Drug Residue in Paraphernalia May Lead to Drug Possession Charges in NJ

Marijuana Pipe, grinder and nug.

Why Was I Charged with Drug Possession for Having Paraphernalia in New Jersey?

One of the most common and unexpected things that happens to people in New Jersey is being charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) after police find drug paraphernalia in your car or on your person. Many times, a routine traffic stop for an offense like speeding will result in a search of your vehicle. If police find drug paraphernalia in the form of a bowl, pipe, spoon, or other item that may be used to administer drugs, they can test the paraphernalia for any drug residue. For instance, an officer may observe white powder that appears to be cocaine or small grindings that look like marijuana. Under New Jersey law, if you are found in possession of drug paraphernalia containing heroin, cocaine, marijuana, or other drug residue, you can be charged with possession of CDS in addition to a drug paraphernalia charge.

The primary statute that addresses drug possession in New Jersey can be found in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 of the NJ Criminal Code. According to this law, possessing ANY amount of a controlled dangerous substance (or its analog) in Schedules I through IV of the New Jersey Schedule of Drugs is a third degree crime. There are several notable exceptions, including marijuana. Otherwise, possessing drugs like cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, crack, and methamphetamine will likely lead to third degree felony charges. This applies even if the drug is barely visible or detectable, including trace amounts of a controlled substance in drug paraphernalia.

So what are you facing if you’re arrested for drug possession and drug paraphernalia? If the possession of CDS charge is a third degree crime, potential penalties include a prison sentence between 3 and 5 years, a fine of up to $35,000, and suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months. On the other hand, if the drug found in your paraphernalia is marijuana, this is considered a disorderly persons offense. A disorderly persons offense is essentially a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in the county jail, a $1,000 fine, and a 6-month driver’s license suspension. Notably, possession of drug paraphernalia is also a disorderly persons offense.

New Brunswick Drug Possession & Paraphernalia Lawyers

If you have been charged with possession of CDS and drug paraphernalia in Middlesex County, New Jersey, you need to be aware of all of your options. Our experienced drug defense lawyers often help clients get their charges dismissed by enrolling in a diversionary program like Conditional Discharge or Pretrial Intervention (PTI). In other cases, we are able to raise issues with police procedure, probable cause, or unconstitutional searches that provide grounds for an outright dismissal. If you’re arrested for drugs, the skilled criminal defense attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law will thoroughly investigate your case to identify the best plan of action. We use our knowledge and skill to win drug cases for clients in New Brunswick, Woodbridge, Old Bridge, Piscataway, Metuchen, Monroe, and throughout Middlesex County on a regular basis. For a free consultation about your pending drug charges, contact our office in Edison at (732) 659-9600 or reach out online.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.