What is Drug Possession Under NJ Law?
A drug possession charge under New Jersey law includes having in your possession any amount of the controlled drugs listed under the Comprehensive Drug Reform Act, last amended in 1988. The Act includes, but is not limited to, the basic narcotics such as marijuana cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. If you have on your person too much of a substance, the arresting officer can charge you with intent to distribute. The intent to distribute charge increases the amount of fine or jail time.
Drug Charges Specific to Juveniles
When first arrested, the prosecution must decide if they will charge the offender as a juvenile or an adult. Many factors go into deciding how to try the offender, the most important being the nature of the offender's crime. If it is merely a possession charge, it will be handled as a juvenile matter in family court. In family court, the record is sealed and no one other than those directly involved with the case are allowed in the hearings. Since the proceedings are closed, an offender in juvenile court can not be tried by a jury, only the judge renders a verdict.
If the possession charge is coupled with other violent charges, the offender could be tried as an adult. Other factors as to whether to charge the offender as a juvenile or an adult are age and previous criminal records.
Sentencing for Juvenile Drug Possession
When a charge is handled in family court as a juvenile matter, the offender can be sentenced to time in a juvenile detention center, in lieu of jail time had they been tried as an adult. Besides detention, commonly a juvenile adjudicated for drug possession could be ordered to participate in community service while attending an outpatient rehabilitation program for substance abuse. The court could also order the offender to participate in work programs or an academic or vocational program. If deemed necessary, a juvenile offender can be sentenced up to a maximum of two years in a detention center and receive hefty fines.
Juvenile drug possession charges carry a wide variety of sentences, which is why you want to make sure you have an experienced lawyer to help you get the best sentencing option you can. Contact the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca to ensure a qualified and experienced attorney for your drug possession charge.
Several factors go into how a juvenile drug offender is sentenced. In New Jersey, there are a few actions that could result in harsher punishments for the offender. If the offender gave a drug to another person and the person died due to the use of the drug, then the offender could be charged with criminal homicide. If charged with criminal homicide, the offender would be tried as an adult and face severe punishment. The second most common sentencing enhancer is if the offender was caught with drugs on school property. School property includes anywhere on a school campus, within one thousand feet of the school ground, or on a school bus.
Juvenile Defense Options
It is important to remember every single case is different and, to get the best legal advice, you should contact a lawyer experienced in handling drug crimes in New Jersey. The lawyers of Villani & DeLuca have a vast degree of knowledge and experience necessary to help you with your case in Ocean County or Monmouth County, NJ. Call Villani & DeLuca today for your free consultation on your juvenile drug possession charge!