In 2019, the New Jersey State Police and Opioid Enforcement Task Force shut down an estimated 11 “heroin mills.” Governor Murphy has recognized how illegal drugs are contributing to crime and also destroying families in New Jersey. In the first two years of his administration, they have allocated more than $100 million toward enforcement, treatment, education, and other efforts.
Possession of Drugs (2C:35-10)
It is a crime for an individual to knowingly possess a dangerous controlled substance (or an analog) unless it was prescribed by a licensed physician. Possession is charged as a third-degree offense in most cases. This applies to heroin, cocaine, and any substances classified in Schedule I through IV. Schedule V drugs are charged as fourth-degree offenses. Possession of marijuana is charged as a disorderly person offense unless the quantity exceeds 50 grams.
Manufacturing or Distribution (2C:35-5)
It is unlawful for individuals to manufacture, dispense or sell controlled dangerous substances or their analogs. This also applies when an individual has control of the substance with intent to dispense, sell, etc. The severity of the crime is based on the type of substance and the quantity in their possession.
Heroin, Cocaine, and Methamphetamine
- Five ounces or more is a first-degree offense
- A quantity between a half-ounce and five ounces is a second-degree offense
- Less than a half-ounce is a third-degree offense
Schedule I or II Drugs
- One ounce or more is a second-degree offense
- Less than one ounce is a third-degree offense
- 100 milligrams or more is a first-degree offense
- Less than 100 milligrams is a second-degree offense
- 25 pounds or 50 plants or more is a first-degree offense
- A quantity between five pounds and 25 pounds or 10 to 50 plants is a second-degree offense
- A quantity between one ounce and five pounds is a third-degree offense
- A quantity between five grams and one ounce is a fourth-degree offense
“Drug-Free” Zone Laws for Distribution
All U.S. states now have laws that either add enhancements to drug distribution charges or add a separate charge when these crimes occur in “drug-free” zones. In New Jersey, this applies to offenses that occur within 1,000 feet of a school or school bus. An additional law was added applying to distribution within 500 feet of "real property comprising a public housing facility, a public park, or a public building."
Based on the circumstances, offenders in New Jersey will be charged with either a second or third-degree violation in these instances. It is not a viable defense to claim that the offender was unaware that they were located in these zones. Some provisions impose minimum terms of imprisonment without parole eligibility that may be subject to the discretion of the court.
Cape May County Criminal Court System
Criminal matters in Cape May County and Atlantic County are merged as the Vicinage 1 of the New Jersey Superior Court. A mandatory drug court program was implemented in 2014 for offenders that used a state-based model.
New Jersey Drug Offense Attorney
Have you been arrested and charged with a drug-related criminal offense? The Lento Law Firm has spent many years defending clients in the New Jersey courts. Call the office at (888) 535-3686 today for a consultation.