Quasheem Reels, of Paterson, New Jersey, could be sentenced to twenty years in a state prison after selling heroin to a man who later died from an overdose. Under a little-used state law, a drug dealer can be charged with a first-degree crime if one of his clients dies of an overdose. Lawmakers have been working to bring this law back into the foreground of the war on drugs, in an effort to crack down on people who deal in dangerous narcotics.
New Jersey criminal attorneys report that Reels, 25, sold about $300 worth of heroin, the equivalent of two bundles, to Brian Marx, 26. Marx later overdosed on that heroin, and police brought in the Narcotics Task Force to determine where Marx obtained the drugs. Reels, who is facing two outstanding drug charges, was out on bail at the time he sold Marx the drugs. Police caught him in the overdose case with surveillance and an undercover buy, and Reels is being held on $350,000 cash-only bail.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Michael DeMarco said that Marx’s overdose was not caused by “anything inordinately lethal or different about the heroin,” and that overdoses have a number of causes. The heroin that Reels sold to Marx was, according to investigations, average grade, and should not necessarily be to blame for the overdose. DeMarco said that he has seen only one other case in the last decade in which the drug dealer was held responsible for a client’s overdose.
Reels pleaded not guilty to drug-induced death charges, and possession and distribution of heroin. If he is charged with a first-degree crime, Reels faces a ten to twenty year jail sentence. New Jersey criminal attorneys say that Reels stands a better chance of defending himself if his case is handled in drug court, where his sentence could combine jail time with treatment for substance use and abuse.
Any drug overdose is a tragedy, and lawmakers are taking steps to keep drugs off the streets. But New Jersey criminal lawyers maintain that charging drug dealers with first-degree crimes does not solve the problem. The dealer is only part of the cycle, and his sale does not necessarily lead to an overdose. At Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, our New Jersey criminal lawyers defend persons across the state of New Jersey charged with drug related crimes.