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Is Underage Marijuana Possession a Crime in New Jersey? What You Need to Know

May 13, 2023

Is Underage Marijuana Possession a Crime in New Jersey What You Need to Know

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the legal landscape surrounding marijuana in the United States. As more states legalize the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, it is essential to understand the laws governing its possession, especially for individuals under the legal age. In this article, we will explore the legal implications of underage marijuana possession in New Jersey, shedding light on what you need to know.

Understanding Marijuana Laws in New Jersey:

New Jersey has undergone substantial changes in its marijuana laws. In February 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed three bills into law, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults aged 21 and over. However, these changes do not extend to individuals under the legal age, and juvenile possession can still carry legal consequences.

Underage Possession of Marijuana in New Jersey:

In New Jersey, possessing marijuana by an individual under the age of 21 is considered a criminal disorderly person’s offense, although it is less severe than a felony. While the state has decriminalized small amounts of marijuana for adults, it does not extend the same leniency to minors. Possessing any amount of marijuana as an underage individual can result in marijuana charges with serious legal consequences.

Juvenile vs. Adult Court:

In most cases, underage individuals charged with marijuana possession are processed through the juvenile justice system in New Jersey. The aim of this system is to rehabilitate rather than punish. However, depending on the circumstances, serious juvenile crimes or repeated violations may lead to transfer to the adult court system.

Legal Penalties for Underage Marijuana Possession:

The consequences for underage marijuana possession in New Jersey can vary depending on several factors, including the amount of marijuana involved, the individual’s age, and any previous convictions. Generally, the potential penalties for underage marijuana possession may include:

  • Fines: The court may impose fines as a punishment for underage possession of marijuana. The amount can vary depending on the circumstances but can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
  • Probation: The court may order probation, requiring the individual to adhere to specific conditions, such as drug counseling or regular check-ins with a probation officer.
  • Driver’s License Suspension: In some circumstances, the judge may decide to suspend the offender’s driver’s license for a set period of time. This can have significant implications, especially for young individuals who rely on their ability to drive.
  • Drug Education Programs: The court may require participation in drug education programs or community service as part of the sentencing process.
  • Criminal Record: A conviction for underage marijuana possession can result in a permanent mark on an individual’s criminal record. This record can have various negative consequences, including difficulty obtaining employment, housing, and educational opportunities.

Possible Defense Strategies:

An attorney knowledgeable in marijuana possession cases can explore several defense strategies on your behalf. Some common defenses may include:

1. Unlawful Search and Seizure: 

challenging the legality of the police officers’ search and seizure procedures

2. Lack of Knowledge: 

Demonstrating that the individual was unaware that the substance in their possession was marijuana

3. Medical Necessity: 

Arguing that the marijuana was being used for legitimate medical purposes under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional

4. Fourth Amendment violation: 

If the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights during the search or arrest, any evidence found may be inadmissible in court

The Importance of Legal Representation:

If you or your child is facing juvenile charges related to underage marijuana possession in New Jersey, it is crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney specializing in criminal defense. A skilled attorney can assess the circumstances of the case, explore possible defenses, and work towards achieving the best possible outcome, whether through negotiation, diversion programs, or other legal strategies.

Important Takeaway

While New Jersey has legalized recreational marijuana for adults, it’s important to understand that underage possession of marijuana remains a crime. Underage marijuana possession can have long-lasting consequences, including fines, loss of driving privileges, and potential involvement in the juvenile justice system. 

If you or a loved one is facing charges related to underage marijuana possession, it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can provide expert legal advice and ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process. Remember, understanding the law is the first step towards successfully navigating the legal system.

Contact The Law Offices of Michele Finizio Today For a Free Consultation About Your Juvenile Drug Offense

When you’re facing criminal charges, you need a skilled attorney who will fight for your rights and protect your future. At the Law Offices of Michele Finizio, we understand the stress and uncertainty that come with juvenile charges, and we’re here to help. Our experienced team of attorneys is dedicated to providing personalized, compassionate representation to each of our clients. With our extensive knowledge of the law and unwavering dedication to client success, we are here to protect your rights and fight for your best interests.

When you choose the Law Offices of Michele Finizio, you are choosing a trusted legal partner who will guide you through every step of the legal process, ensuring that you feel informed, empowered, and supported. Don’t let legal challenges overwhelm you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Let us put our expertise to work for you and provide you with the exceptional legal representation you deserve. Together, we can navigate the complexities of the legal system and strive for a brighter future.

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