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Possession with Intent in a Public Park
Charged With Distribution of CDS in a Public Park or Housing Project
Similar to school zone CDS distribution, New Jersey has adopted a law that escalates the penalties for distribution of drugs in a public park. The rationale for enhancing the consequences if someone sells CDS in a public park stems from the fact that children typically play there. By increasing the punishment for someone who distributes drugs in this manner, the law hopes to “deter people from offending.” If you have been charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute CDS Within 500 Feet of a Public Park or Public Housing Facility under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1, an attorney at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall who is highly experienced in defending this offense is available immediately for consultation. In fact, our defense team has been handling 500 foot drug offenses for literally decades with success and lawyers even include Jason Seidman, Esq., a former supervisor in the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Contact our New Brunswick Office anytime 24/7 for a free consultation at 732-246-7126.
Middlesex County Superior Court, New Brunswick NJ, Possession Within 500 Feet of a Public Park Charge
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 memorializes the fact that it is not only unlawful to distribute or possess drugs with intent to distribute them but also that special penalties will apply if this happens “within 500 feet of the real property comprising a public housing facility, a public park, or a public building”. More specifically, the conduct will automatically constitute a second degree crime, something which triggers a virtual certainty of jail time. The only time this conduct does not trigger a second degree charge under 2C:35-7.1 is where the drug involved is marijuana with a weight of less than an ounce — then it is a third degree crime.
- Public Park and Housing Projects Defined. Public housing facility means a dwelling, dwelling complex, or facility that is owned or leased by a housing authority for low income residence. Public Park means a park, recreation facility or area or playground owned or controlled by a State, county, or local government unit.
- Approved Map. To prove a 500 foot charge, the prosecutor must produce a map, previously approved by the municipality, that shows that the location of the possession within intent to distribution was within the public park and/or housing project zone.
- Potential Defenses. Lack of knowledge that the conduct is taking place within a public park/housing project is not a defense to this violation. Similarily, there is no merger of this offense with a conviction for possession with intent to distribute CDS. As a result, the thrust in defending a 500 foot infraction is typically that the conduct did not occur within the zone itself, the zone was not approved, or that there was no intention to distribute at all.
Penalties That Apply to a 500 Foot Offense Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1
Unless the distribution involves a small amount of marijuana, any 2C:35-7.1 conviction is a second degree crime. However, the fines and jail that apply are enhanced above what would apply for a normal second degree. In this regard, the maximum fine in a public park/housing project case is $150,000. The fine that applies to marijuana distribution of less than one ounce within 500 feet (i.e. third degree) is also increased — $75,000. In terms of jail, while the maximum period in prison remains at 10 years and 5 years respectively for a second and third degree, parole ineligibility attaches to this offense. What this means is that, unlike a flat second degree sentence or flat third degree sentence, an individual must serve a mandatory period of incarceration before they may be paroled if they plead guilty or are convicted of possession with intent to distribute in a public park or housing project.
New Brunswick Public Park Offense Defense Lawyers
This a serious offense, one that carries with it significant jail time, so you need to retain the best lawyer you can afford if you are facing this charge in New Brunswick at the county courthouse. We have no doubt that our firm, The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, is one that you should consult if you are facing a public park/housing project charge. The attorneys on our team have extensive experience handling CDS charges of this nature and are available to assist you now at 732-246-7126. Give us a call for a free consultation.
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