New Jersey Drug Possession Vs. Intent to Distribute Charges


Drug possession charges in New Jersey can be serious, but they pale in comparison to drug possession with intent to distribute charges. If you have been charged with intent to sell CDS, it is important to understand the circumstances and types of evidence that can lead prosecutors to charge you not only with having a controlled dangerous substance, but also with planning to sell that substance. If you would like to speak with an experienced drug defense lawyer in Hudson County about your specific charges, contact us (201) 793-8018 for a free consultation and answers relevant to your case.

Understanding Simple Drug Possession in New Jersey

New Jersey law, specifically section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 of the New Jersey criminal statutes, prohibits a person from possessing controlled dangerous substances like meth, cocaineLSD, MDMA, certain opiates like fentanyl, designer or party drugs including some knock-off benzodiazepines, “roofie”-type drugs like GHB, and other drugs. A conviction for this type of drug possession charge can carry significant penalties, including fines that can reach the thousands of dollars, loss of your driver’s license, and up to five years in prison.

Possession With Intent to Distribute CDS: the Basics

Section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5, prohibits you from distributing, manufacturing, or possessing with intent to distribute or manufacture, controlled dangerous substances like those discussed above or their analogs. Possession with intent to distribute can be charged as a first or second degree indictable offense. An indicatable offense is like a felony in states outside of New Jersey. Since first and second degree offenses are the highest level of indictable crimes, they carry some of the stiffest penalties in the New Jersey criminal justice system. If you are convicted of possessing a drug with intent to distribute you are facing many, many more years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars more in fines. In short, these charges can be showstoppers, and the penalties become more severe as the amount of the drug in question increases. A first degree drug distribution charge, for example, can land you in jail for up to 20 years with a minimum time period that you must serve before becoming eligible for parole.

When Do Prosecutors Charge Intent to Distribute Instead of Drug Possession?

Prosecutors look for several types of evidence in determining whether to charge you with simple possession, as opposed to possession with intent to distribute. Naturally, one of the first types of evidence that prosecutors examine is the quantity of the drugs found in your possession. Taking heroin or cocaine as an example, the type of charge you face is directly related to whether you are carrying ½ an ounce or less of a drug, over ½ an ounce, or more than five ounces. The more of the drug you have on you or under your control, the more likely prosecutors and police will view you as a dealer who may have possessed the controlled dangerous substance in question with intent to manufacture or distribute.

Also, if police find obvious drug packaging or weighing devices in your home or car, prosecutors are more likely to view you as a drug dealer. Relevant evidence could include baggies or drugs packaged in small, single-use packages, scales or other weighing devices, and similar paraphernalia. Notably, if investigators find drug packaging materials or scales in your home, they may also seek to charge you with maintaining a drug production facility, in which case you will face additional punishments that cannot be merged upon conviction. Police expert witnesses experienced in narcotics investigations often take the stand at trial to describe how each of these items is used in the drug trade, and the existence of such evidence may motivate a prosecutor to charge you with intent to distribute.

Need a Lawyer for Intent to Distribute Case in Kearny, NJ

If you are charged with a drug crime in New Jersey, and particularly if you are charged with possession with intent to distribute, it is advisable to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as humanly possible after you learn of your charges. There are ways to defend against drug charges and it may also be possible to negotiate a plea to a lesser offense or seek your enrollment in a diversionary program. Our attorneys handle drug charges on behalf of clients throughout Hudson County and have developed a reputation in local courts for fierce dedication to our clients. Call (201) 793-8018 to discuss your intent to sell drugs charge and find out how we can help.

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.