Essex County Drug Possession Lawyer Providing Aggressive Representation

Being charged with possession of a controlled substance can result in loss of personal freedom, expensive fines, damaged reputation, forfeiture of assets, and a lifelong criminal record. Possession is different than using drugs or selling the narcotics. The penalties for drug possession vary depending on the type of drug and the amount of the drug. Having prior convictions can substantially increase the length of a jail sentence and the amount of the fines.

Fighting to protect the rights of those accused of narcotics possession in New Jersey

Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C. has over 250 combined years of trial experience defending individuals accused of a drug crime. Many of our attorneys have law enforcement background as well as being former prosecutors.  Our Essex County criminal attorneys challenge every aspect of the prosecution’s case, including the search and seizure of the drugs, the arrest of the accused, the chain of custody of the narcotics, whether any Constitutional rights were violated, and the facts of the case. Our attorneys have successfully suppressed illegally obtained evidence and have won cases on the merits. When appropriate, we arrange plea bargains. We also help non-violent offenders get treatment in lieu of strict sentences.

Third Degree Crimes

Possession of Schedule V drugs is a fourth-degree drug crime. Possession of Schedule I, II, III, or IV drugs is a third-degree crime. Third-degree crimes are treated more harshly than fourth-degree offenses.

Examples of various scheduled drugs (the lists are not exhaustive) are:

  • Class I. Marijuana, Heroin, LSD, Hash, and Acid
  • Class II. Morphine, Percocet, Vicodin, Amphetamines, and Methadone
  • Class III. Anabolic steroids, testosterone, Tylenol with codeine, and ketamine
  • Class IV. Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ambien
  • Class V. Under 200 mg of codeine, under 100 mg of opium, less than 2.5 mg of diphenoxylate

The schedule III, IV, and V drugs have accepted medical uses and usually may be used with a valid prescription.

Possession of small amounts of marijuana and hashish may qualify as fourth-degree crimes and not third-degree crimes. All third and fourth degree crimes are indictable offenses.

How can a medical marijuana exception affect drug possession charges?

In 2010, New Jersey passed a law, which allows for an exception to possession of marijuana charges. The exception only applies if there is a valid medical reason and the user complies with other legal requirements. If the exception does not apply, the person in possession can be charged with a third- or fourth-degree crime depending on the amount of marijuana discovered.

The 2010 law allows the use of marijuana if:

The person has a debilitating medical condition 

The condition is:

  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Spasms and seizures, such as epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Seizures and spasms (including epilepsy)
  • A deadly illness where the patient is likely to die within one year
  • Any terminal illness from which the patient is expected to die within one year.
  • There is a doctor’s certification. A physician who is treating you on an ongoing basis must authorize the use of medical marijuana
  • The user has a valid registration. Anyone who uses medical marijuana must register with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. Users should wait until they have a valid Registry ID card in their hands before using the marijuana.

Even when users have a valid registry ID and a debilitating medical condition, the police may mistakenly arrest someone in possession of marijuana. Our Essex County drug possession lawyers help authorized users get the possession charge dismissed.

Other drug possession defenses

Our Essex county narcotics possession attorneys use many different strategies to help those accused of crimes in Montclair, Newark, West Orange or anywhere in Essex, defeat the charges or to have their charges reduced.

Some of the defenses we argue include:

  • Illegal search and seizure. The police must have a reasonable suspicion to stop you and must normally have probable cause to obtain a warrant to search you. Some exceptions and some broad readings of this requirement under the Fourth Amendment may apply. For example, police are generally given more latitude to search someone and seize their possessions or arrest the person if the accused was not in his/her house or apartment.
  • There was no constructive possession of the drugs. If the drugs are not found directly on the person, the police must have convincing evidence that the circumstances clearly show that the accused was, before the arrest, in possession of the controlled substances.
  • Violations of Constitutional rights. The accused should be told he/she has the right to a lawyer and the right not to incriminate themselves. Defendants also have the right to confront and cross-examine their accusers in court.

Other defenses may apply. For example, we may show that someone other than the accused was in possession of the drugs.

Get help from an experienced Essex County drug possession attorney now

The sooner you speak with a criminal defense attorney, the better. At Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman, P.C., we work to get the accused out on bail, to investigate the circumstances of the incident, to file motions to suppress evidence, and to analyze all legal defenses that apply. We have been fighting for the accused since 1955. To make a free appointment, please call (908) 561-5577 or use our contact form.

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