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A drug possession charge in New Brunswick, Woodbridge, Edison or elsewhere in Middlesex County, can have potentially devastating consequences. It can impact your ability to secure employment, operate a motor vehicle and even maintain your freedom. This is a primary reason why it is pivotal to hire the right lawyer to defend your possession of a controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”) offense.
If you were charged with illegally possessing a drug, a skilled criminal lawyer at Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver is capable of providing a safeguard against penalties and a conviction. An attorney at the firm, including Jason Seidman, Esq., the former director of the gangs, guns and drugs task force of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, will challenge the case against you so that the very best outcome is achieved. We have a proven track record of success making sure that an arrest does not turn into a life altering event.
Understanding the New Jersey Drug Possession Law
It is important that you have a basic understanding of the New Jersey Drug Possession Law so you are well informed about your offense. N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 (“Possession, use or being under the influence, or failure to make lawful disposition”) makes it illegal to actually or constructively possess CDS without a valid prescription.
Possession. An individual is in actual possession where he/she has physical custody and/or control of marijuana, heroin, cocaine or another variety of CDS. Possession is constructive where, although not in physical contact with the CDS, an individual is aware of its presence and has the ability and intention of exercising control over it in the future. Our attorneys challenge the state in satisfying its burden of proving, beyond reasonable doubt, that you possessed drugs illegally.
CDS. An individual can only be charged if he/she possesses something that is “CDS.” An item falls within this category if it is classified under the Controlled Substances Act, a federal statute that has been adopted in this state. This law classifies drugs based on “potential for abuse.” The drugs contained in Schedule I have the highest potential for abuse and include heroin, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (“GHB”), lysergic acid diethylamide (“LSD”) and 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Cocaine and a wide variety of opiate and stimulant prescription drugs are contained in Schedule II. Schedule III includes CDS like anabolic steroids, ketamine and suboxone. Benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax and Valium) fall under Schedule IV. The least addictive drugs are those contained in Schedule V and rarely is someone charged with possession of these substances in Middlesex County, including municipalities like East Brunswick, Old Bridge and Piscataway.
Weight. Another important factor in a possession case is the quantity or weight of the drug possessed. The method of measurement will typically be in the form of grams, ounces or pounds. There are also instances where this component will be measured in terms of dosage units, for example, where the CDS is prescription drugs. Weight is frequently a determining factor in grading of a possession offense.
Serious CDS Penalties That Must Be Avoided
The goal of our lawyers is always to avoid or minimize the penalty exposure following a CDS arrest. The standard penalties that apply for possession are contained at N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10. This law imposes penalties as follows:
- It is a third degree crime to possess a drug that is classified on Schedule I, II, III or IV. An individual who pleads or is found guilty of this grade of possession is subject to a fine of up to $35,000 and a state prison term of up to 5 years.
- CDS falling under Schedule V result in a fourth degree crime for possession. The maximum penalties for this offense include 18 months of incarceration and a $15,000 fine.
- It is also a fourth degree crime to possess 50 grams or more of marijuana. There is a potential fine of $25,000 and 18 months in prison that applies upon conviction.
- Possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana is a disorderly persons offense that carries up to six months in the county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
There are a variety of other statutes that may also come into play depending on the substance involved in your case. For example, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.5 relates to prescription legend drugs and grades possession charges in terms of seriousness based on dosage units or pills. It is a fourth degree crime to possess 4 or fewer dosage units, a third degree crime for at least 5 but less than 100 dosage units, and a second degree crime for 100 or more. In addition to the existence of specific possession laws for particular drugs, you are always exposed to a license suspension of at least 6 months and as much as 2 years at the time of sentencing for a CDS charge. This penalty is triggered irrespective of whether a motor vehicle was involved in the conduct.
The good news is that Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver has a long history of success stories in defending drug possession cases throughout the region. We even employ a former supervisor in the county prosecutor’s office. We are certainly highly familiar and effective in helping clients like you in escaping conviction and serious ramifications.
Where Will My Drug Case Be Heard?
The Middlesex County Superior Court, which is located in New Brunswick, possesses sole jurisdiction to decide indictable matters involving a first degree, second degree, third degree or fourth degree crime. All proceedings in drug cases falling within these grades are conducted at the county courthouse. There is no authority to deal with an offense of this nature in Monroe, South Brunswick, Sayreville or another town because municipal courts only have limited jurisdiction to deal with disorderly persons offenses. Possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia are the only charges of this nature that can be adjudicated in local courts.
Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver has extensive experience handling cases throughout the court system in Middlesex County. Our team even includes a former prosecutor who was the director of a major drug enforcement unit in the county. Attorneys with the knowledge and skill to handle whatever type of CDS possession case you are facing are ready to assist you at our firm.
Time Tested Strategies For Defending Possession Charges
We have been representing clients charged with drug possession for over a century between us. Our attorneys have developed strategies of the years which have consistently proven to be effective in reaching favorable outcomes. It is important that we take advantage of all of these angles including:
- Getting Involved As Early As Possible. When a client retains us immediately after an arrest it often translates into dividends. The timing not only allows us to preserve and gather every piece of exculpatory evidence but also gets a dialogue going early on with the prosecutor.
- Being Aggressive in Discovery. Police and prosecutors are frequently reluctant to provide evidence that negatively reflects their case. The result is a situation where evidence relevant to issuance of a warrant, purportedly supporting a warrantless search, substantiating a reasonable basis for a motor vehicle stop or another important element of a case is often missing from discovery. By pressing the state to provide every stitch of evidence available, wholes in the case are flushed out. This is one of the reasons why we thoroughly attack the discovery in every drug case.
- Motions to Suppress Evidence. Motion practice is extremely important in defending CDS possession, especially those to suppress evidence based on a violation of your right against unreasonable seizure and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. A challenge in this manner can include contesting allegations of consent to a search, the presence of exigent circumstances to support a warrantless search or a search that was allegedly incident to an arrest.
- Negotiating a Favorable Plea. Our knowledge and familiarity with the players in the court system are utilized in order to secure the best plea possible. This is where years handling these types of cases and dealing with prosecutors proves to be so handy. You can count on our not only taking advantages of the weakness in the prosecutor’s case but also our persuasiveness to secure as favorable a plea as is available.
- Thorough Preparation & Presentation at Trial. There are instances where, despite all of our efforts, a dismissal or favorable plea bargain cannot be achieved. When this is the case, you can trust that our lawyers are equipped to present a powerful case at trial. You can count on our careful presentation of the facts, persuasiveness, crafty cross-examination and other advocacy to provide you with every opportunity for acquittal and/or optimum verdict.
Experienced Drug Possession Lawyers
Do not fall into the trap of believing that you are already guilty of possession just because you were arrested on the charge. There are many approaches that the lawyers at Marshall Bonus Proetta & Oliver can take on your behalf to avert a conviction in New Brunswick at the Superior Court or in a municipal court in the venue. An attorney who knows the best approach for helping you is available immediately by calling our Woodbridge Office, East Brunswick Office, Piscataway Office or New Brunswick Office for a free consultation. Contact us now for immediately assistance.