Drug charge penalties in New Jersey vary greatly

Drug charges in New Jersey come with some harsh penalties that can be costly. The type of drug and the amount play a role in sentencing. Any prior convictions can also alter what penalties are possible.

It's imperative that you understand the consequences that you're facing so that you can determine how to handle your defense strategy. Discussing the specifics of your case with an attorney can help you learn what options you have so that you can determine what's in your best interests.

First convictions for specific drugs

All drugs, except for marijuana, have the same possible penalties for a first conviction. This includes methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and prescription drugs. You can face three to five years in prison for this third-degree felony. There's also the possibility of a fine of up to $35,000.

With the exception of medical marijuana in an amount of up to 2 ounces per month, you can face criminal charges for having the substances on your person. For up to 50 grams, the penalty is up to six months in jail for the disorderly person's offense. A fine of up to $1,000 is also possible. An amount of more than 50 grams is a fourth degree felony with up to 18 months in prison. The fine is up to $15,000 for this.

Even without drugs present, you can face criminal charges if you're accused of having drug paraphernalia. This is a disorderly person's offense that comes with a fine of up to $1,000 and a jail term of up to six months. Examples of paraphernalia include needles and pipes. Even items like digital scales and small baggies can fall under this category if they are being used in the process of manufacturing or selling drugs.

An alternative sentence option for some individuals

One thing that some defendants might take advantage of is the drug court program that the state offers. There are specific qualifications that a person must meet in order to utilize the program. Instead of focusing only on consequences, the program works with the participant to get them through rehabilitation and on a path to living a productive life.

No matter what type of drug charge you're facing, you shouldn't try to handle it alone. Work closely with an attorney who can help you evaluate potential defense strategies.

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