Possession of Heroine Charge Downgraded to Loitering Offense in Newark Municipal Court
I represented a defendant who was initially charged with possession of heroine. Heroine possession is a third degree indictable criminal offense. After extensive discussion with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the charge was remanded to the municipal court in Newark where my client now faced a drug paraphernalia complaint.
Having a charge of this magnitude remanded to the municipal court was already a victory, but this particular offense (drug paraphernalia), like most drug related convictions, carries the possibility of a six month loss of license, and the minimum mandatory statutory penalties that can lead to thousand of dollars in fines.The only way to avoid the loss of license is to convince the court that taking the defendant’s license would create an undue hardship. You may be thinking, of course taking my license would create an undue hardship. But the proofs required to avoid the suspension are more stringent than one would imagine.
I avoided having to deal with this issue by negotiating an even more advantageous plea agreement. The state agreed to amend the paraphernalia charge to an offense called loitering with the intent to purchase cds. The difference between this offense and paraphernalia is that loitering is not on an offense under chapter 35. It is a disorderly persons offense under NJSA 2C:33-2.1. The biggest difference being there is no loss of license, also the fines and statutory penalties are substantially reduced.
My client was very happy with this result, and kept his license. It should be noted that this particular client had prior drug related convictions and was not conditionally discharge eligible.