NJ Drug Crimes Lawyer
Attorney Helps Clients Fight Drug Crime Charges in New Jersey
New Jersey is facing its deadliest drug epidemic ever. This has prompted NJ law enforcement to crack down on drug crimes like never before. Even minor drug offenses are now being enforced and prosecuted to the maximum extent allowed by law. The end result is that many New Jersey residents are facing significant, life-altering consequences when they are caught in possession of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or prescription drugs. Although the penalties for drug offenses vary depending on the type and amount of drug, as well as other factors, the bottom line is that anyone charged with a drug crime in New Jersey needs to take the charges very seriously because their freedom and their future are at risk. Talk to a qualified NJ criminal defense attorney who has experience handling drug crime cases and who knows the intricacies of the NJ criminal code. The best way to ensure that your life is not ruined by a drug crime charge in New Jersey is to have a skilled criminal lawyer on your side.
Frank T. Luciano has almost four decades of experience defending clients against drug offense charges ranging from simple possession of marijuana to drug trafficking and conspiracy. He has represented these clients in drug cases throughout New Jersey, including Bergen County, Passaic County, and Hudson County. Contact Mr. Luciano now by calling (973) 471-0004 or by filling out the online contact form.
What Are the Most Common Drug Offense Charges in New Jersey?
NJ prosecutors will not hesitate to seek maximum penalties in drug crime cases, and NJ judges are all too eager to impose maximum penalties that send a message to others and discourage illegal drug use. That’s why it is imperative that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you through the legal process in your NJ drug crime case. Frank T. Luciano has defended countless clients against drug charges in New Jersey. Mr. Luciano is prepared to represent you in any drug crime case, including the following:
- Marijuana Possession: Despite efforts to legalize pot, it is still illegal for most people to possess marijuana in New Jersey. An individual caught in possession of marijuana can be charged with a drug offense and potentially face jail time. Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana is classified as a felony and can result in the offender being sentenced to years in prison.
- Marijuana Distribution: The illegal sale of marijuana is a felony offense in New Jersey and is punishable by years or even decades behind bars, depending on the weight of marijuana that was sold. Even if the sale was not completed, you can be charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
- Cocaine Possession: Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II controlled dangerous substance and is highly regulated in New Jersey. In most cases, possession of cocaine is considered a third degree felony and can result in a sentence of 3-5 years in state prison.
- Cocaine Distribution: It is against the law to distribute, manufacture, cultivate, or dispense cocaine in NJ. It is also illegal to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it later. If you are convicted of distributing even a trace amount of cocaine, you will likely be sentenced to several years behind bars. Repeat offenders are subject to even harsher punishment.
- Heroin Possession: It is illegal to possess any amount of heroin in New Jersey. A conviction for heroin possession can carry a mandatory term of incarceration because the drug is classified as a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance (CDS) and the crime is classified as a third degree felony.
- Heroin Distribution: Heroin use has been on the rise in recent years because heroin is a cheaper alternative to more expensive prescription opioids. This has led to NJ authorities cracking down on the illegal sale of heroin, which means that anyone convicted of distributing heroin in New Jersey should expect an extremely harsh sentence that includes prison time.
- Prescription Drug Possession: Painkiller abuse is a deadly epidemic in New Jersey, prompting NJ law enforcement to crack down on anyone caught in possession of prescription drugs without a valid prescription. If you are arrested with even a few pills after borrowing medication from a friend or relative, you could face charges for a prescription drug offense.
- Prescription Drug Distribution: Under NJ law, only licensed physicians, pharmacists, and a few other types of professionals are allowed to dispense prescription opioids. If you are arrested for illegally distributing prescription drugs, you face a lengthy prison sentence.
- Possession of Acid or Ecstasy: Some of the most popular “club drugs” in New Jersey are acid and ecstasy. Many high school and college students are busted every year in NJ for illegally possessing these drugs.
- Prescription Fraud: Anyone who misrepresents their identity, or who forges a prescription pad, in order to obtain prescription drugs can be charged with a third degree felony. You may also be charged with a theft crime.
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: A marijuana possession charge is often accompanied by a charge for possession of drug paraphernalia because “drug paraphernalia” can include bongs, rolling papers, bowls, and other items typically used with marijuana.
- Possession of a Hypodermic Needle or Syringe: Not only does New Jersey criminalize the unlawful possession of a hypodermic needle or syringe, but it is also against the law to unsafely discard a hypodermic needle or syringe.
- School Zone Drug Offenses: Many NJ drug offenses carry enhanced penalties if they occurred in a school zone or on school property. In fact, anyone convicted of illegally distributing narcotics in a school zone is subject to an automatic prison sentence.
- Public Park Drug Offenses: Drug crimes in public parks and public housing projects are subject to special laws and enhanced penalties for the offender. In many circumstances, the charges are elevated – so that a third degree felony will be charged as a second degree felony and result in more prison time if the defendant is convicted.
