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Methamphetamine Law: Possession and Distribution in New Jersey

November 8, 2020 New Jersey Criminal Lawyers

Methamphetamine Law: Possession and Distribution in New Jersey

Because of what is perceived to be a looming epidemic, the NJ legislature implemented strict drug provisions specifically for the possession and distribution of meth. Accordingly, charges for simple possession or possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine can become extremely complicated. Meth possession or distribution charges rate as second or third-degree crimes, depending on the facts of the case. Irrespective of whether you were indicted as a second-degree or third-degree crime, the criminal defense attorneys at Spodek Law Group see that all defenses and issues are fully explored and that you get the best opportunity to avoid the consequences of conviction. It is never too early to get a lawyer.

Methamphetamine Possession Statute in New Jersey

Usually, possession of methamphetamine is punishable according to several factors:

  1. the amount
  2. the location, and
  3. whether the drugs are intended for personal use or intended for distribution.

The statute that prohibits the unlawful possession, use or being under the influence of, or failure to make lawful disposition of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) or its analog, classified in Schedule I, II, III, or IV is 2C:35-10.

Possession of Methamphetamine is a Third-Degree Offense.

Methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug. A Schedule II substance is defined as one that “(1) has a high potential for abuse; and (2) has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions; and (3) abuse may lead to severe psychic or physical dependence.” P.L. 1970, c.226 (c. 24: 21-5). Because of the high likelihood of addiction and the perilous physical side effects, possession of meth typically carries harsher penalties than possession of other drugs. A third-degree offense can result in up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Arrest for Being Under the Influence of Methamphetamine

A person suspected of being under the influence of methamphetamine in New Jersey could get charged with a disorderly persons offense. The State need not prove that the defendant was under the influence of methamphetamine specifically. The prosecution’s burden of proof is satisfied if they demonstrate that the “accused did manifest physical and psychological symptoms or reactions caused by the use of any controlled dangerous substance.” 2C:35-10(b).  You might serve as much as six months and a $1,000 fine for a disorderly persons offense, plus the possibility of numerous hours of community service or a lengthy probation.

Possessing Meth in a School Zone Brings Enhanced Penalties

A “1000 feet School Zone” charge layers onto any offense committed under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10.

The term school zone includes “property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or within 1,000 feet of any such school property or a school bus, or while on any school bus” If you didn’t get any jail time, you would be obligated to do at least 100 hours of community service.

Claiming you were unaware that possession took place within 1000 feet of a school zone or a school bus is not a viable defense.

Possession of Significant Amounts of Methamphetamine Could Result in a Possession with Intent to Distribute Charge Pursuant to 2C:35-5.

Possessing large quantities of a CDS can elevate a “simple” possession charge into something much more flagrant; possession with the intent to distribute. The statute prohibits the manufacturing, distributing, dispensing and possession with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense all substances classified in the first four Drug Schedules.

As compared to the other drugs, the subsections that refer to methamphetamine require harsher penalties for relatively small amounts. The statute imposes harsher penalties in response to methamphetamine’s recent surge in popularity and its highly addictive properties.

The breakdown by quantity :

  1. five ounces or more is a first-degree offense carrying 20 years in state prison and a fine up to $300,000
  2. half an ounce to five ounces is a second-degree charge that carries up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $150,000; and
  3. possession with intent to distribute a quantity of one half ounce or less carries a third-degree offense and a fine of up to $75,000.

A distribution charge depends not only on the amounts, but also the surrounding circumstances. For example, if the drugs are parceled out, distribution is presumed.

Distribution Within 1000 feet of a School Zone Could Get You Mandatory Incarceration

The elevated penalties in New Jersey for distribution of methamphetamine in a school zone are found in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7. Distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute a CDS or controlled substance analog on any school property (as detailed earlier) is a crime of the third degree to be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment. The law requires a minimum term which fixed at or between one-third and one-half of the sentence, or three years, whichever is greater.  During that time, parole is off the table.

Distribution of Methamphetamine Within 500 Feet of a Public Housing Project or Public Park

Distribution, dispensing or possession with intent to distribute a CDS or controlled substance analog while in, on or within 500 feet of a public housing facility, a public park, or a public building is a crime of the second degree.  Again, saying you didn’t know that you were in or within 500 feet of a qualifying property is no defense in court.

The term “Public housing facility” refers to a “dwelling, complex of dwellings, accommodation, building, structure or facility and real property of any nature appurtenant thereto and used in connection therewith, which is owned by or leased to a local housing authority in accordance with the “Local Redevelopment and Housing Law,” for the purpose of providing living accommodations to persons of low income.”  A “Public park” is a park, recreation facility or area, or playground that a State, county or local government owns or controls.

If you were arrested for possession or possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, call Spodek Law Group to arrange for a free consultation with one of our criminal attorneys.



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