Use or Being Under the Influence of Drugs Attorney in Evesham NJ
Facing Charges for Being under the Influence of CDS in Burlington County, New Jersey
Most people know that when you leave a party after drinking alcoholic beverages or using drugs, you are at risk of a DWI once you get in your car. Some people mistakenly believe they can walk home when drunk or high to avoid legal trouble. However, being under the influence of drugs in public is also illegal in New Jersey. Should a police officer suspect you are under the influence of an unlawful substance, they can stop you on the street, outside a bar or party, or in front of your own home and potentially arrest you for being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Worse, you could also face related charges, such as possession of CDS, disorderly conduct, or criminal mischief, which means exposure to a longer potential jail sentence and higher fines.
A drug arrest and criminal charge can seriously impact your life. Your case’s arrest, charges, and disposition (conviction, dismissal, or other outcome) become part of your criminal record. That means a potential employer running a background check on you will see the arrest and results of your case, at least until you can get the incident expunged from your record. Depending on your criminal history, that may not happen immediately and may not be possible. And if you are a student, a criminal record may affect your college admissions and housing.
If you are facing charges for being under the influence of drugs in Cinnaminson, Mount Laurel, Delran, Mount Holly, Burlington City, Pemberton, Bordentown, or another Burlington County municipality, trust that a criminal defense attorney at Proetta, Oliver, & Fay can help you with your drug case to obtain the most favorable resolution. Contact us 24/7 to request a free consultation online or by calling 609-850-8284.
Violations of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b) Under New Jersey Law
While being under the influence of drugs is not indictable, it is still a crime. A disorderly persons offense for violating N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(b) means you face jail time for using or being under the influence of a CDS or its analog. The statute excludes those with valid prescriptions who are under a doctor’s treatment for an illness or injury. However, according to the law, the prosecuting attorney does not have to prove you used or were under the influence of a specific drug. All the state must prove is that you appeared to be under the influence of an unlawful substance by your actions and reactions.
Arrested for Use of Drugs or Being under the Influence of CDS
Perhaps an officer observing you walking down the street might recognize the signs of impairment by drugs. Law enforcement is trained to recognize behaviors indicating someone is drunk or drugged. An officer suspicious of your staggering might stop and ask if you had alcoholic drinks or drugs. They may ask you a series of questions while assessing your balance, reflexes, and mental capacity. And if it appears that you are under the influence of drugs like cocaine, heroin, oxycontin, methamphetamine, LSD, or another controlled dangerous substance, the officer may conclude you are impaired, and an arrest follows.
Standard of Proof for Under the Influence of Drugs Offenses in New Jersey
It does not matter that no blood or urine tests were taken to identify drugs in your system. An officer can still testify that you were under the influence of CDS as a witness to your conduct and reactions during the incident. Their experience with drugs and the affects of taking illegal or prescription substances may weigh heavily in a judge’s mind in favor of a conviction. In other words, the state does not have to identify which drugs you took to prove you were under the influence of CDS.
A police officer can typically identify broad categories of drugs in your system by your physical and physiological appearance and responses, such as pupil dilation, jitteriness, sluggishness, slurred speech, sweating, eyelid twitches, and mental coherence. They can identify specific symptoms of CDS, whether a hallucinogen, opioid, analgesic, benzodiazepine, or inhalant. They can also testify that other indicators, such as track marks on your arms or empty pill bottles, further confirm their conclusion that you were under the influence of drugs. Of course, if you consented to a blood or urine test, the lab analysis may determine the drugs in your system. However, you do not have to agree to those tests, and officers must get a warrant from the court to force you to take those tests.
Fines and Imprisonment for Being Under the Influence of Drugs Charges in NJ
Whether you are under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance such as heroin, cocaine, LSD, fentanyl, methamphetamine, Xanax, or other scheduled drugs on New Jersey’s CDS schedules, you can face serious consequences. If a municipal court judge convicts you of unlawful use or being under the influence of CDS, you could go to jail for six months and pay $1,000.00 in fines for committing a disorderly persons offense. Additionally, you could lose your license for up to two years, be on probation for five years, and pay over $200 in additional fees.
Diversionary Program Options for First Offenders Charged with Under the Influence of CDS
If it is your first offense, you may be eligible for a diversionary program called conditional discharge. Applicants must have a clear criminal record and be good candidates to complete a probation program with specific requirements, such as drug testing, counseling, or other resource access. Completion of such a program aimed at rehabilitation results in a clear record. Upon completion, the court dismisses your charges.
Since the Superior Court handles indictable crimes, you may end up there if you are also charged with a felony-level offense for drug possession. Still, when it’s your first run-in with the law, you may apply to the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, the superior court’s version of a probationary diversionary program like conditional discharge or conditional dismissal. You must apply, and the prosecutor decides whether to consent to your entering the program. After completing the program, you have no conviction on your criminal record.
What Happens if I am Charged with Possession and Being under the Influence of Drugs in NJ?
Another charge that typically accompanies a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 for being under the influence is possession of CDS. Drug possession is a third degree indictable crime for possessing a Schedule I, II, III, or IV drug. However, it is a fourth degree crime to have a Schedule V drug or over six ounces of marijuana, and an ounce or less of psilocybin is a disorderly persons offense. Schedule I drugs are the most addictive and Schedule V drugs are mostly over the counter drugs.
A third degree crime is punishable by up to three to five years in prison and a $15,000.00 fine; a fourth-degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months and a $10,000.00 fine. You may also face a criminal charge for disorderly conduct, an offense typically correlated with an under the influence of CDS charges.
Let our Mount Laurel Being Under the Influence of Drugs Defense Lawyers Handle Your Case
Barring a diversion, you will need an attorney to defend you at trial or negotiate with the prosecutor for a reduced charge or lesser sentence. With the possibility of a trial, you will need an attorney from the outset to tactfully and expediently answer the charges. For example, you may have valid affirmative defenses, such as that the drugs you took were authorized and legal by a valid prescription. Your attorney may also have other ways to defend you and weaken the prosecution’s case.
For instance, a savvy cross-examination may significantly diminish an officer’s testimony. So, when an officer testifies that your eyes twitched and make abnormal eye movements, your attorney may counter with your medical condition that causes such symptoms. Your attorney hears potential defenses in your story when you tell them what happened before and after your arrest, which is why seeking sound legal representation from a criminal defense lawyer is a must.
Our attorneys have been handling charges for use or being under the influence of CDS, as well as drug possession and other drug-related offenses in Burlington County, for over ten years each, including in Burlington Township, Eastampton, Medford, Mansfield, North Hanover, Delanco, Springfield, and Palmyra. We are available anytime to provide you with a consultation at no cost, so connect with us at 609-850-8284 today.
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. We have four office locations conveniently located in Jersey City, Edison, Middletown, Cranford, Burlington, and Hamilton. All major credit cards are accepted.
525 Highway 73, Suite 104, Marlton, New Jersey 08053 Phone: 609-850-8284 By Appointment Only
100 Horizon Center Boulevard, Hamilton, New Jersey, 08691 By Appointment Only
Point Pleasant Office
3828 River Road,
Suite A, Point Pleasant,
New Jersey 08742
By Appointment Only
180 Kings Highway, Middletown Township, New Jersey 07748 By Appointment Only