Drug Defense Attorney in Atlantic County

Across New Jersey, agencies of law enforcement continue to combat drug-related crime. Another ongoing problem has been drug-related fatalities, as an estimated 3,021 overdose deaths occurred statewide in 2019. The Attorney General has been actively working with local law enforcement to expand drug diversion programs.

Controlled Substances and the Justice System

A controlled dangerous substance includes those drugs or precursors classified in Schedules I, II, III, IV, or V. In 1986, New Jersey's Comprehensive Drug Reform Act was enacted with strict penalties. Soon, there was a high rate of drug-related crime, arrests, and a significant number of incarcerated offenders.

The costs of incarcerating drug offenders became very high and recidivism continued. Thus far, drug court treatment programs have proven to be very effective. The results have shown to reduce chemical dependency, crime, costs, and restore lives.

Possession of Drugs (2C:35-10)

More stringent penalties apply based on the classification of the drug and the quantity (amount) that is involved. Possession of prescription medications that were not prescribed by a doctor is also illegal. The following is a summary of the New Jersey drug possession laws:

  • Heroin, cocaine, and Schedule I, II, III, IV drugs are charged as third-degree offenses
  • Schedule V drugs are charged as fourth-degree offenses
  • 50 or more grams of marijuana or five or more grams of hashish is charged as a fourth-degree offense
  • Less than 50 grams of marijuana or fewer than five grams of hashish is a disorderly person offense

Manufacturing or Distribution of Drugs (2C-35-5)

These crimes increase in severity when they involve creating, manufacturing, intending to deliver, distributing, etc.


1st Degree

2nd Degree

3rd Degree

4th Degree

Heroin or Cocaine

5 oz +

½ oz to 5 oz

Less than ½ oz


Schedule I or II


1 oz +

Less than 1 oz



100 mg +

Less than 100 mg




5 ounces +

½ ounce to 5 oz

Less than ½ oz



25 lbs or 50+ plants

5 to 25 lbs or 10 to 50 plants

1 oz to 5 lbs

Less than 1 oz

  • First Degree: 10 to 20 years of imprisonment and a maximum $200,000 fine
  • Second Degree: 5 to 10 years of imprisonment and a maximum $150,000 fine
  • Third Degree: 3 to 5 years of imprisonment and a maximum $15,000 fine
  • Fourth Degree: Up to 18 months of imprisonment and a maximum $10,000 fine
  • Disorderly Person Offense: 6 months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine

New Jersey Rehabilitation Program for Drug & Alcohol Offenders (2C:35-14)

Legislators implemented a special probation alternative for certain criminal offenders. The individual must initially undergo a “professional diagnostic assessment” and be deemed as drug or alcohol dependent when the crime was committed. The person must also have either been under the influence at the time of committing the offense to support their drug or alcohol habit.

Those who possessed a firearm at the time of the offense or those deemed as a “danger to the community” are not eligible. This includes those with past convictions or pending charges for serious violent offenses. A treatment center that is licensed and state-approved must agree to accept the individual.

Atlantic County Criminal Court System

Criminal matters in Atlantic County and Cape May County are merged as Vicinage 1 of the New Jersey Superior Court. In 2014, the Atlantic/Cape May County Courts began a mandatory drug court program for offenders. This program follows a state-based model.

Drug Court Overview

County-level drug court programs are designed for non-violent offenders with moderate to serious substance abuse problems. The programs have four distinct phases that take at least two years to complete. The initial phase involves court-supervised probation, intensive treatment, mandatory reporting, and drug testing. As the individual makes progress, the requirements decrease.

Experienced Defense Attorney for Drug-Related Offenses

Prosecutors in today's court system may impose lengthy sentences on those convicted of drug offenses. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced criminal defense attorney that provides aggressive defense for clients throughout New Jersey. Contact the office today for a consultation 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.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.