Freehold Drug Offense Lawyers

Drug offenses in Freehold, New Jersey, are a significant concern with substantial legal implications for those charged. Anyone who might face these charges should understand the potential penalties.

Drug offenses can range from possession and distribution to manufacturing and trafficking. Each carries legal consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and long-term impacts on an individual’s life and career.  Though every case is different, it may be possible to avoid penalties after facing drug charges if you have skilled legal representation from Lyons & Associates, P.C.

What Are Common Drug Offenses in Freehold?

Four main categories of drug offenses are commonly prosecuted, and they can overlap. Possession involves having illegal drugs on your person or property, while distribution refers to selling or intending to sell illegal drugs. Manufacturing focuses on producing illegal drugs, and trafficking involves transporting large quantities of these substances.

What Are New Jersey’s Marijuana Laws?

New Jersey recently enacted laws legalizing the possession and use of marijuana, regulated by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJ-CRC), as follows:

  • Adults 21 years and older can purchase recreational cannabis from licensed dispensaries.
  • Adults and minors with a qualifying Medicinal Cannabis Program medical condition can purchase products at licensed New Jersey medical cannabis dispensaries.

Dispensaries are permitted to sell up to the equivalent of 28.35 grams or 1 ounce of usable cannabis per transaction. Under current laws, the CRC has no authority to grant cultivation licenses to private, residential, or non-business cannabis growing operations. Purchasing marijuana and marijuana products from anywhere other than a licensed location is illegal.

What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession?

The penalties for drug possession vary widely based on the type of drug and the amount found. For example:

  • Possession of more than 6 ounces of marijuana is a fourth-degree crime, with penalties of up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $25,000.
  • Possession of any amount of heroin or cocaine is classified as a third-degree crime, with penalties including three to five years in prison and fines up to $35,000.
  • Unauthorized possession of prescription drugs, such as opioids, can result in third or fourth-degree charges, depending on the quantity.

How Is Drug Distribution Penalized?

Drug distribution charges carry more severe penalties than possession charges. The severity is generally determined by the type and quantity of drug involved. For example:

  • Distributing five to 25 pounds of marijuana is a second-degree crime, with penalties of five to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $150,000.
  • Distributing more than 25 pounds of marijuana carries first-degree charges, with penalties ranging from 10 to 20 years in prison and fines up to $300,000.
  • Distributing less than one ounce of marijuana is a fourth-degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months in prison.
  • Distributing more than 25 pounds of marijuana can lead to a first-degree charge, with penalties ranging from 10 to 20 years in prison.
  • For drugs like cocaine and heroin, distributing less than half an ounce can result in third-degree charges, with three to five years in prison.
  • Larger quantities of cocaine and heroin can lead to first-degree charges, with up to 20 years in prison.

What Are the Penalties for Drug Manufacturing?

Manufacturing drugs is treated as a very serious offense. The penalties for that in New Jersey are often severe to deter individuals from engaging in those activities.

  • Manufacturing methamphetamine can result in a first-degree charge, with 10 to 20 years in prison and significant fines.
  • Producing synthetic drugs like fentanyl can also lead to first-degree charges, reflecting the high danger and addictive potential of these substances.

How Are Drug Trafficking Charges Handled?

Drug trafficking is one of the most serious drug offenses and carries the harshest penalties. Trafficking involves the large-scale transportation of drugs and is typically prosecuted at the federal level. Federal penalties for drug trafficking can result in mandatory minimum sentences, often starting at five years and extending to life imprisonment.

New Jersey imposes additional penalties for drug trafficking, with lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. Trafficking large quantities of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine can result in sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

First-Time Drug Offenses

In New Jersey, a first-time offense for drug charges is treated with a combination of seriousness and potential leniency, depending on the specific circumstances and type of drug involved. Typically, for possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), the penalties can include fines, mandatory drug education or treatment programs, community service, probation, and, in some cases, imprisonment.

However, first-time offenders may be eligible for alternative sentencing options, such as conditional discharge or the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. The PTI program allows for the suspension of prosecution while the offender completes certain conditions, such as drug treatment and counseling. Successful completion of PTI can result in the charges being dismissed, giving the individual a chance to avoid a criminal record. The approach aims to balance accountability with opportunities for rehabilitation, aiming to deter future offenses while addressing underlying issues of substance abuse.

What Factors Influence the Severity of Penalties?

Several factors influence the severity of penalties for drug offenses. Repeat offenders face harsher penalties, and the type and quantity of drugs involved play a role in determining the severity of the charges. Crimes committed within 1,000 feet of a school can lead to stiffer penalties, as can the involvement of minors in drug-related activities.

What Should I Do If I am Charged With a Drug Offense?

If you are charged with a drug offense, immediately protect your rights and have a lawyer build a strong defense. First, exercise your right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. Next, contact a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the legal process. Your Freehold drug offense lawyer can help you collect evidence supporting your case, such as witness statements or surveillance footage. They can ensure that you fully understand the charges against you and the potential penalties you face.

What Are the Long-Term Consequences of a Drug Conviction?

A drug conviction can have long-term consequences that extend beyond the immediate legal penalties. You may have difficulties securing employment, as a criminal record can hinder job prospects and lead to job loss. Convictions can also impact one’s ability to obtain student loans and pursue higher education. Finding rental housing can also become challenging with a drug conviction on your record.

How Can a Lawyer Help with Drug Offense Charges?

The Lyons & Associates, P.C. team can provide invaluable assistance if you are facing drug offense charges. We can evaluate your case to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence. Our lawyers can present a strong defense in court. Throughout the process, we will offer guidance on the best course of action and what to expect.

What Are Some Potential Defenses Against Drug Charges?

Common defenses used to contest drug charges include arguing that the evidence was obtained through an illegal search and seizure, claiming that the drugs did not belong to you or were not in your control. Another is asserting that law enforcement induced you to commit a crime you would not have otherwise committed (entrapment). Additionally, questioning the handling and storage of the evidence can suggest possible tampering or contamination (chain of custody issues).

Contact Our Experienced Freehold Drug Offense Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. if You or a Loved One Is Facing Drug Charges

Dealing with drug charges can be intimidating and stressful, but our experienced Freehold drug offense lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. are here to provide trusted, confidential legal guidance. For a free consultation, call 908-575-9777 or submit our online form. Located in Somerville, Morristown, and Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, Morris Plains, and Monmouth County.