Charged With Possessing a Gun While Distributing Drugs in Essex County NJ
It is a separate crime in NJ to possess a weapon during the commission of an offense involving CDS or bias intimidation. What this translates into is the possibility of not only facing an illegal firearm, unlawful purpose, or other weapon offense, but also a second degree crime for possessing the firearm while committing a CDS violation. If you have been charged with violating N.J.S. 2C:39-4.1, the penalties include a prison term that can reach ten (10) years for a first offense where the weapon is a firearm. With stakes as high as these, it is wise to consult with an attorney experienced in weapons offenses as soon as you can. You can call us 24/7 for a free consultation with a member of our defense staff, possibly one of our former prosecutors. Attorneys can be reached at our Newark Office now at 973-710-1520.
What Drug & CDS Offenses Fall Under N.J.S. 2C:39-4.1?
An individual is subject to prosecution under this section if they possess a weapon or firearm while committing one of several CDS offenses. Drug offenses falling under this statute include:
• Leader of a Narcotic Trafficking Network
• Maintaining a CDS Production Facility
• Possession With Intent to Distribute CDS
• Manufacturing, Distributing or Possessing Gamma Hydroxybutyrate or Flunitrazepam,
• Employing a Juvenile to Distribute Drugs
• Public Park Intent to Distribute
• Distribution in a School Zone
• Intent to Distribute Imitation Drugs
If an individual commits one of the aforesaid charges and possesses a firearm during the course of committing the offense, 2C:39-4.1 applies. Where the weapon is not a firearm, the accused must also intend to use the weapon for an unlawful purpose or under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for this section to apply. Possession alone will not trigger 2C:39-4.1 where the weapon is something other than a firearm.
When Is Possession During the Course of a Qualifying CDS Crime?
As a general rule, “during the course” contemplates conduct that occurs while attempting to commit, committing, or fleeing the scene.
Penalties for Possession of a Weapon During Commission of a CDS Offense
When a person commits one of the enumerated CDS offenses with a weapon, including a firearm, N.J.S. 2C:39-4.1 makes it a second degree crime. The state prison term for second degree possession of a firearm in the course of a drug offense is 5-10 years. The maximum fine is $150,000.
Other Important Sentencing Considerations. This charge does not merge into the related CDS or bias offense. In addition, the law requires that any conviction under this section run consecutive to the underlying drug charge.
Handgun Possession & Intent to Distribute Lawyers, Newark NJ
It is the clear purpose of this law to eliminate the use and possession of firearms whenever someone makes the decision to conduct CDS activities. The reason we make this statement is because the penalties under 2C:39-4.1 are triggered by the mere presence of a handgun, rifle or shotgun during the course of the drug offense. The same result is reached where an individual is in possession of a weapon and has the purpose to use it unlawfully, if necessary, during intent to distribute activities. Our attorneys have decades of experience defending this and other Weapons Charges at the Essex County Superior Court. Call us today at 973-710-1520 for consultation with a skilled firearm defense lawyer.