Aggressive Criminal Defense Lawyer With Offices in Essex County and Morristown, NJ
In New Jersey, drug cultivation is a first-degree indictable offense. This means that it is punished more harshly than most other drug crimes, and it is considered as severe an offense as murder, manslaughter and sexual assault. While there are minimum limits as to what constitutes “cultivation” of marijuana, these limits are low enough that most individuals who maintain growing operations can face the potential for long-term imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence without parole eligibility.
What Constitutes “Cultivation” of Marijuana Under New Jersey Law?
New Jersey’s marijuana cultivation law appears in Section 2C:35-4 of the Code of Criminal Justice. Under Section 2C:35-4, state prosecutors can pursue charges against anyone who:
“[K]nowingly maintains or operates any premises, place or facility used for the manufacture [or cultivation] of . . . marijuana in an amount greater than five pounds or ten plants . . . or any person who knowingly aids, promotes, finances or otherwise participates in the maintenance or operations of such premises, place or facility.”
For purposes of the five-pound limit, prosecutors can count the entire weight of the cannabis plant, not just the buds that can actually be cultivated for usable marijuana. Similarly, a “plant” can be a sprout of any size, regardless of weight and number of buds (if any).
What are the Penalties for Marijuana Cultivation in New Jersey?
As a first-degree indictable offense, drug cultivation carries potential penalties of 10 to 20 years in prison and a $200,000 fine. In addition, under 2C:35-4, drug cultivation carries a minimum sentence of “one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole.” In other words, if you receive a minimum prison sentence of 10 years, you will be required to serve at least three years and four months before you can file an application for parole. If you are sentenced to 20 years, you could be required to serve up to 10 years before attaining parole eligibility.
Does New Jersey’s Cultivation Law Apply to Drugs Other than Marijuana?
New Jersey’s drug manufacturing and cultivation law applies to marijuana and all other drugs listed on Schedule I and Schedule II, as well as methamphetamine, lysergic acid diethylamide, phencyclidine, gamma hydroxybutyrate, flunitrazepam, and any analogs to these substances. Under Section 2C:35-4, there are no minimum limits on the amounts of these other drugs that must be manufactured or cultivated in order for an individual to face first-degree charges.
Is it Possible to Avoid Mandatory Imprisonment for Drug Cultivation?
Potentially, yes. The mandatory imprisonment provisions of Section 2C:35-4 are subject to the provisions of Section 2C:35-12 allowing for negotiated plea and post-conviction agreements that deviate from the statutory sentencing requirements. If it is not possible to avoid punishment in your case, attorney Scott Gorman will fight to minimize your punishment as much as possible.
Request a Confidential Criminal Defense Consultation
If you have been arrested for drug cultivation in New Jersey, attorney Scott Gorman can protect you. To speak with Scott about your defense, call (201) 489-9199 or request a confidential consultation online now. We have offices in Essex County and Morristown.