The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency classifies cocaine as a Schedule II drug, which means it is considered to be dangerous and has a high potential for abuse and dependence. In the state of New Jersey, cocaine possession and distribution are serious offenses that come with severe penalties that could affect your career, relationships, and freedoms.
If you were charged with cocaine possession or distribution in New Jersey, your first call should be to a drug crime attorney. Contact my office to discuss your situation and potential defense strategies that apply to your case.
Depending on the facts of your arrest, there may be a defense that leads to reduced penalties, reduced charges, or the outright dismissal of your case. Besides pursuing the dismissal or reduction of your charges, I can also help you pursue bail, a fair plea negotiation, rehabilitation programs, and acquittal at the trial level. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a consultation with a Jersey City criminal defense lawyer from the Law Office of Eric M. Mark.
Penalties for Cocaine Possession in New Jersey
The penalties for cocaine possession in New Jersey depend on several factors including the amount you were found in possession of, whether this is your first or subsequent offense, and where the arrest took place. If you were found in possession of less than half an ounce, you will face charges for “simple possession.”
Simple possession is a third-degree crime. The penalties for a conviction include:
- A $35,000 to $75,000 fine;
- A prison sentence of up to five years;
- Loss of your driver’s license;
- Order to complete drug education and rehabilitation programs; and
- If you were arrested within 1,000 feet of a school property, you will have to complete 100 hours of community service.
A conviction will also go on your permanent record, which could affect your ability to get a job or be approved for housing. These penalties are only for a first offense and can be worse for a subsequent offense.
Fortunately, if this is your first offense and you were charged with simple possession, you may qualify for pretrial intervention (PTI). PTI allows you to forego a criminal record and prosecution if you successfully complete a probation period. You can only qualify for PTI if:
- You have never participated in PTI, conditional discharge or conditional dismissal before;
- You have not pled guilty to any prior indictable charges.
You will be charged with cocaine possession with intent to distribute if you were found in possession of more than half an ounce. As you may suspect, the penalties for a conviction of possession with intent to distribute are more severe than those for simple possession.
If you were found in possession of half an ounce to 5 ounces with intent to distribute, you will be charged with a second-degree crime. The penalties of a conviction include a fine of up to $150,000 and up to 10 years in prison.
If the amount in your possession was more than 5 ounces, you will be charged with a first-degree crime. The penalties for a conviction include a fine of up to $500,000 and up to 20 years in prison.
Again, these penalties are only for a first offense and may be worse for a subsequent offense. The penalties for possession with intent to distribute are also worse if you were arrested near a public park or school.
As you can see, the consequences of cocaine charges can ruin your life. It is crucial that you do everything in your power to fight your charges. This starts with consulting a criminal defense lawyer.
Contact my office today to speak with a drug crime attorney in Jersey City. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a free initial consultation.