New Jersey Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission recommended eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug crimes in November of 2019. A part of this recommendation also suggested modifying sentences for those currently incarcerated. This recommendation has been partially implemented as of April of 2021 by issuing AG Directive 2021-4. The Directive instructed all prosecutors in New Jersey to waive mandatory parole disqualifiers for six non-violent drug crimes including the following:
- Leader of a narcotics trafficking network
- Distribution of CDS to persons under 18-years-old
- Employing a juvenile in a drug distribution scheme
- Maintaining or operating a facility producing a CDS
- Manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled dangerous substance (CDS)
- Distributing, dispensing, or possessing with intent to distribute CDS within 1,000 feet of a school
What does the Directive state?
The Directive states that when the incarcerated defendant requests, the prosecutor shall agree to file a joint motion to amend the defendant’s sentence in the following cases:
- The defendant is serving a sentence currently for a violation of the following crimes: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3, 2C:35-4, 2C:35-5, 2C:35-6, 2C:35-7, or 2C:35-8
- The defendant remains ineligible for parole on the account of the parole disqualifier mandated by any of the offenses listed above.
Inmates who request a sentence modification pursuant will file a form that will be forwarded to the County Prosecutor’s Office who originally handled the case to confirm the requestor’s eligibility for sentence modification.
It is important to understand that the prosecutor reserves the right to argue that the court should impose a discretionary period of parole ineligibility on the grounds that the aggravating factors associated with the defendant’s offense outweigh the mitigating factors. This is in the case that the prosecutor does not seek a discretionary parole disqualifier any longer than the one imposed as part of the original sentence.
The Directive says, “This Directive, therefore, establishes statewide rules that require prosecutors to seek the waiver of mandatory parole disqualifiers for non-violent drug crimes during plea negotiations, following a probation violation, and after conviction at trial. Where the defendant makes a request, prosecutors will also be required to file a joint application to modify the sentences of inmates currently incarcerated.” For more information, reach out to our firm today.
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Kevin T. Conway has over 30 years of experience as a Spring Valley criminal attorney handling DUI, DWI, traffic violations, violent crimes, sex crimes, illegal gun possession, shoplifting, and juvenile crimes. Attorney Conway is also experienced in commercial law matters, zoning law, and estate planning. If you need a Rockland County criminal lawyer, contact our Spring Valley office for a free consultation.