How a New Jersey Drug Conviction Can Affect the Rest of Your Life
Most people understand that drug charges carry serious consequences. However, most people don’t realize that these consequences can follow you for the rest of your life, even after you’ve served time in prison. A drug conviction can do irreparable damage to your future prospects, leaving you unable to get a job or take care of your family. If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, you should contact a New Jersey criminal defense attorney right away.
Incarceration and Fines
When charged with a drug crime, the first thing most people worry about is whether they will have to go to prison. You should also be aware that the court may impose heavy fines, possibly several thousand dollars. Of course, the crime you are charged with will determine both the prison sentence and fines you face if convicted. Here are some of the sentences and fines that New Jersey courts can impose on people convicted of drug crimes:
- Three to five years in prison
- $1,000-$25,000 in fines
Possession of drug paraphernalia:
- Six months in prison
- $500-$1,000 in fines
Possession with intent to distribute:
- Anywhere from three to twenty-five years in prison, depending on the narcotic and the amount
- Anywhere from $75,000 to $300,000 in fines
If you are convicted of possession of cocaine, for example, you could face at least three years in prison. Think about what that will do to your life – if you have children, you will have almost no contact with them. You will be unable to work or advance in your career. You will be unable to attend family events. In short, the world will move on while you’re serving your prison sentence, and that’s time you’ll never get back.
And how will you pay the fines? You’re unable to work while you’re in prison, and finding a job is not easy for anyone. Failing to pay your fines will likely lead to further legal problems, leaving you locked in a downward spiral that could take years or even decades to solve after you’ve been released.
A drug conviction could also result in losing your job, especially if your employer prohibits the use of drugs. Even if they don’t, many employers do not want to retain an employee if they believe they have drug problems. A drug conviction may cause your employer to question your judgment and your trustworthiness. Finally, if you have to spend any significant amount of time in jail, your employer is not required to keep your job open for you until you get out. New Jersey is an “at-will employment” state, meaning that they can fire you at any time and without reason. If convicted of a drug charge, it is very likely that you will lose your job.
Having a criminal drug conviction may also make it difficult to find a job even after you’ve paid your fines and served a prison sentence. While there are laws that protect you from being discriminated against due to your criminal record, it is very difficult to prove that discrimination occurred. Regardless of whether or not you were discriminated against, the fact is that you still don’t have a steady job and the income you need to live.
Loss of Education Opportunities
If you are currently in school, understand that a drug conviction may result in expulsion. At a minimum, it may make it difficult to complete your education, particularly if you have to go to jail.
If you are thinking about going to college, you should be aware that some schools may decline your application if you have a criminal record. In addition, a drug conviction may make you ineligible for federal financial aid.
- A first-time conviction for possession will make you ineligible for one year, and you will be ineligible for two years for a second offense. Third and subsequent convictions for the possession of drugs will make you ineligible indefinitely.
- You will be ineligible for two years upon a first-time conviction for selling drugs, and you will be indefinitely ineligible for subsequent offenses.
Being unable to get into the school you want or get the funds you need to get an education can have a devastating effect on your future.
If you are not a legal resident of the United States, a drug conviction can carry serious consequences. You could face possible deportation and be prohibited from re-entering the country lawfully.
A felony drug conviction can also render you ineligible for certain public benefits, including “general assistance” and certain housing programs. Your eligibility will depend on your crime and the circumstances surrounding your case. You may be able to qualify if you meet certain conditions, such as enrollment in or completion of a drug treatment program.
Loss of Professional License
If you hold a professional license, a drug conviction could result in disciplinary proceedings and culminate in the suspension or revocation of your license. For example, just least year, 5 New Jersey doctors lost their medical licenses because of crimes related to the illegal distribution of drugs.. Health care professionals, accountants, lawyers, and other professionals risk losing their ability to make a living as a result of a drug conviction.
Loss of Rights
On top of everything else, you may also lose some of your civil rights. You will be unable to vote while you’re in prison or on probation. A drug conviction can also prohibit you from purchasing or owning a firearm. Certain drug convictions such as possession of narcotics or drug paraphernalia may result in the suspension of your driver’s license.
If You’ve Been Charged with a Drug Crime in New Jersey, Contact Wimmer Criminal Defense Law
Law enforcement aggressively prosecutes drug crimes and their first priority is to get a conviction. If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney before you lose your rights. New Jersey criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer will help you understand your options and give you an aggressive defense so that you can get a fair result. Don’t delay – call us at 215-712-1212 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.