In recent years, drug deaths in New Jersey have steadily increased, primarily as a result of the state’s opioid epidemic. In fact, opioid-related deaths in New Jersey increased by almost 30 percent between 2016 and 2017.
If you were arrested on drug charges related to opioids, law enforcement might have saved your life—but the police may have created other complications for you. Other types of drug use and drug-related charges can lead to an arrest and criminal conviction. Depending on your specific circumstances, you might face harsh penalties including fines and jail time if you are convicted. Regardless of your charges and the circumstances of your arrest, you are guaranteed specific rights as you go through the judicial process.
A skilled Haddonfield defense lawyer who has ample experience with New Jersey’s criminal justice system can advocate for you, protect your rights, and devise the best defense strategy for your individual situation. Whether you are still in jail or have been released pending trial, contact the Haddonfield drug defense attorney at the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella at (856) 310-9800 for a free consultation to discuss your case.
Our Results Defending Drug-Related Charges
The skilled legal team at the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella has more than 25 years of experience advocating for, defending, and protecting the rights of clients in criminal cases, including clients who are facing drug-related charges. With our firm’s strong commitment to client service, our efforts have resulted in dismissals, reduced charges, and reduced penalties for many of our clients. The drug defense attorney at the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella cannot guarantee an outcome for any particular case, but if you choose to work with us we will diligently explore all the facts of your case to build the best defense possible against your charges.
3 Common Drug Charges and Penalties in New Jersey
New Jersey laws governing the possession, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of drugs are plentiful, complex, and in some cases outdated because they were not completely updated since the Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987—the law has not kept up with our medical understanding of drug addiction as a disease that requires treatment.
The act contains 25 sections spanning two chapters that address drug-related charges and penalties. If you are facing drug-related charges, hire an experienced drug defense lawyer who can navigate the complexities of New Jersey’s drug laws and who truly understands how they apply to your case. Some of the most common drug charges are described below.
1. Use, Possession, and Failure to Make Lawful Disposition
Under New Jersey law, it is a crime to be in possession of illegal controlled substances, as well as legal drugs without a prescription. Even if you have a prescription, you may be criminally charged if the drugs are not in their original container. Anyone caught with drug-related paraphernalia (including rolling papers, glass bowls, one-hitters, bongs, hypodermic needles, glass pipes, etc.) may also face criminal charges.
Fines and penalties vary greatly based on the type or amount of a drug the person has in their possession, as well as that person’s criminal history. The most commonly issued charge is possessing less than 50 grams of cannabis. Those convicted of this charge face up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail.
Keep in mind that even if you are not driving a vehicle, you can still be arrested for being under the influence; and if you don’t turn the drugs over voluntarily to law enforcement, you can be charged with failure to make lawful disposition.
2. Distribution of Drugs
Those who are convicted of manufacturing or distributing or intent to distribute drugs face much harsher penalties than those who are convicted of drug use or possession. Possible charges for drug distribution under New Jersey law include:
- Distributing prescription drugs. New Jersey law treats the abuse and illegal distribution of prescription drugs separately from crimes involving “street drugs.” The penalties associated with the distribution of prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Xanax, and Vicodin vary based on the amount of the drug the person distributed and whether the offender was selling it for profit or giving it away. Those who possess or distribute five or more pills face fourth-degree criminal charges.
- Distributing drugs to minors. Offenders who sell drugs to a person under 18 or to a pregnant woman face double the prison time and double the fines if convicted. Someone convicted of this crime must wait twice as long before being eligible for parole, which can be up to six years.
- Using a minor to distribute. If an individual uses, solicits, or hires a person under age 17 to produce or distribute drugs, that individual is guilty of a second-degree crime, which carries a minimum mandatory jail sentence and up to $500,000 in fines.
- Distributing drugs on or near school property. Those who are convicted of distributing or the intent to distribute drugs on school property or within 1,000 feet of school property are guilty of either a second-degree or third-degree crime in New Jersey. A conviction carries a mandatory three to 10-year prison sentence with a mandatory period of parole ineligibility and up to $500,000 in fines.
3. First-Degree Drug Crimes
If someone dies after taking a controlled substance, the person who distributed the drugs to the person may be found guilty of a first-degree crime akin to murder. This charge applies in incidents involving drugs that the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies as Schedule I or II controlled substances. Examples of Schedule I controlled substances include heroin, LSD, marijuana, peyote, and ecstasy. Examples of Schedule II narcotics include hydromorphone, methadone, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, opium, codeine, hydrocodone, amphetamine, and methamphetamine.
Hire a Haddonfield Drug Defense Lawyer Today
Drug charges are serious crimes in New Jersey and a conviction can leave you with a misdemeanor or felony on your criminal record. Not only will you have to face formal penalties like fines and imprisonment, but you may also face damage to your personal and professional reputation.
If you are charged with possession or another drug-related crime in Haddonfield, Camden, and Camden County, or elsewhere in South Jersey, contact the skilled drug defense lawyers at the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC at (856) 310-9800 or online for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and determine the best path forward in your circumstances. A skilled drug defense attorney can help you fight your charges.