Lyndhurst Heroin Possession and Distribution Defense Attorneys
Caught with Heroin Bergen County – Need Lawyer
Heroin use has been on the rise for years in New Jersey and across the country, attributable in part to the opioid epidemic and its impacts on individuals and communities. With the availability of painkillers and opioids like Oxycontin, Methadone, Fentanyl, and other strong prescription drugs, more and more people of all ages are being prescribed these powerful medications to treat and manage their symptoms. Unfortunately, these controlled dangerous substances are incredibly addictive, often ensnaring young and old into the spiral of addiction and dependence. When a prescription for an opioid runs out and you can’t get another, heroin offers a quick and easy fix. It is also cheaper to buy and available on the streets of large cities and in the dark corners of small towns alike. Problematically, being charged with heroin possession poses serious consequences if convicted, up to 5 years in prison. And since heroin is so in demand, distributing and selling the substance can be highly profitable for dealers with quality product and good connections. Being charged with larger amounts of heroin, whether caught in the act of a heroin sale or found with substantial quantities that lead authorities to believe you intended to sell it, can put you in a dire legal situation. Heroin distribution charges carry mandatory prison time and in the worst cases, can lead to incarceration for 20 years.
Have you been arrested for heroin possession, distribution, or intent to distribute in Bergen County and you need an attorney? We can help.
Travis J. Tormey and his team of criminal trial lawyers represent clients charged with offenses such as maintaining a CDS production facility, heroin possession, distribution of marijuana, driving under the influence of heroin, and possession of drug paraphernalia in Bergen County municipalities including Elmwood Park, Fort Lee, Teaneck, Paramus, Hackensack, and Saddle Brook. The criminal defense attorneys at the Tormey Law Firm have effectively resolved thousands of criminal cases, including indictable felony crimes and disorderly persons offenses in Bergen County and across the state. In fact, Mr. Tormey was named one of the 10 best criminal defense lawyers in NJ by the American Jurist Institute. For a free consultation about your case, contact the Hackensack offices of The Tormey Law Firm anytime at (201)-330-4979.
Heroin Possession Charges in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10
Heroin possession in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1), which provides, in pertinent part:
§ 2C:35-10. Possession, Use or Being Under the Influence, or Failure to Make Lawful Disposition.
a. 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;
A third degree crime is an indictable (felony) level offense that will be prosecuted at the Superior Court in the county in which the alleged offense was committed. A third degree crime is punishable by three (3) to five (5) years in state prison. If you have no prior history and are charged with third degree heroin possession, you may be eligible for the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program.
Distribution of Heroin Offense: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5
Distribution of heroin offenses in New Jersey are governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5. The degree of these charges is contingent upon the amount of heroin allegedly in your possession at the time of the offense:
- First degree distribution – Possession of five (5) ounces or more of heroin with intent to distribute. This is punishable by 10 to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison, and there is a presumption of incarceration
- Second degree distribution – Possession of more than one-half ounce but less than five (5) ounces of heroin with intent to distribute. This is punishable by five (5) to ten (10) years in New Jersey State Prison, and there is a presumption of incarceration.
- Third degree distribution – Possession of less than one-half ounce of heroin with intent to distribute. This is punishable by three (3) to five (5) years in New Jersey State Prison, and there is a presumption of non-incarceration if the defendant has no prior criminal history.
Note that your problems escalate when charged with drug distribution in a school zone or intent to sell near certain public property, like a park or housing facility.
Defenses and Options for Heroin Charges in NJ
It is important to consult with an attorney to discuss available defenses so that you fully understand your options when charged with a crime of that particular nature, including heroin charges. You should always know whether you are eligible for PTI, as it may serve as a viable option for getting your charges dismissed. Admission into PTI is governed by both statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 and Court Rule 3:-28. Any person accused of a crime shall be eligible for admission into the program. However, persons charged with first or second degree crimes, are barred from enrollment and must present compelling circumstances to justify their enrollment.
The eligibility requirements for PTI play an important role in a heroin case because charges vary in terms of degrees. A third degree heroin possession charge can be resolved by way of the Pre-Trial Intervention if you have no existing criminal record. On the other hand, a second or first degree heroin distribution offense presumes that you should not be admitted into the PTI program. This creates an additional burden for your entrance, unless your attorney is successful in having the charges downgraded to a lesser degree of crime to allow for your admission. This is possible in second degree cases, especially if the amount of heroin is right on the line of the 0.5 ounce threshold. Getting your charges reduced in any scenario is a beneficial thing, as it lessens the potential penalties you face and can take you out of a scenario in which mandatory prison time is on the line.
Can You Expunge a Heroin Offense?
If you are accepted into PTI or otherwise obtain a dismissal of the charges, you may have the opportunity to have your record cleared. This is also a possibility for those convicted of heroin possession charges after the required waiting period. The sealing of one’s record is called expungement in New Jersey. Expunging one’s record allows for a new start, provides opportunity for career advancement and more. However, there may be high level security clearances and types of criminal background checks where one’s history, even if it is expunged, it can still be viewed.
If the charges are dismissed after completing the PTI program, you must wait a period of six months following the order of dismissal and then you can file for an expungement. If the charges are dismissed outright in court, the expungement is available to be filed immediately. A conviction for a heroin offense requires a 5 year waiting period, as felonies for which you are found guilty in New Jersey cannot simply be removed from your record right away. There are certain factors, such as in-state and out-of-state offenses that attribute to expungement eligibility. If you are trying to determine your expungement eligibility, contact us today so that we can review your criminal history in the State of New Jersey and determine if you can move forward with an expungement.
Charged with Heroin? Contact The Tormey Law Firm in Hackensack, NJ for Immediate Assistance
As you can see, the penalties for possession and distribution of heroin can be severe. If you are facing charges related to heroin in Bergen County, New Jersey, contact the Hackensack, New Jersey offices of The Tormey Law Firm at (201)-330-4979. You can also fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case or an in-person appointment at our office.