Cocaine, a substance produced from the leaves of the coca plant, is among the most frequently used illegal drugs in the world. The powerful nature of the substance, and its ability to induce euphoric feelings through the stimulation of the central nervous system, has contributed to its prevalence as a recreational drug. Cocaine is often found in the form of a white powder, which is inhaled through the nose, but it can also be administered intravenously, or smoked when combined with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water to become what is commonly referred to as “crack.” In the United States, cocaine is the second most frequently used illegal recreational drug, ranked only behind marijuana. Further, the United States is the largest consumer of cocaine internationally. Due to the continued demand for cocaine, the U.S. has developed an extensive underground market with channels that span from state to state, supplying consumers across the country. In response to the ongoing popularity of cocaine among people of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic strata, law enforcement officials enforce strict cocaine laws, prosecuting those who are found in possession of any amount of cocaine to the fullest extent of the law, and punishing those convicted with harsh penalties.
Several of the attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have participated in the prosecution of cocaine offenses while serving as County Prosecutors for the State of New Jersey. We purposefully include former prosecutors in our talented criminal defense team because of the invaluable insight they provide into how the State constructs cases against those accused of cocaine possession and distribution. When you enlist our firm, you place your trust in over 100 years of combined experience in the New Jersey justice system. With this level of knowledge and expertise behind you, you can rest assured that you are in a position to achieve the best possible result. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys today, contact our offices.
Cocaine Possession Charges in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10
Offenses involving the possession of cocaine are outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which mandates:
It is unlawful for any person, knowingly or purposely, to obtain, or to possess, actually or constructively, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog, unless the substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order form from a practitioner, while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by P.L.1970, c. 226. Any person who violates this section with respect to:
- A controlled dangerous substance, or its analog, classified in Schedule I, II, III or IV other than those specifically covered in this section, is guilty of a crime of the third degree except that, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $35,000.00 may be imposed;
In New Jersey, possession of cocaine is typically a third degree indictable felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment ranging from 3 to 5 years. However, third degree crimes entail a presumption of non-incarceration for first time offenders, meaning that a defendant with no prior criminal record may be considered a good candidate for probation or a diversionary program such as Drug Court or the Pre-Trial Intervention Program. Depending on the circumstances of your case, our attorneys will pursue every available avenue to circumvent or minimize your exposure to incarceration, fines, and, if possible, a criminal charge on your record.
Charges for Cocaine Distribution and Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5
Offenses involving the distribution of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute are outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which deems it unlawful:
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. Any person who violates this section with respect to:
- Coca leaves and any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of coca leaves in a quantity of five ounces or more including any adulterants or dilutants is guilty of a crime of the first degree. The defendant shall, except as provided in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-12, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment by the court. The term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $500,000.00 may be imposed;
- Coca leaves and any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of coca leaves in a quantity of one-half ounce or more but less than five ounces, including any adulterants or dilutants is guilty of a crime of the second degree;
- Coca leaves and any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of coca leaves in a quantity amounting to less than one-half ounce including any adulterants or dilutants is guilty of a crime of the third degree except that, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $75,000.00 may be imposed.
Contact our Union Twp. NJ Cocaine Distribution Defense Lawyers
As is evidenced above, the degree of cocaine charges are contingent upon two significant factors: the intent of the defendant (meaning for personal use or distribution), and the amount (the measured weight) of the substance in question. When the offense crosses the line into dispensation territory, the penalties become more severe. Similarly, as the amount of cocaine associated with the alleged offense increases, the potential penalties increase accordingly.
Specifically, possession of 5 ounces or more of cocaine with intent to distribute is a first degree crime, punishable by a mandatory term of incarceration, the length of which may range from 10 to 20 years. This sentence also includes a mandatory period of parole ineligibility set at 1/3 to 1/2 of the total sentence imposed. Second degree charges for cocaine distribution apply in cases involving amounts between 1/2 ounce and 5 ounces. These offenses also entail a presumption of incarceration, with a prison range of 5 to 10 years. Lastly, possession of less than 1/2 ounce of cocaine with intent to distribute is classified as a third degree felony, punishable by a New Jersey State Prison term of 3 to 5 years.
If you or someone you love has been charged or indicted for a cocaine-related offense in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall at 908-722-1011. One of our attorneys is standing by to immediately assist you.