Distributing CDS Within 500 Of A Public Park Defense Lawyer in Essex County

An arrest for selling drugs becomes more complicated when the conduct occurs within 500 feet of a public park or public housing facility. The reason is because this area is deemed to be within a “public park zone” and the New Jersey Criminal Code imposes harsher penalties when distribution of CDS occurs on this category of property. The related law is contained at N.J.S. 2C:35-7.1 and you definitely want to give us a call if you or a loved one is facing this violation is a second degree crime. We can be reached 24/7 for a free consultation in our Newark Office at 973-710-1520. The discussion that follows is intended to give you a working knowledge of what is involved in a park zone offense. Give us a call to find out how our attorneys can assist you.

How Is Public Park or Housing Facility Defined Under This Law?

Public housing zone is any area within 500 feet of property owned or leased by a local housing authority for purposes of providing low income residency. Public park zone is any area within 500 feet of a park, recreational facility or playground owned, leased or controlled by the state, county or a municipality.

How Does The State Prove A Charge of Distribution in a Public Park Zone?

Provided the prosecutor can establish possession with intent to distribute, then it must be proven that the conduct occurred within the prohibited 500 foot area. This fact is established by the state producing a showing the the location of the distribution occurred within a 500 foot radius of the related public park or housing facility/project (i.e. the zone).

Defenses That Apply Under N.J.S. 2C:35-7.1

If the conduct did not happen within the park zone, there was no distribution or the property does not qualify under the statute, then there can be no conviction. In addition, if the distribution was not for profit and did not involve distribution to under eighteen (18) years old, N.J.S. 2C:35-7.1 does not apply. The accused has the burden of proof, however, in establishing this defense. It is not a defense that the accused was unaware that he/she was operating in a park/housing project zone.

What Penalties Apply To Selling Drugs In A Public Park Zone?

As previously stated, it is a second degree crime if you are convicted of selling cds in a public park or housing facility zone. The only exception is where the charge involves less than one (1) ounce of marijuana, in which case it is a third degree crime.  The maximum fine for a second degree crime is $150,000 and third degree drug crime is $35,000. The jail exposure for second degree distribution in a public park zone is 5-10 years in prison. The recommended state prison sentence for a third degree park zone violation is 3-5 years.

Does This Offense Merge Into Another Distribution Offense?

As previously stated, a conviction for selling drugs in a public park is an entirely independent offense from distribution of CDS or another drug charge under the NJ Criminal Code. Accordingly, a 2C:35-7.1 violation normally will not merge with a conviction for possession with intent to distribute under N.J.S. 2c:35-5 or another CDS offense.

Newark NJ Public Park Zone Defense Attorneys

An arrest that results in a public park zone charge can have severe consequences. In addition to what has previously been set forth on this page, an individual often faces the applicability of Brimage, which can cause further complications in avoiding incarceration. For these reasons, you are best served by retaining an attorney that is highly experienced in public housing and park zone charges. That is precisely what our attorneys can offer you. Call our Drug Distribution Defense Lawyers in Newark NJ at 973-710-1520 for immediate assistance.