- Drug Conspiracy: It is not uncommon for federal authorities to bring drug conspiracy charges against individuals who are part of a group that engages in the sale or distribution of drugs. These kinds of criminal charges can be difficult to contest and often result in lengthy prison sentences.
- Leader of a Drug Trafficking Network: This is also known as a “kingpin offense” and applies when the defendant was a financier, organizer, supervisor, or manager of another person in a scheme to manufacture or distribute narcotics.
- Maintaining or Operating a Drug Facility: Anyone convicted of operating a drug production facility is subject to severe penalties because the offense is classified as a first degree felony.
What Are the Penalties for Drug Crimes in New Jersey?
Although the penalties for possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) in New Jersey vary, they are almost always severe.
The two most important factors in determining the exact penalties to be imposed against a defendant in a typical drug possession or drug distribution case are (1) the type of drug, and (2) the amount of the drug.
For example, a person convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana may be sentenced to up to six (6) months in jail, while a person convicted of possessing a small amount of cocaine or heroin may be sentenced to several years behind bars in prison.
In addition to facing significant prison time for a drug crime conviction in New Jersey, you could be subject to collateral consequences that interfere with your ability to earn a living after you are released from prison. Convicted drug offenders often find it difficult to get a job when potential employers run background checks. Moreover, your personal reputation could be damaged because friends and family members will likely be able to learn about your drug crime conviction through a simple Internet search. Other negative consequences of a drug offense conviction include ineligibility for federal student financial aid if you are a student, disqualification from public housing opportunities, inability to enter a foreign country if you plan to travel abroad, and a lengthy suspension of your New Jersey driver’s license. Beyond that, drug offenses can be more difficult to get expunged from the offender’s permanent criminal record.
If this was your first drug offense, you may be classified as a first-time drug offender. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be eligible for a diversionary program such as Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) or Drug Court that allows you to stay out of jail and avoid some of the most serious consequences of a drug crime conviction in New Jersey.
Challenging Unlawful Police Search & Seizure in Your Fort Lee Drug Crime Case
The severe penalties imposed in NJ drug crime cases should compel you to hire a skilled and knowledgeable attorney who understands the nuances of New Jersey drug laws and who knows how to challenge the evidence in your case. Without an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, you could be jeopardizing your freedom and your future.
One of the most common strategies for challenging a serious drug crime charge in New Jersey is to contest the legality of the police search and seizure of evidence. The reality is that police officers can also be overzealous, and this can lead to mistakes that infringe on the constitutional rights of the accused. If the cops were too quick to make an arrest in your case, they may have provided an opportunity for an experienced attorney to get the evidence dismissed before trial. For example, police often need to obtain a search warrant before stepping onto a suspect’s property. Although there are exceptions to this rule, such as probable cause, NJ police officers are still required to follow certain procedures before searching someone else’s property and seizing any drug evidence.
In addition to challenging the legality of the police search due to lack of a warrant or lack of probable cause, it might also be possible for an attorney to bring other evidentiary challenges in your NJ drug offense case. These challenges might include:
- Challenging the Chain of Custody: Law enforcement is supposed to follow strict procedures when handling drug evidence. When the evidence changes hands – such as a transfer from the arresting officer to the police drug lab – this chain of custody must be detailed and documented. Failure to do so could lead to the evidence being thrown out by the judge.
- Challenging the Drug Testing: Prosecutors need to establish that the substance seized from your person or property was, in fact, an illegal narcotic and not just a bag of oregano or flour. This means that a police drug lab will have to carefully examine the evidence and test it. If the investigators in your case failed to follow protocols at any point during the testing, your attorney may have a strong argument for getting the evidence dismissed before trial.
- Contesting the Weight of the Drugs: The degree of the charges, and the severity of the penalties, that a defendant faces in a New Jersey drug crime case are determined by the weight of the drugs. This means that prosecutors must have the drugs weighed in a lab setting. If the weight of the alleged narcotics in your case was overstated by law enforcement, this error could have dire consequences for you at trial.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Paramus Drug Crime Lawyer Frank T. Luciano Today
You do not want to end up with a drug crime conviction on your permanent record. Many people find it difficult to earn a living for years and even decades after being convicted of a drug offense. This is especially true in New Jersey, where prosecutors often seek maximum penalties and judges tend to impose harsh punishments that affect the defendant long after any prison sentence has been served. Do not get pressured into accepting a bad plea deal. If you have been charged with a drug crime in New Jersey, it is critical that you speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Frank T. Luciano is a decorated, highly regarded NJ trial attorney who knows how to defend you against your drug crime charges because he has decades of experience representing clients in drug distribution & drug possession cases in New Jersey. Call or email Mr. Luciano now to schedule a free initial consultation.