New Jersey Marijuana Distribution Lawyer
Helping Clients Beat Marijuana Distribution Charges in NJ
Marijuana may be on its way to being legalized in New Jersey, but for the time being it is still an illegal narcotic and can result in serious drug crime charges. Moreover, even if pot is eventually declared legal in NJ, it will almost certainly be subject to strict regulation and prohibitions in many circumstances – especially when it comes to the sale or distribution of the drug. That’s what any good NJ marijuana distribution lawyer will tell you. Whether it is NJ law enforcement making an arrest for illegally selling marijuana, or federal authorities cracking down on marijuana distribution in lieu of state law enforcement, the reality is that the arrest could have severe repercussions that include the loss of your freedom for a very long time.
A marijuana distribution charge in New Jersey demands immediate action. If you have been charged with the distribution of marijuana, or the possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, you need to contact an attorney before it is too late. Call or email Frank T. Luciano now to discuss your NJ marijuana distribution charges.
Can You Be Charged with Marijuana Distribution Even If You Never Sold Marijuana?
In New Jersey, law enforcement can arrest you and charge you with distributing marijuana even if you never actually completed a sale. As set forth by the New Jersey criminal code, it is against the law for anyone to distribute, dispense, or manufacture marijuana. Importantly, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 also prohibits anyone from possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute the drug. This means that even if you did not actually sell marijuana that was found in your possession, you can still be charged with the criminal offense of illegally distributing marijuana. Most times, law enforcement will bring marijuana distribution charges against an individual who is found with a large quantity of the drug in their possession – the assumption being that if someone possessed a large amount of marijuana, they likely intended to distribute the controlled dangerous substance to others. However, NJ prosecutors could potentially interpret the law so broadly that even a person who simply shared a joint with their friends could be charged with marijuana distribution.
It is important to understand just how easy it is for police in New Jersey to arrest someone for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Even if there was no actual sale, you can be charged with marijuana distribution. That’s because it is not necessary for money to change hands during the exchange; the mere attempt to distribute is enough for a person to be charged with marijuana distribution, as is the mere possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. In case it isn’t already clear: you do not need to complete an attempted sale to be charged with marijuana distribution. In fact, you do not even need to attempt a sale to be charged with marijuana distribution. Functionally, the penalties for distribution of marijuana in NJ are the same as the penalties for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in NJ.
What Are the Penalties for Marijuana Distribution in NJ?
If you have been arrested and charged with a marijuana distribution offense in New Jersey, you are probably concerned about staying out of jail. The reality is that NJ prosecutors often seek maximum penalties for all drug distribution offenses, while judges tend to impose the most severe punishments allowed by law as a way to discourage others from committing similar “crimes of moral turpitude.” This is why it is absolutely imperative that anyone who is facing a marijuana distribution charge in New Jersey seek immediate assistance from a qualified attorney.
The penalties for marijuana distribution in NJ are typically determined by the quantity, or weight, of the drug involved in the offense. The penalties are likely to include significant prison time and substantial monetary fines. Here is a breakdown of NJ marijuana distribution penalties based on weight:
- Less Than 1 Ounce: 18 months in prison, $10,000 fine.
- 1 Ounce: 3-5 years in prison, $25,000 fine.
- 5 Pounds: 5-10 years in prison, $150,000 fine.
- 25 Pounds: 10-20 years in prison, $300,000 fine.
All of these offenses are classified as felonies. Under NJ law, marijuana distribution is never classified as a disorderly persons offense or misdemeanor. This means that the penalties for a conviction are likely to include prison time.
Additionally, New Jersey law enforcement is allowed to aggregate the weight of all marijuana sales committed by the same person. For example, if you are accused of selling marijuana to multiple people over the course of the same day, the prosecutor can add the weights of each individual exchange and charge you with a more serious felony that carries greater penalties and a lengthier time of incarceration in prison. It is also possible for you to be charged with a more serious crime if you are accused of distributing marijuana in certain “protected” areas, such as a school zone or a public park. In fact, NJ prosecutors often ask judges to impose heightened penalties when the defendant is accused of selling marijuana or any other controlled dangerous substance (CDS) within 1,000 feet of a school – and judges often find themselves in agreement with the prosecution in these cases because they want to send a message that it’s not okay to sell drugs to kids.
What Are the Best Defenses Against a Marijuana Distribution Charge in Mahwah, NJ?
