NJ Cocaine Possession 2C:35-10 – New Jersey Cocaine Possession Penalties – Cocaine Charges NJ
“In New Jersey, cocaine possession is a very serious drug crime that can lead to a lengthy prison sentence. In many cases, our defense strategies can lead cocaine charges to be dismissed.”
A cocaine possession charge 2C:35-10 can happen to anyone, but in New Jersey, this particular drug is punished with severity. If charged with cocaine possession, you could be sentenced to five (5) years in prison. Your driver’s license may also be suspended for 6-24 months. Fines for cocaine are also large and could amount to $35,000 depending on the circumstances of your case. In addition to the immediate penalties for cocaine in New Jersey, a conviction will result in a criminal record that can significantly hinder you from achieving your future goals. If you have been charged with possession of cocaine in New Jersey, it is vital to seek knowledgeable legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
At The Tormey Law Firm, our firm focuses on fighting drug cases for clients throughout New Jersey, including in Hackensack, Morristown, Newark, Paterson, Jersey City, and New Brunswick. With a select team of New Jersey criminal defense lawyers, we have defense strategies for drug cases that can lead many of them to be dismissed. For instance, our series on How To Fight Marijuana Charges can be applied to cocaine possession, since it involves challenging illegal searches, lab reports, motor vehicle stops, and more. We also have a series on the Top 5 Ways To Beat A Criminal Charge which could potentially lead your case to be dismissed. To talk to us about your case, please call us at (201) 556-1570 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation.
Cocaine Possession Offenses in New Jersey
Cocaine possession is an indictable criminal offense that is set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10, which prohibits any person from knowingly possessing or obtaining a controlled dangerous substance. “Possession” refers to either actual possession of the drug or constructive possession, meaning that cocaine was found in an area over which the person had control. This typically occurs when cocaine is found inside a car that the person owns or is driving. Honestly, how long has it been since you cleaned your car? Who knows what someone could have accidentally dropped behind the seat?
Cocaine possession is usually brought as a third degree crime. A person caught with even a trace of cocaine is subject to punishment of between three (3) and five (5) years in prison and a fine of up to $35,000.00.
Possession of more than half an ounce of cocaine could even trigger intent to distribute charges. Depending on the amount, you could be looking at a period of incarceration of 20 years and a fine of $500,000.00. All of a sudden, holding that unmarked bag for your friend is looking like the biggest mistake of your life.
Additionally, possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school or 500 feet of either a public housing complex or a public park leads to greater penalties, including 100 hours of community service and a longer prison sentence.
Charged with Cocaine in New Jersey?
Call the New Jersey drug crime defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm for a free consultation about your cocaine possession charge. We know how to fight your charge because we are familiar with the tactics used by prosecutors in drug cases. With experienced criminal defense attorneys on staff, we have the strategies that can lead to a win in the courtroom. Give us a call so that we can begin scrutinizing the details of your case and formulate an effective strategy that will work for you. You can reach us anytime, day or night, just call (201) 556-1570.
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 – Cocaine Possession Statute
a. It is unlawful for any person, knowingly or purposely, to obtain, or to possess, actually or constructively, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog, unless the substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order form from a practitioner, while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-1 et seq.). Any person who violates this section with respect to:
(1) A controlled dangerous substance, or its analog, classified in Schedule I, II, III or IV other than those specifically covered in this section, is guilty of a crime of the third degree except that, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:43-3, a fine of up to $35,000.00 may be imposed;
Penalties for Third Degree Cocaine Possession in NJ
The potential penalties associated with a cocaine possession charge in the third degree in New Jersey include but are not limited to the following:
- A felony charge on your record which may be expunged after 5-10 years. However, in the meantime, this will show up on a background check known as a criminal case history (CCH) for employers, professional licenses, etc.
- 3-5 years in prison (there is a presumption of no jail time for first time offenders)
- Probation (with up to 364 days in the county jail as a condition of probation)
- Driver’s license suspension of 6-24 months
- Fines (typically in the range of $35,000 – $75,000)
- Community Service
- Drug Court
Challenging Illegally Seized Evidence with a Motion to Suppress
As with all criminal cases, including specifically drug cases, an experienced defense attorney can challenge all aspects of the State’s case in an attempt to get the charges dismissed or reduced. A defendant has constitutional rights and if any of those rights were violated in the case based on an illegal traffic stop, illegal search, or a violation of the defendant’s Miranda rights and right to remain silent, this can lead to evidence being thrown out of court and the charges being dropped. Some of the typical challenges we see on cocaine cases in New Jersey include but are not limited to:
- Motion to Suppress – Illegal Traffic Stop, No probable cause for the stop
- Motion to Suppress – Illegal Search of the Vehicle – Police searched the vehicle without a warrant and none of the exceptions to the warrant requirement apply
- Were the drugs in plain view? Is there video, body cam evidence of the search?
- Did the defendant consent to a search of the vehicle? A consent must be knowing and voluntary under the law. Typically, the defendant will sign a consent to search form which advises them of their rights and the right to refuse to consent to the search.
- Was a search warrant obtained? Is the search warrant valid?
- Challenging the drug evidence such as chain of custody or the lab results
- Motion to Suppress – Miranda hearing – Statements made by the defendant were illegally obtained as the defendant was not properly advised of their rights including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney
Pre-Trial Intervention – First Time Offender Program for Cocaine Charges in NJ
If you have no prior criminal history and have never used a first time offender program before, you are most likely eligible for Pre-Trial Intervention on third degree cocaine possession charges in New Jersey. PTI is a diversionary program for people who have never been arrested before which allows them to be entered into a probationary program with certain conditions and, if they comply with the program and the conditions and complete the probation successfully, the charges are completely dismissed. This allows them to avoid a permanent criminal charge on their record. Also, once the charges are dismissed, you can file an expungement after six (6) months to have the arrest removed from your record as well.
The prosecutor must agree to allow the defendant into the PTI program but on 3rd degree cocaine charges they usually do. The defendant must pay a $75 application fee and be interviewed by the probation department to apply for PTI. Then, probation will generate a report and recommendation to the prosecutor if they think the defendant is a good candidate or not for the PTI diversion program. If they agree or not, it’s ultimately up to the prosecutor whether or not the defendant gets into PTI.
If the prosecutor agrees to PTI, the defendant will be placed into the program on the record with the judge. They must comply with all standard conditions of PTI such as remaining arrest free, maintaining employment or looking for work, etc. They must also comply with any special conditions including random drug testing, community service, etc.
Need a Cocaine Possession Lawyer in New Jersey? Call Us Now
Contact Travis Tormey now for a free consultation and immediate assistance with your cocaine charges at 201-556-1571.