Marijuana Laws in New Jersey: A Growing Issue in the Garden State

Pot, weed, ganja, chronic, whatever you want to call it, never before has marijuana been so prevalent in the media, or made such advances towards legalization than it has in the last few years.  The argument has long been made, that getting high is no worse for you than smoking cigarettes and drinking alcoholic beverages.  Some doctors have even suggested that systemically, marijuana is actually less harmful to your health than alcohol.  If that were true, why is marijuana illegal?  The theories are numerous.  Some suggest that total legalization would make it too difficult for the government to regulate, as people could grow and sell marijuana without paying taxes.  Others believe that marijuana is not as harmless as advocates suggest, and that it not only has deleterious physical and psychological health issues, but also that legalization would increase the number of people driving their cars while high.  So what is the truth?  While you can find numerous “expert reports” and articles on both sides of the debate, which argue very persuasively, the reality is that there is no decisive evidence on either side.  Reading everything there is to read on the subject, I am of the opinion that marijuana is neither as dangerous as some in law enforcement would seem to suggest, nor is it as harmless as proponents of legalization would argue.  As such, whether to toke, or not toke remains a very personal decision for many people.

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Red Light Cameras in New Jersey: Safety Issue, or Money Grab?

You’ve seen them all around the state, silently lurking at intersections like tireless, robotic sentinels, waiting for you to make a mistake. Maybe you haven’t noticed them, and you’ve been in the unfortunate majority who have received a ticket in the mail…For running a red light. Hey, at least you get a nifty picture of your car for free! I’m talking about red light cameras. There are 76 operational red light cameras in New Jersey that were installed pursuant to a five year pilot program in order to determine the effectiveness of these cameras in monitoring traffic control signals. To see the locations of these cameras, click here.  The stated purpose in doing this was to address, “crashes associated with red light running”, and to supplement “traditional, overburdened enforcement resources.” However, two rather large questions surround their use; Do they work, and are they fair?

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Help! I Just Got Arrested in New Jersey, and the Cops Didn’t Read Me My Rights!

As a veteran criminal defense attorney in New Jersey, It is probably the most frequently asked question I get asked, and it is usually the first thing clients say when they sit down for a consult. “When I got arrested, the cop didn’t read me my rights, don’t they have to dismiss the charge”? The short and simple answer, is no. The longer and slightly more complex answer, is maybe. Miranda rights are some of the most important rights a criminal defendant has, so it is important to know them. So important, in fact, that Supreme Court of the United States has said in the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona, that a defendant who is under arrest and is going to be interrogated must be informed of these rights before any questioning can begin. So, what does that mean, what are Miranda rights, and what happens when a defendant isn’t read his rights?

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New Jersey’s Heroin Epidemic

If you have been paying attention, you have become aware of a very serious problem in New Jersey. Heroin… Authorities are calling the problem an epidemic, with record rates of addiction, overdose, and purity of the drug. A report by the Task Force on Heroin and Other Opiate Use by New Jersey Youth and Young Adults has identified heroin and opiate abuse as the number one healthcare crisis in the state. According to the DEA, the purity hovers around 58%, a 12% increase from 2011.  See more DEA analysis, here.  The drug is being trafficked from South America and is arriving in ports in the United States in Newark, Elizabeth, and Philadelphia. In 2012, there were 557 heroin deaths from overdose, which does not even include the untold number of deaths that are always a part of the drug trade. Certain counties seem to be getting hit harder than others; Ocean County and Monmouth County in particular, but with its high purity, easy availability, and cheap price (a bag of quality heroin can be purchased on the street for 5 dollars) it is not hard to see why the drug has made its way across the entire state. As a veteran criminal defense attorney who has represented countless clients charged with indictable drug offenses over the years, it is easy for me see that the number of heroin arrests has trended dramatically upward. It is driving otherwise good people, adults and kids alike, into committing crimes, thefts and burglaries, to support the addiction.

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New Jersey’s Gun Control Laws, The Second Amendment, and Shaneen Allen…

As a veteran New Jersey criminal defense attorney, I have frequently represented clients charged with gun crimes in the Garden State. In New Jersey, the laws designed to regulate the sale, purchase, and ownership of guns are so complicated and restrictive, that even otherwise law-abiding citizens can accidentally break the law. Twenty-seven year old, Philadelphia single mother of two, Shaneen Allen found this out the hard way when she was pulled over on the Atlantic City Expressway In October of 2013…

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