There are different laws governing possession and distribution of narcotics. There are many factors that determine the charges you will face. The weight, packaging, as well as the narcotic, are the factors that can turn simple possession into a more serious charge. Distribution of narcotics and possession with the intent to distribute are more serious drug charges than possession. This article will cover the circumstances that will result in more serious drug charges, as well as the penalties.
Types of Narcotics
The first factor that can alter the charges in your case is the type of narcotic. The more dangerous narcotics will obviously result in harsher penalties. New Jersey treats marijuana much differently than it treats cocaine and heroin. These drugs are more potent and therefore mean a user will require a smaller amount to achieve the desired effect. Also, marijuana has become more acceptable in society, unlike other drugs. Therefore, many states including New Jersey are softening their stance on marijuana.
Distribution of Narcotics: Weight
Depending on the narcotic, there are different weight categories that increase the level of charges as well as the punishments. Obviously, the higher the weight, the harsher the penalties. The weight categories are as follows:
- Less than an ounce of marijuana is a fourth-degree offense.
- Possession of more than one ounce but less than five pounds is a third-degree offense. Any amount of marijuana over one ounce will likely mean distribution of narcotics or possession with intent to distribute charges.
- More than five pounds but less than twenty-five pounds is a second-degree offense.
- More than twenty-five pounds of marijuana will result in a first-degree offense.
Heroin and Cocaine
New Jersey classifies heroin and cocaine together because they are both equally as dangerous.
- In most cases, less than a 1/2 ounce of heroin or cocaine will be considered possession. However, there are other factors that could change the type of charges in these cases. This crime is a third-degree indictable offense.
- More than a 1/2 ounce but less than five ounces is a second-degree crime.
- Any quantity over five ounces will result in first-degree charges.
Psilocybin and LSD
Psilocybin and LSD are hallucinogenic in nature. New Jersey takes a harsh stance on these two substances.
- Possession of fewer than 100 milligrams is a second-degree offense.
- More than 100 milligrams will result in a first-degree charge.
Distribution of Narcotics: Packaging
Another common factor in the type of charges in a specific case is the packaging of the narcotic. The police and prosecutors take the packaging into account while determining charges. For example, a small quantity of marijuana in one bag is likely for personal use and not for sale. However, packaging the same quantity of marijuana in multiple smaller quantities could result in intent to distribute charges. Most of the time people don’t keep drugs in smaller packages unless they are attempting to sell the narcotics.
Distribution of Narcotics: Other Factors
There are also other factors that the police and prosecutors will take into consideration while determining the charges in your case. For instance, having a lot of narcotics along with a scale and smaller bags could result in a distribution of narcotics charges. Obviously, being caught while attempting to sell narcotics will result in additional charges.
There are different penalties depending on the quantity of narcotic and other factors in your case. Here are the basic penalties depending on the degree of the crime.
- Fourth-Degree Offenses: New Jersey calls a fourth-degree crime a disorderly person offense. Most states refer to this type of offense as a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. Some cases result in suspension of your driving privileges as well as drug rehabilitation.
- Third-Degree Offenses: The maximum penalty for a third-degree offense is five years in prison and a fine up to $25,000.
- Second-Degree Offense: Second-degree offenses carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. The maximum penalty is ten years in prison and a $150,000 fine.
- First-Degree Offense: The penalty for a first-degree offense includes a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison. The maximum penalty is twenty years in prison and a fine of $300,000.
New Jersey takes drug offenses very seriously. Therefore, the penalties are harsh. If you receive any criminal charges in New Jersey, you will want to hire an attorney immediately. Douglas Herring has years of experience defending against drug charges in New Jersey. He will use his experience with to help formulate the best defense for your case. Having an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney could make all of the difference in your case. Don’t trust your case and your future to just any attorney, contact Douglas Herring today.