Ocean County NJ School Zone Drug Distribution Attorney
Defense Lawyers for Intent to Distribute CDS in Toms River, New Jersey
In New Jersey, a charge for Distribution of Marijuana, Cocaine, or Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 will be upgraded to a more serious offense if you are arrested within 1000 feet of school property, called a “School Zone”. Although the charge will likely remain a third degree crime, the defendant faces enhanced penalties that include at least three (3) years without parole eligibility or early release in addition to fines up to $150,000. Furthermore, a defendant who is convicted of distribution in a school zone does not enjoy a presumption of non incarceration that accompanies most other 3rd degree indictable offenses. This means that mandatory incarceration applies for even a first time offender. The statute treats all drugs, which include prescription drugs such as oxycodone and designer drugs such as molly, the same with regard to the penalties. The only exception to this rule involves marijuana. If a defendant is arrested and charged with possessing less than one ounce of marijuana with the intent to distribute in a school zone then the mandatory minimum incarceration period is lessened to one year rather than three years.
Additionally, it is common for this crime to be accompanied by other more serious offenses such as Drug Distribution within 500 Feet of a Public Park or Building. This is because schools are often in close proximity to playgrounds and parks. As you can see, these drug charges are extremely serious and can leave a devastating impact on your life. However, with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you may be able to have your charges downgraded, and under some circumstances, possibly even have the mandatory term of imprisonment waived entirely. In fact, we are regularly able to negotiate with the prosecutor’s office to secure probation or even Pre-Trial Intervention so that the charges are dismissed entirely upon completion. We represent clients throughout Ocean County and New Jersey, including Toms River, Stafford Township, Jackson, Lakewood, Brick, Manchester, and Point Pleasant. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you or your loved defend against a charge of distribution of drugs in a school zone, contact us at our conveniently located Toms River office at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation with an experienced Ocean Coutny drug defense attorney. We have representatives available 24/7 to answer your call.
Intent to Distribute Drugs within 1000 feet of School: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7
New Jersey law addresses Distribution of CDS within 1,000 feet of school property in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 1 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. The statute provides:
a. Any person who violates subsection a. of N.J.S. 2C:35-5 by distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog while on any school property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or within 1,000 feet of such school property or a school bus, or while on any school bus, is guilty of a crime of the third degree and shall, except as provided in N.J.S. 2C:35-12, be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment. Where the violation involves less than one ounce of marijuana, the term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, or one year, whichever is greater, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. In all other cases, the term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, or three years, whichever is greater, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S. 2C :43-3, a fine of up to $150,000.00 may also be imposed upon any conviction for a violation of this section.
It shall be no defense to a prosecution for a violation of this section that the actor was unaware that the prohibited conduct took place while on or within 1,000 feet of any school property. Nor shall it be a defense to a prosecution under this section, or under any other provision of this title, that no juveniles were present on the school property at the time of the offense or that the school was not in session.
Possession of Marijuana in a School Zone: N.J.S.A. 2C: 35-10(a)(4)
It is a common mistake of many to think that charges for drugs in a school zone only apply to distribution charges. In actuality, there is a separate statute for mere possession of marijuana in a school zone. Typically, simple possession of marijuana in a quantity under 50 grams is a disorderly persons offense which punishable by up to 6 months of jail time, probation, and $1000.00 fine. If the offense takes place within a school zone then the defendant is exposed to enhanced penalties that include court ordered community service of at least 100 hours. This is in addition to all other penalties that the judge will normally impose for a conviction of possession of marijuana.
For the purposes of the New Jersey statute, the definition of a school zone is “while on any property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or within 1,000 feet of any such school property or a school bus, or while on any school bus”. It is important to understand what exactly is included in a school zone and what is not – for instance a university, day care, or nursery school would not count as a “school”. Moreover, the fact that you may have been unaware that you were within a school zone or that it was at night and there were not any children present do not constitute as defenses to this crime.
Jackson NJ School Zone Drug Charges Defense Attorneys
It is clear that being charged with a school zone drug offense in New Jersey can result in catastrophic consequences. Despite the seriousness of these crimes, our Ocean County criminal defense attorneys are experienced in handling these cases. We will make a discovery demand to the state to produce a valid map adopted by the township depicting the school zones, leasing documents, and verifying the buildings use. We will then work with the prosecution to negotiate for a downgrade, dismissal, or to secure your admittance in a diversionary program which would result in a dismissal of charges upon completion. If you are interested in representation for your school zone drug possession or distribution charges in Ocean County, please contact us at (848) 238-2100 for a free initial consultation with an experienced drug crime defense lawyer.