What Determines the Charge for Drug-Related Crimes?
The difference between a felony or misdemeanor is not a small one: It can ultimately determine a variety of factors, including the fine you pay and the length of your jail time. The amount of arrests in New Jersey for drug-related crimes is accelerating, with the number of charges filed now higher than ever before. There are key differences between misdemeanor and felony drug charges, and it is vital that you understand these differences.
Four Types of Drug Possession Charges
In the state of New Jersey, there are four types of drug possession charges that you can face. They include possession of:
- Less than 50 grams of marijuana
- Narcotics or controlled dangerous substances
- Other drug paraphernalia
- Unauthorized prescription drugs
There are also a variety of other drug-related charges that you can face, including being under the influence of illegal drugs, failing to properly dispose of an illegal drug, drug distribution, and more.
Factors That Lead to a Felony or Misdemeanor Drug Charge
The prosecutor’s decision to charge someone with a felony versus a misdemeanor can depend on a variety of factors. The most important among those is the severity of the charge. For example, someone who is arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana will almost certainly face a misdemeanor if it’s their first offense.
The type of drug that the person has is one example of a factor that impacts the charge given. Marijuana is usually considered to be a less severe and dangerous drug by prosecutors, and it is thus more likely to face a misdemeanor charge. People who are arrested with other drugs that are largely considered to be more dangerous, such as heroin, methamphetamines, LSD, ecstasy, or cocaine, are more likely to face a felony charge.
The amount of the drug is another important factor. Someone found with only enough of a drug for personal use may only be charged with a misdemeanor. Conversely, someone who is found with large quantities of the drug – even if it was just for personal use – is more likely to face felony charges.
Whether or not the person arrested has a prior record will also impact the crime with which someone is charged. Someone who has an extensive criminal history is more likely to face a felony than someone who has been arrested for the first time. In addition, a person who has a long prior record is more likely to face more severe penalties, regardless of whether or not they are arrested for a misdemeanor or a felony.
The above is not an exhaustive list of circumstances. Other mitigating circumstances include:
- Were any minors involved in the drug possession case in question?
- Did the incident occur near a school, daycare, or addiction recovery facility?
- Was anyone injured or killed in the case in question? Were there any overdoses?
- Did the case involve the use of extensive public resources, like police time or investigations?
- Is there a plea deal in question? Is the individual who has been arrested cooperating with authorities?
- Has the person in question agreed to seek treatment in exchange for lesser charges?
Thankfully, there is no shortage of attorneys that can assist you in fighting off these charges or reducing your sentence. If you are in New Jersey, you can always use a Morristown personal injury lawyer. This can help ensure that their legal needs are represented.
If you are in the Morristown, New Jersey area, and you need help in dealing with drug charges, contact Gregg Wisotsky today. He offers a variety of the exemplary services that you would expect out of a Morristown personal injury lawyer. Call us today at 973-898-0161, or make an appointment by filling out our online contact form.