Persons convicted in New Jersey of cocaine-related crimes are exposed to various financial penalties from the court. Some of these financial penalties are discretionary with the judge. Others are mandatory.
The maximum fine on a possession of cocaine conviction is $35,000.00. The maximum fine for distribution of cocaine, or for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, depends upon the quantity of cocaine involved. When the quantity is less than one-half ounce, the fine can be up to $75,000.00. From one-half ounce or more, but less than five ounces, the fine can range up to $150,000.00. And for five ounces or more, the fine can reach $500,000.00.
When the New Jersey conviction is for distribution of cocaine, or possession with intent to distribute, an alternative method of determining the maximum fine is available to the court. In lieu of the maximum fines just mentioned, the court can make findings concerning the street value of the cocaine in question. The court then has the authority to impose a fine of up to triple the street value that it determines.
All fines imposed above are discretionary. “Discretionary” means that the court has the discretion as to how much of these fines to impose. In its discretion, the court can refrain from imposing any of these fines.
In addition to discretionary fines, New Jersey statutes specify other amounts that the judge sentencing a person convicted of cocaine-related offenses must impose. These additional amounts are called “assessments,” not fines. From the perspective of the convicted person, there is no practical difference between a fine and an “assessment.”With rare exception, however, these assessments are mandatory. The court lacks discretion to waive these assessments, as it could with fines.
The first assessment is called the “Drug Enforcement Demand Reduction”penalty. It is usually just referred to as “DEDR.” This DEDR penalty is determined solely by the degree of crime of which the person has been convicted. This amount is determined as follows:
When a person is sentenced on multiple counts, the court does have discretion to assess a DEDR penalty on only one of the counts. That shall be the count having the highest DEDR assessment. In deciding to exercise this discretion, the court must consider whether assessment of multiple DEDR penalties would constitute a serious hardship that outweighs the need to deter future criminal activity. The court must also consider whether imposition of just one DEDR penalty would foster rehabilitation.
The court is also required to impose DEDR penalties upon persons receiving PTI. In those instances, the number of DEDR penalties to be imposed is limited to one.
For persons convicted of cocaine-related offenses in New Jersey, N.J.S. 2C:35-20 requires the court to impose a “laboratory fee.” The amount of this fee is $50.00. A separate lab fee must be imposed for each cocaine- or drug related offense for which the person was convicted. This fee is in addition to the DEDR penalties, and the discretionary fines mentioned above.
Finally, persons convicted of cocaine- and drug related offenses are assessed the same fees assessed for non-drug convictions. These consist of a “Victims of Crime Compensation Board” (VCCB) fee, a “Safe Neighborhoods Services Fund” (SNSF) fee, and a “Law Enforcement Training and Equipment Fund” fee. The VCCB fee is $50.00 for each count convicted. The SNSF fee is $75.00 per count convicted. The Law Enforcement Training fee is $30.00. Only one Law Enforcement Training fee is imposed per conviction, regardless of the number of counts.
The highest priority for Cocaine Lawyers in New Jersey™ is to avoid a conviction for their clients. When that is not feasible, their top priority becomes preserving their clients' freedom. Saving clients' driving privileges and minimizing financial penalties come rather far down the list, but these are still important. Cocaine Lawyers in New Jersey™ remain mindful of these issues as their defense progresses. Persons charged with cocaine- and drug related offenses are invited to discuss all issues in a confidential no-cost no-obligtion conference.
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