New Jersey v. Ferguson

Defendant Shameik Byrd sold heroin to defendants Noel Ferguson and Anthony Potts in Paterson, New Jersey. Afterwards, Ferguson and Potts returned to their home state of New York where they sold the heroin they purchased to Kean Cabral in the Town of Warwick. Cabral died of an overdose in his home after taking the heroin originally sold by Byrd. As a result of allegedly causing Cabral’s death, Ferguson, Potts, and Byrd were charged with violating New Jersey’s strict-liability drug-induced death statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9. Generally, the State can exercise territorial jurisdiction when either the defendant’s conduct or the result of that conduct occurs in New Jersey and is an element of a criminal offense. However, absent a clear legislative purpose indicating otherwise, a defendant cannot be prosecuted for “conduct charged” in New Jersey when that defendant’s acts within the State's borders cause a result in another state where, under that state’s law, the “conduct charged” does not constitute a crime. The New Jersey Supreme Court held that New Jersey’s Code of Criminal Justice restricted the State’s exercise of territorial jurisdiction over Ferguson, Potts, and Byrd for a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:1-3(a)(1), the State could not exercise territorial jurisdiction over Ferguson and Potts on the strict-liability drug-induced death charge because their distribution of heroin to Cabral and Cabral’s death did not occur in New Jersey. View "New Jersey v. Ferguson" on Justia Law