Union City Drug Possession Lawyer
It is no secret that Union City is one of the best places to live in New Jersey. In fact, it has been ranked among the top cities in which to live in our state and is home to nearly 70,000 people. It is such a desirable place for families that it has also been a continuous resting place for immigrants from a variety of countries. In fact, the city celebrates its diversity every year by taking part in the Cuban Day Parade. This parade attracts thousands of people to Union City, located in northern Hudson County. The revitalization of the town has also been reflected in the growth and development of art galleries, restaurants, and new bars. But what if while taking advantage of all that the city has to offer you are arrested for drug possession in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10? Charges for possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) happen all the time in Union City, exposing those charged to severe punishments and a criminal conviction. If you or a loved one has been charged with drug possession in Union City, we encourage you to find out more about your specific drug charges, as well as the defenses and programs that may be available to you to get these charges dismissed. Contact our knowledgeable Union City drug defense lawyers at Proetta & Oliver for a free consultation and begin the process of developing your best defense. You can reach us day and night at (201) 793-8018 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Drug Possession in Union City, New Jersey
If you are arrested for drug possession in Union City, New Jersey, you will be charged with either an indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense, depending on the type of controlled dangerous substance and the specific amount. Possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) is a charge that virtually anyone can face, whether they simply possess a small amount of marijuana or copious amounts of cocaine. With the breadth of the law on drug possession in New Jersey, the offense is common and has significant penal consequences for those convicted. Therefore, it is important to understand what constitutes a crime of drug possession, the degree of these crimes, and the consequences that may be ordered in your case.
NJ Schedules of Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS)
New Jersey makes possession of certain controlled dangerous substances a criminal offense. To aid in making determinations of specific drug crimes, drugs are classified within a series of “Drug Schedules.” The drugs on the Drug Schedules include prescription drugs, as well as illicit substances. Drugs are classified as controlled dangerous substances (CDS) on the schedules because research suggests that there is a potential for abuse and some likelihood of physical or psychological addiction for users. The drugs are then categorized as either Schedule I, II,III, IV, or V substances based on their dangerousness, propensity toward abuse, and medicinal value or lack thereof. This concept may be more easily understood by establishing what is and what is not considered addictive.
For example, regular versions of Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or Motrin are over the counter medicines that anyone can purchase. You can simply walk into any pharmacy, grocery store, or big box store and take them from the shelf. These OTC drugs can be used for fever and aches, and can eliminate temporary discomfort or pain. Generally, these substances are not addictive and a person does not become psychologically or chemically dependent on them. Therefore, there is little potential for abuse according to professionals. Conversely, addictive substances or those with a potential for dependence are not typically those available be purchased over the counter from a store. For example, cocaine is a highly addictive substance that people may take to feel alert, invincible, or altered in some way. It is a stimulant that changes the way the brain naturally works, thereby causing a high. For these reasons, cocaine has a high likelihood of abuse and addiction and, because of this, the government wishes to stop the abuse by banning the product. Cocaine is therefore listed on the Drug Schedules as a controlled dangerous substance and is never permissible to possess under any circumstances. Possession of cocaine in an amount consistent with personal use under N.J.S.A 2C:35-10, will result in a third degree crime being charged, a potential jail sentence of 3-5 years, and up to $35,000 in fines.
Of course, not all drug possession charges are for cocaine. The Drug Schedules list a myriad of controlled substances that are illegal or illegal without a valid prescription, making it possible for you to be arrested if caught with any of the substances contained therein. The following list provides each of the Schedules and corresponding substances which may subject you to a criminal charge for possession of CDS if possessed unlawfully:
- Schedule I: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy).
- Schedule II: hydromorphone/Dilaudid, methadone/Dolophine, meperidine/Demerol, Oxycodone/OxyContin, Percocet, fentanyl, morphine, opium, codeine, hydrocodone, amphetamine, Adderall, and Ritalin.
- Schedule III: codeine products such as Tylenol with codeine, buprenorphine/Suboxone, ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone.
- Schedule IV Controlled Substances: clonazepam/Klonopin, alprazolam/Xanax, diazepam/Valium, lorazepam/Ativan, carisoprodol/Soma, clorazepate/Tranxene, midazolam/Versed, temazepam/Restoril, triazolam/Halcion, Darvocet, Ambien, and Tramadol.
