Elizabeth Marijuana Attorney

Charged with Marijuana in the City of Elizabeth NJ

Elizabeth, a major city in Union County, is the fourth-most populated city in the State of New Jersey, with approximately 125,000 residents. The population has undoubtedly increased over time and arrests for marijuana-related offenses have also increased accordingly. Elizabeth, due to its location in central New Jersey and local seaport, has previously been identified by the Department of Justice as one of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA). This fact, coupled with its population and proximity to other states, requires more police oversight in Elizabeth than other towns, thereby resulting in frequent arrests for drug crimes. Among those facing drug charges, marijuana is the source of the arrest in the highest number of cases.

Possession, distribution, or manufacturing of marijuana, while seemingly benign offenses, have criminal and penal consequences that can drastically change a person’s life. Unbeknownst to many, possession of even less than 50 grams of marijuana will result in a complaint in Elizabeth Municipal Court, which includes the possibility of a jail sentence. Conversely, if you possess more than 50 grams, you will be unwillingly introduced to the Union County Superior Court, as you have just allegedly committed an indictable crime with the potential for prison time. Before making any plans about how best to handle marijuana charges in Elizabeth Municipal Court or Union County Superior Court, we urge you to understand the corresponding penal consequences such as jail, monetary fines, and other penalties, and to consult with an experienced Elizabeth marijuana lawyer at our local defense firm for help. Contact us today at (908) 838-0150 to discuss your case in a free consultation.

Facing Elizabeth Marijuana Charges

Marijuana charges in New Jersey run the typical gambit of indictable crimes from first, second, third, to fourth degree, as well as disorderly persons offenses. The type and degree of the charge in your marijuana case is dependent upon the overall weight of the marijuana or the number of plants associated with the crime. The weight is measured on a scale and includes the plant itself, stalks, extracts, compounds, fillers and the like. If weighed properly and within accepted scientific standards, and if the substance contains any marijuana at all, the overall weight of the entire specimen counts towards the grading.

Overall, the crimes and corresponding weights that may give rise to marijuana charges include:

  • First Degree charges for N.J.S.A 2C:35-5, manufacturing distributing or dispensing, possessing with intent to distribute marijuana:
    • weight of 25 pounds or more or 50 or more plants
    • 10-20 years in state prison
    • Presumption of incarceration
    • Up to $300,000 in fines
    • Additional Mandatory Drug Enforcement Demand Reduction Penalty (DEDR) of $3000
    • Loss of license 6-24 months
    • Criminal record
    • Mandatory period of parole ineligibility
    • DNA/fingerprints collected to be included in a statewide database used to identify you in any future crime.

In addition to the above, a first degree crime for maintaining a controlled dangerous substance production facility under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-4 can be filed against a person who knowingly operates a drug production facility. This often occurs when police find 5 pounds or 10 plants at the site of the crime or upon execution of a search warrant.

  • Second Degree charges for N.J.S.A 2C:35-5, manufacturing, possessing with intent to distribute, distribution of marijuana:
    • At least 5 pounds but less than 25 pounds, or between 10 and 49 plants
    • 5-10 years in state prison
    • $150,000 in fines
    • $2000 Drug Enforcement demand reduction penalty
    • DNA/fingerprinting
    • Presumption of incarceration
    • Felony criminal record
  • Third degree charges for N.J.S.A 2C:35-5, manufacturing, possessing with intent to distribute, and marijuana distribution:
    • Marijuana in an amount of more than one ounce but not less than 5 pounds
    • 3-5 years in prison
    • No presumption of incarceration for those with no criminal history
    • $1000 DEDR penalty
    • DNA/fingerprinting
    • Probation up to 5 years
    • $25,000 in fines
    • Loss of license 6-24 months
    • Criminal record
  • Fourth degree manufacturing, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute marijuana charges under N.J.S.A 2C:35-5:
    • Marijuana amounting to less than one ounce.
    • Up to 18 months in state prison
    • No presumption of prison if there is no criminal history for the defendant
    • $750 DEDR
    • Loss of license 6-24 months
    • DNA/Fingerprinting
    • Probation up to 5 years
    • Up to 364 days in the county jail
    • Criminal Record

You can also be charged with a fourth degree crime for marijuana possession under N.J.S.A. 2c: 35-10(a)(3) if you have more than 50 grams of marijuana in your possession upon arrest. The penalties noted above are generally the same.

Marijuana charges and penalties may be elevated if the offense is committed within a school zone or on or within 500 feet of public property. If you distribute or possess marijuana with intent to distribute in any amount on or near these properties, which include housing complexes, municipal buildings, public libraries, and more, you may be charged with a third degree crime. If convicted, you may be ordered to pay higher fines, and to perform a minimum of 100 hours of community service. Generally, for third degree crimes you can be assessed a fine of $15,000, but this increases to $25,000 in cases involving marijuana. It also increases from $10,000 to $25,000 in the case of fourth degree marijuana crimes.

Possession of Less than 50 Grams of Marijuana in Elizabeth

Aside from felony crimes (indictable offenses), the police can charge you with a disorderly persons offense for marijuana possession if the amount is minimal. The lowest-level marijuana offense in New Jersey involves less than 50 grams, a violation of N.J.S.A. 2c: 35-10(a)(4). This type of case will be heard in Elizabeth Municipal Court, which is responsible for hearing cases involving disorderly persons offenses that occur within the city. Because it is not an indictable crime, possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana carries a maximum county jail sentence of 6 months, rather than State Prison. Also, a fine of only $1,000 can be imposed in addition to a $500 DEDR penalty. You will have a criminal conviction on your record if ultimately found guilty of marijuana possession in Municipal Court.

Need a Lawyer for Marijuana in Elizabeth NJ

If you have been arrested in the city of Elizabeth for marijuana, this by no means marks the end of your case. In fact, there are many things that can be done to defend your case. Maybe the stop by police was unlawful, or the pot belonged to someone else and you had no ability to access it. Regardless of the situation, our local Elizabeth marijuana defense attorneys will review all of the facts, discuss your available options, and assist you with achieving the best resolution. For a free consultation, contact us at (908) 838-0150 now.