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Distribution in a School Zone
School Zone Drug Distribution Lawyer
One of the more serious forms of drug offense an individual can face in Middlesex County is distribution in a school zone. This violation is triggered by selling, distributing or possessing a controlled dangerous substance (“cds”) with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of school property. The area protected by this law is referred to as a drug free school zone. If you were charged with distribution of heroin, marijuana, cocaine or prescription drugs in a school zone, hiring the most skilled lawyer you can find should be your first priority. You will need to mount an effective defense if you want to avoid jail and other serious penalties that apply under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 (“Distributing, dispensing or possessing controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog on or within 1,000 feet of school property or bus; penalty; defenses; approved or revised map; prima facie evidence; official record”). The highly knowledgeable attorneys at our firm, including former prosecutors like Jason Seidman, Esq., who was a supervisor at the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, have a proven track record of successfully representing clients on school zone offenses. If you would like to discuss an arrest in Edison, New Brunswick, Sayreville, Woodbridge or another municipality, call one of our local offices. An attorney is available 24/7 for free consultation at 732-246-2176.
Charged With Distributing Drugs in a School Zone
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7, an individual is guilty of distribution in a school zone if he or she is caught distributing or possessing with intent to distribute CDS within 1,000 feet of school property. School property is defined under 2C:35-7 as property owned by or leased to a school or school board. In order for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction, it must be demonstrated that the area where the offense took place was within a drug free school zone as formally adopted by the municipal governing body. All charges for distributing/selling drugs within 1,000 feet are heard at the Superior Court in New Brunswick NJ. The following is some additional information you may want to know about this offense.
- Grading. It is a third degree crime to distribute or sell CDS in a school zone.
- Defenses. The strongest defense is that the conduct did not fall within the school zone or that the zone was not approved as required by 2C:35-7. It is not a defense that the defendant was unaware that the sale was on school property or that no children were present at the time of the distribution.
- Separate Offense. Possession and distribution of a CDS in a school zone is a “tacked-on” offense. A person charged with this crime is also subject to separate charges for straight possession and/or intent to distribute drugs. Merger of charges does not apply as a further deterrent to selling drugs where children might be exposed.
Penalties If You Are Found Guilty Under 2C:35-7
Although a conviction for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school zone is a third degree offense, the penalties are much more severe than would typically be involved for this grade of offense. In this regard, the fine that may be imposed can reach $150,000. In addition, there is a mandatory period of parole ineligibility which is the greater of one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed or one (1) year where distribution involves less than one (1) ounce of marijuana and the greater of one-third to one-half of the sentence or three (3) years in all other cases. These parole ineligibility periods may, however, be waived by the court if certain factors have been met, including:
- The extent of the defendant’s prior criminal record and the severity of the crimes he or she has committed;
- The specific location of the offense in relation to the school zone, e.g., the likelihood that children would be exposed to the drug-related activities;
- Whether or not school was in session at the time of the offense; and
- Whether or not children were present at or in the immediate vicinity of where the offense took place.
Minimum jail terms cannot be waived if the sale or intent to sell took place within a school building or bus, or where the accused is in possession of a firearm or otherwise threatened violence.
New Brunswick School Zone Distribution Defense Attorney
Distributing CDS in a school zone usually carries mandatory jail, so you should definitely seek the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing this offense. That is precisely what we can offer you, assistance from a defense team exceptionally skilled in defending drug distribution offenses in East Brunswick, Perth Amboy, South Plainfield, p or anywhere else in Middlesex County. To speak to a lawyer at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall immediately, contact our New Brunswick Office at 732-246-7126.