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Pushing Back Against Drug Charges In Atlantic City

The state of New Jersey harshly prosecutes drug crimes. A conviction can result in years of jail or prison time, forfeiture of your car or another property, loss of driver’s license, and thousands of dollars in fines. If you have been charged with a drug-related offense, it is important that you take the charges seriously by finding the best possible criminal law attorney as soon as possible.

The criminal law lawyers of Weinstock Levin are equipped with years of experience and a track record of success in handling drug charges for clients throughout New Jersey, as well as out-of-state visitors arrested while spending time in the state. As experienced and proven trial lawyers, they try even the most difficult cases, delivering results.

Experienced Drug Possession Defense – Fighting All Forms Of Drug Charges

Drug charges can vary widely, from misdemeanor marijuana charges to serious felony offenses that can send you to jail for years. The firm has handled the full range of charges, including:

  • Distribution of a controlled dangerous substance
  • Distribution of a controlled dangerous substance in a public or school zone
  • Distribution of a controlled dangerous substance with a gun
  • Distribution of a controlled dangerous substance to a minor
  • Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with the intent to distribute
  • Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, including marijuana, etc.
  • Racketeering/conspiracy to commit any of the above

These charges can involve any type of drug or controlled substance, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, narcotics, prescription drugs, ecstasy, molly, methamphetamine or LSD.

The firm’s criminal law attorneys will thoroughly investigate the charges against you, as well as the circumstances surrounding your arrest. It is not uncommon for law enforcement to make mistakes such as illegally stopping and searching you or misunderstanding the situation and wrongfully arresting you. The lawyers with top investigators will ensure that your rights and your future are protected.

We want you to understand all of the possible factors that you may face, no matter the issues ahead of you in your drug charge trial. With that in mind, we have provided insight into common drug charges our clients face.

What You Should Know About Legal Marijuana In New Jersey

If you are charged with possession of marijuana in New Jersey, there is some good news and some complicated news on the topic. In February of 2022, New Jersey legalized the recreational use of marijuana, meaning that in certain amounts and circumstances, marijuana possession is no longer a criminal charge.

While the use of marijuana is “decriminalized,” there are many restrictions. In addition to recreational use, New Jersey law also allows for medicinal marijuana possession – but there are some restrictions. To be sure, you may still face some charges under the law if you:

  • Use near a school zone
  • Smoke in a place where any smoking is prohibited
  • Possess more than six ounces of marijuana
  • Are under 21
  • Sell marijuana without a license in any amount
  • Sell more than 1 ounce of marijuana to a person if you do not have a license
  • Grow marijuana in any amount without a license

You must remember that federal law still prohibits the use and possession of marijuana. That said, you are far less likely to face marijuana today than you would have been.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony Charges

In New Jersey, there are no misdemeanor offenses. There are “disorderly persons” offenses and everything else. All disorderly person charges carry the same maximum penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. When it comes to drug possession in New Jersey, the disorderly persons’ charges only apply to the possession of drug paraphernalia.

Aside from that, if you are at risk for a possession charge in any other capacity, you will face significant fines and jail time.

Drug Distribution

The sale and manufacturing of drugs in New Jersey are highly criminalized, even for marijuana. The cultivation of even one plant of marijuana is punishable by a maximum fine of $25,000 and 3-5 years of jail time.

For unlicensed distribution, you may see penalties such as:

  • Up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000 for a sale of up to 5 pounds (18 months maximum if it is under 1 ounce.)
  • Five years of prison and up to a $150,000 fine for selling over 5 pounds near a school
  • A doubled applicable sentence for sale to minors or pregnant women

There are several extreme penalties for the sale of marijuana, and this is for a decriminalized product.

For other drugs such as cocaine or heroin, even the smallest amounts on sale can carry a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence and a $75,000 fine. These penalties for the distribution of drugs are symbolic of how seriously the state takes these charges. They are pursued quite aggressively, and if you do not take adequate steps when you face an allegation, you may face some of the strictest penalties available.

