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Metuchen Man Facing Drugs and Firearms Charges

Arrests for drugs and weapons happen frequently in Metuchen, New Jersey, as the Metuchen Police Department aggressively investigates potential drug distribution in the Metuchen area. In a recent case, a local man was arrested for drug possession and distribution, as well as firearms offenses after police searched his home.

The defendant in this case, 26-year-old Metuchen resident Sagar Bhalla, was under investigation by Metuchen police prior to search of his residence on New Street. When investigators conducted the search, they reportedly discovered three weapons, including a handgun, an AR-15 type rifle (aka an assault rifle), and a shotgun. Authorities also seized over 14 pounds of marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, digit scales, and other forms of drug paraphernalia.

Bhalla was arrested following the search and is now facing serious criminal charges. In connection with the weapons, he has been charged with unlawful possession of a handgun, unlawful possession of a shotgun, and unlawful possession of a rifle in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5. All were classified as second degree crimes.

He has also been charged with fourth degree possession of marijuana, third degree possession of CDS (controlled substance – specifically psychedelic mushrooms), second degree possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession of drug paraphernalia (a disorderly person offense). Additionally, Bhalla was charged with possession with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense CDS within 500 feet of certain public property (namely, the Metuchen Senior Center).

The accusations against Bhalla are extremely serious, particularly the second degree charges for drugs and weapons. Notably, the charge for intent to distribute marijuana is considered a second degree crime because the measured weight was more than 14 pounds. The degree of any charge for marijuana distribution in New Jersey is determined based on the amount involved in the specific case. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5, an offense involving more than 5 pounds but less than 25 pounds of marijuana, or between 11 and 49 marijuana plants, is a second degree felony.

If you’re charged with a second degree crime for intent to distribute marijuana in New Jersey, you face up to 10 years in state prison. On top of that, you can be issued a separate charge for drug distribution within 500 feet of a public park, housing facility, or government-owned building. This is a distinct offense outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. If the offense involves over one ounce of marijuana, it is a second degree crime punishable by between 5 and 10 years of incarceration.

It is important to understand that New Jersey law does not allow for a merger of sentences when a person is convicted of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1. In other words, the two sentences can not be combined into one and served concurrently. Obviously, this makes for a longer prison sentence and harsher penalties if you are found guilty of intent to distribute marijuana within 500 feet of certain public property.

Drugs & Weapons Defense Lawyers in Metuchen, New Jersey

If you are charged with a drug crime or weapons offense in Metuchen, NJ, contacting a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney right away is vital to the success of your case. The Middlesex County criminal defense lawyers at Proetta & Oliver are dedicated to defending clients charged with illegal drug possession and distribution, possession of weapons, and other indictable crimes in the Middlesex County area. We are here to answer your questions anytime so call (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation. You can also reach out online and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

For more about this specific case, view the following press release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office: Metuchen man arrested for illegal drugs and firearms