Camden NJ School Zone Distribution Attorney
When someone distributes or sells a controlled dangerous substance and the violation occurs in a school zone, a separate offense arises under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7. The offense is commonly referred to as a school zone charge and applies to distribution of CDS within 1,000 feet of school property. This violation applies on top of any distribution charge filed in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 for selling heroin, cocaine, marijuana or another drug. For anyone arrested for distributing heroin, cocaine, marijuana or another drug in a school zone, a state prison term is definitely someone that is in their future absent dismissal of the school zone offense. If you were charged with selling CDS within 1,000 feet of school property, our attorneys can help you avoid prison and other penalties. To learn how lawyers can help you with your Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Waterford, Pine Hill or other Camden County school zone offense, call our office at 856-662-8300. An lawyer is available 24/7 for free consultation.
Charged With Distributing Drugs in a School Zone
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 establishes a separate drug distribution offense where this conduct occurs within a school zone. The term “school zone” is defined under this law as any property within 1,000 feet of property owned or leased by a school or school board that is used for school purposes. A violation of 2C:35-7 results in a third degree crime that carries periods of parole ineligibility. The period of time that a person will be ineligible is directly tied to the type of controlled dangerous substance involved. Where the violation involves less than one ounce of marijuana, the term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term fixed at or between one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed or one year, whichever is greater, during which the offender will not be eligible for parole. For all other controlled dangerous substances, including heroin and cocaine, the minimum term is fixed at or between one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed or three years, whichever is greater. A court lacks authority to waive the parole ineligibility requirements under this law if the offense took place on a school bus, in school, or if the defendant used or threatened violence or possessed a handgun or other firearm. A fine of up to $150,000 also applies under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.
This is not to say that there isn’t anything that can be done for you. For example, the court may waive or reduce the minimum term of parole ineligibility under certain limited circumstances. In making a determination as to whether you should be granted a waiver, the court must look at: (1) the extent of your prior criminal record and the seriousness of the current offense; (2) the location of the conduct in relation to school property, including distance from the school and the reasonable likelihood of exposing children to drug-related activities; (3) whether school was in session at the time of the offense; and (4) whether children were present at or in the immediate vicinity . Additionally, while it is true that it is no defense to the crime that the actor was unaware that he was within 1,000 feet of school property, there is an affirmative defense to this charge if the prohibited conduct took place entirely within a private residence and there was no person 17 years of age or younger at any time during the commission of the offense.
Voorhees Distribution in a School Zone Defense Lawyers
It should be apparent that while a conviction for distributing/selling CDS in a school zone can be devastating, there are many arguments that can be made to avoid the penalties outlined in this law. There is also the possibility that our former prosecutors and skilled criminal attorneys can defeat the case against you based on an invalid search or seizure, stop of your vehicle, warrantless search or some other basis. The best thing you can do to help yourself is to contact an experienced criminal attorney like the ones at our firm. We are prepared to review the facts of your Pennsauken, Bellmawr, Gloucester Township, or Camden case and plot a course of action designed to achieve the best possible result on your behalf. Here at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we have over 100 years of collective experience battling complex heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and other CDS cases. So please, if you or a loved one has been charged with this serious offense, do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced attorney about the particulars of your case.