Articles Posted in Drug Crime

Informants Privilege Under the New Jersey Rules of Evidence

In New Jersey, law enforcement routinely relies on informants in assisting narcotics investigations and drug prosecutions. In another article entitled New Jersey Discovery Rules for Cooperating Witness/Confidential Informant in Drug Cases we outlined what is discoverable information in a criminal case that involves police use of a cooperating witness. In addition to the limitations discussed in the previous article, specifically that defense may not be able to obtain use of cooperating witness in drug prosecutions not related to prosecution presently before the court, there is another limitation known as the “informants privilege.”

The informants privilege, contained in New Jersey Rules of Evidence 516, permits the State of New Jersey to refuse to disclose the identity of a confidential informant, unless certain information is presented to the court. Defense must show either that the identity of the informant has already been disclosed or that disclosure of the identity of the informant “is essential to assure fair determination of the issues.” What constitutes a “fair determination of the issues” was discussed in State v. Milligan.

New Jersey law enforcement routinely rely on cooperating witnesses or confidential informants in making drug arrests. In a recent example, a man was arrested in Sussex, NJ on September 2016 and charged with various drug related offenses under the New Jersey Criminal Code. The charges included first-degree possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3), second-degree possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and heroin, and third degree possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

The police relied on a cooperating witness from the Sussex County Narcotics Task Force to make the arrest. The cooperating witness purchased from the defendant and the task force also made controlled buys of cocaine.

When the state uses cooperating witnesses in a drug sting operation a defendant has a right to discovery of certain information relating to the cooperating witness. Discovery Rule 3:13-3(b) generally requires that the State provide all evidence relevant to the defense of criminal charges. Rule 3:13(b) states that discovery “shall include all exculpatory information and relevant material.” Evidence is relevant if it has any tendency to prove or disprove a fact of consequence in the determination of the action. In a recently decided New Jersey Supreme Court case, State v. Hernandez, the court held that the States discovery obligations extend to providing material evidence affecting the credibility of the States cooperating witness. State v. Hernandez, 225 N.J. 451, (N.J. 2016).

Intent to Distribute HeroinPolice in Hunterdon County recently arrested two men for alleged drug distribution after a joint undercover investigation found the suspects with 130 decks of heroin, according to NJ.com.

Investigators said that the men were arrested while at their workplace in Bloomsbury and charged with possession of heroin with intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute. Both were taken to the county jail under bail of $15,000 each.

Possession and distribution of a dangerous controlled substance is a serious crime in the state of New Jersey and may result in devastating consequences in the event of a conviction.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), prescription drugs, such as pain killers, psychotropic medications, and opiates, have become one of the most abused controlled substances in the country. Many people wrongly assume that if a medical professional has prescribed a drug, it is not addictive or harmful. However, anyone can become addicted to a prescription drug and legitimate use can quickly become illegal once a person runs out of a valid prescription.

Under New Jersey criminal statute 2C:35-10.5, it is illegal for an individual to possess, distribute, or use a drug or medication that has not been prescribed by a licensed practitioner.

Therefore, prescription drug-related crimes may include the following: