If you or a loved one is facing a drug charge in New Jersey for the first time, it’s important to understand the basic structure of the law and what consequences might result.
While most states classify crimes as misdemeanors and felonies, New Jersey classifies them as disorderly persons and indictable crimes and differentiate between them by type and severity of the incident and the circumstances surrounding it.
Length of jail sentence
Most disorderly persons offenses result in less than six months or less in jail or no jail time at all. They are usually tried in the municipal court of the town where the crime was committed and result in fines and probation.
Indictable crimes rank from the first to the fourth degree, with first degree crimes the most serious. Indictable crimes must be brought before a grand jury to determine if the defendant is to be indicted. Penalties include probation, rehabilitation, fines and jail sentences.
Listed below are various drug crimes and penalties. It’s important to remember, however, if you are convicted of an indictable crime, you will lose your rights to vote or bear arms, you may be ineligible to receive federal student loans or grants as well as access to food assistance or public housing. Most job applications ask if you have been convicted of a felony.
Drug crimes, penalties
Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana is a disorderly persons offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine
Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana can result in up to 18 months in prison, fines of up to $15,000, the loss of your driver’s license and mandatory drug rehabilitation classes.
Possession of narcotics or other controlled substances can result in between three to five years in prison, fines of up to $25,000 and suspension of your driver’s license.
Possession of drug paraphernalia can result in an additional six months in prison. Up to $1,000 in fines and a driver’s license suspension.
If you face charges of distribution of marijuana:
- Less than 1 ounce results in 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines
- 1 ounce to less than 5 pounds results in up to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines
- Five pounds to less than 25 pounds results in up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $150,000
- Twenty-five pounds or more results in up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $300,000
Distribution of less than half an ounce of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or any other Schedule I drug results in between three to five years in prison and up to $75,000 in fines.
Distribution of between half an ounce to 5 ounces of a Schedule I drug results in between five and 10 years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines.
Distribution of more than 5 ounces of a Schedule I drug results in up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.