​Drug Charges in New Jersey

The country is currently smack dab in the middle of a drug epidemic. The rates of substance abuse and opioid addiction have reached an all-time high in New Jersey, prompting law enforcement to crack down on drug users.

If you are caught with any type of illegal or unprescribed drug or are linked to their sale or distribution, you may be exposed to some serious legal repercussions. Over time, the state's drug laws have grown increasingly severe. Just how severe a sentence can be hinges on a number of factors, creating the possibility of a wide range of potential consequences. For these reasons, it is incredibly important that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.

To help you get a better understanding of the gravity of this predicament and what you should expect, the Lento Law Firm will provide an overview of drug charges in New Jersey.

Drug Classifications

One of the main factors in determining the sentence for a drug crime in New Jersey is the drug classification. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put controlled substances into certain classifications, referred to as schedules, based on the drug's perceived danger and a user's likelihood of abuse upon using it. Other attributes like health benefits and accessibility are also taken into account. Here's a closer look at the several schedules of controlled substances in the country.

Schedule I

Schedule I controlled substances have no acceptable medical benefits, and they have a very high risk for abuse. Some of these drugs include ecstasy, LSD, heroin, peyote, and marijuana. It may be hard for some people to believe that marijuana is so high on the list, but that may be subject to change. Talks about the legalization of marijuana are in the works in New Jersey.

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and can cause users to develop a physical or mental dependence on the drug. But these drugs generally have legitimate medical use, and their use in treatment is only possible with severe restrictions. These drugs include methadone, Vicodin, morphine, and fentanyl.

Schedule III

The FDA declares Schedule III drugs to have less potential for abuse than Schedule I and II controlled substances. Users only gain moderate to low physical and mental dependence upon consuming these drugs. They have currently accepted medical use in treatment. These drugs include, aspirin, Tylenol, codeine, anabolic steroids, and ketamine.

Schedule IV

Schedule IV has a pretty low potential for abuse relative to higher scheduled controlled substances. But they can lead to limited physical and psychological dependence. Most of them are prescription drugs so they're relatively safe when taken in moderation. These drugs include Xanax, barbiturates, and valium.

Schedule V

Schedule V drugs have a very low potential for abuse. They have widely accepted medical use in treatment. One example is codeine in lower doses, otherwise known as cough syrup.

New Jersey Drug Laws and Penalties

FDA drug classification is a sizable portion of drug sentencing. Generally, the more dangerous the drug tends to be, the harsher the penalty is for being caught dealing with it. In the state of New Jersey, possessing and distributing controlled substances is illegal.


Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana: New Jersey laws have become more lax as they pertain to marijuana, but this doesn't mean that you won't be charged. Being caught with more than 50 grams of marijuana is punishable by up to 18 months in prison with a fine between $500 and $15,000 dollars

Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana: This amount of marijuana can land you in jail for six months and cost you $1,000.

Possession of narcotics/controlled substances: Illegal possession of any of the drugs aforementioned can lead to five years in prison and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $25,000.

Possession of drug paraphernalia: Drug paraphernalia is any equipment, product, or accessory used to make, use, or conceal drugs for recreational purposes. This crime is punishable by up to six months in prison and $500 to $1,000 fines.

Possession With Intent to Distribute

Possession with intent to distribute carries significant penalties that are only made more severe when the quantity of drugs distributed increases. The law addresses common drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. 

Distribution of marijuana:

  • Less than one ounce: up to 18 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000
  • One ounce to less than five pounds: Up to five years in prison, and fines of up to $25,000
  • Five pounds to less than 25 pounds: Up to 10 years in prison, and fines of up to $150,000
  • 25 pounds or more: Up to 25 years in prison and fines of up to $300,000

Distribution of less than half an ounce of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine: Being caught with this quantity of heroin and cocaine is punishable by anywhere from three to five years in prison and up to $75,000 in fines. Distributors who are caught with meth will face up to five years in prison, and also will pay up to $75,000 in fines.

Distribution of half an ounce to less than five ounces of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine: This criminal offense is punishable by a sentence of five to ten years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine.

Distribution of over five ounces of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine: Up to 25 years in prison and fines up to $500,000.

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney

Drug charges are taken very seriously in New Jersey. If you've been charged with such a crime, you should immediately contact an experienced legal professional. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped people in this predicament prevail in the courtroom, and he can do the same for you. For a consultation, contact him today at 888-535-3686.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today


When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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