Middlesex County Drug Distribution in a School Zone Lawyer
Drug Charges Defense Attorneys in Edison, New Jersey
In New Jersey, a charge for Distribution of Marijuana, Cocaine Distribution, or Intent to Distribute Heroin under 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. Although the charge will likely remain a third degree crime, the defendant will face enhanced and more severe penalties. These can include a mandatory term of incarceration for at least three (3) years without being eligible for parole or early release and fines up to $150,000. For a defendant who is convicted of drug distribution in a school zone a presumption of non-incarceration is not available unlike other 3rd degree felony offenses. This means that mandatory incarceration applies even if it is your first offense and you have never been in trouble before in your life.
As you can see, charges for drug distribution in a school zone or possession of CDS with intent to distribute in a school zone are extremely serious and can have a devastating impact on your life. However, with the help of an experienced drug charges defense lawyer, you may be able to have your charges downgraded and 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 Middlesex County and New Jersey including Woodbridge Township, Highland Park, South Plainfield, Piscataway, Milltown, Cranbury, and Colonia. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you or your loved defend a charge for distribution of drugs in a school zone, contact us at (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation with an experienced Middlesex County criminal defense attorney or schedule an appointment at our offices conveniently located in Edison. We have representatives available 24/7 to answer your call.
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 Intent to Distribute Drugs (CDS) within 1000 feet of School
The statute treats all drugs (prescription drugs, molly, etc.) the same with regard to the penalties with only one exception involving marijuana. If you are 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 (1) year. Moreover, it is common for this crime to be accompanied with a more serious offense known as Drug Distribution within 500 Feet of a Public Park or Building because of the proximity of schools to playgrounds and parks.
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.
N.J.S.A. 2C: 35-10(a)(4) Possession of Marijuana in a School Zone
Many think that charges for drugs in a school zone only apply to distribution charges. Conversely, 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 (one thousand feet of school property) then you will face enhanced penalties which can 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.
Contact a South Plainfield NJ Drugs in a School Zone Attorney for Answers
At The Law Offices of William A. Proetta, Esq., our criminal defense attorneys are extremely experienced in handling drug charges in Middlesex County and across the state. 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 Conditional Discharge program so the charges are extinguished upon completion. If you are interested in representation for your drug charges, then contact us at (732) 659-9600 for a free initial consultation with an experienced drug crime defense lawyer.