Ocean County NJ CDS Distribution on Public Property Lawyers
Most drug distribution offenses are third degree charges under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5. However, CDS distribution charges will be upgraded to a more serious second degree offense if the defendant is arrested for distribution or possession with intent to distribute drugs within 500 feet of a public park, public housing, or public building pursuant to statute N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1. Contrary to common thought, these charges do not usually involve the proverbial drug peddler on the school playground selling to kids. Rather, the defendants for this crime are often people in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are caught in places not normally associated with public parks or buildings such as parking lot, house, or apartment complex.
At Proetta & Oliver, our Ocean County criminal defense lawyers take these charges very seriously and we will challenge the state’s case against you. In fact, we are often able to work with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office to negotiate a downgrade of the charges and secure probation or even Pre-Trial Intervention in certain cases so the charges are dismissed upon completion. We represent clients throughout Ocean County and New Jersey, including Toms River, Long Beach Township, Stafford Township, Lakewood, Jackson, Seaside Park, Point Pleasant Beach, and Brick. To learn more about how we may be able to help you or your loved one, contact our office today at (848) 238-2100 to set up a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer.
Distribution of Drugs (CDS) within 500 Feet of a Public Park, Building, or Housing Facility: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1
Under New Jersey law, drug distribution or possession of CDS with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public park, public housing, or public building, is a criminal offense in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1. The statute does not take into account the type of controlled dangerous substance at issue. In other words, regardless of the narcotic, whether it is marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, the penalties will be significantly heightened. The only exception to the rule is if the confiscated drug is marijuana and the total weight on hand is less than one ounce. In such cases, the crime will remain a crime of the third degree. The upgrading a distribution charge from a third degree to a second degree crime is a major increase and can be quite devastating. A 2nd degree felony is accompanied by a presumption of incarceration. This is the case for even a first time offender with no prior record. It extends the range of incarceration to 5 – 10 years in state prison. A third degree charge, on the other hand, carries no presumption of incarceration and only a maximum of 3 to 5 years incarceration.
Additional Consequences of Drug Distribution Within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property
As mentioned previously, the intent to distribute drugs within 500 feet of a public park or public housing is a second degree indictable offense accompanied by 5 to 10 years in prison. Since the charge is classified as a felony crime, the case will be handled in Ocean County Superior Court. Of additional significance is the fact that, under the Brimage Guidelines, an extended term can be imposed upon a defendant who has prior convictions of manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing with intent to distribute drugs. The minimum term of incarceration will then be fixed at the greater of either 1) one-third to one-half of the total sentence; or 2) three years. Furthermore, the defendant is not eligible for parole for the first eighteen months, the court will seek to suspend driving privileges for not less than six months or more than two years, and can impose thousands in fines. The attorneys at The Law Offices Proetta & Oliver will work with the prosecutor and judge in an effort to seek a waiver of any extended term implications. We will petition the court with compelling reasons to establish a hardship exception to save your license. These, and others, are possible avenues that we will diligently explore in order to protect your rights and preserve your freedom.
New Jersey Drug Charges in a Public Park Zone vs. School Zone
This charge is similar to the crime of Intent to Distribute in a School Zone in that it is not a valid excuse or legitimate defense that a defendant was unaware of his or her proximity within 500 feet of a public housing facility, a public park, or a public building. To make matters worse, the crime applies even if the reason that a defendant is in proximity to a public park is as a result of a police stop in that specific spot. Furthermore, courts have held that a defendant need not actually have drugs in his or her possession in order to be arrested under the constructive possession doctrine. For example, if a defendant is in a park, but have the drugs are stashed in a location greater than 500 feet from the park or public building, the defendant remains liable under this statute. In public park zone and school zone crimes, the prosecutor must provide the defendant with a valid map prepared by an engineer that accurately depicts the boundaries of the area in order to prove that the defendant was in fact within the zone at the time of the offense. Most importantly, distribution within a school zone is a third degree charge exposing a defendant to 3 – 5 years incarceration while distribution within 500 feet of public property is a second degree offense punishable by 5 – 10 years in prison. A conviction for intent to distribute within 1000 feet of School Zone will merge with a conviction for possession of drugs with intent to distribute within 500 feet of public property.
Lakewood NJ Public Park Drug Charges Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with drug distribution or intent to distribute drugs on public property, including in a public park, public building, or housing facility in Ocean County, New Jersey, these charges are very serious and can be extremely complicated and dangerous without experienced guidance and representation. Our Ocean County drug charges defense lawyers can review the facts of your case, explain your options and formulate a defensive strategy to challenge the state’s allegations. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you, then contact our office in Toms River at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation.