The difference between fifty grams and fifty-one (or, for that matter, 50.1) grams is small, but the legal consquences are enormous. When the amount of marijuana possessed is fifty grams or less, New Jersey classifies that possession as a “disorderly persons offense.” The general penalty in New Jersey for conviction of a disorderly persons offense can be six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.00. Because New Jersey defines marijuana to be a controlled dangerous substance, additional penalties are imposed. These can include suspension of New Jersey driver's license for up to twenty-four months, a mandatory DEDR penalty of $500.00, and a laboratory fee of $50.00. And the person found guilty has a drug conviction on his record.
When the amount of marijuana possessed exceeds fifty grams, New Jersey classifies the offense as a felony. (To use New Jersey terminology, it is a “fourth degree crime.”) That increases exposure to eighteen months in State prison. The maximum fine becomes $25,000.00. The same twenty-four months loss of driver's license exposure, and $50.00 lab fee exists. However, the mandatory DEDR penalty increases to $750.00.
Note that once the quantity of marijuana exceeds fifty grams, the amount by which that fifty-gram cut off is exceeded becomes irrelevant for purposes of simple possession. That is, under N.J.S. 2C:35-10a(3), once the fifty gram cut off is exceeded, the maximum punishment under N.J.S. 2C:35-10a(3) for possession of marijuana is the same whether the amount possessed is fifty-one grams, or five tons. Similarly, when the quantity possessed is fifty grams or less, New Jersey law makes no distinction by how much less than fifty grams is involved. Thus, under New Jersey law, possession of 0.1 grams of marijuana carries the identical legal exposure as possessing 50 grams. Most New Jersey marijuana possession charges, in fact, involve just one or two grams, often less.
The focus of this page is possession of marijuana in particular. “Possession” itself is a common word. We all have an intuitive sense of what it means. However, its meaning in the legal sense is very precise and, actually, not so simple. We explore “possession” in that legal sense in much greater depth elsewhere.
The person charged with marijuana possession in New Jersey should always have a lawyer. The lawyer provides crucial assistance to the person charged. First of all, the lawyer will review the circumstances that led up to the charges being filed in the first place. Did the cop act legally in finding the marijuana and making the arrest? Did the person charged with possession actually possess the marijuana? And can the State prove it? Can the State even prove that the substance seized is, in fact, marijuana? (This is not as simple as you might think.) Is conditional discharge or Pretrial Intervention (PTI) a possible option? Should the person charged accept the conditional discharge or PTI, even if it is offered? (They are sometimes not the best choice.) The New Jersey marijuana lawyer can give advice and assistance in court vitally needed when these charges arise.
Allan Marain and Norman Epting, Jr. are New Jersey marijuana lawyers. They have been defending persons charged with marijuana and marijuana-related offenses for a combined total that exceeds sixty-five years. They handle both New Jersey state marijuana charges, as well as federal charges. They know their way around. And they are available for a no-cost no-obligation initial conference for persons charged in New Jersey with possession of marijuana.
Call them. You have nothing to lose.
Allan Marain |
Norman Epting, Jr.
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