New Jersey College Student Defense: Drug Offense

Most college students do not think of the ramifications of their actions before doing them. They are too focused on enjoying their freedom, making new friends, and studying. But sometimes, a student's conduct catches up with them, forcing their university to bring disciplinary action against them. When the accused conduct includes a drug offense, the school has every right to share their information with local law enforcement, who might decide to launch their own investigation into the matter.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have spent years helping students around the country who have found themselves in similar situations. They understand how intricate these issues can be and are uniquely qualified to build a strong defense for both your school's disciplinary action and any criminal charges you might face. Call Lento Law Firm today.

Crime Detection on New Jersey Campuses

Crime runs rampant everywhere, and college campuses are not immune. Besides outsiders making their way onto campuses to commit crimes, college students are constantly coming face to face with the pressures of parents, advisors, friends, and other stressors, which pushes them to act out.

In New Jersey, colleges and universities are committed to safeguarding their students, and other members of the campus population, from becoming victims. Because of this, college campuses are covered in security cameras, blue light emergency phones, and campus security and police who patrol the grounds nearly 24/7. If a student is accused of a drug offense on a New Jersey campus, they were either caught in the act, caught near the scene of the crime, or found committing the act on security footage. Many times, this evidence is shared with local law enforcement.

Working with a student criminal defense attorney the moment you learn of the accusation will help lessen the effects of these charges on your reputation and future prospects.

New Jersey Drug Offense Crimes

There are several types of drug offenses in New Jersey, but the most common include drug possession and intent to distribute. If your commit either of these acts on campus, local law enforcement and your school will review the evidence and, if necessary, bring charges against you.

Drug Possession

In New Jersey, drug possession is defined as knowingly or purposely obtaining or possessing, actually or constructively, a controlled substance unless the substance was obtained with a valid prescription from a practitioner while they were acting in the course of their professional practice.

If a person is accused of drug possession for a Schedule I, II, III, or IV controlled substance, they are guilty of a third-degree crime, and a fine of up to $35,000 may be imposed. Possession of a Schedule V controlled substance would impose a fourth-degree crime and a fine of up to $15,000.

Additionally, possession of 50 grams of marijuana or over or more than five grams of hashish is also considered a fourth-degree crime and could incur a fine of up to $25,000. And possession of one ounce or less of psilocybin is considered a disorderly persons offense.

For marijuana disorderly persons charges, the maximum sentence is six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. But for a fourth-degree marijuana crime, the sentence maximum creeps up to 18 months, and the fine a student might incur is up to $25,000. The same is true for a fourth-degree Schedule V drug possession charge. For other Schedule I-IV drugs, the maximum sentence is five years in prison and a fine of up to $35,000.

Intent to Distribute

The other type of drug offense in New Jersey is intent to distribute, which is defined as knowingly or purposely:

  • Manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance, or
  • Creating, distributing, or possessing, with the intent to distribute, a counterfeit controlled substance.

If a student is caught violating this law, they will be arrested for intent to distribute. The severity of their charges will grow, though, if they are caught doing the above with one of the following:

  1. Five ounces or more of heroin or coca leaves (salt, compound, or derivative) or methylenedioxymethamphetamine. This is a first-degree crime with a minimum sentence of at or between one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed without parole. Additionally, the student would be subject to a fine of up to $500,000 and up to 20 years in prison.
  2. One-half ounce or more (but less than five ounces) of one of the substances from #1 above would be considered a second-degree crime with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine.
  3. One-half ounce or less of one of the substances from #1 is considered a third-degree crime with a maximum sentence of 5 years and subject to a fine of up to $75,000.
  4. Less than one ounce of a Schedule I or Schedule II narcotic (other than the ones described above) is considered a third-degree crime with a maximum sentence of 5 years and a fine of up to $75,000. But one ounce or more is a second-degree crime and subject to a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine.
  5. Less than 100 milligrams of LSD or less than 10 grams of phencyclidine is considered a second-degree crime with a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $150,000. If you are caught with 100 mg or more of LSD, it is a first-degree crime with a maximum sentence of 20 years and up to $500,000 in fines.
  6. Five ounces or more of methamphetamine or phenyl-2-propane is a first-degree crime with a maximum of 20-year sentence and subject to a fine of up to $500,000. But if the student is caught with a one-half ounce or less of either, it is considered a third-degree crime with a maximum 10-year sentence and subject to a fine of up to $150,000.
  7. Twenty-five pounds or more of marijuana, 50 or more marijuana plants, or five pounds or more of hashish is a first-degree crime and could mean a fine of up to $300,000 and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
  8. Five pounds or more of marijuana (but less than 25 pounds), ten or more plants (but less than 50), or one pound or more (but less than five pounds) of hashish is a third-degree crime with a fine of up to $25,000 and a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.
  9. Less than an ounce of marijuana is considered a fourth-degree crime with a maximum sentence of 18 months and up to $10,000 in fines.

