New Jersey’s increasingly tough stance on drug crimes is a major concern for anyone arrested on a drug-related charge. But if your alleged offense is Brimage-eligible, a conviction could take away your plea options.

What are the Brimage Guidelines?

In 1998, the Garden State adopted mandatory sentencing guidelines for certain drug crimes set forth by the New Jersey Supreme Court. These guidelines created a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility for specific drug crimes involving controlled dangerous substances (CDS). The purpose of the guidelines was to eliminate inequality in sentencing.

Prior to the guidelines, there was a lack of uniformity with how courts throughout the state charged and sentenced drug convictions. One court might’ve imposed the maximum prison sentence for a crime, while another jurisdiction would offer someone convicted of the same offense probation.

This disparity between sentencing undermined the goal of a fair and uniform criminal justice system. Depending on the offense and related factors, a limited range of plea options exist under the guidelines. However, options decrease as the case nears a trial.

Cases subject to Brimage Guidelines include:

  • Selling or distributing drugs in a school zone
  • Subsequent convictions for possession or distribution of controlled substances
  • Leading a CDS trafficking scheme
  • Production, sale or possession of CDS with intent to distribute
  • Providing CDS to a minor and/or employing a minor to distribute CDS

A simple calculation worksheet determines permissible pleas

As noted, the range of permissible plea options depends on the severity of the crime and your prior criminal history. The Brimage Plea Negotiation Worksheet allows the prosecution to calculate mitigating factors to determine the appropriate plea or sentencing option.

While the options available to you are contingent on your score, having a tough criminal defense attorney on your side can make a world of difference. The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo offers a free initial consultation to prospective clients. Get in touch by calling 908-643-6801 or by emailing the firm to learn more about your options.