Marijuana Possession Charges

Marijuana Possession Defense Lawyer in New Jersey

Federal and NJ state marijuana laws

Possession of less than 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of marijuana is a minor crime in New Jersey, but you can still get jail time, be fined hundreds of dollars and lose your driver’s license. Penalties are worse for larger amounts and in certain circumstances, such as possession of marijuana on school grounds.

Any conviction for marijuana possession goes on your record and may be a problem if you apply for a job, school loans or scholarships, or public assistance. But, if an experienced and dedicated New Jersey criminal defense attorney represents you, charges against you could be dropped or any penalty handed down could include no fine or jail time.

The defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are former New Jersey prosecutors and public defenders who have 30 years of combined experience negotiating marijuana possession charges in municipal and county courts across the state.

A conviction and the associated penalties for possession of marijuana in New Jersey can be avoided, but you need to act now if you have been charged. We can begin immediately to develop a defense in your case. If there are problems with your arrest, we can have charges dismissed without even going to court.

Our firm has nine offices in New Jersey, and our drug crime attorneys have connections in courtrooms throughout the state that can help them quickly and easily resolve charges of marijuana possession and other minor drug crimes. Call or fill out our online form for a free initial consultation with one of our experienced New Jersey drug crime attorneys today.

Marijuana Possession Penalties in New Jersey

Although New Jersey leaders consider relaxing laws against recreational marijuana use, possession of marijuana in New Jersey remains illegal without a prescription obtained through the state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP).

Possession of 50 grams (1.76 ounces) or less of marijuana, or 5 grams or less of hashish is a disorderly persons offense handled in municipal court and punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Using or being “high” on marijuana or hash can bring the same disorderly persons charge.

Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana or more than 5 grams of hashish is a fourth-degree offense, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Possession of marijuana or hashish within 1,000 feet of a school or a school bus adds at least 100 hours of community service to the sentence, as well as an additional fine, which varies according to the quantity.

In addition, the court can suspend the driver’s license of a person convicted of marijuana possession from 6 months to 2 years. If you are not yet 17 years old, you could lose driving privileges until you turn 19. To avoid a suspension once convicted, you must demonstrate to the court that losing your license will cause “extreme hardship” and that alternative means of transportation are not available.

Sometimes prosecutors add charges of drug distribution (selling drugs) to a marijuana possession charge if there is a large quantity involved or under certain other circumstances. Sometimes an additional drug sales charge, which carries much more severe penalties, is filed just to intimidate a defendant charged with possession of marijuana.

However, sale or distribution of less than 1 ounce of marijuana — even just selling a loose joint or blunt — is a fourth-degree offense punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Sale or distribution of 1 ounce to less than 5 pounds is a third-degree crime punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000, and punishment grows more severe as quantities increase further.

Regardless of the charges against you, an arrest or indictment is not a verdict of guilt. The New Jersey criminal process has several steps. With the experienced drug crime legal representation provided by the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, there are multiple opportunities to avoid penalties or even a guilty verdict in a marijuana possession case.

Avoiding a Marijuana Possession Conviction in New Jersey

Make no mistake: if you are convicted for possession of marijuana in New Jersey, you can go to jail, be fined and suffer additional penalties. Just the same, penalties can be avoided with proper legal representation, which a lawyer from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can provide you.

The sooner one of our marijuana possession attorneys is involved in your case, the sooner we can get to work on resolving it without further harm to you.

If you are being held, we can begin immediately to negotiate your release on your own recognizance or at the lowest bail available. We can then investigate the state’s case and develop a defense argument for disputable evidence and/or charges against you to be thrown out.

There are multiple reasons marijuana possession charges may be dismissed, such as:

  • Lack of probable cause for stopping and searching you or your vehicle
  • Illegal search and seizure
  • Improper arrest, including failure to advise of your Miranda rights against self-incrimination
  • Mistaken identity due to confusion at the time of arrest or a flawed lineup
  • Racial, ethnic, socio-economic, gender or other bias (profiling) in your arrest or identification by witnesses
  • Inability to prove the alleged marijuana was illegally in your possession
  • Chain of custody issues with handling the marijuana alleged to have been in your possession

If we cannot have charges dismissed, you may be eligible for Conditional Discharge, or probation. This requires that you have no previous drug conviction nor prior diversion (for example, Conditional Discharge, Pretrial Intervention, Drug Court, or a similar program in another state).

Terms of Conditional Discharge probation require that you remain arrest-free for a defined period, typically 1 year, and comply with other requirements during this period (for example, submit drug-free urine samples). Upon completion of the probation period, the original charge is dismissed.

New Jersey Diversion Programs in Marijuana Possession Cases

The evidence in your case may allow us to negotiate a dismissal of marijuana possession charges or have charges conditionally discharged. We may be able to have charges of possession of an indictable amount (more than 50 grams / 1.76 ounces) reduced and sent to municipal court.

In other cases, the New Jersey courts system offers two diversion programs for nonviolent first-time offenders. One of these rehabilitation-centered probation programs may be appropriate if you believe you have a drug problem and are ready to turn your life around:

  • Drug Court is a specialized intensive-supervision probation program, which requires a thorough screening process. Approved participants agree to enter and complete a treatment program, maintain their recovery through 12-step programs, and appear in court frequently to establish their sobriety through drug testing. Drug Court also makes counseling and other assistance with job training, education and health care available to participants.
  • Pretrial Intervention (PTI) leads to court-supervised probation for an average of 1 to 3 years. Participants may be required to undergo psychological and/or drug and alcohol evaluations and complete a rehabilitation program followed by random urine tests. After successful completion of the PTI probation program, the defendant’s original charges are dismissed.

Additionally, New Jersey has established a Veterans’ Diversion Program for active and retired members of the military accused of nonviolent crimes who have been diagnosed with mental illness or who have exhibited symptoms of mental illness verified by law enforcement, family members or friends. The program provides access to screening, counseling, treatment and case management, and allows participants to avoid trial and, upon successful completion of the program, have charges expunged from their records.

We can assist and advise you about your eligibility for PTI, Drug Court or the Veterans’ Diversion Program, and help you enter an appropriate program. We can also discuss how you may benefit from an addiction treatment and recovery program outside of the New Jersey court system.

Your attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will work diligently to obtain the best available outcome for you if you face marijuana possession charges anywhere in New Jersey. With an experienced and dedicated attorney like ours on the case, there are opportunities to avoid dealing with penalties and having a marijuana possession conviction on your permanent record.

Meet With Our New Jersey Marijuana Possession Defense Attorneys

Don’t let a marijuana possession charge mark your record and cause you to lose job, education and other opportunities, and potentially your freedom. Contact our experienced drug crime defense lawyers at any of our nine New Jersey locations as soon as possible. An initial legal consultation with the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is always free.