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What you need to know about drug possession charges in New Jersey

While recent reports have indicated that newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions will make prosecution of drug crimes a priority for the Department of Justice going forward, this has always been the reality at the state level.

Indeed, statistics from the New Jersey State Police show that law enforcement agencies across the Garden State made 55,239 arrests for drug abuse violations in 2014 alone, approximately 43,920 of which were for possession.

All this naturally begs the question then as to how New Jersey law defines drug possession and what those facing these types of charges can anticipate in terms of punishment.

Any such discussion must be prefaced by an examination of the state's controlled dangerous substance -- or CDS -- Schedules, of which there are five.

Each of these schedules outlines a list of controlled dangerous substances and the compounds used in their manufacture, which are ranked in order of potential for abuse/addiction, and acceptance in the medical community.

  • Schedule I: Those substances with the highest potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and the highest risk of both physical and psychological dependence (heroin, mescaline, peyote, etc.)
  • Schedule II: Those substances with a high potential for abuse, an accepted medical use, and a high risk of both physical and psychological dependence (cocaine, opiates, etc.)
  • Schedule III: Those substances with a lower potential for abuse than those found in Schedule I or II, an accepted medical use, a moderate risk of physical dependence and a high risk of psychological dependence (materials, compounds, mixtures, or preparations containing amphetamine or quantities of barbituric acid derivative, etc.)
  • Schedule IV: Those substances with a lower potential for abuse than those found in Schedule III, an accepted medical use, and a lower risk of physical and psychological dependence than those in Schedule III (phenobarbital, etc.)
  • Schedule V: Those substances with a lower potential for abuse than those found in Schedule IV, an accepted medical use, and a lower risk of physical and psychological dependence than those in Schedule IV (materials, compounds, mixtures or preparations containing less than 200 milligrams of codeine)

As you might anticipate, those found to be in possession of Schedule I substances face potentially steeper penalties than those found to be in possession of Schedule V substances.

We'll examine this further in our next post ...

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have been charged with any sort of drug crime as the stakes are simply too high.

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