N.J. Cocaine Possession Defense Lawyer
Being found guilty of simple possession of cocaine in New Jersey can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $35,000. However, if you are represented by an experienced and dedicated New Jersey criminal defense attorney, your final penalty, if found guilty, could include no jail time or fine. Charges against you could even be dropped.
The defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are former New Jersey prosecutors and public defenders who use their deep knowledge of N.J. law to craft strategic criminal defense solutions to charges of cocaine possession and other drug crimes.
Despite New Jersey’s harsh penalties for possession of cocaine in rock (crack) or powder form, N.J. courts lean toward rehabilitation rather than jailing non-violent offenders. Your attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall may be able to get you into a diversion program and/or treatment in lieu of jail time, and ultimately get charges lowered or dismissed.
You need to act now if you have been charged with cocaine possession in New Jersey. We can start immediately to investigate and build a defense in your case. If there are problems with how you were arrested, we may be able to get charges dismissed.
- Our firm has nine offices in New Jersey.
- Our drug crimes attorneys have decades of experience in courtrooms across the state.
- We have statewide connections and extensive resources to devote to defending you.
- We can get started right away building a defense in your case.
- We often consult with clients and their families outside regular business hours.
Decisions you make now could impact the rest of your life. A conviction for cocaine possession will be costly immediately and continue to cause you problems in the future. We can help. Call or fill out our online form today for a free initial consultation with one of our experienced New Jersey cocaine possession defense lawyers.
Cocaine Possession Charges in New Jersey
Possession of any amount of cocaine or its analog (a similar drug) is a third-degree indictable offense in New Jersey. Penalties for possession of cocaine and crack are based on:
- The weight of the drugs in possession
- Where the possession took place
- Whether the drugs were for the suspect’s own use or the charge is possession with intent to distribute
Simple possession of cocaine or crack carries a maximum of 5 years in prison, though a presumption against incarceration exists if the defendant has no prior convictions for indictable offenses. Additionally, a suspect charged with third-degree drug possession is generally eligible for pretrial intervention (PTI) if they haven’t been through a diversion program before.
A conviction for manufacturing, distributing or dispensing cocaine carries a mandatory jail term and a fine. Possession of half an ounce to 5 ounces for purposes of distribution carries a maximum sentence of 10 years with an undefined period of incarceration required before eligibility for parole. Possession of 5 ounces or more of cocaine or crack cocaine for distribution carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, of which one third to one half (6.6 to 10 years) must be served.
Fines of up to $75,000 for less than half an ounce to up to $500,000 for more than 5 ounces may be imposed as well.
Penalties for simple possession or distribution of cocaine are harsher if the defendant is charged with the crime having occurred in a:
Facing an indictment for cocaine possession in New Jersey is a serious matter, but nothing is written in stone at the time of your arrest or indictment. There are many steps in the process ahead and with proper legal representation, many opportunities to avoid harsh penalties or even a verdict of guilt.
Potential Defenses to N.J. Cocaine Possession Charges
Circumstances surrounding a charge of simple possession, or possession with intent to distribute cocaine or crack cocaine can become extremely complicated. While the facts of your case may result in exposure to harsher penalties, they may also provide additional opportunities to defend you.
There are many potential reasons your case could be thrown out, charges could be reduced, or you could be found not guilty. The sooner an attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is involved in your case, the greater the opportunity to challenge your arrest or the evidence against you.
We can begin to investigate the charges against you as soon as you retain us as your attorneys. As former prosecutors, we recognize and zealously challenge weak cases.
Among the questions we will seek answers to are:
- Was the evidence that is being used against you obtained in an illegal search and seizure?
- Did police have probable cause to search you or pull your car for a traffic stop?
- Did a police officer find cocaine as he or she patted you down for a weapon?
- Were you properly read your Miranda rights as soon as you were arrested or detained?
- Can prosecutors prove the cocaine was in your “possession?”
- Can the “chain of custody” of the cocaine alleged to have been in your possession be verified?
- Are test results identifying a substance as cocaine valid, or is there evidence of problems with the lab equipment that returned those results?
- Are charges of possession with intent to distribute wrongly based on possession of drug paraphernalia, a large sum of cash, or a household scale?
- Is this a case of mistaken identity caused by confusion at the time of arrest or a flawed lineup, or were you named in another improper manner?
As your lawyers, we will leave no stone unturned as we seek to identify and point out problems with the prosecution’s case. It is not unusual for prosecutors to agree to reduce or dismiss cocaine possession charges once they know we are the defense team and we have raised solid questions about the validity of their case.
Diversion Programs Available in N.J. Cocaine Possession Cases
New Jersey offers two primary diversion programs that may be available to a person charge with cocaine possession. They are available for nonviolent crimes and, in most cases, for first-time offenders.
The Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) is an alternative that requires the defendant to be under court supervision for an average of 1 to 3 years. It may require submission to psychological and/or drug and alcohol evaluations, compliance with recommended treatment programs, and random urine testing. However, if a defendant successfully completes all conditions of PTI, the original charges are dismissed and there is no record of conviction.
Drug Court is a specialized probation that imposes an intensive supervision based on frequent drug testing and court appearances, along with tightly structured regimens of treatment and recovery programs (12-step groups). Participants may also obtain counseling and other resources to assist them with such issues as job training, education and health care.
These are serious programs meant for people who have a real desire to deal with drug abuse problems. We can assist and advise you about possible entry into PTI or Drug Court, as well as about addiction assessment and treatment options outside of the New Jersey court system.
Additionally, New Jersey’s veterans diversion program is for active and retired members of the military, including the reserves, who had been accused of nonviolent crimes and diagnosed with a mental illness, or have demonstrated such symptoms to law enforcement, friends or family members. Participants can avoid trial, and those who complete the program successfully could eventually have charges expunged from their criminal record.
In other cases, if we have been able to have cocaine possession charges against you downgraded to municipal court, you may be able to avoid prosecution by having the matter conditionally discharged.
Conditional discharge is a probation program in which charges are conditionally dismissed without a plea. When the conditions of the dismissal are fulfilled, the conditional discharge becomes a dismissal with prejudice (permanent).
Our objective is to achieve the best available outcome for you. There are many opportunities if you have an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney at your side. Contact our N.J. drug defense attorneys today to learn how we can help you.
Talk to Our N.J. Defense Attorneys About Cocaine Charges Today
There is much at risk if you have been charged with cocaine possession in New Jersey, but an arrest or indictment does not have to end in a guilty verdict. Contact our respected New Jersey drug crime lawyers today for a free legal consultation about how we can make a positive difference in your case.