Marijuana Possession (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4)) – New Jersey Defense Attorney
In New Jersey, marijuana possession is a disorderly persons offense. A prosecutor is generally not permitted to plea bargain this offense. Therefore, a defendant’s only options are to fight the charge, apply for a conditional discharge, or plead guilty.
A person convicted of marijuana possession is subject to a fine of up to $1000 plus assessments of approximately $675. Although a defendant convicted of this offense who does not have a previous conviction is entitled to a presumption of non-incarceration, depending on the circumstances, a defendant may be sentenced to up to six months in jail. A New Jersey criminal defense attorney can advise you as to whether you may face incarceration.
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. Upon completion of supervisory treatment and any conditions, the charge is dismissed. The criminal charges against the defendant may be dismissed after a year of being placed on probation provided the defendant passes all drug tests and does not get arrested during the one-year period.
To be eligible for conditional discharge the defendant cannot have any prior drug conviction and was never 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.
If the defendant is not eligible for conditional discharge and the charge cannot be dismissed, a New Jersey criminal defense attorney should try to negotiate a reduced charge of loitering for the purpose of obtaining drugs. This charge does not require the loss of driving privileges. However, prosecutors are generally barred from reducing marijuana charges.