It is important to note that there are both state and federal laws related to the possession of heroin. This means that if someone is charged with possession of the drug in New Jersey may face penalties from both the state and the federal government. As with other powerful narcotics, the possession, trafficking and the sale of the drug is a felony.
At the federal level, the first conviction for possession of heroin is a minimum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail. If someone is convicted for possession a second time, federal law requires the person pay a fine of no less than $2,500 and serve between 15 days and two years in jail. A third conviction carries a minimum fine of $5,000 and 90 days to three years in jail.
State penalties are far stiffer. Possession of heroin is a third degree felony with a fine of up to $35,000 and up to five years in prison for the first conviction. Sale of half an ounce or less of the drug carries a fine of up to $75,000, and the fine increases significantly if the amount of drugs sold is greater or is sold to a minor.
If people are charged with a drug crime, even if it is their first, they may face stiff penalties that include jail time. Additionally, having a drug conviction on a person's record may make it difficult to find a job. A lawyer could help someone build a defense against their charges or negotiate a plea bargain that could reduce the penalties for conviction or the level of their charges. Additionally, a lawyer could see if a defendant's constitutional rights were not violated by law enforcement during the search that led to the seizure of the drug.