What’s the Difference Between Drug Possession and Drug Trafficking? Here’s What to Do if You’ve Been Accused of Either.

Learn the difference between drug possession and trafficking, and how you can protect your rights, from the criminal defense specialists at The Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot. 

Why New Jersey is an important part of the drug trade

New Jersey is the 9th most populous state in the nation and its location makes it a popular drug transshipment point. WIth two international airports, and bordering two key distribution centers – New York City and Philadelphia – New Jersey is a prime location for drug sales and activity

Knowing the difference between drug possession charges and drug trafficking charges is important in New Jersey, which has very strict punishments for either charge. Knowing what to do if you’ve been accused of drug possession or drug trafficking can make an enormous difference in the punishment you may receive for either action. 

Drug Possession

Drug possession is the crime of willfully possessing illegal substances such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin. According to the Department of Justice, Drug Possession accounts for nearly 80% of all drug arrests in the United States. In New Jersey, the amount of the drug one is caught possessing does not always affect the level of the charge (except for marijuana). 

First time offenders beware! Just because it is your first possession offense does not mean the penalty will be lessened. Possession of marijuana, still considered illegal in New Jersey, can have vastly different penalties depending on the amount possessed. 

Possession of “harder” drugs, like cocaine, heroin, acid, ecstasy, opiates, etc. means stiffer penalties compared to marijuana which has strict penalties to begin with. Possession of these types of drugs is considered a “third degree crime” in New Jersey of which the consequences are up to 5 years in prison and up to $35,000 in fines. 

A drug possession conviction can change your life forever. In the short term, fines, jail or prison sentences, and the loss of your job will definitely be results you’ll deal with. In the long term, not being able to find employment, losing custody of your children, not being accepted into a college, being deported if you are not a permanent U.S. citizen, or paying higher insurance rates are all complications of a drug possession conviction. 

Drug Trafficking 

Drug trafficking is defined as the illegal sale, manufacture or creation, transport, movement, and/or distribution of any substance that is either illegal to own or was illegally acquired. Usually a drug trafficking charge reflects the end result of a lengthy investigation and includes more than handing drugs from point A to point B. In New Jersey, this type of charge can be life altering. 

Drug trafficking convictions result in much harsher penalties than drug possession convictions. A drug trafficking conviction in New Jersey is considered a “first degree crime” and automatically generates a harsh mandatory minimum sentence. Life imprisonment with a chance of parole only after 25 years served is the customary sentence for drug trafficking, not to mention substantial fines of up to $750,000.  

Different components involved in a drug trafficking conviction, called “aggravated factors” can increase the punishment as well. The scale of the drug trafficking network, the number of victims affected by the drugs, and the use of weapons within the drug trafficking network are some of the factors that will increase the sentence of one who is convicted. 

The state of New Jersey is serious when it comes to combating drug trafficking. The Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) is a multi agency collaboration meant to find and convict violent offenders, and criminal organizations in the State. 

I’ve Been Accused of Drug Possession or Drug Trafficking. What Do I Do? 

If you, or someone you love, have been accused of Drug Possession or Drug Trafficking, find a trustworthy criminal defense attorney immediately. Before talking to the police, a DEA agent, or the prosecutor, seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot has over 50 years of experience handling these types of cases, let them help you. 

Contact us today for your confidential consultation!