Maintaining or Operating a Marijuana Growing Facility
These days there is a lot of talk about New Jersey legalizing medial marijuana and marijuana growing facilities. Other states such as California have very loose laws for marijuana medicinal uses and growing, however our state could not be more opposite. The last thing you want to do is get over zealous and start growing your own marijuana in New Jersey. In most cases marijuana cultivation, even on a small scale will be punished worse than Distribution of Marijuana involving several pounds. In fact, charges for cultivation of marijuana in New Jersey are considered a first degree indictable offense – the same as murder. This may seem crazy be it is the cold hard facts and if you are arrested for maintaining or growing marijuana you could be looking a very serious penalties which includes mandatory prison incarceration even if you have never been in trouble before. The best thing you can is retain an experienced marijuana defense lawyer who knows how to handle marijuana growing charges. At the Proetta & Oliver, our criminal attorneys have handled thousands of criminal charges for our clients throughout New Jersey including marijuana cultivation. In fact, we are often able to negotiate a downgrade of the charges to avoid incarceration and our lawyers have even been able to successfully secure Pre-Trial Intervention for clients depending on the circumstances of your case. We represent clients throughout Union County and surrounding areas including Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, Union Township, New Providence, Roselle Park, Plainfield, Linden, Hillside, and Rahway. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, then contact us at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with a lawyer or to set up an appointment at any one of our offices.
NJ Marijuana Cultivation Law 2C:35-4
Under statute N.J.S.A. 2C:35-4 you are prohibited from maintaining, operating, financing, promoting, or participating in maintaining or operating a facility used to produce marijuana. Now this isn’t to say that every pot head who tries to grow a plant from some left over seeds in their backyard will be charged with a first degree crime of marijuana cultivation – there are some safeguards. For instance, in order to fall within the constraints of the statute you must have in your possession at least five (5) pounds or ten (10) plants. Now they may sound like high measures to meet but in our experience, this criteria is met in almost every case we deal with. This is because the state will weight the whole plants, not just the marijuana bud which can be smoked and wet plants covered with leaves will add up to 5 pounds very quickly. Moreover, almost every grower will start with at least 10 plants after they plant their seeds and the cannabis begins to sprout and under the law, it does not matter if those plants are only 4 inch tall sprouts – its still cultivation. Moreover, the state has put in fail safes to protect innocent landowners because marijuana crops are often planted outside in a vacant lot or hidden in basement without the knowledge of parents or the landlord. Therefore, in order to be found guilty of cultivating marijuana, the state needs to prove that the actual defendant maintained or operated the premises; and that they possessed an intent to use the premises for manufacturing or producing marijuana.
Penalties for Growing Marijuana in New Jersey
As we mentioned above, marijuana cultivation or maintaining a marijuana growing facility is a first degree crime. In New Jersey, a first degree indictable offense will be heard at the County Superior Court and is punishable by incarceration for ten (10) to twenty (20) years with the presumption of incarceration even if you have never been in trouble before. Moreover, the court must sentence you to serve between 1/3 – 1/2 of the prison without being eligible for parole. Additionally, under the Brimage Guidelines, the court may also impose an extended term of imprisonment if you have been convicted of drug distribution in the past – whether marijuana or even cocaine or heroin distribution. To make matters worse you will not normally be eligible for Drug Court or any other diversion program because it is first degree charges. By now it is clear that these charges are very serious and you need a serious criminal defense lawyer to take on the state’s case head on and work with the prosecutor’s office to try and resolve your case as quick and smoothly as possible. At Proetta & Oliver we are experienced in defending clients arrested for growing marijuana and know what it takes to successfully resolve these charges. If you would like to speak with an attorney during a free consultation, then give us a call today at (908) 838-0150. We have representatives standing by 24/7 to answer you call.
Additional New Jersey Marijuana Crimes Information
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