- Schedule V Controlled Substances: cough syrups that include codeine not exceeding 200 milligrams (Robitussin AC, Phenergan with Codeine).
Charged with Possession of CDS in Union City, What am I Facing?
If you have been found to be in possession of any of the above controlled substances, whether the drug is entirely banned or you do not have a prescription for it, you may be charged with a felony crime or disorderly persons offense in violation of NJSA 2C:35-10. Drug charges range from first to fourth degree indictable crimes (felonies). If charged with a felony in Union City, you will be required to attend court in Hudson County Superior Court, Criminal Part, located at 583 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey. First degree crimes are the most serious, while fourth degree crimes are the lowest-level felony offenses. In other words, among felony drug charges, fourth degree crimes have the least amount of jail time attached to them if convicted.
Most drug possession crimes in Union City and New Jersey are charged as third degree offenses. This is because the most commonly listed substances on complaints are set forth on Schedules I, II, III, and IV (for example: heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, Percocet, and synthetic marijuana). Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10, possession of heroin or cocaine is a third degree crime if possessed in quantities of less than one half ounce. If found guilty of possessing substances under this section, a judge can sentence you to state prison for a term of between three and five years. Additionally, you can be forced to pay up to $35,000 in fines and a mandatory $1,000 Drug Enforcement Demand Reduction Penalty. Unfortunately, the consequences of a conviction do not stop there. In fact, your license could be suspended for up to two years, you may be placed on probation, and you will have a criminal record with a felony conviction.
Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute in Union City NJ
In some cases, the police may believe that you possessed a larger amount of drugs with intent to sell, for which they may charge you with drug possession with intent to distribute in the first or second degree. For instance, you may recall that a few years back in Union City, a man was arrested with 400 grams (14 ounces) of cocaine ($20,000 street value) and $47,000 in cash. When he was caught with the drugs and cash, he was within 1000 feet of a school. Due to the type of substance and the quantity, the large amount of cash, and the proximity to a school, he was charged with possession with intent to distribute and possession of drugs with intent to distribute in a school zone. He was charged under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5, manufacturing distributing or dispensing a controlled dangerous substance. Under this provision of the law, if you possess greater than 5 ounces, you can be charged with a first degree crime. The law allows for first degree drug offenders to be lodged in a state prison for 10-20 years and subject to a fine of $500,000. If, however you possessed larger than ½ ounce but less than 5 ounces, you will be charged with a second degree crime which carries a punishment of 5-10 years in prison. First, second, and third degree crimes and quantities relate to substances such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and the like.
Union City Marijuana Possession Charges
Marijuana is in a slightly different category than the above controlled dangerous substances as, in most cases, the offense is a fourth degree felony or less. Specifically, possession of marijuana is a fourth degree crime if you possess greater than 50 grams, but less one ounce. If convicted, worst case scenario, you could go to jail for 12-18 months and pay up to $25,000 in fines. If you possess less than 50 grams of marijuana, you will be charged with a disorderly persons offense. Disorderly persons offenses are not technically considered felony crimes but instead, are referred to as criminal offenses or quasi-criminal offenses. Importantly, you can go to jail if convicted and will have a criminal charge on your record. Marijuana, excluding synthetic marijuana, is one of the only drugs listed as a controlled dangerous substance that can be both a felony and a disorderly persons offense when possessed. The difference between felony possession and misdemeanor possession of marijuana is the quantity/weight possessed. For possession of under 50 grams of marijuana, you will be charged with a disorderly persons offense.
All disorderly persons drug offenses filed without a felony attached to the complaint, are heard in municipal court. In Union City, if you were caught with less than 50 grams of marijuana, you would receive a summons to go to Union City Municipal Court located at 3715 Palisade Ave, Union City, NJ 07087. If the state proves that you are guilty of possessing marijuana, you can be sentenced to serve 180 days in the Hudson County Jail. Additionally, you could pay up to $1,000 in fines and lose your license for up to two years.
Union City NJ Possession of CDS Defense Attorneys
Just as there are countless possession charges and fact scenarios giving rise to drug possession charges in Union City, there are countless ways to attack the state’s case and resolve your legal issue. Choosing an attorney that is experienced in drug defense can make a massive difference in the outcome of your case. To discuss how our attorneys can help, contact our local office today at (201) 793-8018. Consultations are provided free of charge.