Drug School Zone Offenses
2C:35-7 Possession with Intent to Distribute in a School Zone
Any person who is arrested for Distribution or Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance under 2C:35-5 will face enhanced penalties if it happened within a school zone. These penalties include a mandatory term of imprisonment of at least three (3) years during which time you will not be eligible for parole and up to $150,000 fine. Mandatory incarceration applies even if it is your first offense and you have no prior criminal record. The statute provides the same penalties without regard to the type of drug including marijuana, cocaine, or heroin with only one exception. If you are convicted of possessing less than one ounce of marijuana then the statute provides for mandatory state prison of at least one (1) year during which time you will be eligible for early release. However, an experienced can work with the County Prosecutors Office to have the mandatory reduced or waived entirely. In fact, it is uncommon for our clients who are charged with Intent to Distribute in a School Zone to receive probation or even PTI (Pre-Trial Intervention). To learn more about your school zone drug charge contact our Princeton Office at (609) 683-8102 to speak with a knowledgeable defense lawyer free of charge.
2C: 35-10(a)(4) Simple Possession of Marijuana in a School Zone
Simple possession of under 50 grams of marijuana is a disorderly persons offense punishable by up to 6 months of jail time, probation, and $1000.00 fine. There are enhanced penalties even when you are arrested for simple possession of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10. Most significantly, if you are convicted the statute requires you to perform at least 100 hours of community service. This is on top of whatever penalties that the judge would normally impose for possession of marijuana. The definition of 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 note that is not a viable defense that you did not know you were within a school zone or that there were no children present. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can put the state to their proofs by requesting a map adopted by the township depicting the school zones, leasing documents, and verifying the buildings use. This can provide evidence to verify if the defendant was actually within 1,000 feet of the property and to confirm whether the property is designated properly because day cares, nursery schools, and colleges are not included in this definition of school under the statute.
We serve clients throughout Mercer County, New Jersey — including Trenton, Hamilton, Princeton Borough, West Windsor, East Windsor, Lawrence Township, Robbinsville, Hightstown, Princeton Township, Ewing and Hopewell — and surrounding areas, including Hunterdon County and Burlington County.