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State v. Alston

Decided: June 28, 1976.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ARCHIE ALSTON, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



For affirmance -- Chief Justice Hughes, Justices Mountain, Sullivan, Pashman, Clifford and Schreiber and Judge Conford. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Sullivan, J.

Sullivan

Defendant, Archie Alston, Jr., was charged with possession of heroin and possession of heroin with intent to distribute, violations of N.J.S.A. 24:21-20 a. and N.J.S.A. 24:21-19 a. respectively. At trial, the jury found defendant guilty of the possession charge but acquitted him of the charge of possession with intent to distribute.

Prior to sentencing, defendant moved for the suspension of further proceedings and for admission to a treatment program under N.J.S.A. 24:21-27.

The prosecutor objected to defendant's motion on the ground that the statutory program applied only to persons involved in drug use. Since defendant did not admit to drug use or addiction, and no evidence appeared in the record from which such a determination could be made, the prosecutor contended that defendant did not come within the provisions of the statute.

The trial court held that the benefits of the statute were not limited to drug users, but would apply, as here, to one convicted only of possession. It found defendant eligible for section 27 proceedings, suspended further proceedings and placed defendant under supervisory treatment. One of the terms and conditions imposed required defendant to participate in a urine monitoring program.

On leave granted, the State appealed to the Appellate Division which affirmed the ruling of the trial court in an opinion reported at 136 N.J. Super. 456 (1975). We granted the State's motion for leave to appeal. 69 N.J. 448 (1976). We affirm.

The present statutory scheme for dealing with the problem of drug abuse in this State is the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, N.J.S.A. 24:21-1 et seq.*fn1 The legislation carefully distinguishes among the various kinds

of drug offenses. As to first offenders charged with or convicted of any offense under subsections 20a. (1), (2) and (3), and b.,*fn2 the act provides in section 27, in lieu of a judgment of conviction, an alternate method of disposition. It is the interpretation of this section, quoted below, which is at issue:

N.J.S.A. 24:21-27 Supervisory treatment for certain first offenses

a. Whenever any person who has not previously been convicted of any offense under the provisions of this act or, subsequent to the effective date of this act, under any law of the United States, this State or of any other state, relating to narcotic drugs, marihuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drugs, is charged with or convicted of any offense under subsections 20 a. (1), (2) and (3), and b., the court, upon notice to the prosecutor and subject to subsection c., may on motion of the defendant or the court:

(1) Suspend further proceedings and with the consent of such person after reference to the Controlled Dangerous Substance Registry, as established and defined in the Controlled Dangerous Substances Registry Act of 1970, place him under supervisory treatment upon such reasonable terms and conditions as it may require; or

(2) After plea of guilt or finding of guilt, and without entering a judgment of conviction, and with the consent of such person after proper reference to the Controlled Dangerous Substances Registry as established and defined in the Controlled Dangerous Substances Registry Act of 1970, place him on supervisory treatment upon such ...


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