Disorderly persons offenses and indictable offenses in New Jersey can carry heightened penalties when more than one crime is charged at the same time. When drugs and weapons allegations are included in the same case, the accused party must understand how these offenses interact with one another and change the landscape for potential consequences. Specifically, drugs and gun violations carry between 5 to 10-year prison terms in addition to separate sentences for the other offenses. Each of those assigned sentences may be served consecutively, with the entirety of one term required to be completely finished before the subsequent sentence begins.
Any time that more than one charge is assessed, the most effective criminal defense strategy must be mounted immediately. If you or a loved one has been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, illegal possession of a firearm, intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), or more than one gun charge or drug offense, contact a skilled Morris County criminal defense attorney for immediate assistance with your case. Please contact us 24/7 for a free legal consultation and discuss the implications of your specific criminal charges.
Drug Possession Charges in New Jersey
When a person receives a summons or complaint for a drug charge, the statute or statutes in question will be listed on the document starting with the letters “N.J.S.A.” These details explain the specifics of the individual offense and where the case will be handled. This information can also be used to determine sentencing consequences.
For example, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 governs most of the controlled dangerous substances charges in New Jersey. These offenses are often charged in conjunction with complaint for possession of drug paraphernalia.
These charges are graded on a schedule based on the type of drug. Commonly used substances other than hashish and marijuana become offenses in the third degree. This includes oxycontin, heroin, and ecstasy. These crimes carry fines up to $35,000 and jail time between 3-5 years. Every drug charge in New Jersey also levies a mandatory 6-month driver’s license suspension even if the crime in question did not happen in a vehicle.
Additional drug possession offenses in New Jersey include:
- A controlled Schedule V substance is a fourth degree offense
- Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana is a fourth degree offense
- Possession of 50 grams or less or marijuana is a disorderly persons offense
Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) Offense in NJ
When drugs and weapons occur in the same case, additional laws carry mandatory stipulations beyond the original charge. As an example, if a person was found to have possessed a firearm during the commission of a heroin distribution crime, that person could be charged with possession of a firearm while committing a drug crime, unlawful possession of a weapon, and heroin distribution. The sentences for each of these offenses do not merge.
If the accused party has already been charged with a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) offense, an additional charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1 involves a person who has a weapon during a bias offense or drug crime. A weapon under this charge can include a rifle, shotgun, handgun, knife, or other item classified as a weapon.
This is a second degree crime if the person has a weapon during the commission of a crime, attempt of a crime, or the flight from a crime and if the conduct in question is deemed “manifestly appropriate.” If other elements of the crime are present but the facts of the crime with regard to time, place, actions, size and concealment of the weapon do not meet the grounds for what is classified as manifestly appropriate, the conviction becomes a third degree crime.
Common Drug Charges involving Weapons in Morris County NJ
There are several offenses that fall under the category of controlled dangerous substance charges, including:
- Maintaining or operating a CDS production facility
- Distributing drugs in a school zone
- Leading a narcotics trafficking network
Due to the stiff mandatory ramifications in consecutive sentences charged when a person is accused of possession a firearm during the commission of a crime, a full investigation of the circumstances should be completed as soon as possible to determine whether each of the individual offenses is applicable.
The defenses and options available for a first-time drug offense might not be available if the person has been accused of a drug crime in association with possession of a weapon. For example, first-time drug offenses often present the opportunity to participate in the Pretrial Intervention Program and a possible expungement following conviction. When a gun or another weapon is involved in your case, this can significantly limit your options and ability to use them.
Need Help with Drugs and Guns Charges in Morristown?
The good news is, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Morris County and throughout New Jersey can assist you with the strategy to fight back against drug and weapons offenses in Morristown, Parsippany, Dover, Washington Township, Jefferson, Rockaway, Denville, and other local municipalities in the greater Morris County area. Potential defenses include errors in the chain of custody, invalid reports, and illegal search and seizure, among others. The first thing to do when arrested for a gun, drug possession, or another charge is to contact an experienced criminal lawyer who can evaluate your case to find the most effective defenses and other available options. Contact our attorneys now for more information. Consultations are free and provided around the clock, including nights and weekends.