Possession of a Controlled Substance

New Jersey Immigration Crimes Attorney

An immigrant that has been convicted of possession of a controlled substance can face severe penalties, including immigration consequences, such as deportation. Unfortunately, these can be permanent life-changing consequences.

Under U.S. immigration law, possession or distribution of controlled substances is not to be taken lightly. That is why it is vital to obtain legal representation from an immigration attorney to determine what the best course of action is to avoid conviction and penalties.

What Are the Penalties for a Drug Conviction?

In order to be found guilty for drug possession, the defendant must knowingly and unlawfully possess the controlled substance and be aware that the substance could be used unlawfully. Also taken into account are the amount of drugs in possession, the type of drug, and the location where the arrest took place.

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 punishes the possession of a controlled substance in New Jersey, stating that:

  1. It is unlawful for any person, knowingly or purposely, to obtain, or to possess, actually or constructively, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog, unless the substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order form from a practitioner, while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by P.L. 1970, c.226 (C.24:21-1 et seq.).
  2. Any person who violates this section with respect to:
  3. A controlled dangerous substance, or its analog, classified in Schedule I, II, III or IV other than those specifically covered in this section, is guilty of a crime of the third degree except that, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $35,000.00 may be imposed;
  4. Any controlled dangerous substance, or its analog, classified in Schedule V, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree except that, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $15,000.00 may be imposed;
  5. Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, or more than five grams of hashish is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree, except that, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $25,000.00 may be imposed; or
  6. Possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana, including any adulterants or dilutants, or five grams or less of hashish is a disorderly person.

Immigration Consequences

The consequences to an immigrant convicted of drug offenses include some of the following:

  • Ineligibility to obtain lawful permanent residency (Green Card)
  • Inability to become a U.S. citizen
  • Inadmissibility to the United States
  • Deportation from the United States
  • Mandatory detention

Defense Against Drug Crimes & Deportation

The consequences for drug crimes are unforgiving. However, there are several ways to ensure that you get a fair sentence or get unfair charges dropped. In order to deport an immigrant, there needs to be a conviction to a crime of moral turpitude or a crime that contains the elements of possession of a controlled substance.

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

Drug crimes are often considered crimes of moral turpitude. The legal definition of a crime of moral turpitude is an offense that has some degree of recklessness, willful and deliberate act that the general public might consider to be reprehensible or shocking to the general public.

These are the following conditions that could lead to deportation:

  • Committing a crime of moral turpitude within 5 years of being admitted to the U.S., and you have received a prison sentence of 1 year or more
  • Committing 2 or more crimes of moral turpitude that did not stem from a single criminal act

Drug-related crimes, including possession of a controlled substance are not typically considered to be “crimes of moral turpitude,” and are categorized under separate types of grounds for deportability. A drug-related crime that is considered an aggravated felony, for example, would be grounds for removal proceedings. Another example of what would make a conviction for a drug crime or possession would be if the non-U.S. citizen had an addiction or was considered a drug abuser.

A criminal immigration lawyer may defend his client by negotiating a plea agreement to a lesser included offense or even a different charge that does not contain the elements of drugs possession. Other options may include alternative sentencing programs. Also, a waiver is available if the immigrant was caught in possession of 30 grams or less.

For more information regarding Immigration and drug offenses, contact the Law Offices of Simone Bertollini to speak with a knowledgeable and aggressive New Jersey immigration attorney.

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