Any criminal charge can stay on your record for your entire life. Some charges, such as a CDS charge in NJ, are more detrimental to your future than others. If a judge convicts you on a CDS charge, it can affect your employment, financial future, and even child custody. Working with a lawyer to help fight a CDS charge in NJ is the best way to defend your rights and protect your record.
What is a CDS Charge in NJ?
Being in possession or under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) without a medical prescription can be a serious crime. The severity of that crime comes down to the specific substance in your possession and the amount of substance you have. Even if you aren’t under the influence of the substance, you can still face a CDS charge.
CDS charges in NJ are handled according to N.J.S.A 2C:35-10. Some cases can be treated as an indictable offense, while others are only considered a disorderly persons offense. Regardless of which category your case falls under, you’ll need a lawyer to help defend you in court. While you don’t strictly need an attorney to navigate the court process, having someone who knows the ins and outs of CDS laws will benefit you greatly in the long run.
How a CDS Charge in NJ Affects Your Future
Whether it’s an indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense, a CDS charge in NJ can dramatically affect your future. Criminal charges stay on your record unless you get them expunged, and they’re available to the public. This means that if anyone does even a simple background check on you, your CDS conviction will pop up. Having a criminal record has serious ramifications, especially for your financial future.
CDS Charges and Finances
Whenever you apply for a job or a loan, most people are going to run a background check on you. If you have any kind of criminal record, they’ll know about it. Unfortunately, most places of employment or lenders don’t care about the specifics of the case. As soon as they see a conviction, your chances of getting hired or securing money are gone. Defending yourself well in court with the help of a lawyer can prevent the charges from showing up in your record and creating financial hardship.
CDS Charges and Other Legal Cases
Having a criminal record will also affect any future legal dealings you may encounter. This includes further criminal cases as well as more minor disputes. For example, if you are battling for child custody and you have a CDS charge on your record, you could lose your rights as a parent. You may also be unable to properly defend yourself in future criminal cases if you already have a conviction for CDS. In many instances, having a previous conviction can actually worsen the penalties you face if convicted again.
What Are the Penalties for CDS Charges in NJ?
If you are convicted of a disorderly conduct charge for CDS violations, you can expect to face the following penalties:
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Up to six months of incarceration in county jail
- A minimum of six months of suspension on your driver’s license (if under the influence while operating a vehicle)
- A minimum of 100 hours of community service (if under the influence within 1,000 feet of school property)
Indictable charges for CDS violations are more severe. You can expect to face harsher punishments, such as 3-5 years in prison or fines up to $35,000.
Photo by christopher lemercier on Unsplash
How a Lawyer Can Help Your Case
Trying to fight a CDS charge in NJ alone can be frustrating and often unsuccessful. There are many specifics about each law you need to understand to be able to properly defend yourself. Working with an attorney can help you prevent the negative impact a CDS conviction has on your future.
Possible defenses an attorney could use to help your case include:
- Lack of Probable Cause to Arrest
- Lack of Warrant or Reasonable Suspicion to Stop and Search Your Vehicle
- Rights Were Violated or Not Explained During Search or Arrest
- Lack of Actual Possession or Constructive Possession (i.e., having no knowledge of a passenger possessing drugs)
- Inaccurate or Questionable Lab Results
Getting a CDS Charge Expunged
If you are convicted of a CDS charge in NJ, there may be the opportunity to have your conviction expunged from your criminal record. However, there are certain eligibility requirements that must be met.
For starters, a CDS conviction can only be expunged if you have had minimal or no previous criminal violations. As long as your previous criminal record is clear, you can have the conviction wiped from your record. However, you still need to wait a set amount of time before you can get the conviction expunged. For a disorderly persons offense, you must wait five years, and for an indictable offense, you must wait ten years.
While the wait can be difficult, it’s important to keep in mind that even if you do get convicted of a CDS charge, you can still work on getting your criminal record clean once more.
Need Help with a CDS Charge in NJ?
If you face a CDS charge in NJ, you don’t have to fight it alone. Attorney Leon Matchin has devoted his practice to helping clients face criminal charges and protect their records. Just because you were arrested for CDS possession or influence doesn’t mean you have to let it affect your future. Call Attorney Matchin today at (732) 887-2479 to schedule a free consultation about your case. The sooner you call, the sooner he can get to work building you a strong defense.