Although New Jersey has recently joined a handful of other states in legalizing the use of recreational marijuana, state law still criminalizes the possession, production, and distribution of various other controlled substances. If you are accused of violating these laws, the penalties you might face upon conviction could range from minor fines and short jail sentences to decades spent in state prison, depending on the type and amount of illicit substances involved.
Contesting a drug-related criminal allegation made against you could be easier and more successful with help from a qualified Hackensack drug lawyer. By working with a defense attorney who has experience fighting cases like yours, you could more effectively protect your best interests no matter the specific nature of the charges you are dealing with.
State laws use the same five “Schedules” to categorize controlled substances as those established under federal law. Schedule I drugs are considered the most potentially addictive substances that have a high risk for abuse without having any acceptable medical use. Schedule IV and V drugs are generally prescription medications with low risks for addiction or abuse and legitimate medical uses, some of which may be used as components in the process of making more dangerous drugs like methamphetamine.
Notably, while federal law still considers marijuana to be a Schedule I drug like heroin, ecstasy, and LSD, state law has legalized the possession and use—though not the direct sale—of up to six ounces of marijuana for personal use, as well as its prescription for certain medical uses. This is an important inconsistency between state and federal law that may have a significant impact on a Hackensack drug case involving investigative assistance from federal authorities, as a seasoned local lawyer could explain in more detail.
New Jersey Revised Statutes §2C:35-10 prohibits individuals from possessing any amount of a scheduled controlled substance. Possession of any substance categorized in Schedule I, II, III, or IV is a third-degree offense, for which a conviction may result in a maximum fine of $35,000 and a maximum five-year prison sentence. Unlawful possession of a Schedule V substance is a fourth-degree crime that could lead to a $15,000 fine and up to 18 months of imprisonment.
Additionally, N.J.R.S. §2C:36-2 states that the possession of drug paraphernalia is a disorderly persons offense, meaning a conviction could result in a maximum six-month jail sentence plus a fine of $500 to $1000. Anyone who manufactures, distributes, or possesses a sufficient amount of a controlled substance to constitute an intent to distribute may face even harsher penalties.
Depending on the specific substances and volumes involved, a conviction may lead to consequences for a third-degree or first-degree offense, the latter of which could lead to a maximum prison term of 20 years. Regardless of the specific offense, assistance from a skilled attorney could be important for anyone in Hackensack trying to contest a drug-related criminal allegation.
Drug offenses are a serious matter, even if you have no history of arrests or convictions for any other criminal offense. Despite its recent legalization, there are still marijuana-related offenses that individuals must follow regarding the sale, distribution, or possession of large quantities of this substance.
If you want to defend your rights effectively in the face of criminal prosecution for a substance-related offense, having help from a Hackensack drug lawyer could be essential. Call today to schedule a consultation and to get a strong advocate on your side.