Possession with Intent to Distribute Drugs

     Conviction for possession or manufacture of drugs with the Intent to dispense or distribute is a very serious crime in New Jersey.  This is a very different offense than mere possession, and carries far harsher consequences.

New Jersey drug distribution are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5.  This statute sets out the various penalties for the distribution of many drugs including MarijuanaHeroin, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Mushrooms, LSD, MDMA, Extacy, etc.  As with all these drugs the possible penalties for the sale or the intent to sell drugs within the State of New Jersey vary dramatically depending on the amount, in weight, was for sale.  For the full statute to see what you face see here.


Can I Fight my Possession with Intent to Distribute Charge?

There are many avenues of defense, generally these rely on defects in how the police obtained the evidence.  The police need probable cause to suspect you of possession and to search your person or vehicle.  They need a warrant to search your home.  If they had neither of these, you may be able to have the evidence thrown out of court and your case dismissed.

It is important to know your rights at all stages of a search, seizure and arrest.  With over 40 years experience as Judge, Prosecutor, and Defense Counsel, the Attorneys of Avery & Avery know all the tricks and tactics NJ police use to improperly obtain evidence.  As Criminal Defense Lawyers, we have mastered the identification of flaws in the States case, and will work with you to either avoid a criminal conviction, have the case thrown out completely, or to negotiate a lesser charge.  

In most cases you do have a defense, or a way around Jail time, Fines, and a Criminal Record, and it is important to contact an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney immediately to help guide you through our complicated legal system.


What are the Penalties?

To determine which degree of crime you have been charged with, please look to your summons, or see the full text of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5.

If the offense took place in a school zone, you may face an additional charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.  For the full statute click this link.  If found guilty of distribution of even small amounts of drugs in a school zone, you may have an additional possibility of 5 years in prison.  School zone offenses complicate cases and make it imperative you contact a lawyer immediately.

If you have been charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1, Distributing Drugs near a public park or public housing, you may face an additional 10 years in prison.  For the full text of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1, see here.

New Jersey defines crimes in degrees for sentencing purposes, ranging from 1st degree to 4th degree crimes.  The consequences for a conviction for the sale, manufacture, or distribution or intent to do same, depends on the amount of drugs involved.  


Do I need a Lawyer?

      New Jersey has some of the countries most forgiving Criminal Procedure, and some of the best protections against illegal police action.  Even so, with such high penalties for drug distribution offenses in NJ it is important not to take a risk by defending yourself, and rather to be represented by an Experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney for the best chance at a good resolution of the case.                                                                                                                                                                       

For a free consultation, please call us at, 201-943-2445, or reach out to us via our contact page.

Website pic, Multiple drugs


Frequently Asked Questions

What if I didn't finish the sale?

      As the name of the offense indicates, it is the intent to distribute that really matters.  As long as the prosecutor can demonstrate you intended to and had the ability to sell, manufacture, or distribute the Cocaine, Heroin, LSD, Meth, etc, you can be found guilty and you should strongly consider contacting a lawyer.

What do I tell the police? 

       We give the same answer to all clients regarding all criminal charges, say nothing!  Until you talk to your NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer.

How will my drug distribution charge affect my immigration status?

       This is not a simple question.  Depending on what your status is, and what your charges are, there can be vast consequences including deportation from the United States.  Generally a conviction under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5, is extremely dangerous to your immigration status and may result in deportation, excludability, or ineligibility for citizenship.

     Drug distribution charges are amongst the most dangerous crimes in regards to a clients immigration status.  These crimes generally are considered both a Crime of Moral Turpitude (CMT) and an aggravated felony (with the possible exception of the distribution of a small amount of Marijuana).  This means that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (former INS), will likely take action to deport you immediately upon your release from incarceration.  With this in mind, if you are not a citizen of the U.S. it is imperative to protect yourself both from the penal and prison consequences, but also the drastic immigration consequences, with the best Drug Distribution Defense team in North New Jersey.  For a free consultation, please call 201-943-2445.

It was in a school zone how does that affect the case?

       If the offense took place in a school zone, you may face an additional charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.  For the full statute click this link.  Generally, if found guilty of this additional charge you may face up to an additional 5 years in prison.  Even if you are originally charged for a small distribution of Heroin, LSD, Meth, Cocaine, etc, you still can face significant prision time, and it becomes even more urgent you contact an experienced NJ Criminal Defense Attorney, such as those of Avery & Avery.

Can I be charged with both possession and possession with intent to distribute?

     As the name of the offense indicates, it is the intent to distribute that really matters.  As long as the prosecutor can demonstrate you intended to and had the ability to sell, manufacture, or distribute the pot, weed, marijuana, etc, you can be found guilty and you should strongly consider contacting a lawyer.

Does the amount of drugs possessed matter?

