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  • NJ A1261
  • Revises grades and sentencing determinations for certain controlled dangerous substances.
Introduced
(1/27/2016)
In Committee
(1/27/2016)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill decreases the existing statutory thresholds for certain offenses with regard to manufacturing, distributing or dispensing heroin, or having heroin under one's control with the intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense. Heroin is inexpensive and readily available, with demand having grown sharply in recent years. The current statutory scheme enables drug dealers to meet the growth in demand while avoiding the most serious criminal penalties. Under current law, the seriousness of drug crimes is measured by the amount or weight of the controlled dangerous substances involved in the crime. Current law provides for equivalent weights and quantities of heroin and cocaine to be treated identically, which does not take into consideration the differences between how the drugs are distributed and used. According to a July 2013 report by the State Commission of Investigation concerning controlled dangerous substance abuse, the amounts of heroin consumed by an average user and carried by an average dealer are far lower than those involving cocaine. Thus, current law enables many individuals arrested for heroin distribution offenses to avoid the most serious drug charges. Grading Scheme - Crimes of the First Degree: Under the amendments, it would be a crime of the first degree, pursuant to new subparagraph (a) of paragraph (1) of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:35-5, to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or to possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense: · heroin or its analog in a quantity of 20 ounces or more including any adulterants or dilutants, or 10,000 or more units; · a heroin mixture in a quantity of 10 ounces or more including any adulterants, dilutants, or controlled dangerous substances (CDS) other than heroin or the analogs of such substances or 5,000 or more units; or · a substance classified as a narcotic drug in Schedule I or II, or the analog of any such substance, in a quantity of 20 ounces or more including any adulterants or dilutants or 10,000 or more units. A defendant convicted of this first degree crime would be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment which would include a minimum term of between one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed or 10 years, whichever is greater, during which the defendant would be ineligible for parole. If the defendant is subject to an extended term pursuant to subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:43-6, the minimum term would be one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed or 15 years, whichever is greater. A fine of up to $500,000 could be imposed. Under the new subparagraph (b) of paragraph (1) of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:35-5, it would also a crime of the first degree to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or to possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense: · heroin or its analog in a quantity of two ounces or more, but less than 20 ounces including any adulterants or dilutants, or 1,000 or more, but less than 10,000 units; · a heroin mixture in a quantity of one ounce or more, but less than 10 ounces including any adulterants, dilutants, or CDS other than heroin or the analogs of such substances or 500 or more, but less than 5,000 units; · a substance classified as a narcotic drug in Schedule I or II, or the analog of any such substance, in a quantity of two ounces or more, but less than 20 ounces including any adulterants or dilutants, or 1,000 or more, but less than 10,000 units; or · any other substance referred to in subsubparagraph (iv) of subparagraph (b) of paragraph (1) of subsection b. (coca leaves and any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of coca leaves and substances that are chemically equivalent), in a quantity of five ounces or more including any adulterants or dilutants. A defendant convicted of this first degree crime would be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment which would include the imposition of a minimum term fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant would be ineligible for parole. A fine of up to $500,000 could be imposed. Grading Scheme - Crimes of the Second Degree: Under the new subsubparagraph (i) of subparagraph (a) of paragraph (2) of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:35-5, it would be a crime of the second degree to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or to possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense: · heroin or its analog in a quantity of one-half ounce or more, but less than two ounces including any adulterants or dilutants or 250 or more, but less than 1,000 units; · a heroin mixture in a quantity of one-quarter ounce or more, but less than one ounce including any adulterants, dilutants, or CDS other than heroin or the analogs of such substances or 125 or more, but less than 500 units; or · any other substance referred to in subsubparagraph (iv) of subparagraph (b) of paragraph (1) of subsection b. (coca leaves and any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of coca leaves and substances that are chemically equivalent), in a quantity of one-half ounce or more but less than five ounces including any adulterants or dilutants. Grading Scheme - Crimes of the Third Degree: Under the new subparagraph (a) of paragraph (3) of subsection b., it would be a crime of the third degree to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or to possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense: · heroin or its analog in a quantity of less than one-half ounce including any adulterants or dilutants or less than 250 units; · a heroin mixture in a quantity of less than one-quarter ounce including any adulterants, dilutants, or CDS other than heroin or the analogs of such substances or less than 125 units, or · any other substance referred to in subsubparagraph (iv) of subparagraph (b) of paragraph (1) of subsection b. (coca leaves and any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of coca leaves and substances that are chemically equivalent), in a quantity less than one-half ounce including any adulterants or dilutants. Grading Scheme - Other Crimes of the Second Degree: It would be a crime of the second degree, under paragraph (4) of subsection