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New Jersey Drug Trafficking Lawyer

New Jersey takes drug trafficking extremely seriously. Considering the nation’s current struggles with drug abuse, it is hardly surprising that the potential penalties for a conviction are severe.

With consequences ranging from stiff fines to years in prison, the stakes are high. Distinguished drug attorneys are here to help. Common questions that lawyers hear include:

  • What does drug trafficking mean?
  • What are the potential penalties?
  • What are possible defenses?
Defining Drug Trafficking in New Jersey

New Jersey has a catch-all statute for illegal possession, distribution, and manufacturing of illegal drugs. This is New Jersey Statute 2C:35-5. This statute does not differentiate between a person’s mental state when they are found with drugs. This means that if a person is found with five ounces of cocaine, for example, what that person intended to do with it is irrelevant.

The State further separates its drug law by type of drug and amount. When people think of drug trafficking, they generally think of large amounts of drugs. While New Jersey does not have a separate drug trafficking statute, there are categories of potential punishments for specific amounts of drugs found. The strictest examples include:

  • Five ounces or more of heroin is a first-degree crime
  • Five ounces or more of methamphetamine is a first-degree crime
  • 25 pounds or more of marijuana is a first-degree crime

One thing to note here is the relatively small amount of heroin needed to qualify as a first-degree crime. Five ounces is hardly what one thinks when they think of drug trafficking, but New Jersey issues the most severe punishment in their criminal law for this violation.

Potential Penalties for a Trafficking Conviction

The penalties associated with drug trafficking cases are severe. They are universally crimes of the first-degree. This involves a maximum of 20 years in prison with a minimum of 10. Additionally, there are extremely heavy fines involved up to $500,000.

Specific sentencing guidelines for drug cases are found in New Jersey Statute 2C:35-5 and more information about sentencing for felonies is located at New Jersey Statute 2C:43-6.

Possible Drug Trafficking Defenses 

Being accused of drug trafficking is a very serious allegation. But just as it is difficult for the defendant, the case can be very difficult to prove for the prosecution.

New Jersey drug trafficking lawyers work to make proving the case as hard for the prosecution as possible. People tend to believe that once a person is arrested for drug trafficking that the prosecution has an open and shut case. This is simply not true. The prosecution must be able to prove a number of things, including:

  • Were the drugs lawfully seized?
  • Was the warrant applied for and executed properly?
  • Was the defendant properly informed of their rights before interrogation?
  • Was a confidential informant used? If so, will the informant need to testify in court?
  • Did the tests performed at the state laboratory come back with a positive result? If so, were the tests performed properly?

These are just a few of the avenues that New Jersey drug trafficking attorneys can pursue in defense of a client.

Contacting a Lawyer

From arraignment, to bail hearings, to pre-trial motions, to arguing your case before the jury, New Jersey drug trafficking lawyers are ready to protect your rights.

What are the common defenses to drug trafficking charges in New Jersey?

Common defenses to drug trafficking charges in New Jersey include:

  • Unlawful seizure or search. If any of your constitutional rights were violated during this process, this can be a solid defense.
  • No proof of ownership. The prosecutors must prove that the drugs in question were yours. And being in the presence of drugs doesn’t automatically mean you owned them. If there’s no proof of ownership, we can use that as a defense strategy.
  • Your arrest was unlawful. Police officers have to follow strict protocols when making an arrest. If they interrogated you without reading you your rights or didn’t have probable cause, that’s a valid defense.
  • You have or had a prescription. If your charges relate to prescription medication but you had a legitimate prescription, we may be able to use that in your defense.
  • The prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence. In New Jersey criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proof. If they don’t have enough evidence to prove you owned the drugs, they don’t have much of a case at all.

How do you beat a drug trafficking charge?

To beat a drug trafficking charge in New Jersey, you’ll need an aggressive and focused NJ drug trafficking lawyer. You see, the legal system takes these types of charges very seriously. They’ll fight tooth and nail to see you convicted.

Even if you plan on using one of the defenses mentioned above, it’s not enough to show up in court and claim the drugs aren’t yours. The prosecutors know how to effectively dismantle any argument you might make.

