Each year, lots of people in Morristown, New Jersey, face drug charges. In order to prosecute someone for charges related to drugs, prosecutors must clear a number of legal hurdles having to do with the collection of evidence and other legal issues. A recent arrest in New Jersey can serve to illustrate what some of those issues could be.
A 27-year-old New Jersey resident was arrested on July 28 and faces drug distribution charges. He was in jail on $20,000 bail at last report.
According to authorities, the man brought synthetic marijuana into a county jail and distributed it to inmates. The situation allegedly came to the attention of county police on July 15, when a number of inmates were hospitalized with symptoms of a drug overdose. Drug sniffing dogs reportedly were brought to the facility. Authorities said that the dogs located a small amount of synthetic marijuana. Police said they identified the man as the likely culprit after they interviewed a series of witnesses at the county jail.
A potentially major issue in this case is the trustworthiness of the witnesses, whose statements allegedly helped to identify the man as the drug distributor. It is quite likely that the witnesses who were interviewed were inmates at the county jail. It is quite common for jail inmates to be convicted criminals or people who have committed acts of dishonesty during their lives.
Evidence provided by such witnesses is very susceptible to attack by a savvy defense attorney during trial. Any of a witness’s earlier crimes and acts of dishonesty can be brought up on cross-examination with the witness. This can undermine the credibility of the witness in the eyes of the jury. Often, jailhouse witnesses also receive a benefit from the prosecution, such as lesser charges being brought or even a complete dropping of criminal charges. This can be mentioned by the defense as well during cross-examination.