Depending on the New Jersey county in which you are arrested, your charge of Possession of Heroin may be handled in Superior (Criminal) Court, or possibly remanded to Municipal Court. Heroin possession is a 3rd degree felony in New Jersey, and carries a possible sentence of 3 to 5 years in prison. Your best defense to a charge of 2C:35-10A(1) is to retain an experienced NJ defense attorney as early as possible. My number is 908-782-5313 if you’d like to call me for a free case analysis, even on weekends.
The NJ Police are now equipped with Narcan, and are administering it to many overdose victims. However, once you “recover” and are discharged from the hospital, it is likely you will be asked to “come down to the station” for a formal interview. You’ll be advised of your Miranda rights before the interview begins.
I highly recommend you retain an attorney before this interview. Remember, you have the constitutional right to remain silent, so there usually no advantage to discussing your case with the police. Anything you say can and will be used against you in the criminal case. The police are quite skilled at getting defendants to waive their Miranda rights and discuss their case in a recorded interview. That interview can and will later be played if your case goes to trial, and the judge and jury will later watch your “performance” on the courtroom’s big-screen TV !
My experience is that generally in the North Jersey counties of Passaic and Bergen, the odds are pretty high that a first-time arrest for a small amount of heroin will likely be remanded to the Municipal Court for adjudication. This is because the Superior Court level is simply inundated with these cases recently, and sorely lack the proprietorial “manpower” to handle them all. If your charge is remanded to Municipal Court, you cannot be sentenced to more than 6 months in jail, as that is the maximum sentence a NJ Municipal Court judge can impose for any criminal offense. (Municipal Court is typically called “traffic court” by many people- it is where speeding tickets and minor offenses like shoplifting, etc. are typically handled).
The criminal statute in New Jersey for Possession of heroin is N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10A(1), and it is a felony (crime) of the 3rd degree regardless of the amount. Often an additional charge of possession of drug paraphernalia 2C:36-2 is added on to the heroin charge, if you are caught with empty “stamp bags” or a syringe/needle, burned tin foil, straws, etc.
The good news is that the attitude of the State towards heroin charges is one of rehabilitation and treatment, not simply punishment. There are diversionary programs that exist such as PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention) and Drug Court for repeat offenders.
An experienced attorney will demand and analyze all of the State’s evidence in the case, and determine if probably cause existed for any search of your person or vehicle. Even cases where you signed a “consent to search” may still be invalid if your consent was obtained through excessive pressure, false promises, or other coercion. Many complex issues are at play in these “vitiated consent” cases, and an experienced attorney will know and cite the relevant caselaw and precedents to argue in your favor at a suppression of evidence hearing.
A heroin possession charge carries serious, lifelong repercussions, and may result in a criminal record as a convicted felon even for simple possession of a relatively small amount. The mistakes of today can haunt tomorrows to come. Call me at 908-782-5313 for a free analysis of your case and defenses.
This post is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.