Possession of Marijuana, Cocaine, and Heroin as Defined Under New Jersey’s Drug Statute
If you are arrested for possession of even a trace amount of less than .01 grams of cocaine, heroin and other drugs, you can be convicted of a third degree crime that can put you in jail for 5 years and require you to pay a fine up to $35,000. See, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.
Possession of marijuana, where the weight of the marijuana is more than 50 grams or 5 grams of hashish is a crime of the fourth degree. The prison potential for this offense is 18 months and the maximum fine is $25,000. If the weight of the marijuana is less than 50 grams or less than 5 grams of hashish, the offense is a disorderly person’s offense.
When the average person thinks about possessing an object, thoughts are ordinarily pointed to actual or manual possession, ( viz. I have this book or paper in my hand; therefore, I possess it.) The law’s perception of possession is much broader.
Possession in the eyes of the law may be actual possession or constructive possession. Actual possession is when you have the heroin, cocaine or marijuana in your hand, your pocket or you are holding a bag containing the drug. Constructive possession is when you know the identity of the item, where it is located and have the intention and capacity to exercise control over it. If more than one person can exert control over the item, possession is joint. You can be convicted of possessing heroin, cocaine or marijuana, if while acting alone or with others, you have actual or constructive possession of an illegal drug. All of these possessory concepts can be proven by circumstantial evidence.
You can not possess a drug without knowing what it is. Thus, you can not be found guilty of possession of heroin, cocaine or marijuana if you are holding a suitcase, but do not know that it contains the drug. If, however, you know the suitcase has an illegal drug in it, but do not know the precise nature of the drug, you can be convicted of a crime anyway.
You can possess something without ever owning it. This concept was developed to cover events where a “mule” is used to transport drugs in a vehicle leased by another.
If you have been charged with possession of an illegal drug in New Jersey, your best defense is to hire an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. Frank T. Luciano, Esq., has been practicing criminal law for over 40 years in Bergen, Passaic and Hudson counties. He has handled hundreds and hundreds of drug related cases. He is a lifetime member of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Law’s (NORML) Legal Committee and a longtime member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. His commitment to his clients is plainly evident from the comments they have made about him in the Testimonial Section of this website.