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Charged with a heroin offense? Know your options.

Facing a heroin charge in New Jersey can be frightening. Your mind may be swimming with thoughts about what all of this could cost you if it turns into a conviction.

One thing to keep in mind is that the arrest is only part of the legal process. You have a right to defend against the charge, and you may have more options than you currently realize. Here are some things to understand and consider.

State Law

In the state of New Jersey, if police claim you have even a small amount of heroin -- 0.5 oz. or less -- you face a third-degree criminal charge, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. The possible penalties increase significantly in terms of prison time and fines if you are accused of possessing or selling a larger amount of heroin. If authorities claim that you were distributing heroin in a housing project or at a public park, the possible penalties are even harsher.

However, in recent years, courts have gradually come to recognize that they can't arrest and incarcerate their way out of the heroin and opioid epidemic. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may be eligible for a diversion program. In any case, it is important to be aware of your counseling and treatment options.

Your first step after an arrest should be to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can assess your situation, explain your options and help you secure a favorable outcome.

Your Rights

Remember: you have a right to go to trial to fight a heroin charge. While not always the best option, going to trial may be appropriate if your charge resulted from illegal search and seizure or another violation of your rights.

In any case, you don't have to go through this alone. You can use your resources, including a criminal defense attorney who is willing to fight for your rights and future.

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