State v. Brimage 153 N.J. 1 (1998), is the landmark case decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court that established guidelines to regulate a defendant’s exposure to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for certain drug related offenses. The State Attorney General promulgated these guidelines to ensure statewide uniformity in limiting plea offers that waive or reduce an otherwise mandatory term of imprisonment and parole eligibility imposed when a defendant is convicted of certain drug offenses. Brimage sentencing guidelines typically apply in situations including: 1) repeat drug offender; 2) school zone drug offenses; 3) drug distribution to a minor or pregnant female; 4) a second drug distribution charge; 5) street gang related activity.
A worksheet must be utilized by the prosecutor in these Brimage cases which requires rules and charts to calculate the acceptable plea offer and period of imprisonment as well as parole ineligibility. These Brimage worksheets and guidelines limit the prosecutor’s ability to lower or adjust the plea offer.
It is imperative that you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer when you have been charged with a drug offense in New Jersey. There are many complexities to handling drug related offenses in New Jersey including potential diversionary programs such as Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) and Drug Court as well as sentencing guidelines such as Brimage which require mandatory imprisonment and parole ineligibility for certain drug related offenses. There are also enhancements related to school zone offenses and public property. As a result, it is essential that you hire an experienced defense attorney who knows the system and how to navigate it.
Contact my Morristown office anytime for a free initial consultation at (973)971-0030.