Morristown Marijuana Distribution Lawyer
Defending Clients Charged with Intent to Distribution Marijuana in Morris County, NJ
There are strict laws governing distribution of marijuana in New Jersey. Charges for NJSA 2C:35-5 encompass marijuana distribution and intent to distribute in this state and these offenses result in felony charges for thousands of people every year. Despite the legalization of marijuana, its sale and purchase of the drug continues to be strictly regulated for quality assurance purposes, state revenue and more. As such, you cannot sell, distribute, or dispense marijuana without following the stringent requirements and obtaining the appropriate licenses and authorizations from the state. It is also illegal to cultivate marijuana in New Jersey without being authorized to do so.
Violations for unlawfully distributing or possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, growing marijuana without proper authorization, or maintaining a controlled dangerous substance production facility can all lead to indictable offense charges being filed against you. The state will not hesitate to prosecute those accused of marijuana crimes and according to FBI Crime Reporting, New Jersey ranks among the top states in the U.S for marijuana distribution arrests. If you are among those arrested for a drug distribution offense, you face a variety of life-altering penalties if convicted. Being charged with selling weed means it is critical that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
The skilled criminal defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm have successfully defended thousands of clients charged with marijuana offenses like intent to distribute marijuana in Morris County and throughout New Jersey. Our team is prepared to defend you against serious marijuana distribution charges arising in Morristown, Parsippany, Mount Olive, Dover, Madison, and throughout the region. For a free consultation about your marijuana case, contact our Morristown offices anytime at (908) 336-5008 or use our convenient form. One of our lawyers is available immediately to assist you.
Intent to Distribute Marijuana Law in NJ – N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5
Marijuana distribution and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5, which provides, in pertinent part:
a. Except as authorized by P.L. 1970, c. 226, it shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or purposely:
(1) To manufacture, distribute or dispense, or to possess or have under his control with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog; or
(2) To create, distribute, or possess or have under his control with intent to distribute, a counterfeit controlled dangerous substance.
b. Any person who violates subsection a. with respect to:
(10) (a) Marijuana in a quantity of 25 pounds or more including any adulterants or dilutants, or 50 or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight, or hashish in a quantity of five pounds or more including any adulterants or dilutants, is guilty of a crime of the first degree. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $ 300,000.00 may be imposed;
(b) Marijuana in a quantity of five pounds or more but less than 25 pounds including any adulterants or dilutants, or 10 or more but fewer than 50 marijuana plants, regardless of weight, or hashish in a quantity of one pound or more but less than five pounds, including any adulterants and dilutants, is guilty of a crime of the second degree;
(11) Marijuana in a quantity of one ounce or more but less than five pounds including any adulterants or dilutants, or hashish in a quantity of five grams or more but less than one pound including any adulterants or dilutants, is guilty of a crime of the third degree except that, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $ 25,000.00 may be imposed;
Meaning of New Jersey Criminal Charges for Marijuana Distribution
In marijuana distribution cases, there are newly revised thresholds since New Jersey legalized recreational use of the drug. Pursuant to the Attorney General’s Directive, the same distribution statute N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b) will still apply; however, the most considerable change occurs when one distributes one ounce or less of marijuana. In these types of cases, police are to follow a warning system that is comparable to underage offenders in possession. Specifically, in first-time low-level distribution cases, i.e., one ounce or less of marijuana or 5 grams or less of hashish, the adult will receive a written warning. He or she is then subjected to a fourth degree charge when subsequent offenses under the same threshold occur. This is a major modification in the law because adults are given a second chance before getting charged with a fourth degree crime.
Distribution of marijuana in a quantity of one ounce or more but less than five pounds leads to a third degree offense, which is the same in the old versus new versions of New Jersey’s marijuana law. Similarly, the old law provided quantities of more than five pounds exposed an individual to a second degree crime. This is also mirrored in the new law. Cases involving distribution of twenty-five pounds or more of marijuana previously subjected defendants to a substantial fine and a first degree offense. The severity of this offense remains the same under the new law. Under the previous law, an individual did not have a chance to get a warning and immediately faced a fourth-degree charge with minor distributions offenses. This has been updated to result in fourth degree charges after a first offense coupled with a warning from law enforcement.
Penalties for Marijuana Distribution in New Jersey
A second offense for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana with intent to distribute is a fourth degree crime, punishable by fines up to $10,000 and a maximum 18-month term in prison. For other marijuana distribution charges between first and third degree, an individual may face up to approximately $25,000 through $300,000 in fines and penalties. The more marijuana involved, the higher penalties and a greater length of incarceration looms. The penalties for marijuana distribution and intent to distribute in New Jersey include the following:
- Possession with intent to distribute 25 pounds or more of marijuana is considered a first degree crime. Potential penalties include up to 20 years in NJ State Prison and fines of up to $300,000.
