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New Jersey man charged with drugs in a school zone

A New Jersey judge set bail at $350,000 for a 20-year-old man apprehended on drug charges by police after six weeks of investigation that included surveillance by detectives. The local police chief said the drug crimes the man is accused of increase in severity along with the potential penalties he faces if convicted because he is alleged to have possessed drugs in a school zone.

Police claim that the man was within 1,000 feet of a school, and he was in possession of the controlled substance MDMA that is sold and distributed on the street as 'Molly." Officers also seized marijuana, a steroid, two scales and $30,000 in cash. Charges against the suspect include drug possession and intent to distribute drugs in a school zone.

Laws broadening the scope of state and federal drug crimes to include separate violations for selling or possessing heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs in a school zone add to the charges police and prosecutors can file against a person suspected of committing drug crimes. These additional charges can drastically affect the life and family of the accused.

Protecting the rights of a person suspected of committing a crime is important in any criminal case, but drug crimes prosecutions present unique challenges for criminal defense attorneys. For example, searches for evidence by police must be performed according to constitutional and statutory guidelines in order for seized evidence to be admissible in court. Motions attacking the procedures used by police might, if successful, lead to exclusion of evidence and a weakening of the case brought against the accused by prosecutors.

Source:, "$30K in cash, drugs seized in Elmwood Park arrest after six-week investigation", Evonne Coutros, November 30, 2013

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