Understanding the Nature of Marijuana Charges in NJ
While many states are beginning to legalize marijuana, New Jersey still treats marijuana charges such as possession and distribution as serious criminal offenses with serious penalties. When you are facing a marijuana possession or distribution charge, it is important to have dependable and knowledgeable legal counsel that can defend your rights and fight on your behalf for the best possible outcome. The lawyers at Schneider Freiberger have experience with marijuana charges both minor and serious.
Marijuana possession and distribution charges and penalties can vary greatly depending on the amount of marijuana, location, and circumstances of the arrest.
Possession of less than 50 grams of Marijuana: Sometimes known as Simple Possession, this is considered a disorderly persons offense or misdemeanor and can carry harsh penalties including:
- A fine of up to $1,000 as well as additional fees.
- Up to six months in jail, with the possibility of a probationary period including random drug testing.
- Drivers license suspension for up to six months, even if the marijuana was not possessed in a car.
- Learn about the license restoration process in NJ
A Conditional Discharge may be an option for someone who does not have any previous drug conviction. This will dismiss this original complaint if the individual can stay arrest free for an agreed upon period, usually one year.
Possession of more than 50 grams of Marijuana: This is considered a fourth degree crime (one step above a disorderly persons offense) and carries heavier penalties than possession of less than 50 grams, including fines of up to $25,000 and up to 18 months in NJ State prison.
Possession of Marijuana in a School Zone: If the marijuana was possessed within 1,000 feet of any school property or a school bus, 100 hours of community service can be added to your existing charges.
However, if you are convicted of intent to distribute marijuana in a drug free school zone, then the law adds on a separate charge for a third degree offense.
Third Degree Distribution On or Within 1,000 Feet of School Property
- 3 to 5 years of prison time
- Mandatory minimum time frame of parole ineligibility of between one third and one half of the total sentence, or three years, whichever is greater.
- Fines of up to $150,000
A special exception is made when the crime involved less than 1 ounce of marijuana. In this case the period of parole ineligibility is lessened to between one third and one half of the total sentence or one year, whichever is greater.
Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute: Distributing or manufacturing marijuana in New Jersey incurs severe penalties, according to the weight of the marijuana in question.
- Less than one ounce: This is considered a fourth degree crime and can include fines of up to $25,000 and up to 18 months in prison.
- Between one ounce and five pounds: This is considered a third degree crime and can include fines of up to $25,000 and up to five years in prison.
- Between five pounds and twenty-five pounds: This is considered a second degree crime and can include fines of up to $150,000 and up to ten years in prison.
- More than twenty-five pounds: This is considered a first degree crime and can include fines of up to $300,000 and up to twenty years in prison.
Keep in mind that these penalties are for first offenses and can increase significantly with second and subsequent offenses.
Need Assistance with a Marijuana Charge?
An experienced NJ criminal defense attorney can get you the best possible outcome to your marijuana case. Schneider Freiberger is ready to discuss your options when facing marijuana possession charges and construct a case that gives you the best chance to avoid conviction.