Marijuana Possession & Distribution Defense Lawyers in North Bergen, New Jersey
The ACLU reports that there were 37,623 arrests for marijuana possession and distribution of marijuana in a single year in New Jersey. Undoubtedly, arrests in North Bergen in Hudson County contributed to this high number. Research suggests that there is a racial disparity in arrests for marijuana-related offenses throughout the State of New Jersey, including in the Township of North Bergen, where marijuana charges frequently provide cause for arrest. Statistics show that in New Jersey, an arrest for marijuana was made every 21 minutes according to the most recent data available. Sadly, many of these arrests occurred in North Bergen, exposing those facing marijuana charges to often severe consequences. Despite the political effort to legalize marijuana, the arrests have not stopped in North Bergen and elsewhere, as marijuana possession without a prescription remains illegal regardless of the quantity involved in a given case. Under NJ law, it is illegal to possess or distribute marijuana, period, unless you are approved and in compliance with the state’s medical marijuana program. Depending on the amount and your alleged intent, you could be charged with disorderly persons offense or an indictable crime for a marijuana offense. Knowing what degree of crime you are charged with, the court you will attend, and the penalties you face for marijuana in North Bergen will prove extremely useful in planning what to do next. To discuss your case with a knowledgeable North Bergen marijuana defense lawyer who can answer all of your questions free of charge, simply call (201) 793-8018 or contact us online 24/7.
Charged with Marijuana in North Bergen NJ
When facing marijuana charges, an easy way to know whether you are facing a felony offense (indictable crime) or a misdemeanor (disorderly persons offense) is to look at your court notice and see where your case will be heard. If your case is being heard in the North Bergen Municipal Court located at 4225 North Bergen Turnpike, your case most likely involves a disorderly persons offense, not a felony. You and many others are charged with disorderly persons offenses because the amount of marijuana possessed is minimal. The majority of marijuana cases involve charges for simple disorderly persons possession of less than 50 grams, such as a joint, shake, or a packed bowl for instance. As seemingly innocuous as it may be, anyone accused of actually, constructively, or jointly possessing a small amount of marijuana without a prescription must answer to the court.
Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana in North Bergen
Possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana in North Bergen or anywhere else in New Jersey results in a complaint for a disorderly persons offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4). The amount possessed is initially determined by the police by using a scale or simply by visual inspection, knowledge, and experience. However, for certainty, the police ship the marijuana to a state laboratory where scientists will test the substance and weigh it as well. A lab report is then generated and provided to all parties, which identifies the substance and the weight.
As unfortunate as it might be, if the substance is proven to be marijuana and you are proven to have possessed it knowingly, purposely, or constructively, you can be sent to jail for 6 months. The court is also mandated by the legislature to assess a fee of $500 for a Drug Enforcement Demand Reduction Penalty. Every person who is charged under title 35 (the NJ drug statutes) is assessed such a fine and the amount is based upon the degree of the crime or disorderly persons offense. Although not mandatory, there are other penalties that the court may assess as well. Some fines are not required but if the judge decides, he or she can order as much as an additional $1,000 in fines.
Facing Felony Marijuana Charges in North Bergen
If your notice of first appearance is for Hudson County Superior Court, located at 595 Newark Avenue in Jersey City, this means that you have been charged with a felony, also known as an indictable crime, for marijuana. Here, the court can send you to New Jersey State Prison if convicted. The length of your stay will depend on the quantity of marijuana possessed and the nature of the crime (ie. marijuana possession over 50 grams, possession with intent to distribute, or distribution). Logically, the law punishes those who have a greater amount of marijuana differently than those who possess a small amount. Therefore, those who have larger amounts consistent with distribution as opposed to personal use, will face stiffer prison terms.
In the worst and most serious scenario, possessing 25 pounds or more of marijuana will allow the court to send you to prison for 10-20 years and impose as much as $300,000 in fines. Clearly, anyone possessing such an amount is thought to be manufacturing and/or distributing the substance, not possessing it for personal use only. The law seeks to more heavily punish those who intend to make a profit from such illegal activity. If you possess less than 25 pounds but more than 5 pounds, you will be charged with a second degree crime. A second degree crime is the second-most serious indictable crime in this state and can land you in jail for 5-10 years. An important thing to note is that first and second degree criminal convictions require the court to sentence you to prison even for a first offense. Specifically, for first and second degree crimes, there is a presumption of incarceration.
Aside from the bleak sentencing outlook for first and second degree marijuana crimes, there is a presumption against State Prison if convicted of a third degree crime as a first offender. For the police to charge you with a third degree crime, the weight of the marijuana must be between 1 ounce and 5 pounds. If the amount is within that range and you are found to have knowingly possessed it with intent to dispense or distribute, the judge can sentence you to 3-5 years in prison. Third degree crimes are highly common offenses in North Bergen and across the state. The police can charge you with a lesser offense fourth degree crime, if certain factors are met. This offense is charged when the amount of marijuana possessed has a weight of more than 50 grams but less than one ounce. A fourth degree crime, the lowest of all indictable offenses, is punishable by 12-18 months in state prison.
Arrested in North Bergen for Synthetic Marijuana
One lesser known fact is that synthetic marijuana is not considered the same as vegetative marijuana under New Jersey law. Synthetic marijuana is a chemical compound that typically causes a high more powerful than natural marijuana. It is perhaps for this reason, and the general availability of the drug, that New Jersey makes possession of any minimal amount of synthetic marijuana a 4th degree crime. Of course, the law does not end there, as people are often charged with possession with intent to distribute. Again, the degree of the charge depends upon the amount possessed, whether it took place in a school zone, and whether there was an crime of actual distribution. No matter what the charge, there are additional consequences that may be imposed.
Need a Lawyer for North Bergen Marijuana Case
So many cases involving marijuana occur because police believe they smell something or, acting on a hunch, they are fishing for information. Whether they stop you along Bergenline Avenue, pull you over along 495, or you have an interaction with police for another reason, admitting that you possess an illegal substance like marijuana or consenting to a search will not get you out of a marijuana charge. First, secure your own safety and do as instructed, and then ask if can speak with your attorney. Once you have been charged with marijuana in North Bergen, know your rights and options by contacting us immediately. With local offices in Hudson County for many years, our attorneys have successfully handled countless marijuana cases in both North Bergen Municipal Court and Hudson County Superior Court. Call us today at (201) 793-8018 for additional information about marijuana charges and discuss our potential representation. Consultations are provided at no cost to you.