Heroin is an illegal opioid analgesic with psycho-pharmacological properties similar to those found in legally-prescribed substances such as morphine and oxycodone. Due to the highly addictive nature of the substance and the overwhelming sense of euphoria that it induces, heroin is often abused and may be pursued as an alternative to the medically-prescribed drugs that have become commonplace for those experiencing pain after injuries and medical procedures in the United States. Sadly, it is extremely common for individuals who begin taking prescription medications such as OxyContin to become addicted to its effects and turn to heroin once their prescriptions have expired. Heroin has two significant draws for drug-users: it is relatively inexpensive and much more easily obtained than prescription medication. For decades, heroin has driven an underground supply chain, even playing a part in international conflicts, perhaps most notably, the Vietnam War. In response to the continued demand for heroin, authorities strictly enforce heroin laws, prosecuting offenders to the fullest extent of the law, and punishing those convicted with harsh penalties.
At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, several of our attorneys have participated in the prosecution of heroin offenses while serving on behalf of the State as County Prosecutors. We consider these members of our renowned criminal defense team among our greatest assets, due to the invaluable insight they provide when constructing defense strategies for our clients. With over a century of combined legal experience, we are able to anticipate the State’s potential arguments and target weaknesses that will benefit our clients. Contact our offices to discuss your case free of charge and learn more about how we can position you to achieve the best possible outcome.
Heroin Possession Charges in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10
Offenses involving the possession of heroin are outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which mandates:
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. Any person who violates this section with respect to:
- 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.A. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $35,000.00 may be imposed;
In New Jersey, possession of heroin is typically a third degree indictable felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment ranging from 3 to 5 years. However, third degree crimes entail a presumption of non-incarceration for first time offenders, meaning that a defendant with no prior criminal record may be considered a good candidate for probation or a diversionary program such as Drug Court or the Pre-Trial Intervention Program. Depending on the circumstances of your case, our attorneys will pursue every available avenue to circumvent or minimize your exposure to incarceration, fines, and, if possible, a criminal charge on your record.
Charges for Heroin Distribution and Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5
Offenses involving the distribution of heroin and possession of heroin with intent to distribute are outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which deems it unlawful:
To manufacture, distribute or dispense, or to possess or have under his control with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog. Any person who violates this section with respect to:
- Heroin in a quantity of five ounces or more including any adulterants or dilutants is guilty of a crime of the first degree. The defendant shall, except as provided in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-12, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment by the court. The term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection a. of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $500,000.00 may be imposed;
- Heroin in a quantity of one-half ounce or more but less than five ounces, including any adulterants or dilutants is guilty of acrime of the second degree;
- Heroin in a quantity amounting to less than one-half ounce including any adulterants or dilutants is guilty of a crime of the third degree except that, notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $75,000.00 may be imposed.
Contact our Readington NJ Heroin Distribution Defense Lawyers
As mentioned above, the degree of heroin charges are subject to two critical determinants: (1) the intent of the defendant, in other words, whether the drug was for personal use or to be distributed; and (2) the amount, specifically, the measured weight, of the substance associated with the alleged offense. When the allegation escalates from mere possession to intent to distribute or distribution, the potential penalties become more severe. Similarly, as the amount of heroin associated with the alleged offense increases, the potential penalties increase accordingly.
Specifically, possession of 5 ounces or more of heroin with intent to distribute is a first degree crime, punishable by a mandatory term of incarceration, the length of which may range from 10 to 20 years. This sentence also includes a mandatory period of parole ineligibility set at 1/3 to 1/2 of the total sentence imposed. Second degree charges for heroin distribution apply in cases involving amounts between 1/2 ounce and 5 ounces. These offenses also entail a presumption of incarceration, with a prison range of 5 to 10 years. Lastly, possession of less than 1/2 ounce of heroin with intent to distribute is classified as a third degree felony, punishable by a New Jersey State Prison term of 3 to 5 years.
If you or someone you love has been charged or indicted for a heroin-related offense in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall at 908-722-1011. One of our attorneys is standing by to immediately assist you.