Among the most common drug offenses in New Jersey is possession of under 50 grams of marijuana. These charges can arise in a host of circumstances but frequently result from traffic stops and as such, are often accompanied by other charges such as possession of a controlled dangerous substance in a motor vehicle and possession of drug paraphernalia. If issued in isolation, possession of marijuana under 50 grams is a criminal offense punishable by a sentence to serve up to 6 months in the county jail, as well as a maximum fine of $1,000, certain mandatory assessments and court fees, a 6-month term of driver’s license suspension, and a charge on your criminal record. These charges are frequently brought against individuals with no criminal history, and may significantly impact future career and educational opportunities.
Fortunately, with the assistance of a knowledgeable defense attorney, you can avoid most, if not all of these penalties, and circumvent a conviction through enrollment in a diversionary program known as conditional discharge. This, of course, is an alternative avenue that may be available, provided that there are no issues with the initial motor vehicle stop, probable cause for the search, chain of custody, lab reports, or other components of the case that may provide grounds for an outright dismissal.
At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, our attorneys utilize their decades of experience in the New Jersey justice system to successfully resolve marijuana cases in court rooms across the state. With former county and municipal prosecutors on our staff, we understand both sides of these matters and the evidentiary issues that may be raised to benefit our clients. For a free consultation with a member of our talented criminal defense team, contact The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall today. We are available 24/7 to assist you.
New Jersey Charges for Possession of Marijuana Under 50 Grams: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4)
The law regarding possession of under 50 grams of marijuana is outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4) of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which enumerates the following:
It is unlawful for any person, knowingly or purposely, to obtain, or to possess, actually or constructively, a controlled dangerous substance. When the substance in question is 50 grams or less of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, or five grams or less of hashish, this is classified as a disorderly persons offense.
Notably, the law states that a person can possess marijuana either “actually” or “constructively.” These two forms of possession are distinct and may apply in different circumstances. For example, actual possession occurs when the substance is discovered on your person at the time of your arrest (i.e. in your pocket, jacket, shoe, etc.). On the other hand, constructive possession applies when you do not have physical possession of the substance but are allegedly aware of its location and are in a position to exercise control over it (i.e. in your vehicle).
New Jersey Penalties for Marijuana Possession
As indicated above, the consequences of a conviction for possession of under 50 grams of marijuana can impact you financially, personally, and professionally, with penalties including:
- A sentence to serve up to 6 months in the county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000, as well as certain mandatory state assessments and court fees
- A period of probation with random drug testing
- A 6-month suspension of driving privileges
- 100 hours of community service if the offense occurred in a school zone
Conditional Discharge for Marijuana Possession
The conditional discharge program provides a viable alternative for first-time offenders with no prior criminal convictions or previous enrollment in diversionary programs (including conditional discharge, conditional dismissal, pre-trial intervention, or similar programs in another state). The conditional discharge program entails a period of probation during which the charges against you are suspended. Provided that you comply with program requirements during the probationary period (which may include random drug testing), the charges against you will be dismissed. In addition, you become eligible to expunge the record of your arrest 6 months after successful completion of the program, allowing you to answer “no” to the question “have you ever been arrested” on applications for employment, educational institutions, etc. Essentially, conditional discharge allows you one chance to avoid the repercussions of a criminal conviction. An expungement then provides you with the opportunity to move forward with an entirely clean slate, unimpeded by an arrest record and the stigma associated with such incidents.
Contact our Bridgewater NJ Marijuana Possession Lawyers for a Free Consultation
To learn more about marijuana charges in New Jersey and receive a free assessment of your case, contact The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall at 908-722-1011. One of our attorneys will be pleased to answer all of your questions, to discuss the likelihood of achieving a dismissal, and to evaluate your potential eligibility for conditional discharge.