Mount Holly NJ Drug Distribution in a School Zone Lawyers
Intent to Distribute CDS in a School Zone Attorneys in Burlington County, New Jersey
Any criminal charge for distributing drugs in New Jersey can bear serious consequences. However, your exposure increases exponentially if the drug distribution offense occurs in a school zone. Under New Jersey law, a school zone encompasses any area within 1,000 feet of school property or property used for school purposes. In fact, it even applies to a school bus. Schools are intended to be “drug-free” areas and as such, possession of any controlled dangerous substance (CDS) with intent to distribute in a school zone is a distinct crime in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7. If you are accused of selling drugs near a school, whether the drug is marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, prescription pills, or another controlled substance, you will be charged with drug distribution plus a school zone drug offense. With two separate charges come additional penalties that can impact your life and threaten your freedom for years to come.
If you have been arrested for intent to distribute drugs in a school zone, this critical moment requires aggressive defense representation. At the Law Offices of Leonard Biddison, we have been defending clients charged with drug distribution in a school zone and other drug crimes for over 2 decades. Our firm’s founder, Leonard D. Biddison, has earned inclusion among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America for Criminal Defense, by the National Trial Lawyers Association. And our private investigator is a former New Jersey State Police Officer who now uses his extensive experience to help us help our clients beat their charges. If you need assistance with a drug charge for N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 in Willingboro, Mount Holly, Evesham Township, Camden, Gloucester, Burlington County or elsewhere in South Jersey, let us put our knowledge and skill to work for you. Contact our office in Collingswood at (856)-427-6888 now for a free consultation.
Drug Distribution and Intent to Distribute in a School Zone: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7
Charges for distributing, dispensing, or possessing drugs with intent to distribute in New Jersey are outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which states:
Any person who violates subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-5 by distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog while on any school 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 such school property or a school bus, or while on any school bus, is guilty of a crime of the third degree and shall, except as provided in N.J.S. 2C:35-12, be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment.
Where the violation involves less than one ounce of marijuana, the term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, or one year, whichever is greater, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. In all other cases, the term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, or three years, whichever is greater, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S. 2C:43-3, a fine of up to $150,000 may also be imposed upon any conviction for a violation of this section.
Notably, New Jersey law does not acknowledge the fact that you were unaware you were in a school zone as a valid defense.
Penalties for Selling Drugs in a School Zone in NJ
As you can see from the law described above, a person convicted of possessing drugs with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of school property is required to serve a mandatory minimum prison sentence. Although a violation of NJSA 2C:35-7 is considered a third degree crime, it does not entail the presumption of non-incarceration associated with other third degree crimes in New Jersey. In other words, even if you have no prior criminal record, you will be sentenced to time in jail if you are ultimately found guilty.
Notably, the mandatory minimum prison sentence varies based on the specific drug involved in your case and the amount. If your drugs in a school zone offense involves less than 1 ounce of marijuana, the mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility is set at 1 year. Of course, you may be sentenced to serve between 1/3 and 1/2 of the overall sentence imposed, but it has to be a minimum of 1 year before you become eligible for parole. For intent to distribute more than 1 ounce of marijuana or any other drug in a school zone, the mandatory term of parole ineligibility is 3 years. Additionally, you may be forced to pay a fine of up to $150,000. These penalties may be accompanied by others if you are also convicted of a simple drug distribution crime.
Contact a Bordentown NJ School Zone Drug Distribution Defense Lawyer for Answers
If you have been charged with selling drugs on school property in Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, or elsewhere in Southern New Jersey, it is highly advisable to consult with a lawyer. At The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison, our experienced criminal defense lawyers will examine the circumstances of your specific case to find the best strategy. We are dedicated to successfully resolving your drugs in a school zone charges, whether that involves arguing for a dismissal based on violations of your rights or police procedural errors, negotiating with the prosecutor, or securing your admission into a diversionary program. For a free consultation, contact us online or by phone at (856)-427-6888. Find out about your legal options and how we have helped people in similar situations in Burlington City, Chesterfield, Lumberton, Mount Laurel, and surrounding communities.