Is Possession of CDS a Felony in New Jersey?

“In this page, our NJ drug lawyers explain how the degree of Possession of CDS is determined under New Jersey law. We also discuss the penalties of a felony drug charge versus a disorderly persons offense.”

Arrested Drug Charges NJ Need Lawyer

Drug Charges

“Is possession of CDS a felony?” is one of the most frequent questions that clients ask us as New Jersey drug defense lawyers. The short answer: perhaps. Like many criminal charges involving drugs, the specific substance involved in your case determines whether or not the charge is a felony, meaning a first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree crime, or a disorderly persons offense. A felony is an indictable crime, which means that the case is handled in the Superior Court in the county where it allegedly occurred. Specifically, a felony drug case is sent to the County Prosecutor’s office, where it is reviewed before they decide if it should remain at the county-level or if the charges should be downgraded and remanded to the local municipal court. If the State decides to keep the case up at the county, they will then present all of the evidence to a grand jury, which will decide whether or not to indict. If you are indicted, you will be prosecuted in court and have the option to take your case to trial, accept a plea, or if you are eligible, to apply for admission into a diversionary program such as Pre-trial Intervention (PTI) or the Drug Court Program.

Grading Possession of CDS Charges: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10

As mentioned above, when you are charged with possession of CDS, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 the controlled dangerous substance that you allegedly had actual or constructive possession of is critical to determining whether or not it is considered a felony and if so, what degree of crime. Below we explain how New Jersey law determines if possession of CDS is a felony.

Disorderly Persons Drug Possession

Possession of CDS is a disorderly persons offense when the substance involved is psilocybin in an amount of one ounce or less. Possession of certain prescription drugs in very small amounts (four or fewer pills or units) is also a disorderly persons offense. Drug paraphernalia is another example of a disorderly persons drug offense. Because these are disorderly persons offenses, these cases are handled at the local municipal court in the town where the charges were issued. The potential penalties that you are facing include: up to 6 months in the county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and a charge on your criminal record that can only be removed through the process of expungement. If this is your first offense, you may be able to enroll in Conditional Discharge, which is a program that allows you to complete a period of probation, after which the charges are dismissed.

Fourth Degree Possession of CDS: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(2) and (3)

If your case involves possession of a Schedule V drug, this is a fourth degree crime, which is punishable by up to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison, a felony conviction on your record, and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth degree possession of CDS also applies in cases where the person had more than 50 grams of marijuana or more than 5 grams of hashish. The same penalties apply, except that the fine is increased to a maximum of $25,000. For first-time drug offenders, a fourth degree charge like this can be dismissed by successfully completing Pre-trial Intervention (PTI).

Third Degree Crime for CDS Possession: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1)

Many charges for possession of CDS are third degree crimes because possessing any other drug classified in Schedule I, II, III or IV is a third degree felony in New Jersey. Third degree crimes are the most serious under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 and entail penalties including a 3 to 5-year prison term, a felony on your record, and a fine of up to $35,000. Fortunatetly, third degree crimes entail a presumption of non-incarceration, which means that many defendants are able to resolve their cases without going to jail by completing PTI, the Drug Court program, or probation.

NOTE: In addition to penalties described above, any charge for possession of CDS also carries a mandatory 6-month period of driver’s license suspension if you are found guilty.

Consult Experienced Possession of CDS Attorneys NJ

A possession of CDS charge is serious, but there are many ways to successfully resolve these cases in New Jersey, including defense strategies and diversionary programs to have the charges dismissed. To discuss your specific drug possession case with one of our defense attorneys, contact The Tormey Law Firm at (201)-556-1570. We always provide free consultations and with offices throughout New Jersey, we serve clients in Morris County, Bergen County, Essex County, Passaic County, Hudson County, Union County, Monmouth County, Camden County, and across the state. 


  • No promises, just a Pro!

  • Excellent Lawyer... Helped me in every step off my Case..

  • Great work

  • Best lawyer!!

  • FRO removal success!!

  • Easy to work with, straightforward

  • Kept my license

  • Father of client

  • Excellent Attorney , Charges Dismissed as promised

  • Helped every step of the way

  • Avoid mandatory jail time on shoplifting charges


  • Help

  • Did the job he was hired to do

  • Great lawyer

  • Simple assault charge was dropped

  • Top Notch Representation

  • Well worth it.

