Is Possession of Heroin a Felony in NJ?
Is possession of heroin a felony in New Jersey? This is one of the most common questions our experienced drug defense lawyers are asked by clients facing heroin charges in Middlesex County, New Jersey. First, it is important to note that New Jersey does not classify crimes as felonies, but rather, indictable offenses. Basically, what another state would consider a felony is called an indictable crime under NJ law. Possession of any amount of heroin in New Jersey, no matter how small the amount, is an indictable offense. Here is what that means to you if you are charged with heroin possession or intent to distribute in New Brunswick, Edison, Woodbridge, Piscataway, East Brunswick, or surrounding communities.
Felony Heroin Possession & Intent to Distribute in New Jersey
Heroin is classified as a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance, which is the most dangerous type of controlled substance. Possession of even a trace amount of heroin is a third degree indictable offense, which carries fines of up to $35,000 and up to five years imprisonment. If you are convicted of possession of heroin, you may also be sentenced to probation for a period of up to five years. Also, a conviction imposes mandatory license revocation for a period of 6 months.
Special programs are available in New Jersey to help rehabilitate drug offenders. If you are a first time offender, you may be eligible to participate in New Jersey’s Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) diversionary program. In the program, you may be under supervision for 6 months to 3 years. If you complete PTI successfully, there will be no record of conviction. The program is a great opportunity, as a heroin conviction can severely impede your ability to obtain certain jobs in the future.
On the other hand, if you are charged with possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, the degree of the offense varies by the volume of heroin. Possession of a ½ ounce or less with intent to distribute is a third degree offense with fines of up to $75,000 and imprisonment of up to 5 years. If you possess between a ½ ounce and 5 ounces, you may be guilty of second degree possession with intent to distribute, which carries penalties of up to $150,000 in fines and up to 1 year of imprisonment. The most severe heroin offense, first degree possession with intent to distribute over 5 ounces, is a first degree crime, carrying potential penalties of up to $500,000 in fines and up to 20 years of imprisonment.
Defenses for Indictable Heroin Charges in NJ
Depending on the facts of your case, you may have one or more defenses available to you. If law enforcement obtained the evidence in your case in violation of your 4th Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure, then the prosecutor’s evidence against you may be inadmissible in court. Another potential defense is that the heroin did not belong to you. For instance, if you were in a car with several other people and the heroin belonged to someone else.
Heroin related offenses are treated very seriously in New Jersey, due to severe level of heroin abuse that has increased over the last several years. Heroin addiction has become an epidemic in New Jersey, like in many other states. Recently, Governor Murphy earmarked $100 million of his budget to fight opioid addiction in NJ.
Middlesex County NJ Felony Heroin Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with possession of heroin or possession with intent to distribute in Middlesex County, NJ, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. You are facing the potential of significant fines and prison time if convicted of a heroin related offense, so don’t delay in seeking legal representation. The heroin defense lawyers at Proetta & Oliver are ready to review your case and determine what defenses may be available to you. Call our Edison office at (732) 659-9600 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation about your felony heroin charges.