Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b)) – New Jersey Defense Attorney
Being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) for a purpose other than treatment of a sickness or injury as lawfully prescribed by a physician is a disorderly persons offense. The prosecutor must show only that the defendant manifested physical and physiological symptoms or reactions caused by the use of a CDS. The prosecutor does not have to prove that the defendant was under the influence of any particular drug. CDSs include heroin, cocaine, and LSD.
The defendant has the burden to prove that he or she was under the influence pursuant to the administration of the drug by a person duly authorized to do so. A New Jersey criminal defense attorney can help establish any potential defenses.
Punishment for Violating N.J.S.A 2C:35-10(b)
A penalty of $500 is required. In addition, the court must suspend the defendant’s driver’s license for between six months to two years. Up to six months in jail is possible. However, if the drug charge constitutes the defendant’s first criminal offense, the defendant is entitled to a presumption against incarceration. Therefore, the defendant can’t be jailed unless the court finds that due to the nature of the offense, and the defendant’s history and character, jail is necessary to protect the public.
Conditional discharge is a diversionary program available to first time drug offenders. A court may suspend further proceedings and place the defendant on supervisory treatment, sometimes ordering certain conditions to be met during supervisory treatment. Upon completion of supervisory treatment and any conditions, the charge is dismissed provided the defendant passes all administered drug tests and does not get arrested for one year.
To be eligible for the conditional discharge defendant cannot have any prior drug conviction and never have been previously placed in a conditional discharge or pretrial intervention program. In addition, the defendant may not pose a danger to the community and the court must rule that the defendant will benefit while the public will be protected by defendant’s admittance into the program.
The court must suspend the defendant’s driver’s license from 6 months to 2 years after admittance into the conditional discharge program. However, if the defendant can prove a “hardship” if he or she loses the driver’s license, the court has discretion not to suspend the defendant’s driving privilege.