at which time the judge will advise you of your next scheduled court date. Depending on whether your lawyer can resolve the case beforehand, your case will begin to progress towards trial. In Municipal Court, trials occur before the presiding judge in the absence of a jury, which is present to hear the matter in Superior Court.
It should be noted that for juveniles who are criminally charged with possession of marijuana, they will not attend municipal or adult criminal superior court. Instead, juvenile marijuana cases are heard in Ocean County Superior Court, Family Division. In the Family Division, the judge is focused mainly on rehabilitation, but the child may still face consequences like probation and even detention center time. Our attorneys have experience helping juveniles in Family Court, as well as adults facing disorderly persons and felony marijuana charges in Ocean County courts. With our experience, we can often achieve better results than those unfamiliar with these respective courts and marijuana offenses more generally.
Am I Eligible for a Program to Get Ocean Township Marijuana Charges Dismissed?
A defendant charged with marijuana possession without a prior record or previous diversionary program, may be eligible for conditional discharge or Pretrial Intervention. These programs allow for your charges to be dismissed in the respective courts, provided that you abide by all terms of the courts’ orders. Generally, to be successful, you must not commit any new offenses, must answer your probation officer’s inquiries truthfully, must attend all meetings with your probation officer, test negative for any illicit substances, obtain or maintain gainful employment, potentially permit a probation officer to visit your home, and always update your address. In most cases, the conditions are relatively basic and are easy to follow or complete. Once the program is done, the charges are dismissed, and you become eligible for expungement six months later.
Free Consultation with an Ocean Twp. Marijuana Possession Defense Attorney
While programs may be useful in some cases, there may be effective methods to combat the charges in others. Upon a thorough review of the scenario and all evidence in your marijuana case, our attorneys are prepared to defend you at trial, negotiate on your behalf, and be by your side from start to finish. To get additional information from a local lawyer about defense representation for your Ocean Township marijuana case, call us now at (848) 238-2100 or contact us here to receive a free consultation.