Possession With Intent To Distribution CDS In A School Zone Defense Lawyers, Newark NJ

When there are allegations someone distributed, dispensed, or possessed controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”) with the intent to sell and the conduct occurs within a school zone, N.J.S. 2C:35-7 applies. This statute establishes an entirely separate offense from a straight distribute charge pursuant to 2c:35-5. This law, commonly referred to as the drug within a school zone statute, applies to any distribution activities that occur within one thousand (1,000) feet of school property or a school bus. If you or someone you know is facing a charge at the Essex County Superior Court for selling drugs in a school zone, give our Newark Office a call at 973-710-1520. Our highly knowledgeable former prosecutors are prepared to vigorously challenge the state’s case so that the very best outcome can be reached on your behalf. The following is some basic information you may want to know before contacting our firm.

What Elements Must The Prosecutor Establish to Prove a School Zone Distribution Offense?

Since this is a distribution offense, the first element that must be established is that the accused possessed some form of cds/drugs with the intent to distribute. Second, the conduct must have occurred within 1,000 feet of property owned or leased by a school or a bus. Third, the property must have actually been used for school purposes. Fourth, there must have been some facts that would cause a reasonable person to assume that the property was regularly, consistently and actually used for school purposes.

How Is “School Property” Defined Under 2C:35-7?

N.J.S. 2C:35-7 only applies to the 1,000 foot area surrounding property owned or leased by a school or school board and, moreover, is actually functioning in that capacity. As a result, this violation does not apply where property is used for school activity but isn’t owned or leased by the school or school board.

To prove the incident occurred in a “school zone”, the prosecutor must present a boundary map that has been formally adopted by resolution or ordinance of the municipality. The map must depict the location of the incident as following within the 1,000 foot “drug free school zone” shown on the approved map.

Enhanced Penalties For Distribution In A School Zone

When someone is found guilty for selling drugs in a school zone, the jail exposure escalates because a mandatory minimum prison sentence applies. Unless the transaction involves one ounce of marijuana or less, a period of parole ineligibility/mandatory minimum term must be set at one-half to one-third of the sentenced imposed or three (3) years, whichever is greater. When less than one ounce of marijuana is involved, the minimum is reduced to one (1) years as opposed to three (3). A separate find of up to $150,000 also applies.

Are There Defenses To Distributing CDS In A School Zone?

It is not a defense that no children were present at the time of the conduct or that the accused did not realize he/she was operating within the 1,000 foot zone. The defendant need not intend to sale drugs within the zone in order for N.J.S. 2C:35-7. It is an affirmative defense, however, that the drug activity took place entirely within a private residence, no person under eighteen (18) years of age was present during the activity, and the transaction was not for profit. A case under 2C:35-7 can obviously also be defeated if the conduct was outside the 1,000 area, the property was not owned/leased by a school, or was not used for school purposes.

Is There A Possibility Of Avoiding Jail?

In order to avoid imposition of the mandatory minimum prison term required under N.J.S. 2C:35-7, the court must grant a waiver. The waiver may be granted in the discretion of the sentencing judge after consideration to the defendant’s prior record, seriousness of the pending offense, location of the conduct, whether school was in session, and whether children were exposed to the activity.

Distribution In A School Zone Attorneys in Essex County

If you have been charged with a school zone offense, our Newark Criminal Defense Law Firm is prepared to help you fight the offense. An attorney on our staff is available to assist you in a free consultation immediately at 973-710-1520.