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Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.

"If you want peace work for justice." Pope John Paul I

Drug and Narcotic Cases

New Jersey Municipal Court Attorney Serving all Towns, Cities and Municipalities in the State of New Jersey Who Has 23-Years of Experience is Successfully Representing Persons Accused of Violating Title 39 of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Laws

Beating the CDS Case
School Zone Cases – Old Fashion Tape Measurements or Google Map distance locator Helpful sources.

In a case now before the New Jersey Supreme Court, State v. Stevens, the court will decide whether an attorney was per se ineffective for failing to obtain the precise measurements from the start of the school property to the place in which the defendant was arrested for possession of CDS with intent to distribute. In Mr. Steven’s motion for post-conviction relief the defendant is arguing that the place of his arrest was outside 1000 feet, and outside the school zone statute.

In every 1000 feet school zone or 500 feet of public park case it is essential that the criminal defense attorney investigate through physical measuring or public engineering maps to determine the location of the offense and whether the offense occurred within 1000 feet or 500 feet of a school or public park. In some cases this is not an easy task since most prosecutor’s will not produce their 1000 feet maps until after the defendant is indicted.


In every 1000 feet school or 500 feet park or public building case the criminal defense attorney must obtain the exact or estimate distance between the recovery of the CDS and these parks and public buildings. It must also be noted that the measurement of the park or public building starts not from the building itself but from the beginning of the property which could be a parking lot or vacant land surrounding the building but part of the buildings property.


At the beginning of the case if you receive no cooperation from the prosecutor in reviewing their official maps prior to indictment a helpful starting point is the Google Map Distance Measuring Tool, and/or the old fashion walk-wheel measuring device. Also, note, distance is measured as a “crow flies”, meaning a straight line. For this type of measurement check out: http://tjpeiffer.com/crowflies.html


If you are charged with a drug offense, possession, possession with intent to distribute or distribution you must consult an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney, Attorney Sanzone, to obtain the best possible results under the facts and law of your case.


State v. Brockington, decided February 18, 2015, the New Jersey Appellate Division held that the testimony of a lay police officer was impermissible and required a reversal of Brockington's conviction when the police officer gave his personal lay opinion that six alleged narcotics transactions which he observed were in fact drug transactions. Also, the court reaffirmed prior case law that such testimony is impermissible. The court further affirmed that it was improper for the prosecutor to use this testimony in his hypothetical fact pattern with the state's expert witness.


Illegal Narcotics, CDS, and Drug Offenses Are Winnable.

In New Jersey the “Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987”, codified under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-1, is the most difficult and comprehensive and confusing of all the criminal statues codified under Title 2C. In addition, the case law which interprets Title 35 is likewise difficult and comprehensive and therefore in order for a criminal attorney to intelligently and vigorously represent an individual charged with a Title 35 drug offense the NJ criminal defense attorney must have four things to successfully represent an individual charged with drug offenses. First, the attorney must have knowledge of the law; second, experience in applying that law in any given situation; third, trial experience if the matter ultimately goes to trial; and, fourth, the attorney to think outside the box, using his creative skills, to “pull-the-rabbit” out of the hat and figure out really what happened in the case, and develop and pursue all of the viable defenses for the defendant.


Under Title 35 any drugs listed in Schedules, I, II, III, IV, and V, are illegal to posses, dispense, distribute or intent to distribute in New Jersey without a valid proscription.


Any person that distributes, dispenses or intents to distribute any CDS over five ounces, including any cutting substances is guilty of a crime of the first degree. Upon conviction the sentence is ten to 20 years with a period of parole ineligibility of between one-third and one-half the sentence. In quantities of less than five ounces but more than one-half ounce the crime is a second degree crime which carries five to ten years with the same periods of parole ineligibility required as the first degree crime. Lastly, in quantities of less than one-half ounce is a crime of the third degree.

A leader of a Narcotics Trafficking Network (2C:35-1), is one who intends with two or more people, to distribute, or conspiracies to distribute or does distribute any CDS listed in Schedule I and II, and is a crime of the first degree and upon conviction or plea must served 25 years in prison before he or she is eligible for parole. Likewise some who engages in maintaining or operating a CDS production facility is guilty of a crime of the first degree and upon conviction that person must serve between 10 to 20 years with a period of parole ineligibility of between one-third to one-half of the sentence without parole.

Most simple possession charges are no higher than third-degree crimes which carry three to five year stat prison sentence.

However, rarely in New Jersey will the county prosecutor offices charge a person with simple possession? In the majority of cases if the person found to have in his or her home, vehicle or person’s a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), and the quantity of drugs is individually packaged in small amounts over five vials or bags, that person will be charged with a 2C:35-5 offense, possession with intent to distribute. Of course the jail exposure for intent to distribute case is much more than simple possession, and even higher if the defendant is found to have possessed with intent to distribute or distribute within 1000 feet of a school or 500 feet from a public park, 2C:35-7.

