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Proposed legislation seeks to increase penalties for drug crimes

Politicians often pride themselves as being tough on crime. Unfortunately, this can result in draconian laws that have little deterrent or rehabilitative effect. One particularly common target for politicians who want to appear tough on crime is drug laws. In fact, New Jersey readers may find it interesting to learn about a new bill that will provides prosecutors a lot more discretion when charging certain drug crimes.

It was recently reported that the New Jersey State Assembly Judiciary Committee approved a bill that will provide prosecutors significantly more latitude when charging drug dealers with drug charges such as intent to distribute and drug distribution. The measure accomplishes this by allowing prosecutors to grade the seriousness of the crime according to the number of units of the drug, such as pills or tabs, rather than the weight.

In addition to changing the manner in which authorities calculate a substance for purposes of charging the crime, the bill also significantly increases the current penalties of selling heroin. In fact, the new bill almost doubles the current sentence for certain sales of heroin in the state of New Jersey. While the measure has moved through committee, some assemblymen have expressed concerns about portions of the legislation.

Drug crimes are serious offenses in the state of New Jersey. Whether someone is facing simple possession charges or is accused of intent to distribute, individuals facing drug charges need a strong defense. Penalties for drug charges can include serious jail time, long and invasive probationary periods and hefty fines. One way to limit the effects of such charges is to take all steps necessary to minimize the penalties or even avoid a conviction altogether.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "Bill would let prosecutors charge dealers in N.J. by units of drugs rather than weight," Matt Friedman, Nov. 25, 2013

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