     While there are no step-up provisions regarding the amount of drugs possessed, a Judge will be more inclined to mandate more than the minimum sanctions should the weight of the drug be in the heavier ranges.  If the quantity was sufficiently large the police will often also charge the defendant with Possession with Intent to Distribute, which carries much more serious consequences.  

What if I had more than one drug, will I be charged for both?

      If you have been caught with more than one drug at a time, say Marijuana and Cocaine, you should only be charged with one offense for possession of drugs.  If however you have drugs in separate places which were additionally found, you may be charged multiple times.  This means if your hotel room was found to have heroin, and you were found elsewhere with marijuana, you may be charged twice.

What if it wasn't real drugs?  

     If the suspected items turn out to be simply baking soda or oregano, you have a solid defense.  It is not uncommon for the State to continue to prosecute these matters, even after discovering the ‘contraband’ not to be drugs.  Additionally, many times the the State won’t even lab-test the items unless forced to do so in court.  

If they have caught me and there are no defenses, what can I do?

     In some situations the police have caught the defendant dead to rights and there are no defenses.  In situations like these we have often been successful in downgrading the offense to a far lesser penalty and no jail time.  Another approach is to enter our client into a diversionary program such as Pre Trial Intervention or Conditional Discharge.  These programs provide the benefit of no jail time and no criminal record.  We have been successful with combinations of the two as well when dealing with high level offenders.

Is working with the police to have my charges dismissed a possibility?

       Sometimes the best approach to avoid prosecution is for a client to "turn state's evidence".  This is an opportunity which occasionally can be worked out with the prosecutor and police in order to have our clients charges dropped.  

How will my possession charge affect my immigration status?

       This is not a simple question.  Depending on what your status is, and what your charges are, there can be vast consequences including deportation from the United States.  Generally a conviction under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5, is extremely hazardous to your immigration status and may result in deportation or ineligibility for citizenship.  For more infortmation on the immigration consequences of a NJ possession charge, please see here.

It was a cop who bought it from me, is that a defense?  

       No this is not a defense.  This is a classic sting operation.  The myth that undercover police officers must identify themselves is simply that, a myth, and has no bearing on the case.

I have been caught on this before, are there any additional penalties?

       The courts have a range of authority in sentencing and will generally increase your penalties for being under the influence for subsequent offenses.  For a first offense you may get the minimums.  For second, third, or subsequent under the influence offense the court will be more inclined to impose the maximum sentence, making it even more urgent you contact a lawyer.  For subsequent offense the judge may not be so lenient.  Additionally if you have been caught before, you may be ineligible for programs such as Pre Trial Intervention and Conditonal Discharge.

I didn't have the drugs on me when I was busted, is that a defense? 

       It depends on whether you in legal terms "constructively" possessed the contraband.  If it was in your house, or arms reach in your car it generally constitutes constructive possession as far as the courts are concerned.  It is the job of an experienced lawyer to cast doubt on that in in court.  

     If your charge was for being under the influence of drugs, then it does not matter that you had no drugs in your possession.  The Prosecutor only needs to prove that you were under their influence as demonstrated by your physical or mental state.  

They found the drugs in the car, what happens?

     These cases are just like any other drug possession case.  The penalties remain the same, as does the possible 2 year suspension of drivers license.  Posession of pot in a motor vehicle opens many avenues of possible defense however.  There are many possible defects in the way the police handled the case that could result in suppression of evdience against you.  To determine if this is a possibility, please contact one of our lawyers at 201-943-2445.

What happens when it wasn't mine?

     This is a situation that generally occurs in a car.  Usually the police will charge every occupant of the vehicle and it is then up to each defendant to prove in court it wasn't theirs or to encourage the actual owner of the substance to plead to the offense.

I've also been charged with having paraphernalia?

       There are several facts the courts will consider when deciding whether or not an object truly constitutes drug paraphernalia, these are:

Any statements of those in possession of the supposed paraphernalia;

     1. The existance or lack of residue in the object;

     2. Evidence of prior use of the object;

     3. Instructions for the use of the object;

     4. And whether there are any legitimate uses for the item.

     5. Any statements of those in possession of the supposed paraphernalia.

       Drug paraphernalia charges in NJ almost always accompany possession or distribution charges, are serve as additional proof of knowledge by the defendant making the states case easier.  With the additional penalties such as 6 months in jail for possession of paraphernalia, it is important to contact a NJ Drug Defense Attorney immediately.  For a free consultation call one of our lawyers at 201-943-2445.

What about drug court?

     NJ Drug Court works similarly to other diversionary programs, and provides a means for certain offenders to avoid some consequences of a criminal conviction.  Drug Court does have many drawbacks however, such as regular court appearances, random drug screens, community service, job training, in and out patient drug detox and rehabiliation, mandatory AA meetings, etc.

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