- Possession with intent to distribute between five (5) pounds and 25 pounds of marijuana is considered a second-degree offense. Potential penalties include up to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison and fines upwards of $150,000.
- Possession with intent to distribute between one (1) ounce and five (5) pounds of marijuana is considered a third-degree offense. Potential penalties include up to five (5) years in state prison and fines upwards of $25,000.
- Possession with intent to distribute up to one (1) ounce of marijuana is first the cause for a warning. A second time offense is considered a fourth degree felony. Potential penalties include up to 18 months in state prison and fines of up to $10,000.
In addition to the above penalties, a suspension of your driver’s license is required if you are convicted of marijuana distribution. Further, if the distribution was committed in a school zone or near a public park, you may be subject to mandatory jail time and parole ineligibility under the Brimage guidelines.
How does the State Prove Marijuana Distribution
If you are charged with distribution of marijuana or possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in New Jersey, the State must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. The proofs typically include a large amount of weight (in marijuana), baggies, scales, cash, and actual sales using undercover operations. Typically, marijuana distribution cases involve a variety of examples or scenarios. For example, it may include a police officer witnessing someone pop their head into a vehicle with a quick hand motion exchange of goods. Additionally, a person may be observed standing in a parking lot late at night passing a small package quickly to another with a lot of cash on his or her person. Under those circumstances, a person may be charged with a crime for marijuana distribution. If that is the case, the person will be facing a potential penalty of up to 18 months in jail, in addition to monetary fines, even for the lowest amount of weed falling into the less than one ounce category.
Many distribution cases do not occur with ten pounds of the drug being concealed somewhere like they do on one of your favorite crime television shows. Instead, these charges can occur when small amounts of the drug are being passed from one person to another. Largely the new warning system makes sense for fourth degree cases because the whole point of legalizing marijuana was to address socio-economic disparities. Basically, it was geared toward transforming our justice system so that small mistakes do not define a person’s life by becoming a gateway into the justice system. In other cases, a person will be charged with extremely serious crimes of the second or first degree after law enforcement officials make a major bust with significant amount of weed. When the state discovers and seizes large amounts of marijuana or a significant number of plants, it is even more important to start building your defense strategy immediately.
Can I Fight Marijuana Distribution Charges in Morris County?
Wondering where your defense attorney comes in with these types of cases? It is important for your attorney to review the discovery relating to your case, analyze any video footage, review any statements made, ensure your rights were not violated and examine other relevant aspects of your case. Although there are varying degrees in which someone could be charged with marijuana distribution, it is a defense attorney’s job to find out what occurred before, during and after the search, or what happened during that quick exchange, or what went on when you were standing in the parking lot, or where and how the police found out about large quantities of weed in your house or other property. There are a multitude of ways to refute the allegations, which is why having a knowledgeable and skilled criminal lawyer on your side should be a top priority when seeking to protect your rights and your innocence.
If you are facing marijuana charges, there are some major defenses that can be raised. First, you can challenge the stop and search. If the police lacked reasonable suspicion to approach you or they lacked probable cause to perform a search, the case may be dismissed. In fact, the new marijuana law in NJ specifically states that an officer cannot search a person or their vehicle simply based on the smell of marijuana. This is a major change in the state’s policy. For example, if a person is pulled over in a car for a traffic violation, an officer coming up to one’s car and smelling “a raw or burnt marijuana odor emanating from the vehicle,” the officer once had probable cause to conduct a search. Many times, this would lead to someone who was simply driving his or her car to leave the stop (or get detained) with a host of other charges. Under the old law, the search would be deemed lawful, however, under the new law, the individual’s case would likely get dismissed.
Another strong defense is challenging the lab reports. A good attorney will also confirm if the alleged marijuana is proven to be that through lab reports, etc. Remember, you cannot get convicted of a drug crime if the substance does not turn out to be a drug. Notably, the lab reports can indicate that a substance is more dangerous and can necessitate that you are charged with a more serious offense.
Parsippany Intent to Sell Marijuana Defense Lawyer
New Jersey drug charges are serious criminal charges that require an aggressive defense, which can include challenging evidence seized as the result of a search warrant, negotiating a lesser charge with prosecutors or building a case for trial. An experienced NJ drug defense attorney can often negotiate with prosecutors to secure drug treatment options, Drug Court or admission into the Pre-trial Intervention Program for non-violent drug offenders in New Jersey who might otherwise face time in County Jail or State Prison. The Tormey Law Firm has an office conveniently located in Morristown NJ, so we are available immediately to assist you. For a free consultation about your marijuana distribution case, contact us at (908) 336-5008. One of our Morris County marijuana defense lawyers will be happy to speak with you about your case and discuss your legal options.