Possession of Heroin
Since the early 2000s New Jersey continues to see a rise in the number of heroin addicts and deaths from heroin. Heroin production and sales involves an illegal industry that is often run by organized crime and gangs.
Heroin is a Schedule I Controlled and Dangerous Substance — it is highly addictive and if your are caught possessing even small amounts of heroin authorities take heroin possession seriously — especially if you have been charged with distribution.
Unlike the case with some other illegal drugs, it’s usually very clear when a person is high on heroin. Heroin is usually injected into a vein and requires the use of certain drug paraphernalia (i.e., spoons and syringes) commonly referred to as “works,” by drug users. Repeated use can cause “track marks” (visible needle marks and bruising of the veins) which are easily visible to police. All of these things make it easier for police to identify and apprehend suspected heroin users.
Penalties for Drug Crimes Involving Heroin
New Jersey Section Code 24:21-1, et seq.; 2C:35-2, et seq.
In New Jersey, the laws governing drug crimes involving heroin are complicated because you may face additional penalties for using, possessing or distributing this drug near a school, housing project or public park, or by involving minors in its use or distribution.
Prosecutors distinguish between three weights of heroin when assessing criminal penalties, and whether or not the heroin in your possession was for personal use, or if you intended to sell or distribute it:
- Possession of less than 1/2 an ounce: Possession of heroin for personal use of is a third degree crime punishable by 18 months to five years in prison, a fine of up to $35,000, and a mandatory 6-month suspension of your driver’s license.
- Possession With Intent to Distribute of less than 1/2 an ounce: Is a third degree crime punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $75,000.
- 1/2 ounce to 5 ounces: Is a second degree crime and faces 18 months to 5 years in prison.
- Over 5 ounces: Possession of more than 5 ounces of heroin, which also includes adulterants and dilutants, is a first degree crime with a fine of up to $500,000 and a fixed prison sentence of 10-20 years
- Heroin Trafficking: If you are found guilty of being a leader of narcotics trafficking network you face life in prison (25 year minimum before parole) and/or $500,000 fine.
- Selling Heroin in a School Zone: Selling heroin within 1,000 feet of school zone carries a fixed prison term and a fine of up to $100,000
- Other Crimes: Selling to minor or pregnant female: doubles penalties you face.
Quantity Counts, But So Does Hiring An Experienced Drug Defense Attorney
The more heroin in your possession, the greater your chances of being charged with the more serious crime of possession with intent to distribute, however, it is our experience that prosecutors are most interested in aggressively pursuing drug manufacturers and dealers than they are the individual drug addict.
If you were charged with intent to distribute after being caught with a recreational amount of heroin and it can be shown it was for your own personal use, we may be able to work with the district attorney to either plead you down to a lesser charge, or (if small amounts of heroin involved) have the charges dismissed entirely pending completion of a drug treatment program.
If you’ve been arrested for the simple use or drug possession of small amounts of heroin, and if this is your first criminal offense, the heroin possession defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall may be able to have the charges dismissed (usually pending completion of a period of probation or drug counseling.) Cases involving larger amounts of heroin are more problematic, but we will use every means at its disposal to obtain the best possible outcome for you.