New Jersey Drug Defense Attorney
An experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer can play an important role in your life if you are charged with a drug crime. A lawyer can protect your rights, challenge the prosecution’s evidence and, ultimately, seek the best possible outcome for you.
Drug defense attorney Anthony J. Vecchio has prosecuted and defended thousands of criminal cases throughout New Jersey, including cases involving possession, distribution and other serious drug crimes. He is ready to personally handle your case and provide the zealous, passionate legal representation that you need and deserve.
Schedule an appointment today to discuss your New Jersey drug charges at any one of our offices in Freehold, Jersey City, Mt. Laurel, Red Bank, Princeton or Woodbridge.
What New Jersey Drug Charges Are You Facing?
If you are convicted of a crime involving a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) in New Jersey, you can face serious consequences. You may be forced to go to jail, pay a hefty fine and surrender your driver’s license. You may also lose your chance to land a job, miss out on school opportunities or face the risk of deportation.
To develop an effective drug charge defense strategy that is aimed at avoiding those consequences, Anthony J. Vecchio will analyze all details of your case. Three important factors will be:
- Act – The severity of the punishment you face will depend on the act you are accused of committing: Unlawful possession N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)1, possession with intent to distribute, possession of paraphernalia N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2, manufacturing, dispensing or distribution N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5. The consequences can be more severe if you are accused of committing a drug offense within 1,000 feet of a school property or an offense that involved a minor or pregnant woman.
- Drug – New Jersey classifies drugs based on their potential for abuse and whether they have any accepted medical uses. Your potential punishment will depend on how the drug involved in your case is classified. The classifications are:
- Schedule I – High potential for abuse. No accepted medical use. Examples: Marijuana (“weed” or “pot”) N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)4, hashish, heroin, LSD (“acid”), psilocybin (“mushrooms”) and MDMA (“ecstasy” or “Molly”). See N.J.S.A. 24:21-5.
- Schedule II – High potential for abuse. Accepted medical use, but with severe restrictions. Risk of severe psychic or physical dependence. Examples: Cocaine (powder and rock forms, or “crack”), amphetamine (“speed”), methamphetamine (“meth”) and painkillers such as morphine, codeine and Vicodin. See N.J.S.A. 24:21-6.
- Schedule III – Lower potential for abuse than Schedule I or II drugs. Accepted medical use. Low to moderate risk of physical dependence or high risk of psychological dependence. Examples: Valium and anabolic steroids. See N.J.S.A. 24:21-7.
- Schedule IV – Lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs. Accepted medical use. Limited risk of physical or psychological dependence. Examples: Ambien, testosterone and barbiturates (“downers). See N.J.S.A. 24:21-8.
- Schedule V – Lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV drugs. Accepted medical use. Limited risk of physical or psychological dependence. Examples: Drugs with low concentrations of codeine or morphine. See N.J.S.A. 24:21-8.1.
- Weight – The amount, or weight, of the drug involved in your case is a factor as well. For instance, if you were arrested for possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana, you would face a disorderly persons offense, carrying a maximum sentence of six months and a maximum fine of $1,000. However, if you were charged with possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, you would face a crime of the fourth degree offense, carrying a maximum sentence of 18 months and a maximum fine of $25,000.
A drug crime that involves a juvenile defendant can be prosecuted in the adult or juvenile justice system. It often depends on the alleged act, drug and weight involved. If a prosecutor files a motion to move the case to Criminal Court, however, a Family Court judge will have to agree to the transfer.
Attorney Anthony J. Vecchio has extensive experience with helping families with a son or daughter who has been charged with a drug crime. He will carefully handle your case and seek to minimize the impact on the young person’s life and future.
How Can We Put Together a Strong New Jersey Drug Charge Defense?
An effective defense against your drug charge begins by seeking discovery of the prosecution’s evidence against you. You have the right to review that evidence in New Jersey, including evidence that may clear you, or exculpatory evidence.
After gathering and analyzing this evidence, attorney Anthony J. Vecchio can:
- Move to exclude evidence – If the prosecution’s evidence against you was unlawfully obtained, it may be excluded. The exclusion of this evidence may ultimately lead to the charge(s) against you being dismissed. For example, the drug in your case may have been seized through a stop of your car or a search of your home which violated your state and federal constitutional rights. In some cases, evidence can be excluded due to problems with the chain of custody or the way it was tested in a crime lab.
- Seek a reasonable plea agreement – Based on factors such as the strength of the prosecution’s evidence, the potential punishment you face and your own objectives, it may be in your best interest to seek a plea agreement. For instance, in exchange for entering a plea, the prosecution may agree to dismiss several of your charges or reduce your charge to a lesser offense. The decision will be yours alone to make.
- Take your case to trial – If your case goes to trial, you can count on attorney Anthony J. Vecchio to aggressively challenge the prosecution’s case. For example, whether you “possessed” a drug or “conspired” with others to commit a drug offense may be critical issues. The credibility of a witness (such as a confidential informant) may also be called into question.
- Argue for lenient sentencing – If your case reaches the sentencing phase, Anthony J. Vecchio will try to minimize the punishment you face. He will argue to keep you out of jail, for instance, or seek a lower fine. Your participation in substance abuse treatment, your work history and your family and community support can all be important factors.
What Are Your Options for a First-Time Drug Arrest or CDS Charge?
If you have no prior drug convictions in New Jersey, attorney Anthony J. Vecchio can pursue a diversionary program for you that can keep you out of prison and may ultimately lead to your CDS charge being cleared from your record. Your options may include:
- Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) – Instead of punishment, you can receive substance abuse treatment and counseling (and even job training) for a one-to-three-year period if you are accepted into this program. If you complete the program, the charge against you will be dismissed, and you can seek expungement of the drug charge from your record. See J.S.A. 2C: 43-12.
- Conditional Discharge – Instead of going to prison, you can serve a probationary sentence (typically between six months and one year). If you complete the term while staying drug-free and arrest-free, the charge against you can be dismissed, and you can have your charge expunged. This option typically is available for minor drug offenses. See J.S.A. 2C:36A-1.
We can help you to determine whether you are eligible for participation in either of these programs and navigate you through the process of enrolling in them.
Get Help from an Experienced New Jersey Drug Lawyer
If you are facing a drug arrest in New Jersey, you have the right to remain silent and to speak with an attorney. Make your first call to The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC. We will get to work right away on protecting your rights and pursuing an outcome that works best for you and your family.