The penalties for distribution of a controlled dangerous substance such as Marijuana, Heroin, Cocaine, or Prescription Drugs under 2C:35-5 will typically become much more serious if the arrest occurred within 1000 feet of school property. Although the school zone charge will not automatically upgrade a crime from a 3rd degree distribution to a 2nd degree such as Intent to Distribute Drugs in a Park Zone under 2C:35-7.1, it will expose you to enhanced penalties such as a mandatory term of incarceration for at least three (3) years without being eligible for parole or early release and fines up to $150,000. Moreover, a person that is convicted of distribution in a school zone will not have a presumption of non-incarceration like other first time offenders charged with 3rd degree crimes. For example, this means that you will face mandatory incarceration for intent to distribute heroin in a school zone even if you have never been arrested before in your life. Therefore it is essential that you speak with an experienced criminal lawyer about your rights and options before making any decisions. At Proetta & Oliver we represent clients throughout New Jersey including Bellville, East Orange, Newark, Kearny, Harrison, Nutley and West New York.
Drug Distribution in a School Zone Violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7
For the most part, under the statute 2C:35-7 all drugs are treated the same (Molly, Heroin, Prescription Drugs) with only one exception. That exception is if you are charged with intent to distribute less than one ounce of marijuana in a school zone then the mandatory minimum incarceration period is lowered to one (1) year instead of three (3) years. Moreover, it is common to see this crime charged with a more serious offense known as Drug Distribution with 500 Feet of a Public Park because of the proximity of schools to playgrounds and parks.
What is a Mandatory Minimum Sentence?
In New Jersey, there are certain crimes for which there are statutorily set mandatory minimum sentences, if you are convicted. This means that during the sentencing phase, the judge has limited discretion when determining an appropriate sentence for you. Mandatory minimum sentences have existed in New Jersey since 1979 and they are usually set by the Legislature on crimes for which there is a strong public interest in deterring the charge the defendant is convicted of. If the criminal code and sentencing guidelines dictate a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge may not have discretion to order the defendant to serve a term shorter than the minimum and the defendant may be required to serve a minimum amount of time of their sentence before they are eligible for parole. Notably, if you were convicted of a crime that imposes a mandatory minimum sentence, you are not eligible for probation until after you have served the minimum period of time set by statute for that crime.
Selling Drugs in a School Zone Lawyers in Jersey City NJ
If you have been charged with drug distribution near a school or other public property, these are some of the most serious drug related crimes in the state of New Jersey and it is highly recommended that you seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to handle your matter. At Proetta & Oliver, our lawyers have defended clients against thousands of charges including distribution of drugs within 1000 feet of a school. In fact, we are regularly able to negotiate with the prosecutor’s office to secure probation or even Pre-Trial Intervention so the charges are dismissed entirely upon completion. If you or a loved one has been charged with distribution of drugs in a school zone, then contact us at (201) 793-8018 for a free consultation today.
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