Possession of Cocaine or Crack Cocaine

Newark, NJ Drug Possession Defense Attorneys

The possession, distribution and use of cocaine—either in its powdered form or in the more potent formulation known as “crack” — have been punishable by severe federal and state criminal penalties for the past 25 or 30 years. Broadly speaking, cocaine is considered a middle- and upper-class drug, more expensive than crack and is ingested into the body via “snorting,” while crack (fairly or unfairly) has been stigmatized as an easily available lower-class drug, and is inhaled directly into the lungs. Crack is cheaper than regular cocaine, and produces briefer, more intense highs; studies have also shown that it’s more addictive and damaging to a person’s health over the long term.

Possession of Cocaine/Crack Cocaine

Being caught with even small quantities of crack or cocaine can expose a person to severe criminal penalties. While it’s unusual for an individual possessing a small amount of crack or cocaine (less than half an ounce) to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, larger amounts can be seized on by prosecutors as evidence of the intent to distribute. In this case, all bets are off: drug offenses involving more than half an ounce of crack or cocaine, and especially more than five ounces, can land a suspect in jail for 10 or 20 years, never mind the onerous fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Prosecutions for the possession, use and distribution of crack and cocaine have been further complicated, in recent years, by the proliferation of laws involving “drug-free” school zones, housing projects and public parks. In New Jersey, being arrested within 1,000 feet of a school or school bus, or within 500 feet of a public park or housing project, can turn a simple charge of possession of crack or cocaine into the more ominous-sounding “intent to distribute,” resulting in more severe criminal penalties. In crowded urban areas, schools, housing projects and public parks are often within easy reach of each other; you can imagine the leeway this gives to overzealous drug prosecutors.

Use of Crack and Cocaine

As a general rule, in New Jersey, arrests for the use of small amounts of crack or cocaine (less than half an ounce total weight) are not prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If you have no prior criminal record, you will often be referred to “pretrial intervention,” an interval of probation and drug counseling at the successful end of which all charges are dropped. However, if you were arrested using cocaine or crack near a public school, park or housing project, or if you have previous convictions on your record, the prosecutor may choose to press full criminal charges. In either case, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can make sure you’re given a fair hearing, and that any extenuating circumstances are brought to the attention of the judge or district attorney.

Possession of Crack and Cocaine

Intensive Investigations Focused on Your Rights

Drug crimes cases in New Jersey will often turn on the presentation of evidence collected by the police through search and seizure procedures.

We will examine the police reports, interview witnesses, and work with experts where necessary to challenge any illegally obtained evidence in your case.

In the event that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated, we will seek to have the evidence suppressed in your case. This alone may result in a complete dismissal of the charges in your case.

Arrests for the possession of small amounts of crack or cocaine (technically, less than half an ounce) usually follow the same “script” as arrests for the use of these substances. If you’re a first-time offender, and if you haven’t been apprehended near a school, park or housing project, you may be eligible for “pretrial intervention,” a program of drug counseling and probation at the end of which you’re cleared of all charges. “Simple” or “straight” possession of crack or cocaine usually isn’t prosecuted with the full weight of the law; if for some reason it is, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall may be able to plead you down to a lesser charge.

The difficulty arises when you’ve been arrested for the possession of more than half an ounce but less than five ounces of crack or cocaine. In this case, the district attorney may charge you with the “intent to distribute,” whether or not you actually intended to distribute or sell the drugs. (Possession of more than five ounces of crack or cocaine is a first-degree felony; it’s harder to “explain away” such large amounts of drugs and to claim that there was no intent to distribute). If you’ve been apprehended carrying more than half an ounce of crack or cocaine, especially near a school, park or housing project, the lawyers at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can defend you against charges of intent to distribute and possibly plead you down to a lesser charge.

Free Consultation With an Experienced New Jersey Cocaine Possession Defense Attorney

We want to hear your side of the story. To help you, we offer a free initial consultation. If we take your case, our defense lawyers will offer you the best legal defense possible. As former prosecutors and a former assistant district attorney on your side, our attorneys understand how the prosecution thinks. We have the knowledge and trial law experience to give you a competent and fair legal defense.

Call us today at (732) 450-8300 to schedule a free appointment. Our attorneys defend those accused of drug charges all throughout New Jersey including Monmouth, Ocean, Essex, Newark, Jersey City, Middlesex, and Mercer County.