Hudson County NJ Drug Charges Lawyer
If you have been arrested for drug possession or selling drugs, such as distribution of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin in Hudson County, New Jersey, you are facing serious criminal penalties such as probation, community service, loss of drivers license, thousands in fines, and jail time. Most of all, a conviction of a drug offense will remain with you as a permanent criminal record that will limit your educational and employment opportunities for years to come. At Proetta & Oliver, we have extensive experience and insight that can only be gathered from years of defending clients charged with simple drug possession, possession of CDS with intent to distribute and other drug offenses. We will analyze the State’s against you and aggressively attack the weaknesses so the matter can be resolved in your favor.
Drug Possession Cases in Secaucus and Weehawken
In New Jersey, drug crimes exist on a spectrum, from mere possession to trafficking, with possession being the type of offense with lesser severity. Simple possession of any illegal drug — or possession of a prescription drug without a valid prescription — is an automatic criminal offense and can even be an indictable felony depending on the drug. To prove the crime of possession, the prosecution must convince a judge in municipal court or jury in superior court that the accused knowingly possessed an illicit substance. To prove distribution of illegal substances, the prosecution must convince a jury that the accused possessed a large quantity of certain illegal substances, or other evidence suggests an intent to sell the illegal drugs to others. But even a small amount of certain illegal drugs may support a drug distribution charge in some cases. Possession and distribution in New Jersey are based on the same substances. It is illegal to manufacture, create, distribute, dispense, possess, or have controlled dangerous substances or counterfeit controlled dangerous substances with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense controlled dangerous substances. So, having illegal drugs in your possession is enough for a distribution charge if the surrounding circumstances and amount indicate intent to sell.
Our Hudson County criminal defense firm represents clients who have been charged with municipal and superior court indictable drug offenses, including the following:
- Cocaine Charges
- Heroin Possession
- Prescription Drug Offenses
- Drug Paraphernalia
- LSD Charges
- MDMA Possession and Distribution
- Synthetic Marijuana Offenses
- Methamphetamine Charges
- Intent to Distribute in a School Zone
- Distribution Within 500 Feet of a Public Park or Housing
- Maintaining a CDS Production Facility
- Failure to Make Lawful Disposition
- CDS in a Motor Vehicle
- Being under the Influence of Drugs in Public
- Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Deaths
- Possession of Weapons while Committing a Drug Offense
- Leader of Narcotics Trafficking Network
How bad is a Drug Charge in New Jersey?
Make no mistake – a conviction for a drug charge will seriously affect your future and may make you ineligible for student loans, unable to achieve security clearance, and preclude you from many corporate jobs. Depending on the type and quantity of drugs involved, a drug possession charge may be handled as a municipal charge in a local court or an indictable charge in the Superior Court in Hudson. In addition, based on the drugs, amount, and circumstances, drug trafficking and distribution can result in convictions for third, second, or first degree crimes and prison sentences from 3 years to 20. Getting caught with large quantities of illegal drugs often results in a first degree charge that carries a twenty-year prison sentence. Some first degree crimes also come up with up to $500,000.00 in fines. Getting caught with less drugs could still result in a second degree charge and a possible ten-year prison term.
So, depending on the drugs found and the amount, the penalties can be high. For example, distributing five ounces or more of heroin or methamphetamine is a first degree crime, while possession of cocaine is a third degree crime. The penalties depend on the type of controlled substance and the amount of the drugs allegedly possessed or distributed. And penalties are steeper when weapons are involved with drug crimes, someone is injured, or the crimes took place near a school zone, or public property like a park, public library, or housing. Now, if the accused hired a minor in a drug distribution organization, potential penalties increase. The same is true for maintaining or operating a drug production facility.
New Jersey Schedule of Drugs
In New Jersey, narcotics are divided into various drug schedules. Sections 24:21-1 through 24:21-56 of the New Jersey Statutes, known as the “New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act,” contains five schedules of drugs. Each schedule, from I through V, includes controlled dangerous substances (CDS) that must meet certain criteria. The New Jersey Drug Schedules are as follows:
- Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substance: (1) has high potential for abuse; and (2) has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision. Examples of schedule I drugs include marijuana and heroin.
- Schedule II Controlled Dangerous Substance: (1) has high potential for abuse; (2) has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions; and (3) abuse may lead to severe psychic or physical dependence. Cocaine is a common example of a schedule II drug.
- Schedule III Controlled Dangerous Substance: (1) has a potential for abuse less than the substances listed in Schedules I and II; (2) has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and (3) abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs include suboxone and anabolic steroids.
- Schedule IV Controlled Dangerous Substance: (1) has low potential for abuse relative to the substances listed in Schedule III; (2) has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and (3) may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the substances listed in Schedule III. Xanax is among the most well-known schedule IV drugs.
- Schedule V Controlled Dangerous Substance: (1) has low potential for abuse relative to the substances listed in Schedule IV; (2) has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States; and (3) has limited physical dependence or psychological dependence liability relative to the substances listed in Schedule IV. These drugs are often found in drug stores and can be purchased over-the-counter. The key is that they must contain less than specified amounts of stronger substances. For example, a drug with less than 200 milligrams of codeine is considered schedule V.
Jersey City Drug Distribution Attorney · (201) 793-8018
Whether your charges end up in Superior Court or Municipal Court often depends on the type of narcotic according to the New Jersey Drug Schedule, the amount of drugs found, and whether there was intent to distribute the drugs. If you have been charged with a drug offense you most definitely need the experience of a seasoned defense lawyer to represent you through the judicial process. Our founding attorney, William A. Proetta, Esq., has handled over 1,000 criminal and municipal court cases throughout his legal career. As an experience drug defense lawyer, he can carefully evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the cases against and provide an aggressive multi-option defense for avoiding these serious consequences. We are often able to get more serious indictable drug charges remanded to municipal court or negotiate our client’s admittance into Pre-trial Intervention in Superior Court so that you avoid a conviction altogether. If the municipal court has jurisdiction then we will work with the prosecutor to secure you a Conditional Discharge, similar to PTI, or seek to have your charges amended to a less serious charge or dismissed depending on the facts. We offer free consultations with a criminal attorney who can answer your questions and we are available 24/7 at (201) 793-8018 or e-mail us today.