Being arrested for possession or distribution of marijuana, even less than 50 grams, can be stressful and result in serious penalties including a loss of driver’s license, fines and even jail. The experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are capable however of sheltering some accused of these offenses from many of those consequences that come with a conviction in a high percentage of cases. We put our over 100 years of collective experience, including our time serving as prosecutors, to work on behalf of our clients. Give us a call if you have been charged with a marijuana offense anywhere in Monmouth County including Holmdel, Manasquan, Marlboro, Middletown, Tinton Falls and Wall. An attorney is always available 24/7 to assist you and we hope you find the information on this page of value.
Selling, Distributing or Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana
Possession with intent to distribute marijuana is always an indictable crime, meaning that it is a felony offense. An individual exposes himself to a distribution charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 if he manufacturers, distributes or dispenses marijuana or possesses it with the intention to do so. The degree of this offense and the severity of the related penalties vary, however, depending on the weight of marijuana allegedly distributed. The situation escalates still further if the allegations involve distributing marijuana in a public park or housing project or selling marijuana in a school zone. The following is a breakdown of the of a marijuana distribution offense.
Grading of Marijuana Distribution Offenses. The severity of a distribution of marijuana offense hinges on whether the offense is a first degree, second degree, third degree or fourth degree. Possession with intent to distribute less than one ounce of marijuana (or less than five (5) grams of hashish) constitutes a 4th degree crime. Distributing between one ounce and five (5) pounds of marijuana (or between 5 grams and one pound of hashish) is a crime of the 3rd degree. If the amount of marijuana distributed is between five (5) pounds and twenty-five (25) pounds, the charge is a 2nd degree offense. In order to constitute a first-degree offense, the marijuana involved must be over twenty-five (25) pounds.
Penalties for Possession With Intent to Distribute Marijuana. First Degree distribution carries a fine of up to $300,000 and a prison term of between 10 and 20 years. Second Degree intent to distribute exposes an accused to jail of 5 to 10 years, and a fine of up to $150,000. Selling marijuana in the third degree results in up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000. Distributing marijuana in the fourth degree carries at maximum 18-month prison term and a fine of $10,000.
Growing or Manufacturing Marijuana. The grading of marijuana distribution is more specific as it relates to manufacturing, namely, growing and cultivating plants. If you are found in possession of between ten (10) and fifty (50) marijuana plants, regardless of weight, it is a second degree crime. The grade escalates to a first degree where there are fifty (50) or more plants. There is also a significant risk of a charge for maintaining a marijuana production facility if you are found in possession of a significant number of plants.
Distribution of Marijuana in a School Zone
While it is bad enough to be facing a Marijuana Distribution charge, the situation can get even worse when the offense involves distribution in a school zone (i.e. within 1,000 feet of a school, its property or a school bus) under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7. The reason a school zone charge or indictment is more serious is because there are enhanced penalties that apply when someone sells marijuana in a school zone. The heightened consequences, including mandatory jail, are designed to provide a fierce deterrent to distributing drugs to children in Atlantic Highlands, Sea Bright, Neptune, Manalapan, Asbury Park, Ocean Township or another town.
Explanation of the Law. N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 is essentially a penalty statute that establishes a parole ineligibility provision whenever someone is found guilty of distributing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school/school zone. In order to prove that the marijuana sale occurred within a school zone, the state is required to produce a map that demonstrates that the conduct took place within the 1,000 boundary.
Penalties for School Zone Marijuana Distribution. When intent to distribute occurs within the school zone and the quantity involved is less than one ounce of marijuana, the mandatory minimum term is one third of the sentence imposed by the court or one year, whichever is greater. The sentence is the same except that it escalates to 3 years where the quantity is one ounce or more. The maximum fine for a marijuana school zone violation is $150,000.
Strict Liability Applies. Selling marijuana in a school zone is what is termed a “strict liability offense”, meaning that the prosecution need not prove the intention to be in a school zone to obtain a conviction. While an offender must have the intent to distribute marijuana, the existence of intent to distribute within the school zone is irrelevant. It is therefore no defense that the defendant lacked knowledge of the school zone or that there were no children present at the time.
Selling Marijuana in a Public Park or Housing Project
Much like a school zone charge, New Jersey Law increases the consequences of selling drugs in a public park or housing project. The thought behind the enhanced penalties is to afford greater protection against distribution of marijuana and other formers of CDS in the immediate area of a public park as it is likely that children will be present in this zone. When someone possesses marijuana with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a “public park” or “public housing project”, an entirely separate criminal offense is triggered under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 on top of the related 2C:35-5 distribution charge. A conviction for this offense is a second degree crime except where the drugs are one ounce or less of marijuana. The maximum fine is $150,000 for second degree distribution of marijuana in a public park and $35,000 for the third degree version of this offense. The jail terms are 5-10 years and 3-5 years respectively under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1. For additional information on this subject read more.
Red Bank Intent to Distribute Marijuana Attorneys
Despite what you may read in newspapers or heard on television, marijuana remains illegal. The law imposes harsh penalties, especially, when possession is with intent to distribute. The seriousness of a marijuana “distribution” charge cannot be overstated. If you or your loved one was arrested or is otherwise facing any form of marijuana offense, hiring an experienced defense lawyer may be the most important step you can take to protect yourself. The severe consequences that come with a marijuana conviction can be diminished or avoided by retaining a skilled lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall. Our team of attorneys has over 100 years of combined criminal experience with years working from the other side as prosecutors in Monmouth County. So if you were arrested in Bradley Beach, Spring Lake, Howell, Belmar, Lake Como or in another community in Monmouth County, call our Red Bank Marijuana Attorneys for immediate assistance. Lawyers are available 24/7 at 732-450-8300.
Other Marijuana Offense Resources On This Site
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Marijuana Possession Attorney in Middletown NJ