b., to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or to possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a substance classified as a narcotic drug in Schedule I or II other than those specifically covered in N.J.S.2C:35-5, or the analog of such substance, in a quantity of one-half ounce or more but less than two ounces including any adulterants or dilutants, or 250 or more units but fewer than 1,000 units. Grading Scheme - Other Crimes of the Third Degree: It would be a crime of the third degree, under paragraph (5) of subsection b., to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or to possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a substance classified as a narcotic drug in Schedule I or II other than those specifically covered in N.J.S.2C:35-5, or the analog of such substance, in a quantity of less than one-half ounce including any adulterants or dilutants, or fewer than 250 units. The fine of $75,000 set out in current law for this crime would be unchanged. Criminal Sentencing in General: A crime of the first degree is generally punishable by a term of imprisonment of ten to 20 years or a fine of up to $200,000, or both; a crime of the second degree, by a term of five to ten years or a fine up to $150,000, or both; and a crime of the third degree, by a term of three to five years or a fine up to $15,000, or both. Requirements for Indictment or Accusation: The bill provides that with respect to heroin or its analog, a heroin mixture, or a substance classified as a narcotic drug in Schedule I or II or the analog of any such substance, the quantity or the number of units of the substance or analog manufactured, distributed, dispensed, or possessed or controlled with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or both methods of measurement, may be used to determine whether an offense has been committed or the degree of the offense, and the indictment or accusation shall specify whether the degree of the offense is based on the quantity or the number of units of the substance or analog, or both methods of measurement. Whenever the indictment or accusation provides that the degree of the offense is based on the number of units of the substance or analog, the indictment or accusation shall further specify whether the number of units involved is based on the number of discrete pills, tablets, capsules, vials, packets, folds or other units of distribution or packaging of the controlled dangerous substance or analog, or based on the amount which is commonly distributed for consumption at one time by an individual to achieve the desired effect, or based on both methods of measurement to determine the number of units involved. The bill also provides that whenever the degree of the offense depends on the quantity of the substance or the number of units or plants, the quantity or number of units or plants involved would be determined by the trier of fact. Whenever the indictment or accusation so provides, the quantity or number of units or plants involved in individual acts of manufacturing, distribution, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute may be aggregated in determining the grade of the offense. The bill further provides that except when the indictment or accusation provides that the degree of the offense is to be determined for a heroin mixture as defined in the bill, if the offense involves a mixture of two or more controlled dangerous substances or analogs, when the indictment or accusation so provides, the degree of the offense would be determined by applying the entire amount of the mixture including any adulterants and dilutants to the type of controlled dangerous substance or analog included in the mixture that would result in the highest degree of crime. For purposes of aggregating amounts involved in multiple acts of manufacturing, distribution, dispensing or possession with intent to distribute or dispense, when the indictment or accusation so provides, the entire amount of a mixture including any adulterants and dilutants would be treated as the type of controlled dangerous substance or analog included in the mixture that would result in the highest degree of crime. Consecutive Sentences: Under the bill, whenever a defendant is convicted of a violation involving heroin or its analog or a heroin mixture and is also convicted of one or more violations involving any other controlled dangerous substance or analog classified as a narcotic drug, the sentence imposed on the heroin, heroin analog or heroin mixture conviction would run consecutively to the sentence imposed on the highest-degree conviction involving the other narcotic drug, notwithstanding that the offenses occurred at the same time or as part of a single transaction, unless the court finds that imposition of consecutive sentences would be a serious injustice which overrides the need to deter other actors from manufacturing, distributing or dispensing multiple varieties of narcotic drugs. Definitions: In addition, the bill defines the phrase "adulterants or dilutants," "mixture," "heroine mixture," and "unit" for purposes of chapter 35 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes. Under the bill, "adulterants or dilutants" means substances which are mixed or combined with a controlled dangerous substance and any medium which is used to carry a controlled dangerous substance, if the controlled dangerous substance is not readily removable from the medium. The term includes, but is not limited to, blotter paper, stamps or cigarettes. The bill defines "mixture" as a substance containing two or more controlled dangerous substances or controlled substance analogs that have been combined by any means so that the injection, inhalation or ingestion of the mixture would result in the consumption of two or more controlled dangerous substances or analogs. "Heroin mixture" is defined as a mixture containing heroin, or its analog, and any other controlled dangerous substance classified as a narcotic drug or its analog. "Unit" is defined as either the smallest discrete pill, tablet, capsule, vial, packet, fold or other unit of distribution or packaging of the controlled dangerous substance, or the amount which is commonly distributed for consumption at one time by an individual to achieve the desired effect, whichever method of measurement results in the greater number of units. The bill takes effect immediately upon enactment.
Judiciary
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee  (on 1/27/2016)
 
 
Date Chamber Action Description
1/27/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified