Articles Posted in Marijuana Defense

In New Jersey, there are certain behaviors that are illegal, such as underage drinking, possession of illicit substances, and shoplifting, and people who engage in such activity may be charged with a crime. In some instances, though, the actual criminal activity will be deemed so insignificant in terms of risk of harm that it will be deemed a de minimis offense, and the charges arising out of the activity will be dismissed. What constitutes a de minimis offense was the subject of a ruling recently set forth by a New Jersey court in a case in which the defendants were charged with crimes after being caught with a small amount of marijuana. If you are charged with possession of marijuana or any other crime, it is advisable to speak to a capable New Jersey drug crime defense attorney to determine what defenses you may be able to assert.

The Alleged Crime

It is reported that the defendants were sitting on a beach in New Jersey when they were approached by a police officer. The officer noted that the male defendant had a lighter in his hand, and, as smoking on the beach was illegal, he questioned the defendants regarding their behavior. The officer ultimately discovered that the male defendant was in possession of approximately 8.4 grams of marijuana and a marijuana pipe.

Allegedly, both defendants were charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. The defendants both moved to have their charges dismissed as de minimis violations, partially due to the small amount of marijuana that was seized. The trial court granted the motion, and the charges against the defendants were dismissed, after which the State appealed.

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I am happy to report that a Middletown NJ financial advisor was recently found not guilty of Marijuana Possession in Wall Township Municipal Court. Hopefully, the result will allow the accused to restore his life.

The facts underlying the marijuana charges were unorthodox.  A package was delivered to the place of employment of the broker in Wall Township.  The package was addressed to the defendant but was opened by the receptionist at his office.  The package contained a small amount of marijuana.  The employer immediately informed the police upon being advised of the package and criminal charges for possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana were filed against the broker.

Under NJ law, an individual may only be guilty of marijuana possession where he or she is in actual or construction possession of the drugs. More specifically, it is illegal for an individual “to possess, actually or constructively…50 grams or less of marijuana.” N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(4).  Where an individual violates this law, he can be convicted of a disorderly persons offense, have his license suspended, be fined, placed on probation and can even go to jail for up to 6 months.  The individual may also apply for a conditional discharge of the charges but this was something that was not a viable option in this case given the impact that could have on the employment of this defendant.

Over the years of defending individuals on criminal charges, it has become readily apparent that NJ Marijuana Possession and NJ Marijuana Distribution are the most frequently encountered drug charges in the state.  Notwithstanding, no where is there a comprehensive source of information concerning marijuana offenses. We therefore developed a website dedicated solely to marijuana issues such as possession, distribution, school zone charges, and possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle.  The site is titled NJ Marijuana Defense Lawyers and we hope readers find the information beneficial. While the site covers considerable subject matter, many questions may remain unanswered.  The NJ Marijuana Defense Attorneys at our firm are available to answer questions and supplement the content found on the marijuana website.

Two highly publicized cases involving Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana and Cultivation of Marijuana were resolved this past week. The first matter involved a NJ man who claimed that he was growing marijuana plants in Essex County for treatment of his multiple sclerosis. The defense proved unsuccessful and he was sentenced to five (5) years in state prison this week. In the second case, a trucker passing through New Jersey was found to be in possession of 147 pounds of marijuana in Morris County. He was also sentenced this week and received a sentence of four (4) years.

The outcomes may appear inconsistent because they are. The individual in the first case was facing 5 to 10 years in prison for this second degree charge. He received a sentence at the bottom of the second degree range for growing marijuana. The other case involved a First Degree crime carrying 10 to 20 years in prison but the defendant received 4 years in jail. This was an obvious departure from the First Degree sentencing range. I assume that the more favorable outcome in this case reflects trial issues that existed relative to the search and discovery of the marijuana in the vehicle of the trucker.

These two cases illustrate how wide the potential outcomes can be when someone is arrested for selling marijuana in NJ. Formulation of a viable defense strategy is imperative in these cases and here we see how this impacts the outcome of a case. Selection of the right New Jersey Marijuana Defense Attorneys is an important consideration in this process. Formulation of a defense that has a legitimate potential for success is also pivotal. The strategy in the first case was obviously ill-fated and this is not a surprise to me in view of the fact that “medical marijuana” did not exist in this state when the offense was committed. This limited and/or prevented the defendant from raising any facts about medical necessity as a defense at trial. The defense also had an obvious problem by virtue of the fact that the defendant was apparently found to be in possession of not only the marijuana plants but psychedelic mushrooms too.

Our law firm recently represented a client charged with possession of marijuana in Little Silver, New Jersey. The client was stopped for an alleged traffic violation for maintenance of lamps. The police officer pulled over our client for his third brake light being out, the brake light that sits in the center of the back of the vehicle in the back window. This alleged traffic violation was the probable cause for the traffic stop which led to the marijuana being found. The officer cited our client for a violation of N.J.S. 39:3-66, maintenance of lamps. This statute states that all required lamps be kept in good working order. This statute must be read in conjunction with N.J.S. 39:3-61 which details which lamps are required on a particular vehicle. According to N.J.S. 39:3-61, a vehicle must only have two working brake lights, located on the rear right and left of the vehicle. As a result, the third brake light being out is not a violation of N.J.S. 39:3-66 and the probable cause for the original traffic stop was not sound.

Based on this issue, our firm filed a motion to suppress the illegally seized evidence based on the lack of probable cause for the traffic stop. This motion was granted and the criminal and traffic charges, including possession of marijuana, were dismissed against our client.

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