An experienced attorney, however, will work behind-the-scenes to uncover any flaws or mistakes the prosecution has made. They’ll poke as many holes in their argument as possible while establishing your innocence in court.

Drug trafficking charges carry the potential of life in prison. You can’t leave your freedom up to chance—you need an expert lawyer in your corner.

How do you prove drug trafficking?

To prove you’re guilty of drug trafficking, the prosecution must prove the drugs in question belonged to you and prove that you intended to produce, transport, import, and/or sell the drugs.

Establishing ownership can be tricky for the prosecution. Proof of trafficking has a slightly broader definition. For example, owning equipment like grow lights or oil extraction equipment qualifies. Having large quantities of cash on-hand may be used as evidence against you, too.

Basically, the prosecution will look for any items that demonstrate intent to sell or traffic drugs. Evidence like this is how they prove drug trafficking.

What is the sentence for drug trafficking in NJ?

The sentence for drug trafficking in NJ can be anywhere from a minimum of 5 years in prison up to life in prison, depending on the details of your alleged crime.

Schedule V drug trafficking charges tend to come with a sentence on the lighter end of that range. But once you get into Schedule I or II drugs, the penalties become more severe. No matter what the details of your case are, you’re facing serious prison time.

What are the four consequences of drug trafficking?

The four potential consequences of drug trafficking in New Jersey are:

  • Mandatory minimum prison sentence. Depending on the substance you’re accused of trafficking, you may be facing anywhere from 5 years to life in prison.
  • Hefty fines. If you’re convicted, the judge may order you to pay huge fines. For example, Schedule V drug trafficking charges can result in up to $250,000 in fines. And it just gets more expensive from there.
  • A criminal record. Even if your prison sentence is light, the conviction may cast a long shadow over your life for years to come. Everything from your job opportunities to housing options can be negatively impacted.
  • Damage to your relationships. If you’re convicted, it won’t be a secret to your community. Your spouse, employer, friends, and even parents of your children’s friends are likely to see you as a risk or threat.

Can a first time drug trafficking offender receive a probationary sentence?

Depending on the details of your drug trafficking charge, you may be able to receive a probationary sentence. Being a first-time offender can make this outcome more likely.

The bigger issue is the severity of your alleged crime. Most drug trafficking penalties in New Jersey include mandatory minimum prison sentences. In these cases, conviction will mean prison time—not probation.

This is another reason why hiring an experienced New Jersey drug trafficking lawyer is the best thing you can do. When you work with someone who’s familiar with drug trafficking laws and penalties, you stand a real chance of winning the best possible outcome.

What is the difference between drug trafficking and smuggling?

Drug smuggling relates to moving illegal substances from one country or state to another, while trafficking means there’s intent to sell.

It’s very common for drug smuggling cases to involve charges related to drug trafficking, too. After all, why would someone smuggle an illegal substance if they had no intent to sell or distribute it?

Depending on the severity of your drug trafficking charges, federal prosecutors may look into whether you’re also involved in smuggling.

How do you beat a trafficking case?

You beat a trafficking case by:

  • Gathering all relevant evidence immediately
  • Constructing a solid defense
  • Understanding your rights in this situation
  • Uncovering any mistakes or protocol violations made by the prosecution or law enforcement during your case
  • Hiring a reputable, experienced New Jersey drug trafficking lawyer

Beating a trafficking case on your own is never easy—and odds are, it won’t work out in your favor. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors are trained to manipulate you within the confines of the law.

Walking away from this with your freedom is going to require the help of an expert attorney.

Why do you need a reputable lawyer familiar with drug trafficking?

You need a reputable lawyer familiar with drug trafficking in New Jersey because beating these charges requires knowledge and expertise. Judges and the prosecution take a firm stance against these types of crimes.

And you can bet they’ll do everything in their power to convict you—because they see you as a threat to their community. They don’t take kindly to the idea of someone distributing harmful substances in their backyard.

But a successful New Jersey drug trafficking lawyer knows exactly how to find your best path forward. With a custom-tailored defense strategy and aggressive representation in court, you’re much more likely to win a desirable outcome.

If you or a loved one is facing drug trafficking charges, time is of the essence. The sooner you contact our legal team, the sooner we can start working towards winning your freedom. Call us immediately at (732) 487-3223 for your free case evaluation.