Possession with Intent to Deliver in New Jersey

Law enforcement in New Jersey has remained motivated to continue pursuing those involved in illegal drug distribution, as in 2018 there were 3,118 drug overdose fatalities. Data from the Department of Corrections shows that 2,717 drug offenders were in the state's prison facilities—the majority of them are related to trafficking and distribution. The New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says that most of the dangerous drugs they are encountering include heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, prescription drugs, and methamphetamine.

Drugs Involved in Trafficking Offenses in the U.S.

Cocaine

Methamphetamine

Marijuana

Crack Cocaine

Heroin

Oxycodone

Other

24.1%

24%

21.5%

13.1%

9.8%

4.6%

3%

Federal data shows that the majority of those convicted of drug trafficking are sentenced to prison. The average sentence is roughly six years. Approximately 32% of those in state correctional facilities and 26% in federal correctional facilities were using drugs at the time of their crimes.

Possession With Intent to Deliver

It is important to first define the meaning of the offense. To deliver describes an act that transfers or attempts to transfer a controlled substance from one party to another. The act of possession involves purposely procuring or otherwise receiving and controlling something. It is necessary to prove that the individual did knowingly have the article in their possession.

New Jersey makes it a crime to knowingly “manufacture, distribute, or dispense a controlled substance.” The severity of these offenses generally varies according to the substance involved and the quantity of the substance. It is important to note the quantity, often expressed by the weight, do include any additives or any substances used to dilute the drug. Some of the more common substances are outlined below:

Heroin or Cocaine
  • Five ounces or more is a first-degree offense
  • Between one-half ounce and five ounces is a second-degree offense
  • Less than a one-half ounce is a third-degree offense
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)
  • 100 milligrams or more is a first-degree offense
  • Less than 100 milligrams is a second-degree offense
Methamphetamine
  • Five ounces or more is a first-degree offense
  • Between one-half ounce and five ounces is a second-degree offense
  • Less than a one-half ounce is a third-degree offense
Marijuana
  • 25 pounds or more or 50 plants or more is a first-degree offense
  • Between five pounds and 25 pounds or between 10 and 50 plants is a second-degree offense
  • Between one ounce and five pounds is a third-degree offense
  • Less than one ounce is a fourth-degree offense
Hashish
  • Five pounds of more is a first-degree offense
  • Between one and five pounds is a second-degree offense
  • Between five grams and one pound is a third-degree offense
  • Less than five grams is a fourth-degree offense

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

Penalty Enhancements for Possession With Intent to Deliver

The New Jersey legislators have increased the severity of penalties that may be imposed when a conviction occurs. In first-degree convictions that involve heroin, cocaine, or lysergic acid diethylamide, the fine may be increased to $500,000 and the court may require that a mandatory minimum prison sentence be served without parole eligibility. In first-degree convictions that involve methamphetamine, marijuana, or hashish, the fine may be increased to $300,000. There are other various enhancements that may apply to offenses of a lesser degree.

Employing a Juvenile in Drug Distribution (2C:35-6)

If an adult is convicted of using or employing a juvenile to assist with their drug distribution efforts they may be charged with a second-degree offense. This applies regardless of the type or quantity of drug involved. This offense is another example where the court may impose enhanced penalties on the offender. The maximum fine may be increased to $500,000 and a mandatory minimum prison sentence without eligibility for parole may be imposed. The law does not allow for the alleged offender to employ a defense that they incorrectly believed the juvenile was actually an adult.

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

Adults who engage in the distribution of a controlled substance on school property or within 1,000 feet of a school or school bus may be charged with a third-degree offense. This offense is also another example where courts may impose enhanced penalties on the offender. The maximum fine may be increased to $150,000 and a mandatory minimum prison sentence without eligibility for parole may be imposed.

Distributing to Minors (2C:35-8)

If an adult is convicted of intending to distribute controlled substances to minors or to pregnant females, the court may double the term of imprisonment, fine, and mandatory minimum prison sentence without parole eligibility. These enhanced penalties may be sought by the prosecuting attorney. Any “presumption of non-imprisonment” provisions are inapplicable to these penalties.

Strictly Liability for Overdose Deaths (2C: 35-9)

An offender may be considered as strictly liable if they deliver controlled substances to a user that fatally overdoses. The concept of strict liability in this context means that the drug seller is guilty of a first-degree offense if the recipient dies from usage. There is no need to establish other elements to prove the crime beyond that. The accused may not employ a defense that the deceased drug user contributed in some manner to their death.

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

Those who are convicted of most drug-related offenses in New Jersey may also face a penalty that revokes their driving privileges for a period of between six to 24 months. An exception to this penalty may be afforded if “compelling circumstances” exist that the loss of privileges would create significant hardship and that another type of transportation is not available.

Defense Lawyers for Allegations of Possession With Intent to Deliver

In light of the continuing problems that are associated with drug abuse, lawmakers have furthered the severity of the penalties that may be imposed on related offenses. Prosecutors are often motivated to pursue the most severe penalties due to public outcry generated by drug-related overdoses, violent crime, and addiction. Attorney Joseph D. Lento will aggressively challenge the allegations and evidence as part of a larger defense strategy. For a case evaluation, call the office today at (888) 535-3686.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today

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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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