It is incredibly important to reach out to an attorney the moment you learn of the drug offense charges. Often, first offenses can be negotiated down to little or no prison time. And in New Jersey, judges are more inclined to consider alternatives to incarceration for third and fourth-degree crimes. Having an attorney to help negotiate on your behalf, or defend you in court, is the best way to ensure you are not subject to any unnecessary punishments.

Drug Offenses on New Jersey College Campuses

New Jersey colleges and universities all have specific ways to deal with drug offenses, but they all believe that such allegations should be fully examined and, if enough evidence is found, disciplined.

At Rutgers University, students are expected to abide by federal and state laws that cover alcohol or drug possession, consumption, sale, or provision. If a student is found possessing or using drugs, controlled substances, or has drug paraphernalia, and it is their first offense, they will be reprimanded and given an Alcohol and Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) assessment. If it is their second offense, they will be placed on disciplinary probation for a minimum of 1 year, given an ADAP assessment and a $100 fine. If they are arrested by law enforcement, the student will also be removed from their university housing assignment.

Additionally, if a student is accused of a drug offense at Rutgers and this is their third offense, they will be given an ADAP assessment, a $200 fine, and disciplinary suspension for up to 1 year. A fourth offense would incur disciplinary expulsion.

Now, if a student is accused of distributing or selling drugs or controlled substances at Rutgers University, they will be subject to anything from disciplinary suspension for one year, an ADAP assessment, and a $200 fine (for a first offense) to disciplinary expulsion (for a third offense).

False Reports of Drug Offenses on New Jersey College Campuses

All colleges and universities are committed to creating safe communities for their students so that they can have an easy and beneficial educational experience. As such, if a student is accused of violating this safety in one way or another, the school, and law enforcement, take those accusations very seriously. So, when they discover that the student has been falsely accused, and their time and resources have essentially been wasted, they will seek to adjudicate the false reporter.

Defending New Jersey Drug Offense Charges

When you are charged with a drug offense, a student criminal defense attorney is your best chance at preserving your future. Student criminal defense attorneys understand the implications of both university disciplinary charges and state or federal criminal charges. They will work tirelessly to not only ensure your rights are upheld but that you are given the best defense possible.

In criminal cases, the prosecution must show, beyond a reasonable double, that you knowingly or purposely manufactured, distributed, dispensed, possessed, or consumed a controlled substance. To prove something beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution has the burden of convincing the court that the evidence they are presenting proves your guilt and does not have any other explanation. Thus, your defense team needs to only build doubt of that fact in the court's mind.

For instance, if the prosecution shows the court video footage of you shaking hands with a known drug dealer and then later, students at a party you were at were found in possession of drugs, they will argue that you clearly received drugs on that video footage and distributed them to the people at the party. Your defense team will then present several alternative arguments – like that you knew the known drug dealer and were simply shaking their hand to say high and that you were not arrested with any drugs in your possession or in your system.

New Jersey Campus Drug Offense Disciplinary Procedures

While each school in New Jersey has its own way of conducting disciplinary proceedings, at The College of New Jersey, students are notified of the drug offense accusations against them by the Director of Student Conduct & Off-Campus Service (DSC). The DSC will review the initial complaint and determine if there is enough evidence to pursue it.

When the accused student is notified of the issue, they are given the opportunity to elect an alternative resolution process rather than a formal disciplinary hearing – but the complainant must also elect for this process in order for it to take effect. An alternative resolution process gives the student a chance to accept responsibility for their behavior, but if they, or the complainant, disagree with the outcome of the process, the DSC will revert the case back to a formal investigation and hearing process.

If the students opt for an investigation, or the outcome of the alternative resolution process calls for one, the DSC will look into the issue and charge the student with a violation if they discover there is enough evidence to do so. The DSC will also schedule a meeting to explain the different disciplinary processes they may elect to follow – informal or formal.

Both hearings follow specific conduct rules, including bringing evidence and witnesses to testify on your behalf. The only difference between the two at Rutgers University, it seems, is whether your attorney or advisor will have the chance to defend you. During informal hearings, the attorney is asked not to speak or intervene at all. They must simply sit and watch the proceedings. But a formal hearing allows them to be more active – helping to defend you more efficiently.

How a Skilled Student Defense Attorney Can Help

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have unmatched experience helping students across the country navigate on-campus disciplinary proceedings and off-campus criminal charges. They understand how hard you have worked to get where you are and will do everything in their power and beyond to prevent you from being unnecessarily punished. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation today or visit us online.

​​​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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