Somerset County Drug Possession Lawyer

Recent changes in how many states deal with drug violations has led to the liberalization of drug penalties in some jurisdictions.

While some states like Massachusetts, Colorado, and California have recently decriminalized the possession of small amount of marijuana, New Jersey has not yet changed their drug laws and the possession of all drugs, including marijuana, remains illegal.

When a person gets charged with the possession of an illegal substance, they are often scared and confused. The laws in New Jersey remain strict when it comes to drug possession, with potential sentences including significant jail time and heavy fines.

An experienced Somerset County drug possession lawyer will work with people charged with possession of illegal drugs. Contact a criminal attorney in Somerset County today to see how they can help you strive for the best possible result.

Definition of Possession

The laws in New Jersey concerning the possession of illegal drugs are contained in New Jersey Statute 2C:35-5. This statute is all-encompassing for illegal substances including narcotics, marijuana, opiates, and improperly possessed prescription medications.

New Jersey is particularly strict in that the law does not differentiate between possession and distribution.

This means that if a person is accused of having five ounces of cocaine for example, the law is not concerned with whether this person intends the drugs for personal use or for sale. The specific penalties include:

  • Possession of methamphetamine in the amount of 5oz or more is a first-degree crime, with an added fine of up to $300,000. Subsection (b)(8)
  • Possession of heroin in the amount of 5oz or more is a first-degree crime. In addition, the person may be required to pay a fine of up to $500,000. Subsection (b)(1).
  • Possession of marijuana of one ounce or less is a crime of the fourth degree. Subsection (b)(12).

A conviction for any of these crimes carries a potential jail sentence. The most serious crimes, first degree crimes, carry a maximum sentence of 20 years. A fourth-degree crime has a maximum penalty of incarceration up to 18 months.

It is important to note that the potential penalties are connected to the amount of drug that a person is accused of possessing. If a person is found to have been in possession of a large amount of marijuana, over 25 pounds, the crime is still considered to be first-degree.

The prosecutor will need to demonstrate both the amount and the authenticity of the drugs alleged. A Somerset County drug possession attorney can dispute the amount of the alleged drugs and their authenticity in court.

Constructive Possession

Courts generally agree that if illegal drugs are found on a person when searched by law enforcement, it is in that person’s possession.

However, law enforcement may use other methods and theories to attempt to prove that the drugs were in a person’s possession. One common method is the theory of constructive possession.

Just as an individual may say that they possess items in a safe at a bank, even though they are not currently at the bank, the police may attempt to use this same logic against a person in a drug possession case. If the police obtain a warrant to search that safe, then a person may be charged with possession if drugs are found.

One way that a drug possession attorney in Somerset County can contest an individual's case is to argue that this warrant should never have been issued by the court.

Contact an Attorney

In Somerset County, even the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is considered to be a crime. While this is only a fourth-degree crime, a conviction under this statute can result in jail time and a mark on a person’s criminal record.

A drug possession defense lawyer in Somerset County will be knowledgeable and diligent in helping people protect their rights. The result in drug possession cases often hinges on how the drugs were discovered and whether the police had the right to search that location.

A Somerset County drug possession lawyer will examine every aspect of an individual’s case to custom fit a defense to each person’s unique circumstances. In every step of the process, a lawyer helps clients to navigate the criminal justice system.