The New Jersey statutes that deal with distribution of cocaine are N.J.S. 2C:35-5a(1), and N.J.S. 2C:35-5(b)(1), -(2), and -(3). Distributing cocaine in New Jersey is a separate crime from merely possessing it. The smallest quantity cocaine distribution is a third degree crime. As the quantity distributed increases, so does the grading of the crime. Our table below outlines the different degrees of crime.

“Distributing” cocaine in New Jersey means transferring it from one person to another. Whether money changes hands in connection with this transferring is, for the most part, irrelevant. So long as the cocaine transfer itself occurs, there is distribution.

Moreover, the distribution of cocaine need not have even successfully occurred. New Jersey law prohibits possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute it. In determining whether intent to distribute existed, a jury can consider such factors as the quantity and purity of the cocaine; its packaging; presence of distribution materials such as scales and capsules; cash on hand; and relevant books and papers showing distribution information. Possession with intent to distribute is treated the same as if the cocaine distribution had actually occurred.

As specified above, the quantity of cocaine distributed, or intended for distribution, affects the grading of the offense. Quantity is measured by weight, as opposed to number of packages, amount of sale, or any other factor. Here are the details:

Weight Class of
Statutes Maximum Punishment
Five ounces or more
First Degree N.J.S. 2C:35-5a(1) and
N.J.S. 2C:35-5b(1)
Imprisonment up to twenty years; fine up to $500,000.00
One-half ounce or more, but less than five ounces
Second Degree N.J.S. 2C:35-5a(1) and
N.J.S. 2C:35-5b(2)
Imprisonment up to ten years; fine up to $150,000.00
Less than one-half ounce
Third Degree N.J.S. 2C:35-5a(1) and
N.J.S. 2C:35-5b(3)
Imprisonment up to five years; fine up to $75,000.00

The same New Jersey statutes that prohibit distribution of cocaine, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, also prohibit manufacturing that substance. Because they are the identical statutes, the grading of the crimes, and their punishments are also the same. However, none of these statutes apply to the situation where a person manufactures cocaine in New Jersey for his own use.

In measuring weight, New Jersey courts include adulterants or dilutants. Thus the legal penalties that a person faces for possessing three ounces of pure cocaine with intent to distribute is identical to the penalties for the same amount of cocaine with only ten percent (or, for that matter, with only one percent) purity. Concerning fines, under some circumstances, the court is not limited to the amounts in the table above. The court can impose fines of up to triple the cocaine's street value when that amount is greater than the numbers in the table. All cocaine convictions can result in loss of New Jersey driving privileges. This loss of driving privileges can occur regardless of whether any connection existed between the offense and a car or other motor vehicle.

New Jersey also specifies particular areas. Penalties are enhanced when distribution or intent to distribute cocaine occur in of those areas. These areas are school zones, public parks, public buildings, and public housing facilities. Also included is the territory within particular distances from those areas.

logo of NJ Cocaine lawyer NJ Criminal LawyerAllan Marain and Norman Epting, Jr. are New Jersey cocaine lawyers. Both have successfully handled hundreds of cocaine cases. They know exactly what the State is required to prove. They know how to best defend against cocaine charges. They are available to apply their skills, their knowledge and their experience to your situation. Call them for a no-charge no-obligation conference.

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