Convicted for Drug Possession
Convicted for Possession of Drugs in New Jersey
Both New Jersey and federal lawmakers take drug-related offenses very seriously. Possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) can have many serious penalties, which depend on the type and amount of drugs possessed. For example, a first offense for possession of any amount of cocaine can result in three to five years in prison, a fine of up to $35,000, or both.
In order to convict you of possession of CDS, a prosecutor must only prove the following elements:
- The drug was a controlled dangerous substance;
- You actually or constructively possessed the CDS for personal use; and
- You knowingly possessed the CDS.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to defend against drug possession charges and to disprove one or more of the above elements. Some defenses include:
- The drugs were discovered through an unlawful search and seizure in violation of your 4th Amendment rights.
- A lab error made it impossible to know that the substance you had was a CDS.
- You did not know about the drugs.
The defenses that are appropriate in your case will depend upon the facts of your particular situation.
Deportation for Possession of Drugs
While it is frightening enough to face prison time and extensive fines for a drug possession conviction, foreign nationals can face even more serious consequences as many drug convictions can lead to deportation proceedings. The only possession offense that may not result in deportation is possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana. Other than that, any drug charges brought against a non-citizen should be handled with extreme caution.
In addition to a formal drug conviction, immigrants can possibly be deported based on evidence that they are a drug addict or drug abuser, even if they were never charged with a crime. Evidence of such drug use can include a medical diagnosis, self-admission, and more.
Possession of Drugs with Intent to Distribute
More serious than a simple possession charge is the allegation that you possessed drugs with the intention of distributing those to other people. Depending on the amount of drugs in question, the penalties for this offense can range from three to 20 years in prison. Penalties can increase if the possession with intent to distribute took place near a school or if you have prior drug-related convictions on your record. For immigrants, a conviction can result in deportation as this offense is considered to be an aggravated felony under federal immigration laws, as well as a crime of moral turpitude, since selling drugs is believed to have evil intent.
There are different ways that authorities can try to establish that you intended to distribute or sell the drug you possessed, including:
- The amount was more than generally possessed for personal use.
- The drugs were packaged in a certain way or they found packaging or measuring materials, such as baggies or a scale.
- You also possessed a large amount of cash.
As with possession, there are many ways to defend against these charges to avoid conviction or possibly have them amended down to avoid the threat of deportation.
Another more serious drug offense that can result in deportation is drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is an aggravated felony for immigration purposes and involves the production, movement, transportation, smuggling, sale, and distribution of a CDS. Because authorities and lawmakers want to reduce the amount of drugs that enters into New Jersey, trafficking is one of the most serious criminal charges and a conviction will almost certainly lead to deportation proceedings. This does not mean there are not ways to defend against the charges or seek relief from removal if you are convicted. An experienced crimmigration attorney can identify methods of defense that can help both your criminal matter, as well as keep you in the country.
Call for a Consultation with a New Jersey Crimmigration Lawyer Immediately
If you are a foreign national facing allegations of any type of drug-related offense, you have more to worry about than your criminal sentence. You should always have an attorney representing your rights who fully understands all of the possible immigration implications of your criminal case and who keeps potential deportation in consideration throughout every step of your case. The law office of Ronald P. Mondello, Esq. Attorney at Law has helped many individuals defend against deportation both during and after a criminal case. For more information about how crimmigration attorney Ronald Mondello can help you, please contact our office to schedule your consultation today.