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A drug charge can change your life, especially if you do not have the right attorney on your side fighting for you. Even if you were charged with a small amount of marijuana or pot, you can be charged as a drug dealer and face severe penalties. As part of a major effort to crack down on pot distribution, law enforcement is going after anyone who possesses or uses marijuana, while prosecutors interpret the law broadly so that you can be charged with distributing marijuana even if you were simply carrying the drugs for your own personal use.
If you or a loved one has been charged with distribution of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana or any other drug crime, it is critical that you speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney. Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC are experienced attorneys with decades of experience defending clients against marijuana charges throughout Union County, Somerset County and Essex County, NJ, including Westfield, Bridgewater and Newark. You can reach us by phone or email anytime to discuss your case.
Some states have recently begun to legalize marijuana use; New Jersey, however, is not one of those states. Under NJ law, individuals in the Garden State are not allowed to distribute, dispense, manufacture or possess with intent to distribute marijuana. Marijuana distribution offenses in New Jersey are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5. As set forth by the statute, the penalties for distribution of marijuana vary, depending on the weight of the amount of drug you were caught with:
When NJ prosecutors file marijuana distribution charges, they aggregate the total weight of all the illegal marijuana exchanges observed by law enforcement. This means that if you are accused of making multiple sales, you could be subject to elevated charges and stiffer penalties. As a result of this aggregated weight factoring into the eventual charges, even a few minor sales of marijuana joints to pals could result in serious prison time.
Additionally, you could face enhanced charges if you are accused of distributing marijuana, or possessing with intent to distribute marijuana, in a protected area such as a school zone, park or public housing project. The mandatory minimum term of incarceration for anyone convicted of selling more than one ounce of marijuana in a school zone is three years in NJ State Prison.
There are a number of defenses that a competent criminal defense attorney may be able to raise on your behalf if you are charged with distribution of marijuana. The circumstances of your arrest, and any related seizure of drugs, will likely play a major role in the prosecution’s case. Law enforcement must follow certain procedures and protocols when they attempt to search you or your premises. If police did not have probable cause to detain you, or search you, then any evidence of marijuana they discovered may be inadmissible at trial. Additionally, law enforcement is not allowed to coerce you, or otherwise trick you, into making incriminating statements. Depending on the circumstances, an experienced attorney may be able to argue that any statements you made to police before, during or after your arrest were a result of duress or coercion.
In some cases, it may be possible to get a first-time drug offender admitted into an alternative sentencing program such as Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) or Drug Court. This will allow you to avoid prison time even if you are guilty of marijuana distribution. PTI is available to first-time drug offenders who have been charged with a third or fourth degree crime. If you are admitted into PTI, you will be placed on probation until you successfully complete the program.
Assuming you meet all of the program’s requirements, which may include drug treatment and frequent drug testing, the original criminal charge will go away and your record will be clean. Drug Court works in a similar fashion: offenders are allowed to get drug treatment and rehabilitation instead of being sent to prison.
Do not let a drug charge derail your future. Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC is a team of aggressive and skilled criminal defense lawyers who are prepared to help you fight your marijuana distribution charges and avoid the most serious penalties. Call us now to go over your case and schedule a free consultation at one of our offices in Scotch Plains, Newark, Clifton, Morristown, East Brunswick or Cherry Hill.