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Additional Penalties for Drug Offenses

If you are convicted of a drug offense in New Jersey, you can face jail time, fines, and certain State Assessments (such as the Safe Neighborhoods, LEO Training Fund, Victim of Crimes Compensation Office, and laboratory fees) just as with all criminal offenses. However, in addition to these penalties, you are also facing two important added penalties that can be extremely difficult for many people.

First, the Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction (DEDR) penalty. This is a mandatory assessment for all drug offenses in the State of New Jersey. The mandatory penalty for EACH offense is as follows:

- $3,000 for a First Degree Crime

- $2,000 for a Second Degree Crime

- $1,000 for a Third Degree Crime

- $750 for a Fourth Degree Crime

- $500 for a Disorderly Persons Offense

When added to all of the other penalties, the amounts can become extremely difficult for many people to afford. This is an added reason it is important to have excellent representation. Even if an attorney cannot have your case dismissed, he or she may be able to have the matter downgraded, which can result in some relief over time.

Second, you will also face a suspension of your driving privilege for a time period of 6 to 24 months (2 years). Particularly for individuals in areas where there are not many options for public transportation, this can be very difficult. A Court can consider a "Hardship Application" where you demonstrate WHY you must keep your license, but these are not always granted, particularly if a person has a driving history with many violations. It is important to put your best foot forward when making such an application to the Court in order to keep your license, or at least keep the suspension to a minimum.

If you have been charged with a Drug Offense in New Jersey, please contact my office so that we can discuss the details and potential defenses you may have. You have a right to plead not guilty, and you should exercise that right until your case has been fully reviewed by an experienced criminal defense attorney.

If you would like to learn more about why these penalties exist, and what the DEDR penalty is used for you, you can read more about its history and usage on the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice website.

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