Possession Of Drugs In A Motor Vehicle

One of the more troubling aspects of New Jersey’s law is the threats you face when driving. As many drug arrests come from a traffic stop, you may be in significant legal jeopardy if the police find drugs in your vehicle. On top of the standard penalties for possession, you may also lose your license for a significant period of time.

If the substance in your vehicle is – as the law defines – a controlled dangerous substance, the police may still file charges against you. These charges can quite aggressively disrupt your life.

Prescription Fraud

While those with prescription medications may possess and consume their needed medication, there are many ways that people misuse their prescriptions. Prescription fraud is punishable by 3-5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000. The law enforces these strict penalties provided the state can prove that you committed fraud.

There is a three-step process that the state must prove in order to convict an individual of prescription fraud. First, they must prove that you had the substance. This is often the simplest to prove. The state must also prove that the substance is controlled and dangerous, as defined by New Jersey law. Again, this is a straightforward determination.

The last hurdle, however, is proof that fraud was key to you getting access to the prescription. They must find that you had misrepresented yourself of used deception when you received the drugs. Here your defense team can make a significant difference for you. They can attack all of the circumstances of the evidence against you and provide you with significant coverage.

Drug Conspiracy Charges

Drug conspiracy is among the most serious charges you can face in New Jersey and under the federal drug codes. Drug conspiracy is the law that targets large drug manufacturing and sale enterprises. The state considers these charges a key part of its strategy to curb organized crime.

For the state to build a case against a group for conspiracy, the prosecution must prove that you agreed with others to commit or attempt a crime. This agreement may mean that you:

  • Aided in the crime
  • Knew about it beforehand
  • Were a part of multiple crimes as part of the agreement

Additionally, according to the law, for the state to convict you of a conspiracy to commit a drug crime, unless you or someone in the conspiracy commits an “overt act.” An overt act simply shows that you intend to commit a crime.

The penalties for conspiracy to commit a drug crime are even more extensive than what you would face in the attempt to sell. You may face

  • A minimum of 25 years in prison
  • Fines starting at $75,000

It is the leaders and “financiers” of such enterprises that face by far the most devastating penalties are in place. The fines reach up to $750,000 or five times the street value of the drugs involved.

In short, if you are charged with a  drug crime in New Jersey, you face harsh penalties no matter what the circumstances. However, you have every opportunity to protect yourself by hiring a skilled defense attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re charged with drug crimes, you need to build a defense quickly. Finding a lawyer with the answers you need to your questions can help you. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we’ve gotten.

Does a fine for drug possession count as a conviction?

Yes. If you pay a fine in conjunction with a drug possession charge, it does count as a conviction. Just because you avoided jail time does not mean your record will be clear.

What are the consequences for possession of drugs?

Drug possession in both New York and New Jersey comes with a range of potential consequences, from minor fines up to life in prison. Your individual circumstances make a massive impact on the type of charge you’re facing. A person arrested for having a small amount of a drug in their car stands to face a far less aggressive charge than someone the authorities consider a major trafficker.

What is possession of drug paraphernalia?

Drug paraphernalia are the tools associated with using or selling a specific drug. For example, drug paraphernalia can include:

  • Pipes
  • Bongs
  • Needles
  • Clips
  • Scales
  • Baggies

Drug paraphernalia can range from expensive store-bought glassware to improvised devices to simple pieces bought at a gas station. However, context matters significantly.

What is the penalty for possession of drug paraphernalia?

In New York and New Jersey, you can face penalties for drug paraphernalia charges. However, in New York, the law specifically focuses on the “criminal use” of the devices, meaning just owning a device is not a problem. New Jersey does not make a distinction, and a person with drug paraphernalia can face a $1000 fine and a maximum of six months in jail.

Does possession of drug paraphernalia go on your record? 

Any conviction for any crime will go on your record. That is the nature of interaction with the criminal justice system and why there is no such thing as a “minor” charge. Any charge can come with long-term, painful consequences.

Protect Your Freedom And Your Future – Contact A Criminal Law Attorney In Atlantic City Today

If you have been charged with a drug crime, call Weinstock Levin immediately. The state is building a case against you, and it is critical that you have representation with the experience to defend you. Contact our Atlantic City, New Jersey, firm at 609-297-3624 or emergency at 609-214-8446.