Have you been stopped in a car, on the street, or in another place in Elizabeth and charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance? Are you left feeling confused about the charges because you never had drugs on you, in your pockets, or in your bag? You, and anyone else in this state, can be arrested for possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) without ever possessing drugs on your physical person. Unbeknownst to many, the law allows for you to be charged with a crime in violation of N.J.S.A.2C:35-10 if it is alleged that you constructively possessed any controlled dangerous substance listed on the New Jersey Drug Schedules, such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD, or Oxycontin. Actual or constructive possession of CDS is a serious offense, placing you in danger of being sent to county jail or state prison if convicted. When you or a loved one has been arrested for drug possession in the city of Elizabeth, you need sound legal advice and an adept lawyer who can aid in preparing the best defense. Contact our team today at (908) 838-0150 to discuss the facts of your case with an experienced Elizabeth drug possession attorney who can help. Consultations are free and available 24/7 to best serve you.
Elizabeth Drug Possession Charge
Elizabeth is a major town for narcotics investigations and drug busts, often ensnaring individuals and groups of people accused of possessing, distributing, or trafficking drugs. Merely using drugs is also common in Elizabeth, and in 2018, the city ranked number 8 on a list of the top 30 New Jersey towns with the most heroin abuse. Use of drugs like heroin and related deaths have steadily increased over the years and police have adapted accordingly. As such, officers know what to look for when encountering residents and visitors of Elizabeth in cars or on foot. They frequently observe signs and symptoms of drug use when they come into contact with people and may suspect that you are in possession of marijuana or other controlled dangerous substances simply because you seem nervous when interacting with them. Further, if police stop a car in which you are a passenger, search the car, and find drugs, they can charge you and all of the vehicle’s occupants with possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
Most drug possession cases are charged as third degree crimes, also known as indictable offenses. Typically, in these cases, the amount possessed is minimal and the drug is possessed with the intention of using it, as opposed to selling it. The following are perhaps the most commonly found drugs giving rise to third degree drug possession charges in violation of N.J.S.A.2C:35-10:
Benzodiazepines, such as Alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clorazepate (Tranxene), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), midazolam.
Any amount possessed, however small, of a street drug like heroin or cocaine will result in a third degree criminal charge for possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). In limited circumstances, such as possession of marijuana in an amount less than one ounce but more than 50 grams, a fourth degree complaint can be filed. A fourth degree drug possession offense can also be charged if you possess small quantities of prescription legend drugs without a prescription, specifically four or fewer pills or dosage units. A fourth degree crime is the least serious among indictable crimes. A lesser criminal offense lower than this crime is known as a disorderly persons offense.
A disorderly persons offense for possession of a controlled dangerous substance is only filed if you have less than 50 grams of marijuana. However, some indictable drug charges can be resolved by pleading to a disorderly persons offense for failing to turn over CDS to the police. Indictable crimes and disorderly persons offenses for drug possession require attendance in different courts and allow a range of sentences.
Possession with intent to distribute drugs in Elizabeth NJ
If you have larger quantities of drugs in Elizabeth, it may be perceived that you possess the drugs with the intent to distribute or sell them, in which case the grading of the offense will increase accordingly. For example, a person who possesses more than 5 ounces of methamphetamine, cocaine, or heroin, will be charged with the most serious level of crime in New Jersey: a first degree. Clearly, the law recognizes that no one who is simply a drug user, as opposed to a distributor, would have that much heroin or cocaine available for their personal use. Similarly, a second degree crime for drug possession with intent to distribute will be filed if you possess less than five ounces but more than one-half ounce of a substance such as heroin.
How Serious is a Drug Offense in Elizabeth NJ?
In Elizabeth, indictable crimes from first through fourth degrees are heard in the Union County Superior Court, which is located in the city. If convicted of an indictable felony drug crime in Elizabeth, you may be sentenced to the following state prison terms:
10 to 20 years for a drug crime of the first degree;
5 to 10 years for a drug crime of the second degree;
3 to 5 years for a drug crime of the third degree; and
A maximum of 18 months for a drug crime of the fourth degree
Aside from the years in prison, the court must impose mandatory financial penalties and order that your identifying information to collected for the purposes of identifying you in subsequent interactions with law enforcement. Your arrest, charges, and conviction will also be reflected on your criminal history.
If you commit a disorderly persons offense for drug possession, a jail term of 180 days can be imposed, and up to $1,000 in fines can be ordered, in addition to a $500 drug penalty. Among all cases involving possession of a controlled dangerous substance, the court can also suspend the driver’s license for 6 months, and for up to 2 years.
Drug Possession Defense Attorneys in Elizabeth, NJ
When you are facing drug charges, there is a long list of defenses that can be used during your trial, pre-trial motions that can be filed to suppress evidence, and testimonial hearings that can take place to establish the facts of the case before you even have a trial. There is no one way to handle a drug case. An experienced attorney must look at the facts, understand the law, know who the players are, and apply their skill to best fight the charges. Perhaps you were charged with drugs while in a car with several others, you were unaware of drugs in the trunk of someone else’s vehicle, police obtained the drugs during an illegal search, or your rights were violated in the course of the drug investigation. Having a thorough assessment of your drug case in Elizabeth is the best way to know what you are facing and what can be done to avoid it. Contact us today at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with a dedicated Elizabeth drug possession lawyer near you.
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