What Constitutes a Felony Drug Charge in New Jersey?

Personal Injury Lawyers serving Englishtown, Newark, Jersey City, Monmouth & Middlesex Counties, and nearby areas of New Jersey


Police arresting person for drug offenseNew Jersey classifies crimes not as felonies and misdemeanors, but as indictable offenses, disorderly persons offenses, and petty disorderly persons offenses. Depending on the type and amount of the drug, possession can be classified as an indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense.

At Shapiro & Sternlieb, LLC, our drug offense lawyers know that a drug conviction can have serious consequences for your personal and professional life, as well as for your mental, emotional, and financial well-being. We also realize that many people who face drug charges are addicts who need help, not criminals who need punishment.

This blog breaks down how drug offenses are classified and penalized in New Jersey. If you’ve been accused of a drug crime, we will vigorously defend your rights and dignity.

What is a Disorderly Persons Offense in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, disorderly persons offenses are the equivalent of misdemeanors in other states. They’re split into two categories:

  • Petty disorderly persons offense: This is the least serious category of crime in New Jersey. It includes crimes of disorderly conduct and harassment. It’s punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
  • Disorderly persons offense: This includes more serious crimes such as assault, shoplifting, and resisting arrest. It’s punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

What is an Indictable Offense in New Jersey?

An indictable offense in New Jersey is the equivalent of a felony in other states. The sentence for any indictable offense is at least one year in prison. New Jersey classifies indictable offenses by degrees:

  • First-degree crimes: These are the most severe crimes, such as murder, manslaughter, and rape. They’re punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison, or from 20, 25, or 30 years to life for murder. Convicted offenders can also be fined up to $200,000.
  • Second-degree crimes: This category includes some sex crimes, aggravated arson, burglary, kidnapping, and white-collar crimes. These offenses can be penalized by 5 to 10 years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine.
  • Third-degree crimes: Third-degree crimes include arson, some robbery crimes, and some driving while intoxicated (DWI) crimes. The punishment can be 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
  • Fourth-degree crimes: These crimes include stalking, forgery, some DWI offenses, and some robbery offenses. The penalty can be up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

New Jersey Drug Possession Laws

In New Jersey, the severity of a drug possession charge depends on the type of drug you were accused of possessing. If you are charged with marijuana possession, the amount also matters.

The penalties for drug possession in New Jersey are:

  • Marijuana: Less than 50 grams of marijuana or less than 5 grams of hash is a disorderly persons offense. More than 50 grams of weed or more than 5 grams of hash is a 4th-degree indictable offense.
  • Heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, and more: Possession of any banned substances other than marijuana, and possession of unauthorized prescription drugs, in New Jersey is classified as a 3rd-degree indictable offense.
  • Drug paraphernalia: Possession of drug paraphernalia such as pipes and needles is a disorderly persons offense.

Medical Marijuana Laws in New Jersey

New Jersey laws allow for the use of medical marijuana by patients who have received a submitted a physician’s recommendation and completed an application through the state.

Patients can possess up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana per month. They can’t grow their own weed. A patient’s caretaker is also allowed to possess marijuana if they are older than 18, do not have a drug conviction, and only have one qualifying patient at a time.

Contact Our New Jersey Drug Offense Lawyers Today

At Shapiro & Sternlieb, LLC, our lawyers are committed to the vigorous defense of our clients’ rights and dignity. If you are accused of a drug crime, we will fight your charges and do everything in our power to get you the help you need.

One of our partners, David H. Sternlieb, is a former prosecutor who knows the system from the inside. We will use this knowledge to aid your defense.

We serve Englishtown, Newark, Jersey City, Monmouth and Middlesex counties, and nearby areas of New Jersey. Call (732) 617-8050 today to schedule a consultation.