Possession of an illicit drug, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or marijuana, is a severe offense. It is illegal for anyone to knowingly or purposely obtain or have a controlled substance without a proper prescription from a professional medical practitioner. Those found in possession of a substance categorized by Schedule I, II, III, or IV are guilty of a third degree crime, punishable by three to five years in prison and up to $35,000 in fines. Possessing Schedule V controlled substances constitutes a fourth degree offense, punishable by 6 to 18 months in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
Possession of 50 or more grams of marijuana or 5 or more grams of hashish also constitutes a fourth degree offense, for which up to $25,000 in fines may be imposed. Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana or less than 5 grams of hashish comprises a disorderly persons offense, punishable by up to 6 months in jail or up to $1,000 in fines. Any person found possessing a controlled substance on school property or within 1,000 feet of school property will receive a mandatory 100 hours of community service in addition to any other punishment which the court may enforce.
As well as these penalties any person convicted with a drug offense will lose his driver's license for a period between six months to two years. An exception can be drawn if the lack of driving will result in extreme hardship or no alternative means of transportation can be found. In addition, a $50 criminal laboratory analysis fee will be collected for each charge for which the defendant was convicted.
The most important aspect of this crime is possession with the intent to distribute. Distribution charges carry much worse penalties upon conviction, and so if intent to sell is proved much more jail-time and/or fines can be added to a sentence. Quantity, quality, and packaging of the drugs in question can all be used as factors to prove intent to distribute. If an enormous quantity of drugs is present and packaged in a way which would ease distribution, an expert in the drug trade can testify that a person in possession of such drugs has the intent to distribute.
Any person found to be under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance not prescribed to them by a medical professional qualifies as a disorderly person. The State does not have to prove which specific drug the defendant was using as long as it can prove the defendant was experiencing symptoms caused by the use of a controlled substance. Similarly, any person in possession of a controlled substance who does not voluntarily give the substance to the nearest law enforcement officer is guilty of a disorderly persons offense. This creates an "implied immunity" where a defendant cannot incriminate himself by voluntarily relinquishing drugs in his possession to an officer of the law.
Speak With a Union County Drug Crime Lawyer
If you are facing these charges it is a good idea to seek legal help from a Union County defense attorney. LS&P Lawyers are available 24/7 for free consultation and represent people all over New Jersey.