According to media reports and the New Jersey Department of Law and Safety, two men living at the same residence were served a search warrant by authorities in connection with suspected drug and gun possession. Reported findings of drug and gun possession in plain view were passed onto the crimes task force in the district.
The crimes task force later carried out a search warrant at the residence and allegedly found cocaine, heroin and firearms, as well as a large sum of cash. The task force investigation led to a first-degree charge for possession of cocaine. In addition, the defendants received other drug and gun crime charges in connection with possession of heroin, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin, and unlawful possession of a handgun.
According to New Jersey code of criminal justice, the seriousness of drug charges are based on factors that include whether a distribution of a controlled dangerous substance took place within 1000 feet of a school or school bus as well as whether it was within 500 feet of a public building. Second and subsequent offenses can receive up to double the amount of penalties.
First-degree charges are punishable with state prison confinement between 10 and 20 years. Fines can be up to $500,000. Second, third and fourth degree charges allow for a sentence that ranges from 18 months in prison, at the fourth-degree level, to five to 10 years in prison, at the second-degree level, and fines from $10,000 to $150,000, respectively. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to help an individual facing a similar situation, by moving that charges be dismissed if authorities cannot provide a valid search warrant or probable cause. If there is valid evidence, a lawyer might negotiate a plea bargain for reduced charges.
Source: New Jersey Courts Judiciary, “NJ Statutes Referenced in Emergent Duty Procedures Manual Criminal Section,” New Jersey Courts, current as of September 2012