Bergen County NJ Drug Distribution Lawyers

In Bergen County, drug distribution, or formally known as distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”), is a serious offense that carries grave penalties, including jail time.  At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we have:

  • Over two-hundred (200) years of combined experience
  • A team of eleven (11) criminal defense attorneys that devote their entire practice to criminal law
  • Our firm has eight (8) former prosecutors
    • Four (4) of our attorneys were former assistant county prosecutors and held directorial positions of the Drug, Gang, and Gun Task Force, Major Crimes Division, Trial Division, Juvenile Division
    • Three (3) of our attorneys were former municipal prosecutors in over twenty-five (25) towns
  • Two (2) of our lawyers were recently selected to Super Lawyers Rising Stars 2021 list for New Jersey
    • This is a highly credentialed, peer-influenced, third-party validated, and a patented process that selects only 2.5% of the attorneys in New Jersey to this list
  • One (1) of our attorneys is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Criminal Trial Attorney
    • A distinction held by less than 1% of attorneys in this State
  • Selected to the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and Top 40 Under 40

At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we have the experience and credentials to successfully defend you or your loved one against distribution charges throughout Bergen County in towns like Fort Lee, Elmwood Park, Englewood Cliffs, Palisades Interstate Park, Fair Lawn, Glen Rock, Lyndhurst and Garfield.  These are charges that you should not face alone and we stand ready to defend you. Please give our office a call at 201-429-9783, we’re available 24/7.

Distributing a Controlled Dangerous Substance: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5

Distributing a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) is codified under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. In order for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office to convict you or your loved one, they’ll need to establish the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. These elements that the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office must prove beyond a reasonable doubt are;

  • The defendant either knowingly or purposely manufactured, distributed or dispensed, or to possess or have under his/her control
    • This means that they’ll need to prove that you or your loved one either made the drug, gave the drug to another person, or possessed or had it at your house or in your car and you or your loved one did this knowingly or with purposefully.
  • With the intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog
    • This means that you or your loved one intentionally made the drug, gave the drug to another person, and that this drug was a controlled dangerous substance that you or your loved one unlawfully possessed.

Keep in mind that the prosecutor does not have to prove that money or item was exchanged for the controlled dangerous substance. This means that it doesn’t matter if you or your loved one gave a controlled dangerous substance to another person without being paid or compensated. All the prosecutor has to prove is that an exchange of the drug took place.

What are the Penalties?

For any controlled dangerous substance classified in Schedule I, II, III, or IV or their analogs, distribution is a third degree crime punishable with up to five (5) years in prison and or a $15,000 fine.  A controlled dangerous substance on Schedule V is a fourth degree crime punishable by up to eighteen (18) months in prison and additionally the possibility of a $10,000 fine.

What’s the difference between Schedule I, II, III, IV and V?

Schedule I

Schedule I controlled dangerous substances are the drugs that have the highest potential for abuse as well as no acceptable medical use or treatment. Schedule I is the most serious of drugs which include:

  • Marijuana
  • Hash
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Acid
  • MDMA
  • Synthetic Marijuana
  • Psilocybin Mushrooms

Schedule II

Schedule II controlled dangerous substance have a high potential of abuse but with currently accepted medical use that have severe restrictions. These drugs include:

  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Amphetamine
  • Methylphenidate
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine

Schedule III

Schedule II controlled dangerous substances have a potential for abuse, however, its potential is less than the above and have an accepted medical use. These drugs include:

  • Anabolic Steroids
  • Ketamine
  • Tylenol with codeine
  • Buprenorphine

Schedule IV

Schedule IV have a low potential abuse than the ones above as well as an accepted medical use. These drugs include:

  • Alprazolam
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Darvocet
  • Zolpidem

Schedule V

Schedule V controlled dangerous substances have a low potential for abuse than the above and are accepted medical use. These drugs include

  • Less than 200 milligrams of codeine
  • Less than 100 milligrams of dihydrocodeine
  • Less than 100 milligrams of ethyl morphine
  • Less than 2.5 milligrams of diphenoxylate
  • Less than 100 milligrams of opium

What are the penalties for common drugs like Heroin and Cocaine?


Possession with intent to distribute Heroin or it analogs in a quantity of five ounces or more including adulterants or dilutants is a crime in the first degree.  Except as provided in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-12, a person convicted of this crime must serve a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed, during which time, additionally, the person shall not be eligible for parole.  Also, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $500,000 may be imposed.

  • For a quantity of one-half ounce or more but less than five-ounces, a person will be guilty of a crime of the second degree;
  • Distribution of an amount less than one-half ounce is a crime of the third degree and you may have a fine of up to $75,000 imposed upon you.


Similarly, for cocaine or crack distribution, the offense is a first degree crime if there are five ounces or more found.  This carries with it a maximum sentence of twenty years and an ineligibility of parole for up to one half of that time to be decided at the judge’s discretion.  For between one-half ounces and five ounces, it is considered a second degree crime and the offense carries a jail term of up to ten years.  Distribution of cocaine in any amount under one-half ounces is a third degree offense.  It carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.

  • Where an individual has previously been convicted of a first offense for cocaine or heroin distribution and is now subject to a second or third offense, the penalties become more complicated and there are specific sentencing rules under the Brimage Guidelines that need to be addressed.

Drug Distribution Lawyer in Hackensack NJ

Do not assume however that there is nothing that can be done for you.  If you are charged with a first or subsequent drug distribution offense, our lawyers will work hard to identify a way of mitigating your possible jail time.  Rather than see your case tried in a criminal court, where a conviction almost always means jail time, our lawyers will work to get your case admitted into drug court, a special court designed to rehabilitate, not punish, drug users.  Additionally, drug distribution charges that involve the threat of deadly force or other violence often carry even longer jail sentences.  It is imperative that you higher someone with the experience to help you through these troubling times. Please, if you or a loved one has been charged with a drug distribution offense of any kind, contact one of our Bergen County offices in Fort Lee, Paramus, or Hackensack today for a free consultation at 201-429-9783.