Mandatory And Discretionary Extended Terms In Drug Case?
- August 1, 2014
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James Robinson sold 3 bags of crack cocaine to an undercover officer in 2003 and was indicted for third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) with intent to distribute (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(3)); second-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute within 500 feet of public property (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1); third-degree possession of CDS (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1)); and third-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(3)). Due to Robinson’s prior criminal history, including convictions for distribution of CDS in a school zone, receiving stolen property, eluding a police officer, burglary, and criminal restraint exposing another to serious bodily injury, the trial court imposed a discretionary extended term sentence of 15 years imprisonment with a 3 year period of parole ineligibility, a mandatory extended term of 15 years with a 5 year period of parole ineligibility pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(f) as a repeat drug offender under N.J.S.A. 2C:44-3(a) in State v. Robinson. Defendant was also sentenced to a mandatory extended term of 7 years imprisonment with a 3 year period of parole ineligibility. Defendant appealed the sentence claiming that a court may not impose a discretionary extended term when a mandatory extended term has been imposed in the same proceeding. The appellate division affirmed the decision of the trial court. The NJ Supreme Court then reversed the decision after consideration of the Legislative intent in providing for extended terms for certain repeat offenders. Under the Model Penal Code (MPC), sentencing uniformity was a consideration in conjunction with affording courts the flexibility to achieve deterrence as needed. N.J.S.A. 2C:44-5(a)(2) limits the number of extended terms which a court may impose in a sentencing, however, multiple mandatory extended terms may be imposed in a single proceeding (State v. Connell, 208 N.J. Super. 688 (App. Div. 1986)). The court then turned to the holding of State v. Hudson, 209 N.J. 513 (2012) and N.J.S.A. 2C:44-5(a)(2) to be a bar to the addition of a discretionary extended term when the trial court is required to impose a mandatory extended term on another offense if both are in the same proceeding. If you are facing charges for possession or distribution you will be facing severe penalties and should seek experienced criminal defense counsel immediately. For more information about distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of CDS, possession with intent to distribute, distribution within 500 feet of a public place, distribution in a school zone, prescription drug matters or other serious drug offenses in New Jersey visit DarlingFirm.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of counsel.