Drug Dealer Guilty of First-Degree Strict Liability for Drug Induced Death
State v. Laporte
Appellate Docket No.: A-4572-17T3
Decided and July 8, 2020
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished decision, the Appellate Division reviewed whether the State’s unreasonable delay in discovery was enough to release defendants convicted of violent offenses on the grounds that their speedy trial detention deadlines were expired.
In State v. Laporte, Defendant Jose Laporte appealed from a March 29, 2018 judgment of conviction after a jury found him guilty of first-degree strict liability for drug induced death, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9(a); third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1); third-degree possession of a CDS with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and 2C:35-5(b)(3); and third-degree distribution of a CDS, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and 2C:35- 5(b)(3).
The victim was found by police after he overdosed on heroin. The heroin he had on his person had a “GUCCI” stamp on it. The victim also had a phone that the police believed to contain a conversation with the drug dealer, later found to be the defendant.
The police used to victim’s phone to communicate with the defendant to arrange to buy more heroin. The police finally arrested the defendant, finding 30 bundles of heroin on his person which also contained the “GUCCI” stamp. The police also found several “burner” phones, one of which was used to communicate with the victim.
After the evidence of the stamp and communications with police were submitted to the jury, defendant was convicted on all counts. Defendant appealed, but the Appellate Division affirmed, ruling that there was more than enough evidence with the stamp and telephone communications to convict the defendant on the basis that he was the heroin dealer that provided the heroin that killed the victim.
As you can see above, police have a variety of means to collect evidence to convict a defendant. However, these means are not without limits. The State must still prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty of the alleged crimes. If the defendant can show any doubt in the cause of the victim’s death, that it was the defendant that sold the heroin, that the defendant communicated with the victim, or that the defendant was present at the time of the alleged transaction, the charges could be dropped.
If you have been charged with any serious crime including but not limited to murder, homicide, sexual assault, sexual battery, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual battery, burglary, or any felony / indictable offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Failing to hire a defense attorney and putting your faith in a public defender could give you the same result as the defendant in this case!
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court and municipal court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to ensure prosecutors, police, and even judges follow the law.
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