Defending Individuals against Drug Possession Charges in Atlantic County and Camden County, New Jersey
New Jersey has very tough drug laws—some of the toughest in the United States. Consequently, drug offenses are prosecuted very harshly. Even a conviction for simple drug possession can result in serious penalties and consequences, all of which could impact you personally and financially for many years to come. You will also have a criminal record on your hands that could have a negative impact on your future professional opportunities.
If you are facing charges of drug possession in New Jersey, you need a criminal defense lawyer on your side representing you throughout your case. Haddonfield drug possession lawyer Matthew V. Portella has many years of experience successfully defending individuals against their criminal drug charges. Consult with Attorney Portella today about how he may be able to assist you with defending your case before you go to court as well as at your trial.
Categories of Controlled Substances
New Jersey, like many other states, categorizes drugs and other controlled substances according to their seriousness. Schedule I drugs, which are generally considered the most serious and the most dangerous, include substances like marijuana, heroin, LSD, peyote, and ecstasy. Schedule II drugs, on the other hand, are not as serious as Schedule I drugs and have some limited medical benefits associated with them. Schedule II drugs include substances like cocaine, Vicodin, methadone, methamphetamines, OxyContin, Adderall, and Ritalin.
Schedule III drugs—or those drugs that are considered to have medical benefits, include ketamine, codeine, and anabolic steroids. Finally, Schedule IV and V drugs include Darvocet, Ambien, Xanax, and Valium. These drugs are so classified because they theoretically have the lowest potential for abuse.
Drug classifications are generally used to determine the potential penalties upon conviction for possessing a certain drug. Haddonfield drug possession lawyer Matthew V. Portella will present you with options and strategies for effectively defending against your charge in court.
What Does It Mean to Be in Possession of a Controlled Substance?
There are several ways in which a suspect might be accused of possession of a controlled substance in New Jersey. First of all, prosecutors may allege the accused was in actual possession of a drug if one of the following exists:
- A police officer recovers the drug from the accused’s hand.
- A police officer recovers the drug from somewhere on the accused’s person, such as in an article of clothing, pants pocket, or coat pocket, for example.
Drug possession, however, is not just limited to actual physical possession of a drug. In some instances, the accused may be found to constructively possess the drug in question. Constructive possession might exist in the following circumstances:
- The drug is found somewhere in the accused’s immediate reach or “grab area,” such as in a motor vehicle where the accused was recently present
- The accused had some degree of control over the area where the drug was recovered, such as if police found drugs in a motor vehicle and the accused was recently operating or a passenger in that motor vehicle.
If the state is charging you with actual physical or constructive possession of a controlled substance, Haddonfield drug possession lawyer, Matthew V. Portella can investigate the circumstances and determine if one or more defenses apply to negate your possession charge.
What Are Some Potential Defenses to the Crime of Drug Possession?
If you are facing charges of possessing a controlled dangerous substance in New Jersey, the prosecutor has the burden of proof in your case, and he or she must satisfy each legal element of proof beyond a reasonable doubt to sustain a conviction in the case. Mr. Portella might be able to raise one of the following legal defenses to your charge:
- That you did not have knowledge that the drug in question was present in the location where it was found (especially in cases involving constructive possession where you did not own the home or vehicle where police recovered the drugs)
- That in the process of recovering the drug or other incriminating evidence, the police violated your Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable and unlawful searches and seizures
- That in an attempt to obtain an incriminating statement from you, the police violated your Miranda rights and/or your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination
You should speak to Haddonfield drug possession lawyer Matthew V. Portella to determine whether any of these defenses might be applicable to the facts of your case, and if so, when to assert those legal defenses.
What Are the Possible Penalties for Drug Possession in New Jersey?
Potential penalties for New Jersey drug possession depend largely upon which schedule of drug you allegedly possessed. Generally speaking, the more serious the drug schedule, the more serious your penalty will be if you ultimately receive a conviction of the drug possession charge.
Under New Jersey law, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10, possessing even a small amount of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug—with the exception of marijuana—may be charged as either a felony or a third-degree criminal offense. A conviction can result in the following:
- 3 to 5 years in prison
- A fine of $1,000 to 25,000 (depending on the quantity of drugs in question)
- Loss of your driver’s license
- Mandatory drug education and rehabilitation programs
These penalties may increase even further if you have a large amount of drugs in your possession or if a minor is involved.
Marijuana, however, is an exception to the general rule. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10A(4), a simple marijuana possession charge for less than 50 grams is a disorderly person crime. Therefore, a conviction can only result in up to $1,000 in fines and a maximum of six months’ incarceration in the county jail. However, possession f more than 50 grams of marijuana can be a fourth-degree crime, with a possible sentence of 18 months in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Haddonfield drug possession attorney Matthew V. Portella might be able to negotiate with a state prosecutor on your behalf who may agree to plead down to a lesser criminal charge.
Call a Haddonfield Drug Possession Lawyer Today
The potential penalties for a drug possession conviction make it so that you should not engage in self-representation. Attorney Matthew V. Portella is ready to defend you in your criminal case and will aggressively advocate on your behalf.
To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a Haddonfield drug possession lawyer, please call the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, at (856) 310-9800 or contact us online.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“I want to thank Mr. Portella for taking my case. What an amazing law office and attorney. He is very professional and got all of my charges dismissed. If I ever need an attorney again, Mr. Portella will be the one I call. Thank you again! -A.M.”>