Heroin Offenses

New Jersey Lawyers for Heroin Possession & Distribution Charges

heroin paraphernalia

Heroin is considered the most highly addictive and destructive street drug available in New Jersey today. As such, criminal penalties for possession and distribution of heroin are among the harshest available. Possession of any amount of heroin can lead to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $35,000.

However, if you are represented by an experienced and dedicated New Jersey criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, your final penalty if you are found guilty could include no jail time or fine. Charges against you could even be dropped.

Our defense attorneys are former New Jersey prosecutors and public defenders who use their deep knowledge of N.J. law and contacts in courts statewide to craft strategic criminal defense solutions to charges of heroin possession and distribution.

For instance, despite harsh penalties for heroin-related offenses, New Jersey courts support rehabilitation over jailing non-violent drug crime offenders. An attorney from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall may be able to help you enter a diversion program or treatment in lieu of an active prison sentence, and ultimately have charges downgraded or dismissed.

Our firm has nine offices across New Jersey and our drug crime attorneys have decades of experience in courtrooms throughout the state. We have statewide connections and extensive resources to dedicate to your defense.

It is best to act promptly after being charged with heroin possession, distribution or manufacturing in New Jersey. We can begin immediately to investigate the evidence against you and in your favor develop a defense. If there are problems with your arrest, we may be able to get charges dismissed.

A conviction for heroin possession, distribution or manufacturing will be costly immediately, and could plague you for the rest of your life. We can help make the impact of your heroin arrest and charges lighter. Call or fill out our online form today for a free initial consultation with one of our experienced New Jersey heroin possession lawyers.

Heroin Possession and Distribution Charges in New Jersey

Possession of heroin in any amount is against federal and state law. In New Jersey, heroin and other illicit drugs are known legally as “controlled dangerous substances,” or CDS.

Heroin possession in New Jersey is a third-degree indictable offense, for which a guilty defendant may serve up to 5 years in prison and be fined up to $35,000. A conviction for heroin possession also carries a mandatory six-month driver’s license suspension.

New Jersey law also provides for charges against a person who has “constructive possession” of heroin. This means you can be convicted of heroin possession if prosecutors can prove you knew that the drug was present and that you had intent to exercise physical control over it.

It is a more serious crime in New Jersey to possess heroin with intent to sell or distribute the drug, or to manufacture heroin. Intent to sell or distribute is assumed with the possession of large quantities of heroin.

The degree of the offense and the penalties attached to the crimes of distribution and manufacturing heroin increase with the amount of heroin involved:

  • Possession of less than half an ounce of heroin with the intent of distributing it is a third-degree offense punishable by 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $75,000.
  • Possession of more than half an ounce but less than 5 ounces of heroin is a second-degree offense punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, with a presumption of incarceration, and a fine of up to $150,000.
  • Possession of 5 or more ounces of heroin is a first-degree offense punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

Penalties for possession and distribution of heroin are harsher if the defendant is charged with the crime having occurred in a:

  • School zone or school bus, making a convicted defendant ineligible for parole for at least one year
  • Public park, housing project or public building, automatically making it a second-degree offense punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison, with a presumption of incarceration, and a fine of up to $150,000

It should also be understood that heroin charges apply to analogs (similar opiates or synthetic drugs), and weights include any adulterants or dilutants used to cut, or “step on,” the pure heroin. And, in certain instances, the quantity of heroin used to determine the degree of an offense may be combined, added together or aggregated from multiple acts of distribution.

Facing an indictment for heroin possession, distribution or manufacturing in New Jersey is a serious matter, but nothing is written in stone when you are arrested or indicted. There are many steps to the criminal process and, with experienced legal representation, several opportunities to avoid severe penalty or even a guilty verdict.

Potential Defenses to Heroin Charges in New Jersey

Circumstances surrounding a charge of heroin possession, distribution or manufacturing, alone or combined, are often complicated. The facts of any case may result in exposure to severe penalties but, at the same time, provide opportunities to develop a winning defense.

