Illegal drugs, or controlled substances, are natural or chemical substances that are regulated by state law concerning public health and consumer affairs. State legislatures decide what substances are “controlled,” or illegal for general use. In New York and New Jersey, it is illegal to use, possess, sell, or otherwise distribute substances classified as controlled substances under state law. Drug crimes, including drug trafficking, are prosecuted heavily and the punishments are severe. If you are facing charges for a drug crime in New York or New Jersey, former district attorney and criminal defense attorney Raphael Rosenblatt of Rosenblatt Law PC represents clients in Hackensack and the surrounding areas.
Drug Crimes in Hackensack, New Jersey
Possession of a Controlled Substance
State-controlled substance laws categorize illegal substances into five categories that rank drugs based on each drug’s potential for abuse. Drugs listed in Schedule I are the most addictive and have the highest potential for abuse. Drugs listed in Schedule V are still dangerous drugs but are considered less harmful than Schedule I drugs.
Common Schedule I and II drugs include opiates and opiate derivatives including heroin, morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone, as well as other drugs such as cocaine and marijuana. Common Schedule III and IV drugs include stimulants such as amphetamines and benzodiazepines such as Xanax. Schedule V drugs generally include lesser quantities of other scheduled drugs.
In most states, it is illegal to be in possession of a controlled substance without a doctor’s prescription. Possession laws vary based on the amount of the controlled substance found in a person’s possession.
To possess an illegal substance means to have physical possession or otherwise to exercise dominion and control over the illegal substance.
The most basic form or possession is to have illegal substances on your person, either in your hand, pocket, or otherwise concealed. The definition becomes broader when applying the exercise of dominion or control. This extends possession to having illegal substances in a backpack, bag, package, room, drawer, or vehicle — essentially anywhere only you have control.
Specific Drug Crime Laws Relating to Possession in an Automobile
If illegal substances are in an automobile, other than a public bus, as a general matter, every occupant of that automobile is presumed to have knowledge of possession of the substance and can be held criminally liable. This means if a defendant is riding in a car with three friends and one of the friends put drugs in the glove compartment before the defendant got into the car, the defendant is still presumed to have knowing possession of the drugs.
Manufacturing of Controlled Substances
It is illegal to manufacture any of the controlled substances listed in Schedules I-V. Manufacturing is defined as the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, conversion, or processing of a controlled substance.
Sale or Distribution of Controlled Substances
Selling controlled substances is a criminal offense. It is illegal to knowingly and unlawfully sell a controlled substance to another person. Additional penalties may result if the sale or distribution is to a minor or occurs within 1,000 feet of a school.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
In addition to possessing controlled substances, it is also illegal to possess drug paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia includes all equipment or materials used to produce or manufacture, as well as to use, inject, or inhale, a controlled substance.
In instances in which drug crimes are very serious, federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and federal prosecutors, such as the Department of Justice may get involved in the prosecution of drug crimes. Usually for federal agencies to get involved, the drug crime must have occurred in more than one state or otherwise impacted commerce between the states. Many federal cases involve drug trafficking, money laundering, or other financial crimes.
Punishment for a Drug Crime
Generally, drug crimes are felonies. However, the degree of felony depends on the schedule or type of drug, and the amount or quantity of the drug involved. Excluding marijuana, a conviction for possession, sale, distribution, or manufacture of a controlled substance can carry prison sentences ranging from 1 year to up to 25 years depending on the type of substance and quantity involved.
Marijuana laws are rapidly evolving around the country and recreational marijuana is now legal in both New York and New Jersey.
New York state residents 21 years of age and older can now legally possess up to three ounces of marijuana for recreational use. Up to five pounds of marijuana can be kept at home if secured properly, however, home cultivation is not currently allowed. It is also legal to smoke marijuana in public anywhere tobacco smoking is permitted, but not inside cars, schools, workplaces, or any public place where prohibited by local ordinances.
In New Jersey, possession of six ounces or less of marijuana, and using it on private property, is now decriminalized for people ages 21 and up. This basically means adults cannot be criminally charged for possessing and smoking marijuana at home.
At this juncture, it still is not legal (technically) to buy or sell recreational marijuana in both states, and regulations governing adult-use programs, and licensing to businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana, have yet to be written by lawmakers.
Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Raphael Rosenblatt founded Rosenblatt Law PC after serving as a prosecutor in New York. He relies on his experience working for the state prosecutor’s office to guide his clients through the criminal justice system and make sure they are treated fairly under the law. Having this experience on your side is crucial to the protection of your rights and liberty. If you are charged with a drug crime in New York or New Jersey, Rosenblatt Law PC can explain the process to you and fight to protect your rights. Contact Rosenblatt Law PC today to discuss your case.