Marijuana Possession in Metuchen NJ
Metuchen Marijuana Defense Lawyers
Marijuana is a controlled dangerous substance in New Jersey. You are strictly prohibited from possessing the substance without a prescription. Similarly, if you possess the drug with the intent to distribute to another person, you can be charged with a crime. The law cares nothing about where you are when you possess marijuana. Whether you are a resident in the Borough of Metuchen or a visitor from a nearby town in Middlesex County, you may be arrested and charged with a crime for possessing marijuana less than 50 grams or more than 50 grams. You may also face more serious drug charges for marijuana distribution. In Metuchen, individuals charged with possessing marijuana or possession with the intent to distribute will be forced to answer to the complaint in court. Hiring an attorney to defend you against prosecution in Metuchen Municipal Court or Middlesex County Superior Court should be your first step in protecting yourself. Without proper representation, you increase your chances of being taken advantage of, and exposing yourself to the maximum time in jail and financial penalties. Any conviction for marijuana offenses leads to a criminal record and is to be avoided if at all possible. Contact our office at (732) 659-9600 to speak with an experienced Metuchen marijuana attorney about your case and best defense.
How Serious is Possession of Marijuana in Metuchen NJ?
From a purely legal perspective, marijuana offenses are not the most serious crimes a person can be accused of, provided that they are charged as lower level offenses. The fact is that most marijuana offenses in Metuchen and statewide are disorderly persons offenses involving less than 50 grams, or fourth degree crimes involving more than 50 grams but less than one ounce. For instance, smoking a joint while taking a stroll along the Middlesex Greenway usually means you are a casual user, possessing only small amounts on you (less than 50 grams). Similarly, people found in possession after being pulled over along Route 27 or 287 will likely be found with less than one ounce of marijuana. Both minor amounts make it clear to law enforcement that the amount possessed is for personal use. As such, the court will use its authority in punishing the crime of personal use and it will not be as significant as those being punished for higher level distribution-related offenses.
Do you get Jail Time for Marijuana Possession Charges in Metuchen?
For fourth degree marijuana possession or possession with intent crimes, the Middlesex County Superior Court has the authority to send you to jail for 18 months and assess a fine of $25,000. The ability to sentence you in such a manner exists, and yet the judge is not required to do so. Often, the court will allow a term of probation and assess a fine, as neither jail nor probation is mandatory in cases of a fourth degree charge or less. Similarly, in Metuchen Municipal Court for disorderly persons offenses (less than 50 grams) the judge can impose a jail sentence of 6 months but he has the option of placing you on probation or simply ordering a fine up to $1,000.
The above explanation is not intended to minimize the nature of the offense and the potential consequences that can befall you if convicted. Marijuana charges, however minor their grading, should not be taken lightly and collateral repercussions can happen, such as a criminal conviction that requires you to explain yourself to potential employers and others. Your driver’s license can also be suspended for anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.
Possessing Marijuana with Intent to Distribute in Metuchen, What Happens?
The fact remains that the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office takes drug offenses seriously and prosecutors can ask the court to take other factors into consideration when sentencing you. The prosecutors may argue to the court, citing such factors as your repeated disregard for the law or your record. Further, they look at whether you are a part of a larger enterprise or distribution ring or are you simply a person who enjoys smoking weed and made a mistake and should otherwise be given a chance to correct the mistake. Serious cases can require more and prosecutors are more likely to come after you with harsher penalties than in cases involving minor weight and simple possession.
Possessing 50 plants or more than 25 pounds of marijuana is a first degree crime. If convicted, the person faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and up to 20 years, along with up to $300,000 in fines. Possessing 5 pounds to slightly less than 25 pounds, or at least 10 plants, is a second degree crime. For the most part, incarceration for 5-10 years is allowed by law. Prison time is required for a second degree crime unless you are accepted into a program like Drug Court or the plea calls for you to be sentenced for a third degree felony offense instead. Those accused of possessing more than one ounce but less than five pounds of marijuana with the intent to distribute will be charged with a third degree indictable offense. The permissible sentence is 5 years in prison but probation can also be ordered.
Charged with Selling Marijuana in a Metuchen School Zone
Enhanced charges and penalties are permitted when you possess marijuana intending to distribute within a 1000 feet of a school. For instance, were you near Metuchen High School, Edgar Middle School or any of the four public schools in the district when arrested? If so, you may face charges for possession with intent to distribute in a school zone under N.J.S.A 2C:35-7. No matter how small the amount of marijuana you possess, you will be charged with a third degree crime of possession with intent if caught within 1000 feet of a school while possessing the substance intending to sell. If convicted, there are minimum jail times that will be implemented and stipulations of parole ineligibility. Even merely possessing marijuana in close proximity to a school can lead to added requirements for hours of community service. n
Do you need a lawyer to defend against marijuana charges in Metuchen, New Jersey? We can Help.
William A. Proetta and our skilled attorneys with a good understanding of the Metuchen and Middlesex Courts know what the state is looking for and also know what they may be ignoring in terms of evidence that is simply not present in the case against you. For many of our former clients, the outcomes were positive and some resulted in dismissals, downgrades, PTI, or low to minimal punishments. For others, the results took longer to achieve but still came about due to our diligence and legal filings. This is true for cases involving more serious weight and marijuana distribution allegations. The judges may not have as much discretion in sentencing you and prosecutors may not be as willing to go along with a suggested solution.
No matter how difficult things may seem, there are defenses available in marijuana cases. Some may claim that the possession was for personal use, not possessed for distribution. Others may disclaim ownership and challenge the nature of the stop, search, and further request an examination of whether they constructively could have possessed the item in question. Many people may find quick resolutions in the form of conditional discharges or PTI, while others simply settle in for the long long haul of motions, hearings and eventually a trial. No matter what your intentions are in proceeding with your case, we are prepared and willing to stand with you at every step, challenging the evidence and the state’s conclusions. Rather than letting another day go by wondering what will happen to you, call (732) 659-9600 now for a free consultation.