Marijuana Possession in Westfield NJ
July 22, 2020
Westfield Marijuana Possession Lawyer
Possession of marijuana without a prescription remains a criminal offense in New Jersey. It makes no difference whether you are an adult or a juvenile, you will be charged if found to be in possession of marijuana outside of the strict regulatory environment of the medical marijuana program. Similarly, it does not matter where the weed is found, whether it’s your car, your pocket, glovebox, underwear, your friend’s bag, purse, backpack, or behind your ear, as the law merely requires that someone be charged whenever it is found on or near one or more people. In Westfield, police officers make routine traffic stops along Route 28 and when drivers are exiting Route 22. On countless occasions, we have seen people charged with possession of marijuana even when the drugs found are in someone else’s car or belongings.
If a complaint is filed against you based on marijuana, these charges can be classified as either indictable felony offenses or disorderly persons offenses. In either case, you should be aware of the potential sentences and collateral damage of such convictions. But just because you have been charged with marijuana possession in Westfield does not mean that you are stuck with the charges or should ultimately be convicted. Having an experienced Westfield marijuana lawyer on your side can turn the tide in your case, making a beneficial result more than a goal, but a reality. Contact our law office at (908)-838-0150 to receive a free consultation from a well-versed marijuana defense attorney who can assist you now.
Charged with Possession of Marijuana in Westfield, New Jersey
The laws governing drug possession and the degrees of marijuana crimes that may be filed are found under chapter 35 of the criminal code. Specifically, under 2C:35-10 it is a disorderly persons offense to possess less than 50 grams of marijuana. Disorderly persons offenses are heard in Westfield Municipal Court. These offenses allow for lesser sentences than indictable crimes. If the prosecutor proves that you possessed marijuana, that you knew it was marijuana, and that you did not have a prescription, you may be punished by the court. Some conditions of your sentence are required, while others are discretionary. For example, the judge must impose a drug penalty of $500 for a disorderly persons marijuana offense, as well as a $75 safe neighborhood fund fee, a $50 lab fee, and a $50 Victims of Crime fee. A discretionary sentence can include probation for a term not exceeding 5 years, or as much as 180 days in jail. Additionally, the judge can suspend your right to drive in New Jersey for 6 months and up to 24 months.
While most people possess no more than 50 grams, it does happen, and more often than one would otherwise think. Possessing greater than 50 grams exposes you to a fourth degree indictable crime (felony). For felonies, the case is heard in Union County Superior Court, where your case may be tried before a jury of your peers. The specific term of incarceration can be maximally 18 months. Nevertheless, there is no requirement that you go to state prison for this offense, and the court could send you to county jail instead, or allow your entrance into Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI). PTI entails a probationary term after which the charges are dismissed. Straight probation can also be imposed, during which you must obtain substance abuse treatment, pay fines, test negative for illegal substances, maintain a job, and meet regularly with your probation officer. The possible fine is $25,000, in addition to a mandatory drug penalty and other costs and fees. As is the case with a disorderly persons marijuana offense, your driving privileges can be suspended as well.
Westfield Intent to Distribute Marijuana Charges
Not all cases are as clear when it comes to marijuana in Westfield or anywhere else in New Jersey for that matter. Some cases involve more complicated facts, giving rise to charges for more serious crimes of possession with intent to distribute. Here we focus mainly on straight marijuana possession charges, but you should be aware that the charges can be elevated to possession with intent even if your intention to sell is not made obvious. For example, if the police search your car after having stopped you on Route 28 and find marijuana in an amount from 1 ounce to slightly less than 5 pounds, you will be charged with possession with intent to distribute marijuana, a crime of the 3rd degree, and face as much as 5 years in prison. If over 5 pounds of weed is found, you face a crime of the second degree and a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment. For a first degree weight, applicable to 25 pounds of marijuana or more, the minimum amount of time in jail is 10 years, with the most time permitted behind bars being 20 years.
First, second, and even third degree marijuana possession charges seldom occur, in comparison to fourth degree and disorderly persons offense cases in which harsh punishment is sparingly implemented. In numerous cases for marijuana charges in the third degree or less, if you have not been convicted of an offense in the past, you will be eligible for a conditional discharge in Westfield Municipal Court or Pre-Trial Intervention in Union County Superior Court. These programs result in a dismissal after all court-imposed conditions have been met. It is important to note, however, that you are only entitled to one use of conditional discharge or PTI in your lifetime, regardless of how old you are when you use it.
Juveniles Charged with Marijuana in Westfield
Juveniles charged with marijuana will have their cases heard in the Union County Family Court. If you or a minor or the parent of a minor in Westfield, you may wish to consider seeking dismissal through a deferred disposition. This is a similar program to the one defendants apply for when entitled to conditional discharges in municipal court. The juvenile system is designed to allow children to make minor mistakes without life-altering consequences. Taking a deferred disposition would not preclude the juvenile from getting a conditional discharge or Pretrial Intervention (equivalent in Superior Court for felonies) as an adult, should the necessity for such outcomes arise.
Westfield Marijuana Possession Defense Attorneys can Assist You
The possibilities are vast and varied when facing marijuana charges in Westfield. The first step you should take in defending your case is calling our office. Our lawyers will review the facts of your case, possible motions and defenses, and ways in which the case can move forward to preserve your best interests. Often, a charge for marijuana possession happens when officers say they smell marijuana as a pretext to entering your car and searching for contraband. In some cases, their search is not consistent with what their report says, they violate your rights in the course of the investigation, or the traffic stop never should have been conducted in the first place. If any of these applies, we can challenge the legality and seek to suppress the evidence obtained. Call (908)-838-0150 to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you.