In New Jersey, the law dictates that certain sentences should be issued for certain crimes. A sentencing court is not always required to comply with sentencing guidelines, though, and can issue downgraded sentences in certain situations. A New Jersey court discussed when downgraded sentences are appropriate in a recent case in which the defendant was sentenced to probation following a conviction for a drug offense. If you are charged with drug trafficking or another drug crime, it is prudent to confer with an assertive New Jersey drug charge defense attorney to discuss what evidence you may be able to set forth in your favor.
The Alleged Crimes
It is reported that the defendant was arrested at an airport after it was revealed that two drug containers in his suitcase that were marked as laxatives actually contained cocaine. He stated a relative asked him to carry the drugs back into the country from the Dominican Republic and to deliver them to an individual in his town. He was charged with third-degree possession of a dangerous controlled substance and first-degree possession of a dangerous controlled substance with the intent to distribute.
Allegedly, the third-degree charge was dismissed, and the first-degree charge was reduced to a second-degree offense in exchange for a guilty plea. Additionally, the prosecution recommended a five-year prison term. During the sentencing hearing, the defendant’s attorney cited multiple mitigating factors and asked that the defendant be sentenced as a third-degree offender to a non-custodial probationary sentence. The court found the defense’s reasoning to be appropriate and sentenced the defendant to probation. The State appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in sentencing the defendant. The appellate court agreed and reversed the trial court ruling.