NJ Illegal Use of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) or Being under the Influence in Public Charge – NJSA 2C:35-10(b)
“New Jersey Criminalizes Illegally Using or Being under the Influence of Drugs in Public, making it a Disorderly Persons Offense that Carries up to 6 Months in Jail and a $1,000 Fine.”
New Jersey now allows its citizens to purchase, possess and use marijuana, with the intent of following the implications of other states’ legalization. Given that access to marijuana (and illegal drugs) are now at an all-time high, it would be best to know the actual laws because they often are misunderstood. Recreational drug use has strong lines between legality and illegality in this state.
For instance, you can use some drugs that were previously illegal, such as marijuana. Then there are other drugs that require a prescription in order to be used lawfully, including prescription narcotics and commonly abused opioids like Oxycodone (Oxycontin). A number that would probably shock you, would be the amount of those addicted to “heroin” in New Jersey. “Heroin” is in quotations because heroin is extremely hard to find. What those buying “heroin” are actually buying is often fentanyl: an extremely potent, dangerous, addictive and cheap drug that suppliers are using to increase their profit margins. When mixed with water, pure fentanyl usually turns clear in the water compared to pure heroin, which turns brown. Suppliers will go as far as adding a coloring agent to make sure that the fentanyl turns brown when mixed with water and not clear to avoid any loss of business. If you are in an area that is a known drug-trafficking area, then there is no doubt that you have seen people that have been walking around differently than those in other parts of the same town.
If you are addicted, and have not been caught purchasing this drug (or any controlled dangerous substance), you can still be arrested for being under the influence of the controlled dangerous substance while in public. This charge violates NJSA 2C:35-10(b) and not only will a conviction leave you with a criminal record, but it may cost you up to $1,000 in fines, a suspension of your driver’s license, and up to 6 months in jail. It may also cost you the one opportunity you have to use a diversionary program like conditional discharge to avoid the conviction and keep your record clean. You can only use a program like conditional discharge or Pre-Trial Intervention once, so you want to be very careful about when you choose to take advantage of it. Before making any decisions, contact the talented criminal defense lawyers at The Tormey Law Firm. Our firm provides free consultations 24/7 and we defend clients charged with drugs all over the state of New Jersey. Call (201)-556-1570 to get in touch with a member of our criminal law team now to discuss your case.
High in Public in NJ? You May get Charged with Being under the Influence of CDS
There is a lot of risk to being high in a public location in New Jersey. Without a prescription from a licensed professional, when not using a controlled dangerous substance for the treatment of disease or a condition, and when using illegal drugs, this is a criminal offense. New Jersey Statutes Annotated title 2C, chapter 35 section 10, subsection (b) states that being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance is illegal in public. Further, it states that in order for the state to obtain a conviction, and find you guilty of such a crime, all they need to do is prove that you exhibited symptoms or reactions typically caused by the controlled dangerous substance that the state is accusing you of being under the influence of.
NJSA 2C:35-10(b) specifically states that the prosecution need only prove that you were under the influence or used “by proving that the accused did manifest physical and physiological symptoms or reactions caused by the use of any prohibited controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog.” This seems like a pretty low bar, and if you’ve been to certain areas of New Jersey, it makes it hard to believe why half the State isn’t getting in trouble right now or worried about their future through the catalyst of being convicted of this crime. Unlawfully taking or being under the influence of drugs exposes you to a summons complaint from the police.
Level of Offense and Penalties for NJSA 2C:35-10(b)
This is a disorderly persons offense in the State of New Jersey, which is the equivalent of a misdemeanor in other states, like New York. New Jersey uses different words for misdemeanor and felony, which are disorderly persons and indictable crimes. Disorderly persons offenses are adjudicated in municipal court, and are punishable up to 6 months in the county jail, $1,000 fine, and a $33 cost of court.
Diversionary Programs for Use of Drugs or Being under the Influence in New Jersey
If being arrested and charged with this particular offense is where your criminal record begins (first offense) and ends (only charge), then you are most likely eligible for a Conditional Discharge. Criminal defense attorneys who have experience with these specific crimes, and with appearing in municipal court, are essential in getting the best possible outcome for you. If this is your first offense and you’re charged with a disorderly persons offense under Chapter 35 or Chapter 36 (drug paraphernalia), then a conditional discharge program may be the best possible outcome aside from an outright dismissal.
Instead of having a conviction on your record, which could cause many problems in your future, you will enter a diversionary program. It’s called a “diversionary” program because it diverts you away from jail and a criminal record. It’s strictly for first time drug offenders facing a disorderly persons charge in municipal court, and if all goes well, the charge is dismissed at the end of the program.
Conditional discharge programs entail you signing up for probation and agreeing to the terms and conditions specific to the conditional discharge program, which could include enrolling in treatment, being drug tested randomly and at the discretion of your probation officer. You must also pay various fees to separate funds. These fees are payable to the court, and usually over the span of your sentence. The sentence can be from 6 months to 3 years of probation, but it’s usually 1 year.
Under the Influence of CDS with Other Indictable Drug Offenses
If you are charged with an array of offenses including both disorderly persons and indictable drug offenses as your first-time arrest, then you must get an experienced drug attorney who can make lemonade out of lemons, to put it lightly. Ultimately, if this is your first run in with the law, an experienced attorney may be able to negotiate their way, and yours, back into the municipal court to obtain a conditional discharge. This could be the best possible scenario. Once completed, those who are charged, and successfully complete their conditional discharge, they can have their charges dismissed, and then expunge whatever arrest and charge is left on their criminal record. Even if the drug charges stay at the Superior Court level, a similar program called Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) offers the same type of opportunity. This is the definition of getting a second chance, and an experienced criminal law attorney can ensure you’re afforded the same second chance as others despite what you are charged with for the first time.
New Jersey Use or Being Under the Influence of Drugs Lawyer on Your Side
The select team of New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at The Tormey Law Firm have been hard at work on drug cases for clients throughout the state for over 60 years combined. With countless success stories involving cases that range in severity from disorderly persons offenses to first degree indictable crimes for drug distribution, our attorneys have developed a stellar reputation. It is founded in going the extra mile, thinking a step ahead, and above all else, challenging the case against our clients at every turn to deliver a win. With several offices throughout the state, we are prepared to meet with you and defend your freedom anywhere, anytime. Call (201)-556-1570 to speak with an attorney now. You can also message us online to set up a free consultation. We are available immediately to assist you.