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New Jersey man gets second chance in drug case

It is easy to find stories of men and women who have a drug charge ruin their lives. For one man in New Jersey, this story will, at least for now, include a second chance. He was charged with possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana in late August, and it was his first offense. As a 22-year-old man, he faced what could have been a lifetime of explaining one drug-relate mistake. Now, it seems, he will have an opportunity to clear his record.

This is a trend that is slowly emerging in courts across New Jersey, as the municipal court judge in this case assigned the man to diversionary program. He was assessed an $833 fine, and he will be tested for drugs randomly over the next year. If he stays clean and avoids other drug charges – like drug cultivation, manufacturing, prescription drug fraud, and federal drug crimes – his record will be scrubbed, and the incident will be behind him. 

This approach provides an opportunity for those who have been charged with low-level drug crimes in New Jersey. Judges sometimes use their discretion by granting first-time offenders a second chance. The full dismissal of charges is important, as a conviction can make it difficult for individuals to get a job or even rent an apartment in the future.

Defendants facing drug charges can benefit significantly from solid legal representation, as defense lawyers highlight the positive qualities that these people bring to the table. Though not every defendant is able to secure a deal like the one in this story, more room is being made for non-violent offenders who want the benefit of a second chance. 

Source: Mount Olive Chronicle, “Municipal Court -- Second chance for first time drug offender in Mount Olive,” Phil Garber, Sept. 13, 2013

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