Drug Addicted Defendants No Longer Denied Admission To Drug Court For Weapons Charges
- April 1, 2015
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Over the rejection of the prosecution, Gregory Maurer sought entry into Drug Court while under separate indictments for (1) third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) (ocycodone) (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1)); (2) two counts of third-degree possession of CDS (oxycodone and heroin) (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-(a)(1)); (3) third-degree possession of CDS (cocaine) (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1)); and (4) two counts of third degree theft by unlawful taking (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3(a)) and third-degree burglary (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2(a)(1)). The prosecutor’s denial was based solely on Maurer’s prior charge for possession of a handgun (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b)) and hollow point bullets. The trial court made its decision based on the defendant’s prior conviction for a weapons related offense and Maurer appealed. In State v. Maurer, the NJ Appellate Division determined that the defendant’s record, the “Manual for Operation of Adult Drug Courts In New Jersey” (July 2002)(Manual) and the Drug Court Statute (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14). The NJ Appellate Division did consider that Maurer had also been charged with witness tampering (N.J.S.A. 2C:28-5) and other prior CDS charges which were remanded to the respective municipal courts for disposition. They also considered Maurer’s participation in Narcotics Anonymous and other substance abuse counseling programs as well as his employment as an outreach counselor at a rehabilitation facility. The NJ Appellate Division considered that Drug Court is appropriate for “offenders most likely to benefit from treatment and do not pose a risk to public safety.” State v. Meyer, 192 N.J. 421, 428-29 (2007) (quoting Manual, Supra, at 3). The opinion also included a thorough review of Drug Court success rates and the Legislative intent to end the cycle of drug offenders interacting with the criminal justice system as a result of addiction. State v. Bishop, 429 N.J. Super. 533, (App. Div.), 216 N.J. 14 (2013). There was also discussion of a two “track” system wherein, according to the Manual, a criminal history involving a firearm acts as a bar to admission in spite of the apparent Legislative intent to increase Drug Court access for those likely to benefit from resolving addiction issues. The Court resolved that an amendment to the Track Two admission criteria was required and remanded the matter for consideration of the defendant’s application to Drug Court despite his prior weapons offense. If you are facing distribution or possession charges, there are many factors which may affect how your case is ultimately resolved. You should immediately retain experienced criminal defense counsel to protect your rights. For more information regarding drug distribution, possession with intent to distribute, weapons offenses or other serious criminal offenses in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.