Police and prosecutors around the country routinely seize and forfeit cars, boats, money, computers, guns and homes that were “used in, or facilitated, the criminal activity charged.” While many cases involve significant crimes and the forfeitures are justified, too often the person is charged with fairly low-level drug sales and their car is seized if it was used to transport the drugs during the sales. The federal and state governments argue that forfeitures are simply part of the cost of the criminal’s conduct and work as a separate fine on the illegal activity. These fines and forfeitures are often used to supplement local and state budgets, including those of the very agencies that seized and forfeited the property.
In the past several years, the federal government has focused investigative and enforcement resources on pharmacies that compound drugs, and the marketers, doctors and pharmacists involved. Criminal and civil actions have been brought for violations based on statutes prohibiting kickbacks, fraud and false claims. A compounded drug is one that is supposed to be tailored to a particular patient’s needs. These compounds are legitimately prescribed and used by very young or older patients that have difficulty swallowing pills, patients that cannot tolerate dyes used in pills or patients with certain allergies. Most are topical creams for pain or scars, or specialized vitamins. While these compounded drugs are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are subject to regulation and enforcement actions by a variety of state and federal agencies.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently issued a directive to all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to charge defendants with the most serious provable offenses that carry the most substantial sentences, including mandatory-minimum sentences. This directive is a shift back to prior years where the “war on drugs” and other initiatives were designed to reduce crime and incarcerate – warehouse for extended periods - defendants for the longest possible terms.
You are driving on the roads of New Jersey, paying attention to the speed limit, road conditions, and other drivers, when you glance in your rearview mirror and see the flashing strobe lights of a police car. You carefully reduce speed and pull to the side of the road to let the officer pass, but you realize he is pulling you over. What do you do, and what are your rights?
There is an alarming trend towards aggressive investigations by state and federal authorities on physicians. Whether it is by the state medical boards, DEA or federal or state prosecutors, doctors’ practices are subjected to heightened scrutiny. While this may be traced to the war on drugs, recent deaths related to the abuse of prescription opioids, and the criticism the DEA has faced for its failure to develop measureable results in its enforcement efforts; the genesis is less important than the trend itself for those subjected to the harsh spotlight of scrutiny.
On April 25, 2016, in the wake of startling revelations that a laboratory technician at the New Jersey State Police Laboratory in Little Falls had been falsifying test results, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an order centralizing the litigation of all post-conviction challenges in the State before a single judge. The order appointed Bergen County Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian to handle all post-conviction litigation in which Kamalkant Shah, the laboratory technician found to have faked results, was either the primary laboratory examiner, conducted peer review, or conducted administrative review of purported drug evidence. Pending cases predicated upon Shah's laboratory work are to remain with the judges presently assigned under the order.
If you are a non-citizen facing criminal charges, you face more than just the loss of your liberty. Criminal convictions can have serious immigration consequences. The outcome of a criminal case may affect a non-citizen's ability to remain in the United States, to become a citizen, or to re-enter after leaving to travel or visit family. Certain criminal convictions and/or terms of imprisonment make non-citizen criminal defendants, even those with legal permanent resident status, subject to mandatory detention and removal (deportation).