  • DUI Case Dismissed

  • 2 felony charges dismissed

  • Cameron bury

  • great attorney

  • Hands Down Professional and delivers results!!!

  • DUI case dismissed

  • 125 stars out of 10!!

  • Excellent at getting best outcome

  • Excellent Attorney

  • TRO Dismissal

  • Efficient Excellent attorney.

  • Excellent attorney

  • Travis successfully defended me in an unprecedented Final Restraining Order Trial with ease

  • Kick Ass Attorney!

  • Efficient and professional attorney

  • Great Lawyer And Great Results

  • Top Notch DUI Attorney

  • Client Domestic Violence

  • Restraining Order

  • A real pro in a time of need - DWI Dismissed.

  • The most experienced, patient and affordable attorney

  • Travis Tormey successfully had a False TRO against me dismissed.

  • Underaged Drinking

  • Underaged Drinking

  • DUI Dismissed

  • Saved me from a DUI. HIGHLY recommended

  • Restraining Order

  • Case dismissed with Data Driven Facts

  • Respectful. Attentive. Professional.

  • Trespassing and Under the Influence Disorderly Persons charges

  • If you are reading this- You have reached the right place! Undoubtedly, the BEST Law Firm in New Jersey!

  • Amazing attorney with a heart of gold

  • Exceeded my expectations, Highly Professional Attorney

  • Responsive and knowledgeable.

  • The Tormey law firm was very kind and professional

  • Expungement

  • Travis Tormey is a True Professional Who Kept Me Out of Jail

  • Saved me a whole ton of problems

  • Travis Tormey Review

  • A nightmare case, with a happy ending.

  • Elite NJ Marijuana Attorney! 5 Stars!!

  • An Excellent lawyer!

  • Great lawyer for DUI

  • I highly endorse Travis Tormey.

  • Travis Tormey Law Firm

  • Travis is a Lifesaver

  • Travis J. Tormey - Evaluation

  • Great Lawyer. Got me off exactly what I wanted

  • Consummate Professional!

  • Great Criminal Defense Lawyer

  • Good Service

  • Exceptional Lawyer

  • Exceptional Lawyer

  • Hired to defend me for aggravated assault

  • Hired to defend me in a restraning order

  • Excellent attorney, highly recommend his talents

  • DWI Counsel

  • I highly recommend Mr. Tormey

  • Great attorney

  • Travis Tormey, Esq. - Great Results!

  • Travis Tormey - Excellent Attorney-Kind and Trustworthy

  • Excellent Attorney-Trustworthy and Kind

  • An Outstanding lawyer!!! That will represent you in the correct way!

  • Excellent Attorney! You will not be dissapointed....

  • Travis Tormey Gets Results!

  • tormey

  • Success!!

  • Travis Tormey Review

  • Only Lawyer I Recommend

  • Very Grateful

  • Attorney review of Travis Tormey

  • Excellent

Experience You Can Trust

With unmatched knowledge and experience in the practice of law, the seasoned attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm are committed to serving their clients and tenaciously confronting the allegations against them.

We will examine every facet of your case in order to defend your constitutional rights and reputation. With a dedicated legal advocate to assist you, our attorneys will ensure that you are never forced to navigate the complex legal process on your own.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Learn More About How to Fight Your Charges

If you've been charged with a criminal offense, disorderly persons offense, or traffic / DWI violation, you have the right to an attorney who will defend you against your charges and fight for your best interests. To learn more about how your attorney can fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced, click a link below to see our video library of legal defenses and strategies.

The Tormey Law Firm

Areas we serve

Bergen County, Essex County, Morris County, Passaic County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Somerset County including Morristown, Denville, Dover, Mount Olive, Parsippany, Hackensack, East Rutherford, Elmwood Park, Englewood, Fort Lee, Garfield, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Palisades Park, Paramus, Ridgefield Park, Saddle Brook, Teaneck, Clifton, and Wayne.

  • Hackensack Office

    254 State Street Hackensack, NJ 07601

    (201) 556-1570

    view larger map

  • Morristown Office

    55 Madison Avenue Suite 400, Morristown, NJ 07960

    (908) 336-5008

    view larger map