Drug Trafficking and Distribution
Drug trafficking and distribution convictions can result in severe penalties, including substantial jail time and heavy fines. Their consequences also can extend to many important areas of an individual’s life, such as employment and educational opportunities. When fighting these serious charges, it is important to have an experienced legal advocate on your side. For over a decade, Leon Matchin has fought for the rights of individuals facing prosecution for drug offenses in New Brunswick and other areas of New Jersey. A tenacious criminal defense lawyer can help protect your rights and seek to have the charges dropped or reduced.Drug Trafficking and Distribution Carries Significant Penalties
In New Jersey, it is a crime for any person, knowingly or purposefully, to possess or have under his or her control a controlled dangerous substance with the intent to distribute it. The Department of Law and Public Safety classifies controlled substances based on schedules, with drugs categorized as Schedule 1 leading to more severe penalties. Marijuana, or cannabis, for instance, is classified as a Schedule 1 substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act, making it illegal to possess or distribute the drug without a DEA license. However, medical use of cannabis is permitted, making the line between criminal and lawful activity blurred. Therefore, possessing marijuana for medical purposes can still result in criminal charges if the amount in a defendant’s possession is more than what would be considered appropriate for personal use.
Penalties for being convicted for drug trafficking or intent to distribute are dependent on what kind of drug was involved as well as the quantity in the defendant’s possession. The sentences for these crimes are broken down into “degrees,” with each degree carrying a minimum amount of incarceration time or fines:
- Third-degree crimes result in three to five years of imprisonment;
- Second-degree crimes result in five to ten years of imprisonment; and
- First-degree crimes result in 10 to 20 years of imprisonment.
For example, if an individual is found with 25 pounds or more of marijuana, that is a first-degree offense and can potentially result in the longest prison sentence as well as $300,000 in fines. An individual in possession of between five and 25 pounds of marijuana faces second-degree criminal penalties, and so on. Additionally, possession of five or more ounces of cocaine, heroin, or ecstasy is a first-degree offense that may expose an individual to $500,000 in fines.
In New Jersey, people convicted of drug trafficking and distribution offenses may also have their drivers’ licenses suspended for up to two years. Other charges associated with these crimes that may significantly increase an individual’s prison time include possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school zone, possession with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public library, park, or housing, or possession of a handgun associated with any drug offense.
Because of the seriousness of these charges, and their impact on your life, consulting a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can often make a big difference. There are many protections available to individuals facing prosecution, some of which relate to the search and seizure rules under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. For example, law enforcement generally cannot search your home without a valid warrant or your consent, unless certain exceptions apply. If the police found controlled substances where you live without having obtained a valid warrant, your lawyer may be able to argue that the search was improper. Any evidence found in an improper search can be excluded from consideration by a judge or jury. Since the prosecution’s case against a defendant charged with a drug offense often rests on this evidence, the charges may fall apart if it is excluded. This is just an example of the many ways in which a skilled lawyer can help individuals accused of distributing controlled substances.Enlist an East Brunswick Lawyer to Fight Your Charges
When you are facing serious charges, deciding who should represent you against the prosecution is a critical choice. Criminal defense attorney Leon Matchin can help residents of East Brunswick and other communities in Monmouth, Middlesex, and Mercer Counties who are hoping to move on from this stressful situation and resume their normal lives. Call Mr. Matchin today at (732) 662-7658 for a free consultation, or contact us online.