Mount Holly Criminal Lawyers Foresee an Increase in Heroin and Gang Prosecutions
Heroin-related deaths in New Jersey have spiked in the past three years, prompting authorities to respond with more funding for law enforcement aimed at curbing drug trafficking and gang activity in the areas hardest hit by drug-related deaths. The end result could be an increase in certain types of prosecutions for drug dealing and gang-related activities.
The statistics on heroin overdoses in New Jersey indicate a surge in deaths since 2011. According to figures compiled from state medical examiner data by NJ Advance Media released in August, there have been 5,267 heroin-related deaths in New Jersey since 2004, nearly half of which have occurred since 2011.
New Jersey State Police had previously implicated criminal gangs in the sale and distribution of illegal drugs such as heroin. In a 2010 update on a continuing study of gang activity in the state, the State Police identified 244 active gangs and determined that 74 of them were actively involved in the retail or wholesale distribution of marijuana, cocaine or heroin.
To address the increased heroin use and trafficking in New Jersey, federal authorities in September provided nearly $4.5 million in additional funding for law enforcement programs that target drug dealing and gang activities. Of the total amount, approximately two million dollars will go toward anti-gang programs operated by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Jersey City and the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety. Another $2.25 million will go the East Orange Police Department and to the Essex County Sheriff’s Office for programs intended to prevent school-related violence, primarily by putting more police officers in public schools. Finally, the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety will receive $103,227 for an anti-heroin task force program.
In New Jersey, as in most states, it is illegal to possess, sell, or distribute heroin. Possession of a small amount of heroin – half an ounce or less — is considered a third degree felony, punishable with a fine of up to $35,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years.
In order to crack down on gang-related heroin distribution, prosecutors will be able to use a New Jersey statute which creates a crime of gang criminality. The statute increases the criminal penalties for any member of a criminal street gang who commits another crime, such as possession or distribution of illegal drugs. It also increases the penalties for the underlying crime by one degree.
Mount Holly Criminal Lawyers Defend Clients against NJ Drug and Gang Charges
Mount Holly Criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Michele Finizio provide aggressive, knowledgeable legal representation to individuals charged with criminal offenses. With a reputation for being tenacious and results-driven, we will evaluate the circumstances of your case and aggressively advocate on your behalf. Our offices are conveniently located in Moorestown, New Jersey in the Cherry Hill area, making us easily accessible to serve clients throughout Southern New Jersey, including the communities of Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County and Salem County. For a free consultation, call our law offices at 856-242-7300 or contact us online.