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Understanding types of drug charges

New Jersey residents who have been arrested and charged with drug crimes can find the experience very confusing. There are many different types of drug charges and understanding them is not always easy. Concerns about penalties are also often top of mind for people in these situations.

The U.S. Department of Justice outlines three different types of offenses pertaining to drugs. The first is what many people may commonly think of and includes those offenses directly related to a drug such as drug possession, distribution, drug trafficking and cultivation or production of some drugs. These are referred to as drug-defined offenses. Drug-related offenses pertain to charges of other acts that are believed to have been taken due to drugs. An example would be an allegation of theft in order to obtain money to purchase drugs.

The last category are offenses related to a drug-using lifestyle. There can be many crimes that fall into this category and the presumption here is that when someone is involved with drugs, the potential for involvement in other crimes increases. This group of offenses is similar to drug-related offenses but is called out separately in situations where a pattern over time is observed.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence recommends that treatment must be provided in order to prevent repeat offenses. Putting convicted defendants in jail alone is not sufficient to stop future arrests. This is due to the lack of addressing the real issue of addiction. With a large number of drug arrests each year—more than 1.5 million in 2009 alone per the Federal Bureau of Investigation—this is important. 

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