Third Degree Drug Charge Penalties and Options in NJ


What are the Possible Outcomes of a Third Degree Drug Charge in New Jersey?

Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, a violation of NJSA 2C:35-10, is one of the most common criminal charges in Union County and New Jersey. Possession of drugs like meth, heroincocaine, and prescription drugs are generally charged as a third-degree indictable offense in New Jersey. Prosecutors will charge you with this third-degree indictable offense if they believe that you possessed a Controlled Dangerous Substance, either actually or constructively. The following is an overview of the outcomes that might result if you are charged with a third-degree drug offense in New Jersey. If you have been arrested for third degree drug possession, call our drug defense attorneys in Union County, NJ at (908) 838-0150 for immediate assistance and a free consultation.

Can I Get Pretrial Intervention (PTI) for 3rd Degree Drug Possession in Cranford?

One of the best outcomes you can hope for if you are charged with a third-degree drug offense is Pretrial Intervention, or PTI. PTI is a “diversion” program that allows individuals charged with crimes like third-degree drug offenses to avoid prosecution and conviction if they successfully complete a period of supervision, otherwise known as probation. The Pretrial Intervention statutes can be found at N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 and NJ Court Rule 3:28.

To be eligible for PTI, a defendant must have been charged with either a third or fourth-degree indictable offense, must not have completed a term of probation, incarceration, or parole within the last five years, must never have participated in a diversion program before, and the offense must not involve the sale, distribution, or possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute certain dangerous drugs.

Obviously, not all New Jersey residents charged with a third degree drug offense will meet all these requirements, but if you do, this is just about the best outcome you can hope for outside of an outright dismissal. You must apply for PTI no later than 28 days after you are indicted for your drug offense. If a prosecutor or probation rejects your application, you may appeal again to the prosecution or probation, and then again to a Superior Court Judge. If you violate the conditions set for your PTI program, criminal proceedings may be reinstated against you.

Is Drug Court an Option for Third Degree Drug Charges in Elizabeth?

Drug Court is another excellent potential outcome for individuals charged with third degree drug offense in New Jersey. If you are eligible for drug court, you may be able to enter a “conditional plea” stating that charges will be dismissed if you successfully complete the terms set by your Drug Court program. To be eligible, you must be a non-violent offender with a substance abuse disorder; a prosecutor will then review your criminal record and a substance abuse evaluator will decide whether you are clinically eligible.

If accepted, you will be submitting to an intense, heavily supervised rehabilitation program that involves drug testing, drug treatment, court appearances, and frequent meetings with probation officers. You are expected to adhere to a structured treatment program and this program can last a significant period of time. If you complete the program, you may be able to avoid prosecution for and conviction from your third-degree drug offense.

What are the Punishments if I’m Convicted of Third Degree Possession of CDS in Union County, NJ?

A conviction for a third degree drug offense in New Jersey can result in a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years, a fine up to $15,000, and a criminal record memorializing your conviction for an indictable offense. If you are ineligible for either PTI or rehabilitation through Drug Court, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to contest the 3rd degree drug charges filed against you. Our experienced NJ drug lawyers are often able to successfully contest scientific or other evidence presented by the prosecution to undermine the validity of the charges against you. We regularly get drug charges dismissed for clients arrested in MountainsideCranfordElizabethWestfieldSummitScotch Plains, and other areas throughout Union County and New Jersey. Call our local offices in Cranford at (908) 838-0150 to speak with an attorney now. You can also contact us online to arrange a free consult about your 3rd degree drug case.

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.