FBI Arrest Figures Show 1 Drug Arrest Made Every 42 Seconds in US

Marijuana laws are changing throughout the country. Many states are attempting to ease drug enforcement efforts, yet a recent report by the FBI shows that the agency made the same number of arrests based on drug charges in 2011 as it did in 2012. According to the FBI, an estimated 1,531,251 arrests were made in 2011 for drug abuse violations and US News reports the number of arrests made in 2012 was estimated at 1,552,432.

The report continues by noting that there was an arrest for drug crimes including possession or distribution in the United States every 42 seconds. Critics are voicing concerns, arguing that the negative impact of arresting and convicting an individual for a drug charge far outweigh the benefits.

Critics respond to FBI report

The FBI is experiencing some backlash after the bureau's most recent arrest data was released. Former prosecuting attorneys and enforcement officers are just some of the critics speaking out. Among their concerns: misuse of law enforcement resources.

These concerns are based on findings that there was a slight uptick in the number of violent crimes committed in the country. As a result, these critics are arguing the agency should shift its focus. Instead of focusing on the war against drugs the agency should put more effort into solving and reducing the rate of violent crimes.

In addition, critics also argue the negative consequences tied to a drug conviction do more damage than good. Generally, arrests are made to help remove dangerous criminals from the streets. The argument raised is whether or not a person smoking a joint or possessing a small amount of marijuana poses a societal risk.

Impact of a drug conviction in New Jersey

Whether or not a societal risk is present, one thing is for sure: a drug conviction in New Jersey comes with serious consequences. The impact can be so severe that the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, an organization of legal professionals, put together an informational pamphlet outlining the legal consequences of substance abuse.

Legal consequences include:

  • Juveniles over the age of 14 charged with a drug offense can be treated as an adult in criminal court.
  • "Distribute" is not defined as simply selling the drug, merely passing it to another person without receiving any payment can qualify.
  • Those convicted of drug offenses generally have to pay a monetary penalty ranging from $500 to $3,000.

In addition to the legal consequences of a drug conviction, anyone who has a conviction often needs to disclose the conviction on applications for employment, housing or scholarships. The presence of the conviction could lead to a denial of scholarship funds, housing opportunities or employment.

If you are charged with a drug crime in New Jersey, it is important to take the charges seriously before they become a conviction. Contact an experienced New Jersey federal drug crimes attorney to discuss your legal options.