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NJ Morphine Offenses

Morphine Offenses in New Jersey

Morphine is a powerful and highly addictive opioid painkiller. While it does have legitimate medical uses, morphine is also subject to significant abuse and illegal distribution. In New Jersey, morphine possession, distribution, and trafficking charges are prosecuted harshly under strict drug laws.

This article provides an overview of morphine crimes, defenses, penalties, and what to expect if facing morphine charges in New Jersey. With mandatory minimum sentences on the line, having an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential.

Morphine Possession

Simply having morphine pills or solutions in your possession without a valid prescription is illegal in New Jersey. Possession of any amount is charged as a 3rd degree crime with penalties of:

  • 3-5 years in prison
  • Fines up to $35,000
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Drug counseling

Penalties increase if weight thresholds are exceeded. Possessing over 1 ounce bumps charges up to a 2nd degree crime. Convictions also bring a permanent criminal record that can negatively impact your life for years.

Morphine Distribution

Sharing morphine with others, or possessing amounts that indicate intent to distribute, is illegal distribution under N.J.S.A 2C:35-5. Even giving pills to friends or family free of charge qualifies. Distribution charges include:

  • 3-10 years in prison
  • Fines up to $150,000
  • Permanent felony record

Penalties sharply escalate for larger amounts, especially if over 5 ounces. School zone enhancements can also increase jail time if near a school or bus stop.

Morphine Trafficking

Selling morphine illegally for profit brings trafficking charges under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5.1. This is prosecuted aggressively, with penalties starting at:

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  • 10-20 years in prison
  • Fines up to $300,000
  • Parole supervision upon release

Weight thresholds sharply escalate penalties – up to life imprisonment if over 5 ounces. Mandatory minimum sentences give judges little discretion, so having an experienced criminal lawyer is critical.

Defenses Against Morphine Charges

There are defenses that may get morphine charges reduced or dismissed in New Jersey. Some examples include:

  • Invalid Search – Evidence can be suppressed if obtained illegally.
  • No Possession – You can argue the morphine was not actually in your possession.
  • Legal Prescription – Having a valid prescription is a complete defense.
  • No Intent to Distribute – The state must prove you planned to sell or share the drugs.
  • Entrapment – You were illegally induced to commit the crime.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer will evaluate the details of your case to determine the best defense strategy. Even technicalities like an expired prescription could potentially get charges dropped.

What to Expect If Facing Charges

Being charged with a morphine offense in New Jersey is scary. Here is a basic overview of what to expect:

  1. Arrest, booking, and processing at the police station.
  2. Release pending an initial court appearance within 10-14 days.
  3. Hire a defense lawyer immediately to start working on your case.
  4. Enter a plea at your arraignment – plead not guilty until your lawyer advises otherwise.
  5. The judge will set bail terms and conditions of your release.
  6. Your lawyer will request evidence from the prosecution during discovery.
  7. Counsel may negotiate for reduced charges or a plea bargain.
  8. If no deal reached, your case will go to trial.

Exercise your right to remain silent and only speak through your lawyer. Anything you say to police can be used against you. Be polite and compliant during arrest, but do not answer questions or sign statements without counsel present.

Finding the Right Lawyer

Your choice of lawyer is critical to the outcome of a morphine case in New Jersey. Key traits to look for include:

  • Extensive experience with New Jersey drug crimes cases
  • In-depth knowledge of morphine laws and sentencing
  • Track record of favorable verdicts and plea bargains
  • Willingness to aggressively defend you at trial
  • Strong negotiation skills for plea bargaining
  • Clear communication and responsiveness

Be sure to understand the lawyer’s fees upfront and get a signed fee agreement. Look for someone who instills confidence they will fight hard on your behalf.

Alternative Resolutions

Rather than risk severe penalties if convicted at trial, alternatives may be available such as:

  • Plea Bargain – Plead guilty to reduced charges in exchange for a lighter sentence.
  • Diversion Program – Complete drug rehab and get charges dismissed.
  • ARD – Charges dropped after successful probation term.

These options still require admitting guilt but let you avoid jail time. Your lawyer will advise if worthwhile compared to potential penalties after trial.

Consequences of a Conviction

If convicted of a morphine offense, consequences will last for years beyond any incarceration, including:

  • Permanent criminal record
  • Barriers to employment, especially in healthcare fields
  • Potential loss of professional licensing
  • Ineligibility for public housing and student aid
  • Years of probation
  • Large fines and court fees
  • Deportation for non-citizens

Also, a felony conviction results in permanent loss of voting rights in New Jersey. These collateral consequences demonstrate the need for an aggressive legal defense.

Fighting the Charges

Once you’ve hired a lawyer, they will start building defenses to try getting charges reduced or dismissed. Efforts may include:

  • Filing motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence
  • Requesting medical records to prove a valid prescription
  • Hiring expert witnesses to analyze drug tests
  • Negotiating with the prosecutor for plea bargain options
  • Seeking flaws in the prosecution’s case
  • Exploring diversion programs to avoid conviction

A skilled lawyer leaves no stones unturned in defending you and avoiding the worst penalties. They will fight the prosecution at every step.

Getting Your Life Back

Being charged with a morphine offense can feel devastating, but try to stay positive. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer advising you, many people are able to get charges reduced or even dismissed. It starts with hiring counsel immediately after an arrest.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Follow your lawyer’s advice precisely to avoid missteps.
  • Stick to all conditions of your release while out on bail.
  • Stay clean and avoid re-arrest.
  • Lean on family and friends for support.
  • Get counseling if struggling with addiction.

While the legal process is scary at first, remember this is only temporary. Your life isn’t over. With smart legal moves, you can get past this and move forward. It starts with having an experienced lawyer fight hard on your behalf.

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