Howell Police Department recently arrested for drug possession after a man was stopped and found to have several illegal drugs on his person, including cocaine, percocet and marijuana. According to reports, a patrolman noticed a car driving erratically, failing to maintain its lane, with a broken brake light which raised his suspicion. The patrolman then followed the car and observed it driving through a shopping plaza as if the driver was looking for someone. After the driver left the plaza without getting out of the car the patrolman pulled the car over, and the police officer immediately detected the scent of marijuana upon doing so. The driver, a 43-year-old Lakewood man, apparently gave an inconsistent account of what he was doing there at the shopping plaza, and also seemed to be trying to hide something in the car. The vehicle was eventually searched and police found the drugs, including 10 grams of cocaine. He was arrested on charges of drug possession, distribution of cocaine, possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Drug Possession and Drug Paraphernalia
In terms of possession of illegal drugs and substances under New Jersey law, this man from Howell now faces charges for possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana and cocaine possession. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4), the marijuana possession charge constitutes a disorderly person offense, which carries penalties including up to 6 months in jail, a fine up to $1,000, driver's license suspension, as well as drug rehabilitation. The cocaine charge would fall under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10, which, depending on the amount of cocaine he possessed at the time can be charged as a first, second, or third degree indictable offense in New Jersey. Generally the grading of these crime will be dependent under what schedule the drug is classified. For example in New Jersey there five schedules with schedule I substance being the most dangerous and heavily penalized while schedule V substances are the least serious. Currently marijuana remains a schedule I substance and cocaine is classified as a schedule II drug. Simple possession of these substances is often charged as a third degree offense and the penalties for a third degree cocaine possession charge include a prison term up to 5 years. Possession with intent to distribute are more serious offenses enumerated under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 and can be charged whenever a person in in possession of large quantities of an illegal substance
Drug Possession Charges in New Jersey
It is important to note that the punishments defined for possession for less than 50 grams of marijuana are much lighter than the charges the Lakewood man faces for major cocaine possession. However, the marijuana charge is the more common of the two, especially since New Jersey has recently legalized marijuana for medical use. Simply because he was in possession of a larger amount of cocaine this Lakewood man may now face 3-5 years in prison and up to $75,000 in fines for his intent to distribute cocaine. The penalties for this offense could reach up to 10 years in prison depending on the exact quantity of cocaine the offender possessed. Drug paraphernalia charges could add an additional $1,000 fine.
Drug possession and possession with intent to distribute charges are very serious crimes in New Jersey, and carry extensive penalties. If you or someone you know is facing charges for drug possession, you will need a criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Villani & DeLuca have over 20 years of experience defending these types of charges in the Ocean County and Monmouth County area. Call us today to discuss your case and schedule your free initial consultation at (732) 709-7757.