Have you or someone you care about been charged with a drug offense? If so, you are not alone. Narcotics, or controlled dangerous substance (CDS), offenses, are the most common criminal charges lodged against a citizen by law enforcement.
At Schiller McMahon, the Firm’s former leading prosecutors have handled thousands of drug cases at every level of interdiction, from low or street-level narcotics trafficking to high-level wiretap and undercover investigations.
Whether you or your loved one is charged as a principal, accomplice (N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6) or co-conspirator (N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2), Schiller McMahon’s former Narcotics prosecutors are well aware of the Government’s various methods they can utilize to convict someone and hold them criminally liable.
Similarly, Mr. McMahon and Mr. Schiller have litigated hundreds of motions, and prosecuted through verdict thousands of drug cases, giving our Firm and clients a special edge that comes from having attorneys that have handled these exact matters on the other side, and therefore know all of the in’s and out’s of how the Government will investigate and prosecute a drug case on any level.
How Narcotics Cases are Prosecuted in NJ
In State v. Brimmage, the New Jersey Supreme Court commanded the New Jersey Attorney General to promulgate guidelines to all New Jersey prosecutors that controls how the vast majority of drug cases are handled.
A complex set of guidelines and legal calculations, having two former prosecutors, who have handled thousands of drug cases, and are intimately familiar with the Brimmage requirements, is critically important to ensuring that the State follows the rules.
Codified in N.J.S.A. 2C:35 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, the three most common types of narcotics offenses, from least to most serious, are: (1) possession of a controlled dangerous substance, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10; (2) possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5; and (3) distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5.
Likewise, persons within 1000’ of a School or 500’ of a Park or Public Building, face separate charges and enhanced penalties and punishments.
Some of the illegal substances, which include marijuana, cocaine, MDMA (“Molly”) and heroin but also oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet or any other prescription narcotic possessed without a valid prescription, can carry the stigma of a felony conviction, loss of driver’s or professional license, loss of employment, loss of housing or education opportunities and decades behind bars.
Unlike possession, which nevertheless carries the stamp of a felony and 3-5 years in State Prison, possessing drugs with the intent to distribute, or actually distributing drugs, is much more serious, not only because the penalties for the immediate crime are harsher, but because any future crimes are dealt with in a much harsher manner.
In fact, if you have a prior conviction for possession with intent or distribution of drugs, you become what is known as “mandatory extended term” eligible, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7. In short, a second conviction for intent to distribute or actual distribution of drugs doubles the possible penalties, whereas someone who faced 5 years in prison, now faces ten, and someone who faced 10 now faces 20, and someone who faced 20 now faces lifetime imprisonment.
The severity of the charges depends on numerous variables, including the type of drug, any prior record of the offender, the location of the offense, the amount or weight of the narcotic. Except for a small amount of marijuana, under 50 grams, all possessory, intent and/or distribution-type drug offenses are considered felony-level.