In New Jersey, criminal offenses, including those involving drug crimes, range from disorderly persons offenses (misdemeanors) to indictable offenses (felony). Unfortunately, almost all situations in which a person possesses a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) are considered felonies. There are some exceptions of course, but by and large, chances are that if you have been charged with possession of CDS in Ocean County or anywhere else in New Jersey, you have been charged with a third degree indictable felony. If you have been arrested for possession of CDS, there are certain things you should know, including the consequences you face, potential resolutions, and the differences between various degrees of drug charges. Whether you have been charged with drug possession in Toms River, Jackson, Berkeley, Stafford, Manchester, Brick, Point Pleasant, or another town in Ocean County, don’t delay in seeking the help you need today. To discuss your specific case with an experienced Ocean County drug possession defense lawyer at Proetta & Oliver, contact our local office at (848) 238-2100. Consultations are provided 24/7 and at no cost to you.
What does a N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 Offense Mean in New Jersey?
New Jersey Law makes it illegal to “knowingly or purposely, to obtain, or to possess, actually or constructively, a controlled dangerous substance” under section Any drug or its analog listed in Schedules 1-4, will cause you to be charged with a crime if possessed without a prescription. The degree of the crime depends upon the specific schedule under which the controlled substance is listed. This essentially means that 1) you possessed or obtained drugs and 2) that you knew that the item was a controlled dangerous substance.
For example, if you were stopped by police, searched, and the officer found cocaine in your pocket in a tiny bag with a straw, you may be charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). The evidence used to prove that you knew it was cocaine would likely include the packaging and the straw that accompanied the baggie, as these are considered drug paraphernalia. Additionally, the state would use a lab report to prove that the substance was indeed cocaine. In this example, cocaine is considered a controlled dangerous substance because it is listed on one of the drug “schedules” of controlled substances in New Jersey.
What is Considered a Controlled Dangerous Substance in NJ?
The New Jersey Drug Schedules contain a list of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) that cannot be possessed at all, as well as drugs that can only be possessed with a prescription. The schedules and the amount possessed dictate the degree of the drug crime charged. The defendant’s intent is also a critical factor in determining the level of a drug offense. Overall, any drug or its analog listed in Schedules I-IV, will cause you to be charged with a crime if possessed without a valid prescription. Schedule V contains some medications that you can purchase over the counter in certain amounts. When charged with drug possession, the degree of the crime depends upon the specific schedule under which the controlled substance is listed.
Third Degree Drug Possession Charges in Ocean County
Now more than ever, any type of drug you could ever want or seek is available for purchase. Whether a person prefers prescription legend drugs or illegal substances, it is likely that any controlled dangerous substance that you illegally possess or obtain is a third degree felony (with the primary exception being marijuana). Drugs commonly found on people charged with third degree drug possession include:
There can be devastating penalties if you are convicted of third degree drug possession in New Jersey. Specifically, a charge for Possession of CDS will authorize the court to send you to state prison for 3-5 years, make you pay up to $35,000 in fines, face a mandatory $1,000 penalty, be sentenced to probation, and/or obtain substance abuse treatment.
Fourth Degree Possession of CDS
While most drug possession offenses are classified as third degree crimes, some are considered fourth degree felonies. For instance, possession of synthetic marijuana, possession of THC in a vape or e-cigarette, and possessing greater than 50 grams of marijuana are fourth degree crimes. If convicted of fourth degree drug possession, you can be sentenced to 12-18 months in jail, a mandatory $750 drug enforcement demand reduction penalty, up to $35,000 in fines, and a term of probation.
Disorderly Persons Drug Possession Offenses
Fortunately, most people who possess marijuana have less than 50 grams. Possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana will only permit a charge for a disorderly persons offense, as opposed to an indictable felony. The theory is that such a small amount of weed is for personal use and should not subject a person to a lengthy prison sentence. As such, a disorderly persons offense will not permit the judge to sentence you to state prison, unlike a felony charge. Nevertheless, you can be sentenced to up to 180 days in jail, be ordered to pay a $500 drug penalty, and face up to $1,000 in fines.
Oddly enough, it is also a disorderly persons offense to knowingly have in your possession a controlled dangerous substance and not give it to the police. This can be confusing to many people because generally speaking, people who possess drugs plan on using them, not giving them to police. Regardless, there is a specific drug offense for failure to turn drugs over to law enforcement.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Possession of CDS in Ocean County NJ?
We have represented countless people in drug possession cases and know what to look for when reviewing the discovery in your case. There may be available defenses such as lack of possession, lack of probable cause to search you or your belongings, or you may have had a valid prescription for the substance. Depending on your situation, our lawyers may be able to resolve charges by seeking a downgrade to a disorderly persons offense from an indictable drug possession offense. You may also be able to get the charges dismissed by completing a program like Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) or conditional discharge. No matter what the situation, we will thoroughly review your case and work to obtain the best possible outcome.
Contact a Toms River CDS Possession Attorney to Discuss Your Case
If you have been arrested for possession of CDS in Ocean County, New Jersey, contact our attorneys today at (848) 238-2100 to receive a free consultation. You can also schedule an appointment to meet with us at our convenient Ocean County office. We will review the facts of your drug possession case, advise you on your rights, and discuss available recourse concerning these charges.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. All major credit cards are accepted.