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Articles Posted in Marijuana Laws

I was contacted by several municipal prosecutors this work asking if we could work out some of my existing client’s cases by something called a plea by affidavit. This mechanism is typically only used for out of state residents or those who do not have the ability to come to court. As part of a plea by affidavit, there would typically be a requirements that the defendant provide reasons in a certification about why it would be a hardship for that person to come to court.

Obviously, given the covid 19 outbreak, Courts are not requiring such a thing for some matters. Most of the calls that I received were for traffic related offenses other than DWI. However, I suspect that in the coming weeks there will a push to resolve existing municipal court matters, including disorderly persons offenses (simple assault, marijuana possession, shoplifting,etc.) through a plea by affidavit. Otherwise the backlog of cases could get out of hand for the municipal court.

That being said, I think that there is a great opportunity for many of these cases to resolve very favorably for my clients and I will continue to push for this sort of resolution. In addition, just because the courts are closed does not mead that the police have stopped working. Over the course of the last few weeks, I have seen many DWI, domestic violence, shoplifting, harassment and drug arrest, just to name a few. I have been consulting with new and existing clients. I have been communicating with police records on my new cases and police records in many jurisdictions is providing discovery which give me the ability to work towards a resolution of the case.

The answer is it depends. The municipal courts are not holding court sessions. Municipal courts are responsible for traffic violations including DWI and disorderly persons criminal offenses (misdemeanors). They are issuing future court dates but are also trying to set up virtual court to expedite those dates. If you have a traffic charge or disorderly persons criminal offense violation like possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana or DWI, then your court date may be a few months out, but it will not go away. It is still important to address it sooner rather than later and begin the process. Police records are still producing discovery and all other documents and I expect that that courts will expecting litigants to be at least somewhat prepared to go. I think those that are ready, and willing to proceed early on when sessions resume may get favorable deals, since they will not be contributing to the municipal court backlog.

Superior Court, Criminal Division, is quickly making progress with virtual court via video. These courts are responsible for more serious offenses called indictable offenses. Indictable offenses are also called felony offenses. First, Second, Third and Fourth degree indictable offenses are the responsibility of the Superior Court. Drug possession and distribution charges for heroin, cocaine, prescription pills, theft and shop lifting over $500, aggravated assault, weapons and guns charges, eluding the police, robbery, terroristic threats, sex assault, etc. are a few examples of these types of offenses.   I personally handled three matters this week via video court, 2 in Union County and one in Morris. It was actually pretty seamless.  I think that as the weeks progress, we will see a marked increase in the number of cases handles by the courts and the timelines moving up considerably. Likewise, I think in the interim, there will be a good opportunity to resolve cases favorably. The reason I say this is because I believe that the courts do not want to put people in jail right now. They want a reason to not put them in jail.

I think that I have a window to get really good results if I can get cases hear. For example, I had a client who was facing two First Degree count of robbery, with a bad prior record, looking at an extended term, possibly 30 years. I was able to get him a 5 flat sentence and kept him eligible for ISP, intensive supervision program. He already had 8 months in, he will likely be out as soon as he gets in. I highly doubt this would have happened two weeks ago.

The U.S. House of Representatives still has the power to shock and it did so recently when it voted to block the federal government from interfering with states that permit use of medical marijuana.

Democrats, as well as libertarian-minded and moderate Republicans, banded together to pass the amendment to the bill funding the Justice Department’s budget by a 219-189 vote. All-in-all 49 Republicans broke rank to vote in favor of the provision (4 out of 5 Republicans opposed the amendment).

Nearly half the states in the union have legalized use of marijuana for medical purposes. However, the federal government still considers the sale, distribution and use of the drug illegal. This dichotomy in state law versus federal law has been a conundrum for authorities since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana use.

NJ Marijuana DefenseA veteran volunteer firefighter for the Leonia Fire Department was told to turn his gear in after a background check revealed that he had been convicted on a marijuana charge in 1997.

The fire lieutenant, who has 30 years of service as a volunteer firefighter, was the first firefighter ousted from the department in the wake of Borough Council-mandated policy approved last fall that required all firefighters to undergo background checks. The veteran firefighter had the right to appeal his ouster before the council, but chose instead to resign from the department.

Asked to comment David Schmidt, (844) 288-7978, of Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo stated that the dismissal of this fire fighter after years of service highlights the importance taking marijuana cases seriously and of seeking expungement if possible.

In a previous blog, the criminal defense attorneys at Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo, LLC, available for consultations at (844) 288-7978, discussed the status of the new medical marijuana program in New Jersey and the recent changes in the law that have affected it. While those changes are proceeding in measured steps, there is at least one New Jersey politician who thinks the state needs to take a leap and legalize the sale and possession of marijuana altogether.

Citing the state’s war on drugs as “a miserable failure,” State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he plans to introduce a bill that would legalize pot in the state. Currently, Washington and Colorado are the only two states in the union that have legalized the sale of marijuana for recreational use. Scutari stated that legalizing the sale and possession of marijuana makes sense because police are dedicating valuable resources to a losing battle and that lives are being ruined because of minor drug offense convictions.

He expects an uphill battle.

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