It may be that there are reasons for your case to be thrown out, for charges to be downgraded, or for you to be found not guilty. The quicker a lawyer from the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall begins to look into your case, the better the opportunity to challenge the evidence against you.

As soon as you engage our firm to defend you, we can start investigating the charges you face and the evidence supporting them. We are former prosecutors who quickly recognize and incisively challenge weak cases.

Among the questions we will seek answers to are:

  • Was the evidence against you obtained in an illegal search and seizure?
  • Did police lack probable cause to stop and search you or pull your car for a traffic stop?
  • Was racial, ethnic, socio-economic, gender or other bias a factor in your arrest or identification by witnesses?
  • Did a police officer find heroin as he or she patted you down for a weapon?
  • Were you properly read your Miranda rights against self-incrimination as soon as you were detained or arrested?
  • Is this a case of mistaken identity caused by confusion at the scene of your arrest or a flawed lineup, or were you named in another improper manner?
  • Can the prosecution prove the heroin was in your possession?
  • Can a proper “chain of custody” of the heroin alleged to have been in your possession be verified?
  • Are test results identifying a substance as heroin valid, or is there evidence of problems with the lab equipment or its operators that returned those results?
  • Are charges of possession with intent to distribute wrongly based on the presence of a large amount of cash, sandwich bags, a household scale or other common household items when you were arrested?

As your lawyers, we will identify and thoroughly question problems in the prosecution’s case. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, and we do not believe in the proverbial open-and-shut case. There are many reasons heroin possession and distribution or manufacturing cases are dismissed or downgraded. Defendants who go to court are found not guilty every day.

Alternatives to Trial in N.J. Heroin Possession Cases

As we investigate your case, problems with the state’s case may allow us to negotiate a dismissal or downgrade of the charges against you. If we cannot obtain exoneration, we may be able to obtain a conditional discharge, or probation, for lesser offenses if you have a clean record.

New Jersey offers two primary diversion programs available for those charged with nonviolent drug offenses and, in most cases, for first-time offenders. They may be available to a person charge with simple heroin possession who has a substance abuse problem they are ready to face.

If appropriate for you, we may be able to arrange entry into:

  • Pretrial Intervention (PTI), a program that requires court supervision for an average of 1 to 3 years toward dismissal of charges. PTI may require undergoing psychological and/or drug and alcohol evaluation and complying with any recommendation for treatment, as well as random urine testing. But a defendant who successfully completes all conditions of PTI may have their original charges dismissed with no conviction on their record.
  • Drug Court, a specialized probation that imposes an intensive supervision based on frequent drug testing and court appearances, along with tightly structured regimens of treatment and participation in 12-step recovery programs. Drug Court also provides counseling and other resources to assist with job training, education and health care.

These are serious programs meant for people who have a genuine desire to work to resolve drug abuse problems. We can assist and advise you about the potential for entering PTI or Drug Court, as well as about addiction assessment and treatment available independent of the New Jersey court system.

New Jersey’s veterans’ diversion program for active and retired members of the military is another alternative to going to court for heroin charges, which you may qualify for. It is for veterans accused of nonviolent crimes who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, or who have demonstrated such symptoms to law enforcement, friends or family members. Participants can avoid trial, and those who complete the program successfully may have charges expunged from their criminal record.

Our goal will be to achieve the most favorable outcome available to you. There may be opportunities for you in a heroin case if you have an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney at your side. Contact our N.J. drug crime defense attorneys today to learn how we can help you.

Talk to Our N.J. Defense Attorneys About Heroin Charges Today

There is much at risk if you have been charged with heroin possession or distribution in New Jersey, but an arrest or indictment does not have to end in a guilty verdict. Contact our respected New Jersey heroin possession and distribution lawyers today for a free legal consultation about how we can make a positive difference in your case.