Felony Drug Charges in New Jersey

New Jersey arrests and charges on felony drug crimes have made news in recent months. Whether these cases ever go to trial will depend on the quality of the police work and the ability of defense lawyers. In the meantime, reviewing some of these cases provides insight into law enforcement targets and prosecutorial interests.

Individuals sometimes charged with non-drug crimes

Some individuals facing felony charges are not charged with drug crimes even when others arrested at the scene do face drug charges. Take the case of Edward McNeil, who was arrested along with two others while driving on Route 17 in New York. The others were charged with drug crimes: one with felony possession and the other with possession of marijuana. McNeil, however, was not charged with a drug crime, but with eluding a police officer, a felony. He will be extradited to New Jersey to face those charges.

Investigations often lead to arrest

Many drug busts that result in felony charges occur after lengthy police investigations. For example, Bergen County law enforcement recently charged three men with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, a felony. Another man is still at large. The arrests came after a two-month investigation that began when one of the men sold marijuana to an undercover officer from the Bergen County Narcotic Task Force.

A 21-year old Trenton man was charged with six felonies, including manufacture and delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver narcotics. He was arrested in Morrisville, PA, after selling heroin to an undercover officer on two occasions and a short investigation.

Police as defendants in felony drug cases

The roles played by police officers and ex-police officers in these cases are sometimes more villain than hero. A number of Camden City cops have been charged with corruption in drug cases. One of the defendants was sentenced to 10 years in prison after his conviction on charges of stealing cash and drugs, planting evidence, and lying to a grand jury.

The corruption cases were the result of an FBI investigation that targeted a period from July 2008 through November 2009. Many drug convictions were vacated by the courts after the police corruption was revealed. Although many of those convicted were released from prison, a number of individuals were rearrested and charged.

Similarly, a nine-year veteran of the Patterson police force was charged with conspiring to plant drugs and subsequently arresting a man. The 43-year-old officer has pleaded not guilty and has been released on $100,000 bail. He has been suspended without pay from the Patterson Police Department and faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted.

Whether they are civilians or are in law enforcement, individuals who believe they are under investigation or who think they may soon be arrested on felony drug charges should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled defense lawyer may be able to steer a drug investigation in a direction that benefits the client. In all cases, an advocate will be dedicated to protecting a defendant's rights.