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Union County N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2 Drug Paraphernalia Attorneys

The Union County drug defense lawyers at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo have successfully represented thousands of clients charged and arrested with drug related offenses including use or Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2. This charge carries the same penalties as most CDS related disorderly persons offenses. A criminal record, loss of license, heavy fines and possible jail time. Jail is not a likely consequence, but the other penalties could have long lasting impact. If you are facing paraphernalia charges in Union County, we will put our years of experience and know how to work for you.

N.J.S,A, 2C:36-2 provides in part that it shall be unlawful for any person to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled dangerous substance, controlled substance analog or toxic chemical.

Use or possession of drug paraphernalia is a disorderly persons offense with significant penalties and fines. The person convicted of this offense will not only face financial consequences but also have a criminal record that could impact their current and future prospects in employment and their personal life. For example, employers will know you will have a criminal history which could result in being fired or not being hired. If you hold a public office you may be asked to resign. If you plan to coach a sport you may be asked to submit to a criminal history check which could prevent you from coaching.

A conviction will results in the following fines and penalties: $500 Drug Enforcement Reduction penalty, $50 lab fees for each charge; $50 for the Violent Crimes Compensation Board Penalty, $75 for the Safe Neighborhood Fund Services and a fine of up to $1,000. You could be placed on probation or be sentenced to up to six months in jail. Community service could be ordered as well as drug testing and drug evaluations with follow-up treatment as recommended. You may also face a six month to two year loss of license.

What are the options if you are charged with use or possession of drug paraphernalia? The municipal prosecutor is not allowed to plea bargain this charge so it is important to factually undermine the charges to convince the prosecutor that the State cannot prove their case. A lawyer experienced in the criminal law and the nuances of municipal court law will know to look at the following issues when analyzing a drug paraphernalia charge.

For example,

  1. Is the paraphernalia something that can be used to imbibe illegal drugs or can it legitimately be used for another purpose.
  2. If the paraphernalia could be used for drugs but there is no residue and no possession of an illegal drug in connection with the paraphernalia then perhaps an argument could be made that the violation cannot be proved.
  3. If facts appear difficult to pierce then it is in your best interest to explore a conditional discharge.

What is a conditional discharge? It is an option to resolve your case and at the conclusion have the charges dismissed. You can only be granted a conditional discharge if you have never had one before or been admitted to any type of diversionary program and this is your first drug offense.

Under the conditional discharge program you will be obligated plead guilty and to pay fines and fees; undergo drug testing and follow up treatment as recommended. You will be on probation for typically 6 months to 1 year. Importantly if you meet all of the requirements set by the court in the time frame allotted and you haven’t been arrested on unrelated charges then the charges may be dismissed after one year (or less).

You will also be subject to a 6 month to 2 year loss of license. Your lawyer can request a “hardship exception” to the loss of license penalty. The “hardship exception” will require establishing to the court that you will suffer undue hardship if you lose your license. For example, if you could lose your job without a license and neither mass transportation nor a family member are an option to get you to work. This would be especially important if you have dependents who rely on you for food, shelter and other support.

If the conditional discharge is not available then if the facts can be chipped away the prosecutor may be justified in allowing the defendant to pled guilty to a town ordinance. This may mean a higher fine but may not be a drug related change. An experienced criminal lawyer like myself, can analyze the facts to determine the best course of action. I hope you will consider giving me the opportunity to see if I can get you the best results.

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