Cocaine and Crack Cocaine Penalties in Passaic County NJ

The New Jersey Criminal Code classifies drugs, or controlled dangerous substances, according to their potential for abuse and their usefulness in the medical community. Cocaine and crack cocaine are considered Schedule II drug because they have a high potential for abuse and limited acceptable medical uses.

Cocaine and crack are identical at the molecular level. Having said that, people charged with possession of crack, or caught distributing it are given harsher penalties. The penalty of possession of 1 gm of crack is the same as for holding 18 gm of cocaine. The 1:18 disparity in sentencing is actually an improvement as previously the sentencing disparity was 1:100.

Here you will learn about the differences in penalties for possessing or distributing cocaine and crack in the US.

Criminal Penalties Associated with Cocaine and Crack in Paterson NJ

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1) prohibits the possession, either actually or constructively, of a Schedule II drug like cocaine. Additionally, the statute classifies cocaine possession as a third degree crime, which is a felony-level offense with severe penalties.

The Fair Sentencing Act of 2000 had reduced the disparity in sentencing of the two different drugs that are similar in composition. However, the Act had not completely eliminated the disparity. A person who is found in possession of 500 grams of cocaine can receive a sentence of five years’ prison term. In contrast only 28 grams of crack can result in the same prison sentence.

The disparity in sentencing of the two drugs is due to the increased media coverage in the 1980s of crack. The media reports resulted in increased political pressure to impose harsher penalty on the possession of crack. The harsher sentencing for possession and sale of cocaine was established by the introduction of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986.

The Act had created a mandatory minimum sentencing of five years for possession and distribution of just 5 grams of crack. Later the minimum quantity for the five-year prison term was increased to 28 grams.

The following chart provides some details of New Jersey’s cocaine laws:

Code Section 24:21-1, et seq.; 2C:35-2, et seq.
Possession Crime of 3rd degree, $35,000
Sale .5 oz. or less: crime of 3rd degree, $75,000; .5 oz. to 5 oz.: crime of 2nd degree; Over 5 oz.: crime of 1st degree, fixed prison term and $300,000; Selling within 1000 feet of school: fixed prison term and up to $100,000; Selling to minor or pregnant female: double penalties
Trafficking Leader of narcotics trafficking network: life (25 yr. minimum before parole) and/or $500,000

What to Do if Charged with Possession of Cocaine in Wayne NJ

If you are charged with possession of crack or cocaine, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Keep in mind that possession of both the drugs result in harsh penalties. An experienced criminal defense lawyer possesses in-depth knowledge about cases pertaining to possession and distribution of illegal drugs.

The criminal defense attorney can provide valuable advice regarding the strength of the case against you. The lawyer will also offer you advice regarding available practitioner. Hiring a local lawyer is recommended who is familiar with the law regarding drug use and distribution in the state. The local lawyer will know about the prosecuting attorney and judges in your jurisdiction and give an objective assessment of how the case will proceed. The attorney will be able to marshal the evidences in a way that results in the best possible outcome of the case in your favor.

Contact Our Woodland Park Criminal Defense Attorneys Today for your Possession or Distribution Charges

In case you are charged with possession or distribution of cocaine or crack in NJ, you should contact experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Montanari Law Group. We have been serving the areas of Passaic County, Clifton, Wayne, Passaic, West Milford, and surrounding areas in NJ with integrity and dedication for decades. If you want to obtain a free initial consultation, you can get in touch with us by dialing 888-877-7985, or contact us online.


To speak with one of our highly knowledgeable attorneys, contact us today at (973)-233-4396 or toll-free at (888)-877-7985. You can also complete the form below to begin your conversation. We are a personalized, boutique-style law firm that offers free initial consultations and flexible appointment options.