New Jersey, unlike Pennsylvania, maintains many mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes within the State. This means that a person cannot receive a term of probation or even house arrest if the prosecution doesn’t agree to de-mandatorize the sentence following a plea or conviction. Obviously, an acquittal at trial or dismissal after a successful pre-trial motion (motion to suppress evidence) would also prevent a person from serving a mandatory minimum term but sometimes the evidence is extremely overwhelming in a case. See 2C: 35-5 – manufacturing, distributing, dispensing controlled dangerous substance in New Jersey
In New Jersey, a person who sells drugs which exceeds 5 ounces (approx. 141 grams) commits a crime of the 1st degree and is subject to a mandatory minimum term of 1/3 of the sentence imposed, during which time the person is ineligible for parole. In addition, the person also faces a $500 fine. This mandatory minimum term is reserved for drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, and most other Schedule I and II drugs.
Marijuana is different
Marijuana is treated much less harshly in New Jersey and there is no mandatory minimum term, but the state still classifies it as a crime of the 1st degree if the amount in question is 25 pounds (approx. 11 kilograms) or more.
While other drug transactions are also indictable offenses in this state, the lower the amount in question, the less the criminal penalty. For example, if it is a Schedule I or Schedule II drug and the amount is over an ounce but less than 5 ounces then it is a crime of the 2nd degree; if it is less than one ounce it is a crime of the 3rd degree. Again, New Jersey treats marijuana differently and a transaction involving 5 or more pounds but less than 25 is a crime of the 2nd degree; a transaction involving 1 ounce but less than 5 pounds is a crime of the 3rd degree. Marijuana transactions of less than 1 ounce are crimes of the 4th degree crimes in New Jersey. All of these crimes are indictable offenses in Garden State and handled in New Jersey’s Superior Court.
The Burden of Proof in Drug Prosecution in New Jersey – What Criminal Defense Lawyer Should Do
Remember, if you’re charged with manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing in New Jersey. the State has the burden of proof and it must establish beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused person not only possessed the CDS but had the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense it.
If you are charged with a drug crime in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, it is very important that your attorney evaluates all pre-trial motions which includes motions to suppress evidence and motion to quash (habeas motion). Pre-trial motions are often the strongest argument in drug cases, especially in situations where the accused person is found with the alleged narcotics on his or her person or in his area of immediate control (constructive possession).
Most drug charges derive following vehicle stops or searches of a person’s home. It is important to keep in mind that in New Jersey, unlike Pennsylvania, warrantless searches of vehicles are allowed but most home searches require a search warrant.
Criminal Conspiracy and Drug Charges
Keep in mind that in addition to drug distribution, you can also face criminal conspiracy if you are involved with the transaction in any way or if you are employing an individual to sell drugs on your behalf. Remember, in New Jersey if a person employs a juvenile in a drug distribution scheme (See 2C: 35-6) that person is subject to a mandatory minimum term between 1/3 and 1/2 of the sentence imposed or 5 years, whichever is greater, during which time the defendant is ineligible for parole. It is not a defense that the accused person believed that the person was over the age of 18 even if such a mistake was reasonable.
For more information regarding drug crimes in New Jersey or Pennsylvania keep reading this blog.
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