Being under the Influence of Drugs in NJ
New Brunswick Use or Being under the Influence of CDS Defense Lawyers
Unbeknownst to many, being under the influence of drugs in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b) is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, carrying surprising penalties if convicted. This criminal charge is particularly common in Middlesex County and other counties where large colleges are located. It is easy to see why. College students across the country, living and attending school on campus, are encouraged to interact with other students. Social gatherings are common at places like Rutgers University, as well as the surrounding areas of New Brunswick, North Brunswick, South Brunswick and other locales in Middlesex County. When it comes to quality connection time for young adults, the average person reasonably expects to see some occasions where students and their friends are consuming alcohol or ingesting controlled dangerous substances (CDS). But the frequency of drug use belies the seriousness of this practice in the eyes of the law. Those who “pre-game” using marijuana, cocaine, meth, molly, or any other drug and then venture out to any bar, sporting event, or public location while under the influence, risk being charged with a criminal offense.
What does it mean to be under the influence of drugs in public?
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b), you will be charged with an offense when it is alleged that you were under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). This applies to prescription drugs for reasons unrelated to illness or a doctor’s authorization, as well as as illegal narcotics like heroin and methamphetamine.
A common scenario involving such drug charges are those in which younger crowds become intoxicated to the point where they are perceived as liability or public nuisance. Essentially, any conduct that draws negative attention to you or your friends alerts the police that there may be an issue. When the police investigate, they may determine that you are under the influence of drugs.
How does the state prove that you were under the influence of CDS?
To be convicted for being under the influence of CDS, all the state must show is that you were, in fact, under the influence. This is done by examining the totality of the circumstances, including things like bloodshot eyes, slow movements, incoherence, jittery behavior, and indicative smells. For you to be found guilty of the offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b), the state can also put on witnesses who will testify that you were under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance. They do not have to prove what specific substance altered your mood or mental state.
Secondly, they will have to prove that whatever the substance, your being under the influence was unrelated to treatment for an illness or injury. In other words, if you take Xanax for anxiety and the officer is aware that you have a prescription, the prosecutor will have difficulty establishing that you committed a crime. Nonetheless, if the officer can point to other factors indicating that you were under the influence, it may be viewed as credible. Further, the presence of other drugs, drug residue, or drug paraphernalia, combined with physical symptoms, can all be used to demonstrate to the court that you were under the influence. It makes no difference to the court that the officer cannot say what specific drug was involved, such as cocaine, heroine, meth, marijuana, Oxycontin, or Adderall.
What is the punishment for unlawful use or being under the influence of drugs?
Anyone charged with this offense can be sentenced to 180 days in the County Jail. A violation 2C:35-10(b) constitutes a disorderly persons offense (DP) and not a felony crime. However, the fact that it is not a felony will not limit your having a criminal conviction on your record. Additionally, a conviction for being under the influence of CDS allows for the imposition of a $500 discretionary fine, mandatory penalties of $625, as well as a period of driver’s license suspension, and a term of probation.
Charged with Being under the Influence of Drugs in Middlesex County?
If you have been charged with being under the influence of CDS, you need an experienced attorney who is dedicated to representing you. Criminal defense attorneys from the law firm of Proetta & Oliver who have familiarity with the New Brunswick Municipal Court and nearby courts in Woodbridge, Edison, East Brunswick, Monroe Township, Piscataway, and throughout Middlesex County, can help with your being under the influence of drugs case in a variety of ways. Most importantly, we vehemently argue on your behalf to minimize or control any possible sentences. It may be possible to reduce the punishment to a fine or a lower level offense. If applicable, we can provide evidence of your medical issues and related medication. We will also discuss the case with the prosecutor, noting any issues with the evidence, probable outcomes, and proposed solutions. Additionally, we may seek a plea agreement to something less troublesome like an ordinance violation or a conditional dismissal. Ultimately, we will not hesitate to try the case, carefully pointing out the state’s weaknesses in fulfilling its obligations for a conviction.
Our Middlesex County criminal defense lawyers are here to assist you. Call our conveniently located office in Edison for a consultation free of charge. We can be reached online or by phone at (732) 659-9600 to best serve your needs.