Need a Local Criminal Lawyer in Bridgewater for a Drug Charge
Bridgewater Township, which is one of Somerset County’s largest municipality, is located directly in the center. It has some of New Jersey’s major highways like Route 202, Route 22, Route 28, Interstate 287 and Interstate 78 cutting right through it. Furthermore, it is also well known for its shopping centers, including Bridgewater Commons Mall and countless restaurants. Not to mention a population of just under 50,000 as of 2010. With so many individuals coming in and out of Bridgewater Township on an hourly basis, let alone daily, their police department is forced to aggressively be patrolling the roadways. As a result, we see numerous would be routine traffic stops, turn into drug arrests, whether it be for the possession of marijuana, the possession of heroin as well as the possession of prescription drugs like Xanax, Oxycontin and Vicodin. Some of these tend to turn into driving under the influence of drug charges too.
Being charged with a drug offense is not something to take lightly. It should come as no surprise to hear that New Jersey takes drug offenses very seriously. We have been battling the “war on drugs” for what seems like more than a decade now. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug offense in Bridgewater Township, it is essential that you speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your options. Understanding the specifics of your charges, which includes what the prosecution must prove in order to secure a conviction and the potential penalties is crucial when it comes to mounting a successful defense. If you would like to speak to one of the criminal defense attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law about your options then please contact our Bridgewater Office at 908-533-1064. Our office is dedicated to aggressively defending these types of charges in order to secure the best possible outcome for our clients.
Facing a Drug Charge in Bridgewater Township: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10
Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (“CDS”) is by far one of the most common charges issued in Somerset County and Bridgewater Township is no exception. When it comes to possession of a CDS, whether it be marijuana, heroin, cocaine, Adderall, Xanax or MDMA, the prosecution has three different theories that they can use to attempt to prove “possession”. They are as follows: Actual Possession, Constructive Possession and Joint Possession. Here is a breakdown of each theory:
- Actual Possession: A person is in actual possession of an item when he/she first, knows what it is: that is, he/she has knowledge of its character, and second, knowingly has it on his/her person at a given time.
- Constructive Possession: A person is in constructive possession when they do not physically have the item on his or her person but is aware that the item is present and is able to and has the intention to exercise control over it.
- Joint Possession: When two or more persons share actual or constructive knowing possession of an item, possession is joint.
One of the most common questions we hear from potential client’s is “what if I did not possess the drugs?”. As you can see from reading above, depending on the specific facts surrounding the charge, prove of possession could become very problematic for the prosecution.
Need a Lawyer for a Drug Charge in Bridgewater Township Municipal Court
In New Jersey, drug possession charges can either be considered a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor) or an indictable offense (felony). The specific drug in question will almost certainly dictate whether the individual is facing a misdemeanor or a felony. Typically, unless the drug in question is marijuana and it is less than 50 grams, the charge(s) will be considered felony offenses. All felony drug charges, whether it be crystal meth, heroin, cocaine or marijuana in excess of 50 grams, must be transferred from the Bridgewater Municipal Court to the Somerset County Superior Court, which is located in Somerville for disposition. Conversely, all disorderly persons offense level drug charges, like possession of marijuana under 50 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia or failure to turn over CDS will be litigated in the Bridgewater Municipal Court, that is provided the arrest occurred in Bridgewater. However, if the individual is charged with both disorderly persons offenses and indictable offenses, all charges must be transferred to the Somerset Superior Court for disposition.
Here is an example. An individual is pulled over for speeding in Bridgewater. That routine motor vehicle stop results in the officers conducting a search of the motor vehicle, which in turn ends with the individual being charged with the possession of marijuana under 50 grams as well as the possession of cocaine. All charges, including the speeding ticket must be transferred from the Bridgewater Municipal Court to the Somerset County Superior Court for disposition.
However, if the individual charged is a juvenile, then the charges will need to be sent from the Bridgewater Township Municipal Court to Somerset County Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part for disposition. This is regardless of whether the charges were disorderly persons offenses or indictable offenses. For more information on the Juvenile Criminal Justice System in New Jersey, please click the link.
What is the Potential Sentence for a Possession of CDS Charge in NJ
As touch upon earlier, typically most drug possession charges are considered either a disorderly persons offense or a third or fourth degree indictable offense. As one would imagine, the penalties drastically increase if the charge elevates to a felony. Here is a quick breakdown of potential penalties of convicted.
- Disorderly Persons Offense: Up to six months in the Somerset County Jail; Up to a $1,000 Fine; Fees & Assessments nearing $800; Community Service; Probation; Up to a six month loss of license.
- Fourth Degree Indictable Offense: Up to eighteen months in a State Prison; Up to a $10,000 Fine; Fees & Assessments nearing $1,300; Community Service; Probation; Court mandated treatment; Up to a six month loss of license.
- Third Degree Indictable Offense: Up to five years in a State Prison; Up to a $35,000 Fine; Fees & Assessments nearing $1,800; Community Service; Probation; Court mandated treatment; Up to a six month loss of license.
Speak to a Lawyer about a Drug Charge in Bridgewater Township
As you can see from the potential penalties, a drug charge, regardless of the drug in question, is not something to take lightly. If you or a loved one has unfortunately found yourselves being hauled into court to defend a drug charge and would like a free initial consultation today, please contact our Bridgewater office 908.533.1064 or you can try contacting us online. One of our attorneys would be glad to go over the specifics of your case and formulate a game plan that works best to suit your needs.