Marijuana Defense in New Jersey
NJ Marijuana Lawyer – NJ Marijuana Attorney – Marijuana Lawyer in NJ – Drug Charges Lawyer in NJ
“This page contains a series of videos and written information about marijuana charges, including a number of ways that I fight to have these cases dismissed.”
If you’ve just gotten arrested for a marijuana related charge, I understand that you’re worried but try to relax. There’s a lot you can do when fighting this type of case, and as a New Jersey marijuana lawyer, I am familiar with all of them. Before covering marijuana defense strategies, or talking about how to beat marijuana charges, it’s best to figure out what you are facing.
When trying to figure out how serious your charge might be, the first thing you need to look at is the actual weight of the pot you were caught with, specifically, how many grams. Small amounts of marijuana are all grouped in the same category of “slap on the wrist” type penalties until you hit 50 grams.
If you are arrested with any weight under 50 grams, you are eligible for a “conditional discharge“.
If you are given a conditional discharge, you are basically put on probation for a short period of time and if you don’t violate that probation, your charge goes away entirely. You don’t end up with a record of any sort, and you are not “convicted” of any crime.
If you’ve already used your conditional discharge, then an arrest for less than 50 grams is considered a “disorderly persons offense“. This can be punished with up to a $1,000 dollar fine, up to six months in prison, a permanent criminal charge on your record, and possibly even a suspension of your driving privileges.
Those are some serious penalties for a small marijuana arrest. Please keep in mind; they are the maximum that you would ever face. Disorderly persons offenses are usually downgraded to lesser offenses in court.
The next main factor pertaining to your charge is whether or not you can be convicted of trying to sell the marijuana. If so, this would be a “distribution of marijuana” charge. These are always more serious, as being a source of illegal drugs for others is frowned upon much more than being a recreational user.
The prosecutor will basically try to make the evidence support the claim that you were in fact selling marijuana. Stuff like scales, little plastic bags, piles of cash, or pre-weighed marijuana doesn’t look good. Simply having a certain amount in weight of marijuana can imply the intent to distribute it.
Even worse, someone might have been caught leaving your establishment with marijuana, or they may have been arrested and told on you, making them a “confidential informant”. All of this stuff will work against you as the prosecutor tries to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were distributing this illegal substance.
A distribution charge might lead to:
- Over 25 lbs: Up to 20 years in prison and up to $300,000 fine
- Between 5 and 25 lbs: Up to10 years and up to $150,000
- Between 1 and 5 lbs: Up to 5 years and up to $25,000
- Between 1 oz. and 1 lb: Up to 18 months and up to $10,000
These also come with a suspension of your driver’s license and all marijuana charges are made a lot worse if you happened to be within a school zone.
Again, these fines and penalties are not typical. Laws are not updated frequently, and sentencing is typically based on a judge’s discretion. These punishments are probably kept severe to scare drug offenders, and to strengthen the negotiating platform for the prosecutor.
You are much more likely to take a plea bargain offered if you know that you’re facing up to 20 years in jail!
These are some ways that you can potentially beat these cases:
Defense #1. “Challenge an Illegal Traffic Stop”:
Many times the arrest is made during a traffic stop in which the officers smells, sees, or mysteriously detects the marijuana in your car. I don’t care how he finds it, the vehicle stop itself has to be legal.
For example, if the officer pulls you over because your music was loud, it looked like you were speeding, he didn’t like the color of your car, or he just had a hunch, then most likely you can get your case dismissed. The officer needs to present a valid reason for having conducted this vehicle stoppage, or anything that resulted in his pulling you over is thrown out.
Defense #2. “Challenge an Illegal Search”:
If for some reason the officer decides that he wants to search your vehicle or home without reason and without your consent, this is an illegal search. As seen in the movies, he needs a warrant or probably cause to go through your personal property. If the police conduct an illegal search, it doesn’t matter what they find, it’s thrown out entirely.
Defense #3. “Expose Chain of Custody Issues”:
That little bag (or big bag) or marijuana has to go through a number of hands before it’s enough to convict you of a drug crime. The officer has to take it to the station, then it’s checked into the evidence room, then it’s taken to a lab where a scientist tests it, then it’s sent back to the station. Many people handle this evidence and possibly make any number of errors in the paperwork. This presents an unclear “chain of custody”. If any of this stuff just doesn’t add up, your case can be dismissed entirely.
Defense #4. “Challenge the marijuana Lab Report”:
Your marijuana needs to be tested to prove that it’s marijuana and not a pile of pencil shavings. Sometimes these reports come back inconclusive, and sometimes the tests themselves are done improperly.
If mistakes are made in this lab, you could have your case dismissed and the charges disappear. No one is perfect, and that includes the employees of a laboratory or the people that design the tests themselves.
Defense #5. “Challenging the “Possession” of Marijuana”:
A simple “that’s not my marijuana” case can certainly work. If you live with multiple people, if there are a number of people in a vehicle where marijuana is found, if you have borrowed someone else’s car, or if it’s simply not fully provable that the marijuana belongs to you, you could beat this case.
The Pre-Trial Intervention Program
There are quite a few ways to beat such charges… this is simply my top five. Everything varies on a case by case basis, and the only way to truly plan a strategy is to go through every detail of your arrest and the discovery with a fine tooth comb. From there, you can begin to figure out both what your facing, and the best way to attack the state’s case. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at any time.