In reality most users involved the use of illegal use of narcotics will purchase for their own consumption a number of bags or vials at one time in order to have a sufficient supply for their own addiction.

Therefore, the battle on many of the smaller CDS cases is convincing the prosecutor that this is not a seller but simply a user, who purchased a quantity of drugs which was for his or her own consumption. In that case it is important that the defendant retain an expert witness who will testify of the habits and customs of drug users and the fact that they will most likely purchase large quantities of illegal drugs at one time for their own personal use.

In most of the cases in which the defendant obtains a dismissal of his or her drug offense, or is offered a plea agreement which is extremely favorable to the defendant, the method of obtaining these types of results rests with the skill of the criminal defense attorney handling such a case. More often than not, favorable results including dismissals occur with the trial court granting a motion to suppress evidence, in which the drugs obtained as evidence are not admissible at trial. If that happens the case is thrown out on the basis of the suppression motion. For a further discussion on how to beat the drug case go to: http://vincent-sanzone.blogspot.com/2011/12/charged-with-drug-or-narcotics-offense.html

If the matter goes to trial there are an abundant of trial issues that can make a difference between a guilty and not guilty verdict, including issues regarding chain of custody, weight and quantity, credibility of the offices involved in the investigation and arrest, credibility of defendant if he or she decides to testify, possession issues as to whether there was legal direct or constructive by the defendant, whether the offense actually occurred within a school zone or park, expert witness testimony, to name a few.


Also, pursuant to 2C:35-19 the State can prove the, composition, quality and quantity of the substance being submitted into evidence, through a certified laboratory report, without the testimony of the chemists. Therefore, it is essential that a competent defense attorney object to such a report prior to trial so that a proper cross-examination of the laboratory technician is done.


Lastly, some defendants qualify for the drug court program pursuant to 2C:35-14. However, I would recommend that a defendant not enter the program unless there are no other alternatives, including no trial issues. First, the program lasts up to five years. Second, for most people it is an extremely difficult program, third, as a condition to the program most participates will have to spend up to one year in an inpatient drug rehabilitation program, and four, because the defendant must first plead guilt to the offense if the defendant is discharged from the program the defendant probably will be sent to prison for the charge in which he or she plead guilty to.


Attorney Sanzone has 20 years of experience in successfully handling thousands of these types of cases and has handled cases in hundreds of municipal courts throughout the entire state. These cases include, but not limited to, operating a motor vehicle without liability insurance, driving with suspended or revoked license, CDS in a motor vehicle, driving while impaired or intoxicated, speeding, reckless and careless driving, failure to maintain lane, and others.


New Jersey Drug Kingpin Statute


Under New Jersey Law it is a first degree crime (life imprisonment sentence, with 25-year period of parole ineligibility, or more), for someone to be a leader of a narcotics-trafficking network.


To be convicted under the “kingpin” statute the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt four separate elements. First that the defendant conspire with two other people in addition to himself in the distribution of the CDS. Second, that the defendant was an organizer, supervisor, financier or manager of the illegal operation. Third, that the defendant be engaged in the illegal distribute of CDS for profit. Fourth that the conspiracy includes a scheme or course of conduct to unlawfully to manufacture, distribute, dispense or transport a CDS. The New Jersey Supreme Court has held in the seminal case State v. Alexander and in State v. Ellis (recently decided on March 6, 2012), that the defendant must occupy a high-level position, a position of authority over the other members of the drug network, and not merely co-conspiratorial associates of equal authority. In other words, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was the “leader” and not merely one of equals involved in the conspiracy of selling, transporting or manufacturing controlled dangerous substances.


If you are charged with such a crime it is important that you seek legal advice from an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney. Attorney Sanzone has over 21 years of experience in handling complex and difficult narcotics cases, and has often obtain amazing results for his clients.

School Zone and Public Park Cases

In a case now before the New Jersey Supreme Court, State v. Stevens, the court will decide whether an attorney was per se ineffective in representing the defendant for failing to obtain the precise measurements for the start of the school property to the place in which the defendant was arrested for possession of CDS (controlled dangerous substances), with intent to sell or distribute. In Mr. Steven's post-conviction relief motion (PCR) Mr. Steven's argued that the place of his arrest was outside the 1000 feet school zone for the school zone statute to be tiggered. In ever 1000 foot schoo zone or 500 feet public park case it is essential that the New Jersey criminal defense attorney investigage this issue through physical measuring the distance or through public certified engineering maps to determine the location of the offense and whether the offense ocurred within 1000 feet or 500 feet of a school or public park. In some cases this is not an easy task since most prosecutor's will not produce their 1000 feet offical school zone maps until after the defendant is indicted.

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Office: : Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq. P.O. Box 261 277 North Broad Street Elizabeth, N.J. 07207