Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Distribute is a very serious offense; one that could land an individual behind bars for decades. One of the biggest misconceptions with regards to possession of a controlled dangerous substance with the intent to distribute is that you need to be caught actually distributing the drug before you can be charged with the offense. Countless individuals are arrested throughout Bergen County for possessing an amount of marijuana that they considered personal use to only find out afterwards they have been charged with not simple possession of marijuana but possession with intent. Possession of Marijuana with the intent to distribute is typically based on circumstantial evidence. Things like baggies, scales, large sums of money, ledgers and a substantial amount of marijuana are some of the typical pieces of evidence that Bergen County law enforcement will look for when determining whether to charge an individual with simple possession of marijuana versus possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.
The governing statute in New Jersey for possession of a CDS with the intent to distribute is N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5, which in pertinent part states that: it shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or purposely:
(1) To manufacture, distribute or dispense, or to possess or have under his control with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog; or
(2) To create, distribute, or possess or have under his control with intent to distribute, a counterfeit controlled dangerous substance.
If a defendant is caught with 25 pounds or more of marijuana, or 50 or more marijuana plants, they will be charged with a first degree felony offense. If the defendant was caught with anywhere between five pounds to 25 pounds of marijuana, or 10 to 50 marijuana plants, they will be charged with a second degree indictable offense. In New Jersey, a conviction for first or second degree felony carries with it a presumption of incarceration. If convicted of a first degree felony, the defendant may be sentenced up to 20 years in prison or if convicted of a second degree up to ten years.
If a defendant is caught with anywhere between one ounce to five pounds of marijuana, they will be charged with a third degree felony offense. If a defendant is caught with less than one ounce of marijuana then they will be charged with a fourth degree indictable offense. Unlike first and second degree felonies, a third and fourth degree felony carries with it a presumption of non-incarceration. However, the presumption can be overcome and if it is a defendant can be sentenced up to five years on a third degree and up to eighteen months on a fourth degree offense.
As if being sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence isn’t bad enough, if convicted of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute the defendant’s driver’s license must be suspended. Further, if the offense was committed within 1000 feet of a school or with in 500 feet of a public park, you may be subject to mandatory jail time and parole ineligibility. Lastly, depending on where the defendant was arrested they may be subject to the harsh Brimage Guidelines.
The penalties will drastically increase if an individual is caught with harder drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, crystal meth, synthetic marijuana or prescription drugs. If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense in Bergen County, we can help. Please contact any one of our Bergen County Offices for a free initial consultation with one of our eight criminal trial attorneys.