Today I appeared in Morris County Superior Court on a two-defendant drug possession case. My client is charged with possession of heroin, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, distribution of heroin and conspiracy. The plea offer from the State is for 4 years New Jersey State Prison.
In my opinion, the State doesn't have a strong case. The police sent a confidential witness ("CW") to purchase drugs from the co-defendant. The two made arrangments to meet over the phone and the CW wore a "wire" while driving with the co-defenant to meet with my client. The CW contacted the co-defendant and asked him if he had any drugs to sell. He asked the CW for a ride to a location where he would allegedly obtain the drugs, ostensibly from my client.
Upon arrival, the co-defendant exited the car and briefly met with my client. There are photos of the two of them near one another and the police report states that "a transaction occurred." I'm not so sure that the State can prove that.
The "dealer" returns to the car and gives the CW the drugs; the CW drives the dealer home; the CW reports back to the police, who count the money that they originally provided the CW with to make the buy, etc. Neither defendant makes any statements to the police.
How will the State prove their case? The "transaction" could've been a handshake. My client could simply have handed the dealer money for a personal debt or for any reason, quite frankly. Let's not forget that the burden is on the State to prove it's case beyond a reasonable doubt.
On the other hand, my client also has 8 months of jail credit towards any sentence that he receives in this case. Generally, a defendant will only do about 9 months of a 3 year sentence (!). The safest bet might be to simply take the State's offer.