Marijuana Possession

Beating Blunt, Vape & Bong Charges

NJ Marijuana Possession - Overview

Marijuana possession is one of the most common charges in New Jersey. Thousands of people (mostly motorists) are charged with marijuana possession. I don’t have the statistic but it feels like 90% of all marijuana possession cases that we handle stem from a traffic stop.

We represent clients all over Northern New Jersey & it doesn’t matter whether our clients are from Bergen, Essex, Hudson, or Passaic County. When our clients meet with us, they share the same experience. They get stopped for a traffic violation & after the police officer smells marijuana, they get charged.

If they arrest you for a small, personal use quantity, you will be facing a disoderly persons offense. These cases are resolved in the nearby Municipal court where you got arrested. We will discuss the penalties you face, legal defenses, and probation options.

Let’s get into it.

Marijuana Possession Laws & Penalties

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

If you are convicted of an indictable offense with a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge has no choice in how he/she sentences you.

Your sentence will start at the “mandatory minimum” and go up from there.

For example, if you are charged with distributing 5 lbs of marijuana or more, your sentence will start at 10 years.
The judge cannot sentence you to less time.

You will not be eligible for parole during the “mandatory minimum” period of incarceration.

Marijuana Possession & Paraphernalia Laws: 2C:36-2

What is Paraphernalia?

Paraphernalia includes items used in growing, harvesting, processing, selling, storing, or using marijuana.

If you are in possession of a grinder, bong, pipe, or baggie (used to carry marijuana) you will be charged with paraphernalia.

Paraphernalia Penalties

Paraphernalia Possession is a disorderly persons offense.
You face a fine of up to $1,000, six months in jail, or both.

Manufacturing or selling paraphernalia is a fourth-degree felony in New Jersey.
You face a $10,000 fine and up to 18 months in prison.

Now that we shared the law, let’s discuss how it works in the real world. As criminal lawyers, we can tell you that anything can be considered or treated as paraphernalia. You can always expect to get these charges when you are facing marijuana possession charges. For example, if the marijuana is a gutted cigar blunt, then the cigar will be the basis for the paraphernalia charge. If the marijuana is in a pipe or bong, you will also get charged with paraphernalia. Our clients in Hackensack, Jersey City, Newark, and Paterson can tell you that this is how it is. Paraphernalia is also a disorderly persons offense & these charges will be resolved in Municipal court.

CDS in a Motor Vehicle

We devoted an entire blog to this subject Operating a Motor Vehicle with CDS but will discuss it briefly here. New Jersey has a traffic violation that we refer to as CDS in a motor vehicle. CDS stands for Controlled Dangerous Substance and yes, marijuana is considered CDS. However, it is not a criminal offense. It is a traffic violation. 

This is a serious charge because if you are convicted of cds in a motor vehicle, you will lose your license for two years.

Your other marijuana possession charge is separate and apart. If you are convicted or marijuana possession you may lose your driving privileges for a period of six months to two years.

Marijuana Possession & Probation

If you’re facing misdemeanor marijuana possession charges and want to keep your record clean & avoid jail, then you would need admission into NJ’s conditional discharge program. Once you successfully complete the program, your charges will get dismissed. However, the program is not easy & there will be drug testing. Also, not everyone is eligible.

If you are charged with felony marijuana possession charges, you may be eligible for NJ’s Pretrial Intervention program. Again, the program is not easy & you will be subject to many conditions. However, if you successfully complete the program, your criminal charges will get dismissed.

Legal defenses to Marijuana Possession charges

Marijuana possession charges can get dismissed without using a diversionary program. All drug charges have to be challenged on Constitutional grounds. This means that you have to challenge the legality of the search. How did the police find the drugs? Did they find the drugs pursuant to a valid search warrant? Did the police violate your 4th Amendment rights in obtaining the evidence?

All of these questions are answered in two helpful articles: Dismissing Criminal Charges & How To Dismiss Drug Charges.

Our advice

If you’re facing marijuana possession charges, meet with us and tell us all about it. How did you get arrested? Where did you get arrested? Did the police search you, your car, or your home? This stuff fascinates us so schedule a free consultation. We want to hear your story.

More often than not, if you have marijuana possession charges, you probably have other charges too. Don’t just take the first plea offer that comes your way. And don’t just use PTI or the conditional discharge program because you want the whole experience to be done & over with. Let’s fight first! We want to study the facts of your case & see if we can help you avoid going on probation. Remember, probation is long & you will be drug tested. It is also expensive & often involves community service. Don’t you want to see if your rights were violated? If they were, we might be able to get your entire case dismissed. We’ve helped a lot of clients & they’re happy that they chose us.

Meet with us to discuss your case. We love what we do & we love helping people. Let us help you!

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

What our clients say about us

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A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.

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