NJ Drug Possession in School Zone Defense Lawyer
Our first course of action in drug cases is always to try and obtain a dismissal or acquittal. For more information about resolving drug charges visit this link.
Sentences Designed to Protect the Public
There are legislative guidelines to ensure uniformity in sentencing and prosecutors must remain within the guidelines. The Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1986, N.J.S.A 2C:35-1 to 36-9 (Drug Act) was designed to provide children with special protection from the dangers of drug trafficking, including protecting children from drug offenders distributing near schools. Drug offenses within school zones carry a presumption of mandatory imprisonment.
Pleas Designed to Minimize Future Crime
The Legislature also recognized that drug distribution cannot occur through only one person and enacted N.J.S.A. 2C:35-12, authorizing prosecutors to enter into negotiated pleas with defendants in exchange for cooperation in the apprehension and prosecution of other drug offenders. These plea agreements allow prosecutors to waive mandatory sentences for those willing to offer information to “aid in the identification, investigation, apprehension and prosecution of collaborators, co-conspirators, suppliers and superiors in a drug trafficking scheme, or other persons involved in any form of criminal activity, or leading to the seizure or forfeiture of property used in furtherance of criminal activity, or to provide intelligence information concerning the nature, methods of the drug distribution network…”
The Defendant’s Gamble
When it comes to sentencing, the prosecutor retains sole discretion even when the defendant’s cooperation provides substantial value. The defendant must fully disclose all criminal activities known to them, provide any records available and provide complete testimony as needed. In addition to providing the prosecution with information, the defendant may also have to participate in setting up others and even making arranged drug purchases for the prosecution. Partial performance may not result in the full benefit the defendant expected and it may be difficult to perform the terms of the agreement fully once others know they have been arrested and may be working with police. If the prosecution determines the information or cooperation is of minimal value they can unilaterally refuse to decrease the sentence. Defendants should also be aware that cooperation with the police may subject them to substantial danger from others apprehended as a result of their efforts and the plea must be designed to offer adequate persuasion to accept this risk.
Requirements of the Plea Agreement
The plea agreement must define the maximum and minimum sentences the prosecutor will recommend, the level of cooperation expected from the defendant to the degree that the plea may be meet the requirements of “knowing, intelligent and voluntary.” If it is later decided the defendant did not understand the plea fully, the defendant is entitled to 1) withdraw the guilty plea; 2) have a hearing regarding whether, or to what degree, the defendant’s cooperation benefited the state; and 3) renegotiate the plea.
How We Can Help You in Negotiating or Accepting the Prosecutor’s Plea Offer
Accepting a plea can have lasting and substantial consequences to your future and safety. When negotiating a plea offer in a school zone distribution case in exchange for cooperation in the prosecution of others, it is critical to have an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side to ensure the agreement is not prejudicial. At the Law Offices of Heather J. Darling, we have the experience needed to fight your case using suppression motions, alibis, witness testimony and exonerating evidence in your favor. If the prosecution’s evidence you is too great, the police obtained all evidence without violating your rights and there are no favorable witnesses, we can resolve your matter by obtaining a plea which minimizes your sentence as much as possible. If you are visiting this site, now is the time to call 862-251-6821 or contact us by e-mail to begin building a defense that will protect your rights.
The Darling Law Firm has locations in Morris and Bergen County, New Jersey to conveniently serve our clients facing school zone drug distribution cases in Morris, Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Essex, Hudson, Union, Sussex and Warren Counties.
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