New Jersey Possession With Intent To Distribution Lawyers

Our Team of Ex Prosecutors Has Decades Of Experience Defending Possession With Intent To Distribute CDS Charges And Includes A Former Director of the Drug Task Force

The New Jersey drug distribution law not only applies to individuals arrested for selling or distributing a controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”) but also those who possess drugs with intent to distribute. What this means is that you can be charged with violating N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 and exposed to the same penalties as someone actively involved in distribution if the prosecutor can prove that you intended to distribute drugs in your possession. This is an extremely dangerous proposition when you consider the severity of the penalties for this felony and that what someone intended is susceptible to significant misinterpretation and even exploitation by law enforcement. Hiring a savvy New Jersey drug distribution defense lawyer is an absolute necessity whenever someone is arrested in this context.

Here at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our accomplished criminal attorneys can offer you aggressive representation by a team with top qualifications that are unquestionably rare in NJ, including:

  • Over 200 years of collective experience handling distribution charges involving cocaine, marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, lsd, methamphetamine, Fentanyl and other CDS
  • 10 lawyer whose practices are limited exclusively to criminal defense
  • Former county prosecutors that have served in many important roles in this context such as Director of the Major Crimes Bureau, Drug Task Force, Juvenile Unit, Special Operations and even an entire Trial Division
  • Certified criminal trial attorneys (less than 2% have earned this distinction)
  • Countless stories of success in defending clients accused of possession with intent to distribute drugs

You are encouraged to contact our office anytime 24/7 at 877-450-8301 to speak to an attorney on our staff. They will gladly give you the benefit of their time, thoroughly review the facts of your case and provide you with insight as to your options.

What Are The Elements Of Proof In A Prosecution for Possession With Intent To Distribute Drugs? 

As previously stated, a charge for possession with intent to distribute arises out of 2C:35-5. This statute applies not only when an individual manufacturers, dispenses or distributes but also where CDS is under “control with intent to distribute”.

There are four (4) fundamental elements of proof that the state must establish, beyond reasonable doubt, before it can secure a conviction for possession with intent to distribute. First, the prosecutor must prove that the item in question was a controlled dangerous substance. Second, the accused must have actually or constructively possessed the drugs. Third, the defendant must know that the substance is CDS. Fourth, there must have been an intention to manufacturer, distribute or dispense the item.

How Does The State Prove Intent Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5?

Proof  of an intention to distribute or sell drugs cannot be established through pure speculation or suspicion. It must be established beyond reasonable doubt. Court decisions have outlined factors that should be considered in order to determine whether the CDS is possessed for personal use versus to sell or distribute, including:

  1. Quantity
  2. Quality or Purity
  3. Packaging
  4. Estimated Value
  5. Equipment or Supplies Found With The Drugs (e.g. firearms or other weapons, significant cash, scale, packaging materials, cell phones, etc.)
  6. Location Where CDS Is Found

It should be noted that while use of “expert testimony” from police officers who purportedly know when facts indicate an intent is common, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently imposed serious restrictions on this practice in State. v. Cain, 224 N.J. 410 (2016). A police officer is no longer permitted to provide an opinion on the ultimate fact as to whether the accused possessed an intention to distribute or sell. They may provide, however, guidance as to level of purity, quantity and other issues outside the knowledge or kin of a juror.

What Are The Penalties for Possession With Intent to Distribute in New Jersey?

The penalties at the time of sentencing hinge on the degree of crime. A first degree crime is the most serious and results in penalties that include up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. A second degree crime carries 5-10 years in prison and a fine of as much as $150,000. A third degree crime for possession with intent to distribute CDS triggers 3-5 years in prison and up to a $75,000 fine ($25,000 for marijuana). An individual faces up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine ($25,000 for Schedule V CDS) for a fourth degree crime of this nature.

How Is The Grade Of Crime Determined In A New Jersey Intent To Distribute Case?

The factors that determine degree of crime under 2C:35-5 are the type of drug and quantity possessed. The headings below outline the specifics in terms of grading.

  • First Degree Crime: 5 ounces or more of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or mdma (e.g. ecstasy or molly), 25 pounds or more of marijuana, or 100 milligrams or more of LSD.
  • Second Degree Crime: at least one-half ounce but less than 5 ounces of heroin, mdma, heroin or cocaine, at least 5 pounds but less than 25 pounds of marijuana, less than 100 milligrams to LSD or 100 dosage units of a prescription drug like Xanax, Fentanyl, Suboxone, Oxycodone/Oxycontin or Hydrocodone.
  • Third Degree Crime:Less than one-half ounce of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin or mdma, at least 5 doses but less than 100 of a prescription legend drug or at least one ounce but less than 5 ounces of marijuana.
  • Fourth Degree Crime: Less than one ounce of marijuana, 5 pills or dosages of prescription drugs or any quantity of a Schedule V drug.

Are There Diversionary Programs That Apply When Someone Is Charged With Intent to Distribute CDS/Drugs?

There are essentially two programs that may come in play when someone is facing an offense for intent to distribute. A first time offender is eligible for Pretrial Intervention (“PTI”) if they are are charged with a third degree crime or fourth degree crime for distribution or intent to distribute. There must be prosecutor consent gain admission into PTI when the possession with intent to distribute offense is a second degree crime. Completion of PTI typically requires completion of one (1) year of probation during which the probationer must remain drug and arrest free. Successful completion of Pretrial Intervention results in a dismissal of the original criminal charge.

Another diversion program that can provide relief in a 2C:35-5 case is Drug Court. The purpose of this program is to treat an individuals dependency as opposed to putting them in prison. Participation typically entails completion of five (5) years of intensive supervision and rehabilitation. A conviction is automatically expunged upon completion of Drug Court.

New Jersey Possession With Intent to Distribute CDS Defense Attorneys

Possessing drugs with intent to distribute is clearly a very serious offense. A talented attorney is precisely what is needed when someone is charged in this manner. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have the skills to thoroughly protect your interests in this role and defend cases in the following jurisdictions:


A member of our team is available around the clock to provide a comprehensive review of the facts surrounding your intent charge and to provide their highly knowledgeable guidance and insight. A lawyer is available is available immediately to assist you in a free consultation at 877-450-8301.