If you face a marijuana distribution charge in New Jersey, the consequences could be dire for you. Without a skilled attorney on your side, you could be looking at penalties that put you behind bars for a very long time. That is why it is critical for you to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Frank T. Luciano has a track record of success when it comes to handling drug crime cases in NJ, and he knows how to raise strong defenses on your behalf.
Depending on the circumstances of your marijuana distribution case, it may be possible for your attorney to defend you against the charge by challenging the evidence and contesting the police search and seizure of property. That’s because law enforcement is required to follow certain protocols and act in accordance with the U.S. Constitution at all times when conducting an investigation, searching a suspect’s premises, seizing evidence, detaining a suspect, and making an arrest. Frank T. Luciano knows how to contest police search warrants for evidentiary defects or lack of probable cause, expose unlawful entrapment by police, dispute the chain of custody for marijuana evidence, and challenge confessions or admissions of guilt that were coerced by law enforcement.
With respect to a charge of illegally distributing marijuana, or illegally possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute, Frank T. Luciano may be able to contest certain elements of the offense and get the charges either reduced or dismissed. For instance, it might be possible to argue that you had no knowledge of the drugs before your arrest – thus raising serious doubts about your intent to sell the narcotics. It also might be possible to challenge the testing procedures used by authorities to verify that the substance seized was in fact marijuana – particularly if proper procedures were not followed by lab personnel. And in the event that you face first or second degree felony charges for distributing a large quantity of marijuana, Frank T. Luciano may be able to get the charges downgraded by discovering accounting errors made by overzealous law enforcement. Remember that the burden of proof is on the prosecution, not the defense: the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and they must establish each element of the offense in order to secure a conviction.
Avoid Prison for a Marijuana Distribution Charge with PTI or Drug Court
Even if you face overwhelming evidence and a conviction for marijuana distribution seems likely, a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer may still be able to help you stay out of prison. In New Jersey, alternative sentencing is often available for first-time drug offenders. Two of the main ways to do this are Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) and Drug Court.
Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI):
For first-time offenders in New Jersey, PTI might be an option. PTI, or pre-trial intervention, as the name suggests, occurs before the trial stage in the criminal justice process. It is a diversionary program that allows the defendant to stay out of jail and instead go on probation. There are many strict requirements that must be met throughout the probationary period, such as attendance at drug counseling sessions, drug testing, and staying out of any further trouble with law enforcement. Once the probationary period has ended, the charges against the defendant are dismissed. This means that you will stay out of jail and you will not have a marijuana distribution charge on your permanent record.
For most first-time offenders charged with distributing a small quantity of marijuana, PTI is going to be an option. However, even if you are charged with distributing a large amount of marijuana and face first or second degree felony charges, you may still be eligible for PTI. An experienced criminal defense attorney will have to petition the court and get the okay from the prosecutor for you to be admitted into the diversionary program.
Although marijuana distribution is considered a “crime of moral turpitude” by NJ authorities, it is also viewed as being rooted in an addiction problem. That is why marijuana offenders are often afforded the opportunity to seek treatment for drug addiction instead of being sent to jail or prison. The idea is to help offenders avoid future mistakes by solving the root of the problem and getting the help they need.
Drug Court is a special court in New Jersey that allows individuals charged with certain drug-related offenses, such as marijuana possession or possession with intent to distribute marijuana, to avoid the harsh punishments typically associated with the traditional criminal justice system. Marijuana offenders in particular are frequently given the chance to have their cases heard in Drug Court, so long as they are first-time offenders and meet certain requirements. Once a person is admitted into the Drug Court program, they will have to work closely with court administrators and treatment specialists to ensure that there are not any lapses or setbacks in the recovery process. Upon completion of the program, the charges against you will be dismissed and you will avoid prison.
Free Consultation with NJ Attorney Frank T. Luciano About Your Hackensack Marijuana Distribution Charges
If you are under investigation for a serious drug crime such as marijuana distribution, or if you have already been arrested and charged with distribution of marijuana, you need to talk to an attorney immediately. Do not make the mistake of trying to argue your way out of the charges – the prosecution will not hesitate to use your statements to law enforcement against you at trial. Request legal counsel and contact an experienced NJ criminal defense lawyer.
Frank T. Luciano has been defending people just like you against marijuana distribution charges in New Jersey for decades. He knows what it takes to win these types of cases because he has done it time and time again. Contact Mr. Luciano today to schedule a free initial consultation about your case and start your defense now.