Although several states, including nearby Massachusetts, have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use, New Jersey still has strict rules when it comes to marijuana possession.
The impact of a marijuana conviction is particularly severe for those who are juveniles or those currently attending college. If the courts convict you or you plead guilty to a marijuana offense, you will lose eligibility for all federal student aid. That can be the determining factor about whether or not you are able to attend or finish college. Because the consequences of being caught in possession are so serious, it is critical that you retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing marijuana possession charges in New Jersey. Failing to do so could completely change your life.
New Jersey has serious penalties for marijuana possession
While lawmakers have introduced and considered bills to legalize adult use and possession of marijuana, these laws are far from passage and taking effect. If you are caught in possession of 50 grams or less, which is slightly under two ounces, you will face disorderly person charges. The penalties include six months of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000. If the state of New Jersey charges you with possession of more than 50 grams, you are facing 1.5 years in prison and a fine of as much as $25,000. Combine that with a criminal record, and it's easy to see how it could ruin your life.
Possession of hash or other marijuana concentrates is also highly illegal. If you face charges of possession of any amount up to 5 grams, you will face up to six months in prison as well as a $1,000 fine. Possession of more than 5 grams of any form of marijuana concentrate will result in as much as a year and half behind bars, as well as a fine of up to $25,000.
These are not minor charges or minor consequences. Those who have drug offenses on their criminal records may struggle to find rewarding, well-paid work and housing for the rest of their lives, thanks to the simple possession of marijuana.
An attorney can help minimize the damages of a marijuana possession charge
When you face criminal marijuana charges, your best bet at a positive outcome involves working with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney. Your attorney may be able to have the courts drop your charges if you complete substance abuse education and counseling, or convince the courts to alter the charge to a similar, but non-drug-related offense that will carry fewer serious penalties. Don't try to handle your charges alone! You need a defense attorney advocating on your behalf to the courts.