Penalties for Distributing Drugs in New Jersey
According to one study conducted in 2021, an estimated 128 million Americans had consumed a controlled substance in their lifetime. With such a large market, it can be tempting to sell these substances in search of a large payday. However, there are serious penalties if you are caught trying to sell or traffic a prohibited drug.
Drug Distribution Defined
Drug distribution is defined as knowingly creating, distributing or dispensing a controlled substance or something designed to mimic the effects of a controlled substance. It is also illegal to be willfully in possession of a substance with the intent to sell or otherwise distribute it. In other words, it will be difficult to convict you of this crime if you aren’t aware of the marijuana in your car’s trunk.
There are several factors that authorities might use in determining whether you had a drug with intent to distribute it. Some factors might be the presence of baggies, scales or items, like spoons or knives, used to divide a large quantity of a drug into smaller portions.
Distribution can occur whether you take drugs across state lines or simply transport them to multiple destinations within New Jersey’s borders. Distribution may also occur whether you simply transport drugs between dealers or transport them for eventual sale to an end user.
Determining the Severity of Your Crime
State law classifies drug distribution violations as first-degree, second-degree or third-degree offenses. An offense in the first degree carries the harshest penalties while an offense in the third degree carries lighter penalties. Crimes are classified based on the type, as well as the quantity, of drugs found in your possession.
Examples of offenses in the first degree include possession of more than 5 ounces of heroin or cocaine or possession of 5 or more ounces of methamphetamine. Possession of more than 25 pounds of marijuana, more than 50 plants or more than 5 pounds of hashish are also considered among the most serious drug distribution violations.
Offenses in the second degree include possession of more than an ounce of a Schedule I narcotic other than heroin or cocaine or less than 100 milligrams of LSD. Other such offenses include possession of more than a half-ounce of methamphetamine or less than 25 pounds or 50 marijuana plants.
Finally, the least serious offenses include less than an ounce of a Schedule I narcotic or less than a half-ounce of cocaine or heroin. Possession of less than a half-ounce of methamphetamine or less than 5 pounds of marijuana is also considered to be among the least serious types of drug distribution crime.
You can be charged with an offense in the fourth degree if you’re found with less than an ounce of marijuana. A Morristown criminal defense lawyer may be able to talk more about the severity of any charges that you face as well as methods of challenging the case against you before or during trial.
For an offense in the first degree, you could be sentenced to anywhere between 10 and 20 years in prison. For an offense in the second degree, you can expect a sentence of anywhere from five years to a decade in prison. Finally, the least severe penalties can bring a prison sentence of anywhere from three years to five years in prison. Fines are variable and depend largely on the type of offense you’re charged with and other factors a judge may deem relevant.
When determining your sentence, a judge will take a look at the totality of your case to decide how much of a threat you pose to society. The higher the threat, the longer you can expect to remain in custody. If you have a history of drug offenses, you may also be at a higher risk of receiving the highest possible sentence in your case.
If you need a Morristown criminal defense lawyer, contact Gregg Wisotsky today. You can do so by calling his Morristown office at 973-898-0161.