Defending Individuals Charged with Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute in Haddonfield, New Jersey
Many individuals in New Jersey are surprised to learn that they can be charged with possession with intent to distribute a drug or controlled dangerous substance under N.J.S.A 2c35-5(6), even if nothing was ever sold. However, a person can still be charged with—and convicted of—possession with intent to distribute, even if nothing ever switches hands. This is because if the accused is found with a sufficiently large amount of drugs in his or her possession, that alone might be enough to presume that the accused did not have the drugs for solely personal use.
Haddonfield possession with intent to distribute lawyer, Matthew V. Portella has been defending people accused of drug charges for many years in the State of New Jersey. Attorney Portella can meet with you to discuss the nature of your criminal charge and can represent you in court. Attorney Portella can also ensure that you are aware of what’s going on every step of the way and can fight for the best possible outcome on your behalf in the courtroom.
Explaining a Possession With Intent to Distribute Charge in New Jersey
Pursuant to New Jersey criminal law, it is illegal to distribute, manufacture, dispense, disperse, or possess a controlled dangerous substance (or a controlled substance analog) while in the State. It is also against the law for individuals to have a controlled substance or a controlled substance analog with the intent to distribute, manufacture, dispense, or disperse it in the State. The same laws apply for counterfeit controlled dangerous substances.
First of all, drug possession in New Jersey is not limited to just actual physical possession of the drug. A person can be deemed in constructive physical possession of a controlled dangerous substance (or a controlled substance analog) if a police officer finds the drug in the vicinity of the accused—and if the accused has some degree of control over the area where the officer discovers the drug. For example, if drugs are found in a home or car—and the accused was a recent occupant of the home or car—then the accused might be deemed in constructive possession of the drug.
Prosecutors will sometimes go to great lengths to try and show that a person had drugs in his or her possession while harboring an intent to distribute those drugs. For example, the prosecutor might allege any one of the following:
- That the accused was sitting in a car where the police found numerous bags of heroin which had been wrapped individually
- That during a home raid, police officers recovered weighing scales, large amounts of cash, and large numbers of plastic bags, in addition to finding drugs
Although none of these items, alone, is sufficient charge someone with possession with intent to distribute, when the presence of illegal drugs is added into the mix, that fact could be sufficient for prosecutors to bring the charge. All of these factors, when taken together, arguably show that the accused did not intend to use the controlled substances for personal use, but rather, that he or she intended to sell or distribute them to others.
Haddonfield drug crimes defense lawyer Matthew V. Portella may be able to review your case and introduce a good defense to your drug charge in court on your behalf.
Potential Defenses to a Charge for Possession With Intent to Distribute
If you have been charged with possession with intent to distribute, one possible way of escaping a conviction may be to assert a strong legal defense—either before or during your criminal trial. Potentially successful legal defenses could include any one of the following:
- You did not have control over the area where the drug was recovered, and that therefore, you were not in possession of the drug
- You were not aware that drugs or drug paraphernalia were present in a specific location
- You did not have the specific intent necessary to commit the crime
- The drugs, drug paraphernalia, or other incriminating evidence were recovered without a proper warrant or a warrant exception
- That a search warrant issued prior to a house raid was defective
- That the investigating police officer or officers obtained a statement that violated the accused’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination (i.e., the accused’s Miranda rights)
An experienced criminal defense attorney in New Jersey may be able to assert one of these defenses on your behalf before or during your criminal trial, with the end goal of obtaining a dismissal of your criminal drug charge.
Potential Penalties Upon Conviction
If you are convicted of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance in New Jersey, you could face the following criminal penalties:
- A maximum fine of $500,000 for possessing five or more ounces of heroin with the intent to distribute
- An added $300,000 maximum fine for possessing five or more ounces of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute
- An added $150,000 maximum fine for possessing five to 25 pounds of marijuana
The potential penalties for possession with intent to distribute and for strict drug possession are exactly the same. However, numerous aggravating factors can be latched on to a drug distribution case that can result in the penalty becoming more serious. For example, the accused might have been caught distributing the controlled substance on or near school grounds or have employed a juvenile as part of a scheme for drug distribution.
A conviction may also carry potential jail time, ranging from a maximum of 18 months (for a fourth-degree offense) to up to 20 years for a first-degree offense.
Talk to a Pleasantville and Haddonfield Possession With Intent to Distribute Lawyer Today
When it comes to possession with intent to distribute charges in New Jersey, you do not want to take any chances. Haddonfield attorney Matthew V. Portella can present a defense on your behalf and may also argue for a reduced charge or penalty in court, if necessary or appropriate. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation, please call the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, at (856) 310-9800 contact us online.
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“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.”