The war on drugs should have ended decades ago, but many of the cases heard by the criminal courts in Essex County, New Jersey continue to be about controlled and dangerous substances (CDS). CDS is New Jersey’s legal term for illegal drugs and potentially intoxicating or addictive substances that are only legal in certain, limited contexts. If you are facing drug charges, you need an Essex County drug crimes defense attorney who knows from experience how the criminal courts in Essex County, New Jersey operate. Therefore, your first choice should be the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall in Newark and Bloomfield. The law firm has 11 lawyers, and the only clients they take on are defendants in criminal court and DWI cases. The combined total experience of the drug crimes defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall equals more than 200 years. They are certified criminal trial lawyers, and some of them have previously worked as Essex County prosecutors and as municipal prosecutors in some of the towns in Essex County.

Drug Possession in Essex County, New Jersey

Yes, drug possession is a nonviolent crime, but the legal repercussions for a drug possession conviction can be serious. Although this does not happen often, it is possible to go to jail for a first offense drug possession conviction. According to New Jersey law, you can get criminal charges for possession of a CDS if the police find any substance listed on one of the Schedules described in the federal Controlled Substances Act. You can even get criminal charges for possession of so-called research chemicals, which are chemically similar enough to known recreational drugs, but different enough that they are not technically the same drug.

The good news is that Essex County is one of a growing number of jurisdictions to establish a drug court specifically for people charged with nonviolent drug offenses, such as drug possession, instead of having to go straight to criminal court. Evidence suggests, and much of society acknowledges, that substance use disorder causes illegal drug use, and not the other way around. The Essex County drug court offers a way for people charged with drug possession to complete addiction treatment and access other resources they need, such as mental health counseling. If you complete the drug court program successfully, your charges will be dropped, and you can walk away without a criminal record. Unfortunately, not everyone who meets the eligibility criteria for drug court automatically has the option offered to them. The criminal justice system does not go out of its way to treat defendants humanely. This is just one of the reasons why you should contact criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall if you have been arrested for possession of prescription opioids, MDMA, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, or any other CDS.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Did you know that you can get drug charges even if you do not have any drugs? New Jersey law recognizes a criminal offense known as possession of drug paraphernalia. In this case, paraphernalia refers to any item that can be used to manufacture, package, or consume illegal drugs. These are just some of the items that the police might consider to be drug paraphernalia if they find them during a search of your house or car:

  • Zip top bags
  • Syringes and needles
  • Pipes, such as one might use to smoke tobacco or illegal drugs
  • Cigarette rolling papers
  • Spoons, especially if there is evidence that the defendant had been using them to heat illegal drugs

At first, it might seem ridiculous to think that someone could go to jail for owning spoons, but context is everything. There might be a syringe in your kitchen because your roommate used it to inject insulin to manage her diabetes or it might be there because you used it to inject illegal drugs. The spoon might be in the cupholder of your car because you brought it with you, along with a cup of coffee, when you went to work yesterday, or it might be there for purposes of cooking meth. The Essex County drug crimes defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can help protect you from getting caught up in the criminal court system simply because the police decided to pick on you and found a spoon in your backpack.

Essex County Prescription Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer

Easy access to highly addictive prescription painkillers has contributed to a national epidemic of opioid addiction, and this is evident in Essex County, New Jersey. In previous decades, doctors prescribed extended courses of opioids regularly, either unaware of how risky the drugs were, or else willing to put patients at risk for their own financial gain. Today, there are far more restrictions on prescribing opioids than there were before, but cutting off the supply of addictive prescription drugs did not make the patients who had become dependent on them any less addicted. These days, abuse of prescription painkillers accounts for a large percentage of criminal cases related to drugs. These are just some of the criminal charges a person can get for obtaining or attempting to obtain prescription opioids:

  • Forgery of prescriptions
  • Obtaining prescription drugs by fraud (also known as “doctor shopping”)
  • Theft of prescription drugs from a patient or pharmacy

Likewise, you can get criminal charges if you attempt to buy prescription drugs online. For example, fentanyl, an opioid at least 50 times more powerful than morphine, is available by prescription and in a hospital setting, but most of the fentanyl being sold on the street was purchased online.

Drug Distribution and Drug Possession With Intent to Distribute

One of the reasons that a more compassionate response to drug possession, such as referring defendants to drug court, has earned such widespread public support is that drug possession does not, by itself, endanger anyone except the person who possesses or consumes the drugs. (If you do something to endanger another person while you are under the influence of drugs, you can get additional charges, such as DWI for driving while high on drugs, or child endangerment for keeping drugs where children can fin them or failing to provide adequate supervision for the children in your care because of your intoxication.) Therefore, drug possession charges are one thing, but drug distribution charges are another matter entirely.

You can get charged for possession with intent to distribute if the police find evidence that you were packaging drugs for resale or even just if the quantity of CDS in your possession was so large that one can reasonably assume that you planned to sell it or share it.  New Jersey law treats drug distribution and possession with intent to distribute as serious crimes, and people convicted of them can receive long prison sentences. The Essex County drug crimes defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can help you avoid the worst consequences if you have been charged with drug trafficking, drug distribution, or possession with intent to distribute.

Can You Still Get in Legal Trouble for Cannabis in New Jersey?

Recreational cannabis is now legal in New Jersey, but there are still some legal restrictions on its sale and use. For example, you must be at least 21 years old to possess cannabis. Therefore, you can get criminal charges if you buy or possess cannabis while you are underage. Likewise, there are legal requirements surrounding the sale of cannabis in New Jersey, so you can still get in legal trouble for selling cannabis illegally.

Contact the Essex County Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall

A single incident of drug use does not seem like a big deal, but getting mixed up with the criminal court system can make the problem follow you around for years to come. You could get probation, where the judge can make a strict set of rules about what you can and cannot do (including things that are ordinarily legal, like driving at night or living with roommates) and send you to jail if you break these rules. If you plead guilty or are convicted at trial, the conviction is permanent on your criminal record, unless you go through the arduous process of getting it expunged. Punishing people for drug use helps no one, but unfortunately it is the norm.

The first step to avoiding the nightmare of being labeled a criminal just because you smoked weed at a party your freshman year of college or walked around with a Xanax pill in your pocket is to contact the drug crimes defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall in Essex County, New Jersey. Our experienced lawyers will meet with you virtually or at the office locations in Newark or Bloomfield and discuss the best strategy for your drug case. The Essex County drug crimes defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will use our professional experience as prosecutors to help you build the best defense, enter a drug court program, or get your charges dropped so you can go on with your life.