A large percentage of the people who receive drug charges in New Jersey are first-time offenders. A first-time offense is unique in a few ways because without a prior criminal record, you may have more options available to negotiate a lower sentence. There are also some programs available that may allow you to do community service in lieu of drug charges.
The Importance of Good Representation
Even being a first-time offender, good legal representation is important. You only get one chance at negotiating your charges. Your legal options will depend on many factors, including:
- The degree of offense
- The amount in possession
For example, if you have less than five units of certain types of drugs, you may be charged with a disorderly persons offense. This is similar to a misdemeanor. Other drug crimes, like if you were in possession of a hard street drug or had higher quantities of drugs on you, may be charged with a felony. The potential legal consequences vary, depending on if the drug charges were first, second, third, or fourth-degree crimes.
Programs Available to First-Time Offenders
First-time offenders in New Jersey may be eligible for the following programs:
- Conditional discharge: This occurs when a first-time offender receives a disorderly persons charge.
- Pretrial intervention: This may be available when you are dealing with third or fourth-degree charges.
- Drug court: In some counties, drug court may be a requirement. However, it may also be used to negotiate a lesser sentence in return for drug treatment.
- Veteran’s Diversion program: The Veteran’s Diversion program is available to veteran military members who may have co-occurring mental health disorders.
- Mental Health Diversion: The Mental Health Diversion program is only available to offenders in some counties. This is a newer program that provides treatment instead.
Each of these programs have unique requirements so it is important to have a lawyer who can guide you. Keep in mind that you only get one chance to negotiate your sentence. If you fail to consider your options, you may be met with consequences like jail time. Additionally, if you have prior offenses, it may be more difficult to negotiate your sentence.
Read more: How Does PTI Work In NJ?
Potential Consequences of Drug Charges
The consequences of drug charges in New Jersey are nothing to ignore. The consequences will significantly vary, depending on your charges. However, you may be met with jail time, community service, probation, and required attendance in a drug treatment center. Depending on your sentence, you may also have a permanent record. This can make it difficult to find employment or even take out loans for educational purposes later.
Hire the Representation You Deserve
When dealing with drug charges in New Jersey, it is important to consider your future and hire the representation you deserve. While you may be tempted to do it alone to avoid the cost of legal representation, this can be a mistake that eventually costs you much more. If your charges lead to jail time, you could lose your job and end up with a permanent criminal record.
Read more: How Can A Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me?
Contact an Experienced Union County Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Drug Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with drug charges in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at Zegas Law have successfully represented clients charged with drug charges in Union County, Essex County, Morris County, Middlesex County, and throughout New Jersey. Call (973) 379-1999 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 60 Morris Turnpike, Summit, NJ 07901.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.