Delivery of a Controlled Substance in New Jersey

The Drug Enforcement Agency recently published a report that assessed the status of illegal drugs in New Jersey. They presented a host of different concerns. Emergency rooms across the state are increasingly reporting that individuals are being admitted for drug overdoses. Many of these are the result of heroin and fentanyl abuse. The anti-overdose medication called Narcan® has now been widely distributed to law enforcement agencies.

Drug distribution has progressed using the internet. Areas of the “dark web” and “deep web” are home to websites that are selling illegal drugs. The state is geographically and logistically positioned as a favorable area for drug importation, smuggling, and subsequent domestic distribution. This is based on proximity to several airports, an elaborate interstate system, and having the busiest port on the East Coast.

New Jersey[i]

2014

2015

2016

Drug Sales Arrests

1,572

1,348

1,684

Drug Manufacturing Arrests

46

44

49

Drug Possession With Intent to Deliver

The act of delivering a controlled substance involves the transfer or attempted transfer among parties. To possess a controlled substance refers to knowingly acquiring, receiving, or otherwise having control of it. It is important to emphasize that a key element of the offense is that the individual was aware that a controlled substance was in their possession.

Acts of drug trafficking may involve the processes of creating or manufacturing, distributing or dispensing controlled substances. The crimes associated with possession and delivery of a controlled substance generally increase in severity based on the drug type and quantity involved. The provisions relating to the delivery of controlled substances for the most common drugs are as follows:

Heroin or Cocaine

  • In a quantity of five or more ounces is a first-degree offense
  • In a quantity between a one half-ounce and five ounces is a second-degree offense
  • In a quantity of less than one-half ounce is a third-degree offense

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)

  • In a quantity of 100 milligrams or more is a first-degree offense
  • In a quantity of fewer than 100 milligrams is a second-degree offense

Methamphetamine

  • In a quantity of five or more ounces is a first-degree offense
  • In a quantity between a one-half ounce and five ounces is a second-degree offense
  • In a quantity of less than one-half ounce is a third-degree offense

Marijuana

  • In a quantity that exceeds either 25 pounds or 50 plants is a first-degree offense
  • In a quantity between five pounds and 25 pounds or 10 and 50 plants is a second-degree offense
  • In a quantity between one and five pounds is a third-degree offense
  • In a quantity of less than one ounce is a fourth-degree offense

Hashish

  • In a quantity of five pounds or more is a first-degree offense
  • In a quantity between one and five pounds is a second-degree offense
  • In a quantity between five grams and one pound is a third-degree offense
  • In a quantity of fewer than five grams is a fourth-degree offense

It is important to note that the quantity of a controlled substance is measured in a way that includes any substance(s) that are used as additives or as a means of diluting the drug.

Standard Offenses and Penalties in New Jersey

Level of Offense

Incarceration Period

Maximum Fine

First Offense

10 to 20 years

Up to $200,000

Second Degree

5 to 10 years

Up to $150,000

Third Degree

3 to 5 years

Up to $15,000

Fourth Degree

18 months

Up to $10,000

Enhanced Penalties for Possession With Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance

Specific enhancements now apply to the penalties that may be imposed on convicted offenders. Those convicted of a first-degree offense involved with heroin, cocaine, or lysergic acid diethylamide, may face up to a $500,000 fine and be subject to a minimum mandatory prison sentence without being eligible for parole. Those convicted of first-degree offenses involved with methamphetamine, marijuana, or hashish, may face up to a $300,000 fine. Many offenses of lesser degrees also have provisional penalty enhancements.

Delivery Involving a Juvenile (2C:35-6)

Adults that employ a minor in their drug delivery efforts may face charges of the second degree. The penalties for this offense do not vary based on the quantity of the drug. This crime does carry enhanced penalties that include a fine of up to $500,000 and a minimum mandatory prison sentence without being eligible for parole. A defendant may not offer a defense stating that they were unaware that the minor was not an adult.

Drug Delivery in a School Zone (2C:35-7)

If an adult engages in the distribution of a controlled substance on school property or in a range of 1,000 feet of a school or school bus, they may be charged with a crime of the third degree. This offense also may lead to enhanced penalties for the offender. The maximum fine is increased to $150,000 and a mandatory minimum prison sentence without parole eligibility may be imposed.

Distributing to Minors (2C:35-8)

If an adult is convicted of distributing controlled substances to a minor or a pregnant female, courts may impose “double” penalties. This applies to terms of imprisonment and fines. A mandatory minimum prison sentence without parole eligibility may also be imposed. Any “presumption of non-imprisonment” ordinarily associated with these types of offenses are inapplicable.

Strict Liability for Fatal Drug Overdoses (2C: 35-9)

An offender may be deemed strictly liable if they deliver a controlled substance to a buyer that then fatally overdoses. Here, the concept of strict liability means that the drug seller is guilty of a first-degree offense if the recipient dies from usage. It is not necessary for the prosecution to satisfy other elements to prove the crime beyond that. The suspect may not employ a defense that the deceased drug user contributed in some manner to their own death.

Possible Suspension of Driving Privileges (2C:35-16)

Those convicted of many drug-related offenses in New Jersey may face a penalty that suspends their driving privileges for a period of six to 24 months. The offender may petition the court for leniency if “compelling circumstances” exist that the loss of privileges would create significant hardship and that an alternative means of transportation is not available.

New Jersey Defense Lawyer for Drug Offenses

Allegations such as those related to the delivery of controlled substances are taken seriously by prosecutors statewide. As more families are devastated by the consequences of addiction, there is significant pressure on the courts to impose substantial penalties on offenders. Attorney Joseph D. Lento protects the rights of his clients and aggressively challenges the evidence. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation.


[i] https://www.state.nj.us/health/populationhealth/opioid/opioid_ucr.shtml

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