Heroin Crimes in Hudson County, NJ
Heroin Crimes in Hudson County, NJ
A heroin epidemic has plagued Hudson County, NJ for the last decades. This has local law enforcement on a escalated alert for possessors and distributors of this controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Scan the Jersey Journal and you’ll be able to view numerous reports and press releases about heroin arrests. The problem is acute in Jersey City. This city ranks third for heroin overdoses in the State of New Jersey.
A charge in Hudson County for possession of heroin is a serious situation for various reasons. Getting convicted not only ends up in a felony record but also tens of thousands in possible fines and years in prison. It is a must that you enlist a seasoned criminal defense attorney if you were charged with heroin possession in Jersey City, West New York, Hoboken, Secaucus or another local municipality. Representation by a well-informed attorney will give you a fighting chance to avoid conviction and other negative results that come from this outcome.
Facing Heroin Possession Charges in Hudson County
The statute pertaining to possession of heroin is N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1). It provides that:
- It is unlawful for any person, knowingly or purposely, to obtain, or to possess, actually or constructively, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog, unless the substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order form from a practitioner, while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by P.L.1970, c.226 (C.24:21-1 et seq.). Any person who violates this section with respect to:
(1) A controlled dangerous substance, or its analog, classified in Schedule I, II, III or IV other than those specifically covered in this section, is guilty of a crime of the third degree except that, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:43-3, a fine of up to $35,000.00 may be imposed;
One of the key details of this law is the fact that possession can be either actual or constructive. Actual possession is the most common basis for an arrest under 2C:35-10 and applies if the accused has direct physical control over the heroin. Constructive possession applies if heroin isn’t physically on the person of the accused but when he/she knows it’s present and has both the intention and ability to exercise control over it in the future.
Another important detail to bear in mind is that a defendant must knowingly or purposely possess heroin in order to be convicted for possession. In other words, an individual must know that the drug is present to be in violation of this law.
Which Elements Must The Hudson County Prosecutor Establish To Convict Someone For Possession of Heroin?
Three (3) fundamental elements that each must be established beyond reasonable doubt to convict for heroin possession. The model criminal jury charge for CDS possession obligates the state to prove that:
- The evidence seized was indeed heroin;
- The accused actually or constructively had the drug; and
- The conduct of the defendant was knowing or purposeful.
What Penalties Are There for Heroin Possession?
Possessing heroin is a third degree crime. According to the New Jersey criminal code, a defendant convicted for third degree possession of heroin could get sentenced to up to five (5) years in state prison, fined up to $35,000 and open to a host of other penalties (such as 6-12 month driver’s license suspension). They would also have a felony criminal record for possession of heroin that will show up every time an employer, licensing board, immigration or another entity performs a background check.
Do Enhanced Penalties Apply When Heroin Is Possessed In A School Zone?
Yes, they do. Although possession in a school zone does not result in a separate charge like distribution in a school zone, it nevertheless results in enhanced penalties. Possession within 1,000 feet of school grounds in Harrison, Union City, Bayonne, Weehawken or another district triggers a requirement that a defendant must also serve a minimum 100 hours of community service.
Are There Diversionary Programs To Avoid A Conviction A Third Degree Offense For Possession?
A first time offender can apply for Pretrial Intervention (“PTI”). If the Hudson County Probation Department approves the application and the prosecutor doesn’t object, you can be admitted into PTI. The related charge is dismissed successfully upon completion of 1-3 years probation under the program.
Heroin Possession Defense Attorney in Jersey City
Indeed, the penalties for a New Jersey heroin charge can be life altering. Whether a motion to suppress an improper search or seizure, a motor vehicle stop unsupported by reasonable suspicion of traffic violation or some other basis, you can rely on the knowledge and skill of our lawyers to get you a favorable result. To discuss facts in your heroin case with a lawyer on our team, contact us anytime.