CDS Offense Within 500 Feet of a Public Park, Housing Project, or Building
NJ law imposes stringent penalties for selling drugs within the vicinity of publicly funded housing or a park. Where an individual is charged with a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 based on distribution of a controlled dangerous substance in this zone, they are exposed to additional problems beyond a possession with intent under 2c:35-5. If you were arrested based on allegations of a 500 foot offense, the attorneys on our defense team have the experience to insure that you avoid jail and obtain the best result possible. In fact, our staff possesses over 100 years of collective knowledge defending drug cases and also includes several former prosecutors. An attorney is available to put their expertise to work for you on your Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Passaic County, Union County, Hudson County, Morris County, Essex County or Bergen County case, anytime 24/7 at 1-877-450-8301. We have provided the following information concerning New Jersey law for your assistance and a lawyer from our firm is available to address more detailed questions anytime.
- Language of Law. “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 in, on or within 500 feet of the real property comprising a public housing facility, a public park, or a public building is guilty of a crime of the second degree, except that it is a crime of the third degree if the violation involved less than one ounce of marijuana…”
- Definitions under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1. There are three types of property that trigger application of this law and they are: (1) a public park; (2) a public building; or (3) a public housing facility. The term “public park” is defined as a recreation facility or playground that is either owned or controlled by a governmental unit. A “Public Housing Facility” means a property that is owned or leased to a local housing authority to provide accommodations for those of low income. Lastly, the term “public building” is narrower than one might assume and is limited to a publically owned or leased library or museum.
- Knowledge of Presence Within Zone. Subsection (b) of this law expressly states that it is no defense to prosecution that the accused was unaware that the possession or sale was within 500 feet of the protected public zone (e.g. park, building, project, etc.). In other words, an individual may be convicted even though his presence in the zone was accidental.
- Map Supporting Violation. As in the case of intent to distribute in a School Zone, there must exist a map approved by way of ordinance or resolution by the municipal, county or state governing body that depicts the 500 foot area of protection. Unless the boundary map demonstrates that the conduct occurred in the protected zone, a conviction cannot occur under 2C:35-7.1
- Affirmative Defense. If an individual’s possession or distribution of CDS in the prohibited area is not “for profit” and does not involve someone seventeen (17) years of age or younger, he cannot be held culpable for a 500 foot violation.
- Sentencing & Penalties. A violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 is a second-degree crime punishable by 5 to 10 years in jail unless the offense involves one ounce or less of marijuana. Selling marijuana of a weight of one ounce or less is a third-degree charge that carries 0 to 5 years in prison. There is no minimum term of imprisonment or mandatory parole ineligibility period under this law. The standard fine amounts apply, namely, up to $150,00 for a second-degree crime and up to $35,000 for a third-degree crime.
If you are facing a charge of intent to distribute within 500 feet, our lawyers are prepared to help you. An attorney on our team can provide you with the advice you are looking for to defend your case in Bergen County, Essex County, Passaic County, Ocean County, Morris County, Union County, Middlesex County or Monmouth County. One of our attorneys is available now at 1-877-450-8301.