Recently, I represented a client in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, New Jersey. My client was charged with distribution of marijuana in the second degree. Because of the seriousness of the charge, he was facing five (5) to ten (10) years in New Jersey State Prison, with a presumption of incarceration. This meant that, even though my client had no prior record, it was presumed that, if convicted, he would be sentenced to a period of incarceration in state prison of between five (5) and ten (10) years.
Despite fairly strong evidence against my client, I had to figure out a way to help him avoid serious jail time. My client was a Master’s student in Philadelphia with no prior criminal record. He had been stopped in his motor vehicle with a female friend while pulling out of the driveway of her parents’ house in Mendham, NJ. The officer on the scene allegedly smelled marijuana and asked for consent to search the vehicle (and consent was supposedly given). The search revealed 182 grams (or approximately 6.5 ounces) of marijuana. My client also had $308.00 in his wallet, but not near the drugs.
Although this would typically warrant a third degree distribution charge, because the incident occurred within 500 feet of a public park, it was classified as a second degree crime. Nonetheless, I was able to successfully convince the Morris County Assistant Prosecutor that my client was not a drug dealer and that the marijuana was for his personal use. I provided transcripts from my client’s Master’s program as well as multiple letters of recommendation regarding his character and prior conduct in school. As a result of my efforts, the prosecutor agreed to allow my client to be admitted into the PTI program for a period of two (2) years. As long as he stays out of trouble during this period and complies with the other conditions of the diversionary program, the charges will be dismissed at the end of the probationary period. In the end, my client will have no criminal record from this incident.