Virginia Residents Charged With Drug Crimes In New Jersey
Being charged with a drug-related crime is a serious matter. However, being charged with such crimes in another state can lead to confusion and uncertainty. New Jersey and Virginia are close in proximity but not so near in how they handle drug-related crimes. Virginians should know what can happen to them should they be arrested for drugs or any other kind of crime in New Jersey.
How a NJ Drug Conviction Can Affect a VA Resident
A person living in Virginia cannot hide from a drug conviction in New Jersey or any other state. Decades ago it may have been possible to cross state lines and leave one’s past behind them. But today’s information age means law enforcement agencies and background checks can find evidence of convictions from anywhere in the country. A drug conviction from NJ or any other state can impact many aspects of a person’s life. In addition to hefty fines and imprisonment, a conviction can impact where one lives to the ability to get a job. It can even affect educational opportunities and one’s immigration status.
In terms of sentencing and fines, the penalties depend heavily on the type of drug and often the quantity as well.
Drug Schedules in New Jersey
For the most part, drug schedules in both states are largely identical. Both use the following classifications:
Schedule I. This includes drugs such as heroin and LSD, which have a high potential for abuse and, with the exception of marijuana, no accepted medical use.
Schedule II. This covers drugs with a high potential for abuse and/or dependence, but which have practical medical use, such as hydromorphone (Dilaudid), methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone (Vicodin), fentanyl, morphine and cocaine.
Schedule III. These drugs have less potential for abuse, some potential for dependency and an accepted medical use. Anabolic steroids, ketamine and testosterone fall into this category.
Schedule IV. Drugs on this list have accepted medical uses and lower potential for abuse and/or dependency than Schedule III drugs. Tranquilizers and sedatives such as Valium, Ambien, and Xanax fall in this category.
Schedule V. Medically accepted drugs with the lowest potential for abuse and/or dependency fall in this category. This includes many common cough, congestion, and antidiarrheal medicines.
Schedule VI. New Jersey does not have a Schedule VI classification, but Virginia does. Schedule VI covers industrial and consumer-grade chemicals that have potential for abuse. Inhalants such as toluene (found in liquid and spray paint), amyl nitrite, and nitrous oxide (found in many types of aerosol cans) are some examples. Some of these chemicals are regulated under different statutes in New Jersey (e.g. 24:6G-2).
How NJ Drug Crime Penalties Compare to Virginia
Under 2C:35-10, New Jersey grades possession based on the schedule, but with fewer tiers, as illustrated below.
|Type of Drug||Crime in NJ||Penalty|
|Schedule I, II, III or IV Drug||Crime (felony) of the third degree||Three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $35,000|
|Schedule V Drug||Crime (felony) of the fourth degree||Up to 18 months in prison and up to $15,000 fine|
|More than 50 grams of marijuana (without a prescription) or more than five grams of hashish||Crime (felony) of the fourth degree||Up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $25,000|
|50 grams or less of marijuana or less than 5 grams of hashish||Disorderly persons offense||up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 fine|
By comparison, Virginia has nearly twice as many levels of severity, depending on the classification of the drug in question.
|Type of Drug||Crime in VA||Penalty|
|Schedule I or II Drugs (except marijuana)||Class 5 felony||One to 10 years in prison and/or fine of up to $2,500|
|Schedule III Drug||Class 1 misdemeanor||Up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500|
|Schedule IV Drug||Class 2 misdemeanor||Up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000|
|Schedule V Drug||Class 3 misdemeanor||Fine of up to $500|
|Schedule VI Drug||Class 4 misdemeanor||Fine of up to $250|
|Marijuana without a prescription||Class U misdemeanor (first conviction)||Up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500|
|Marijuana without a prescription (second offense)||Class 1 misdemeanor (second conviction)||Up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500|
When it comes to selling or distributing drugs, the penalties can be much harsher in both states. Virginia considers it a felony to sell Schedule I and II drugs, including more than a half-ounce of marijuana. A conviction can mean up to 40 years in prison up to $500,000 in fines. Intent to sell or distribute Schedule III, IV or V drugs, or less than a half-ounce of marijuana, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.
New Jersey is more complicated, with sentencing and fines dependent on the type of drug and the quantity. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5, intent to sell or distribute drugs such as heroin, LSD, meth and even marijuana means facing up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $75,000, depending on the amount. Intent to distribute most other Schedule I through IV drugs is a crime of the third degree, punishable by three to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
What Should a VA Resident Do About a NJ Drug Charge?
The only way to avoid the fines, jail time, and other serious consequences that come from an NJ drug conviction, is to beat the charge or have them reduced. This isn’t an easy task and it will require the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney licensed to practice in the state in question.
Adam H. Rosenblum is the founder and principal attorney of the Rosenblum Law Firm, which practices criminal defense law in New York and New Jersey. The attorneys of the Rosenblum Law Firm have more than 40 years of combined experience defending the rights of those charged with drug-related and other crimes.