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Union County

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Our Law Firm Has Successfully Handled Thousands of Criminal, DWI, and Municipal Court Charges Throughout Union County and New Jersey

– William A. Proetta

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2C:35-7 Intent to Distribute Drugs in a School Zone

Attorney for Marijuana Distribution in School Zone in Elizabeth, New Jersey

A charge for Distribution of Marijuana, Cocaine, or Heroin under 2C:35-5 will be upgraded to a more serious offense if you are arrested within 1000 feet of school property. Although the charge will likely remain a third degree crime, the defendant will face new and enhanced penalties. This can include 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. A defendant convicted of distribution in a school zone does not enjoy a presumption of non-incarceration like most other 3rd degree felony offenses. This means that mandatory incarceration applies even if it is your first offense and you have never been in trouble before in your life. The statute treats all drugs (Prescription Drugs, Molly, etc.) the same with regard to the penalties with only one exception. If you are arrested and charged with possessing less than one ounce of marijuana with the intent to distribute in a school zone then the mandatory minimum incarceration period is lowered to one (1) year. 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. As you can clearly see, these charges are extremely serious and can have a devastating affect on your life. However, with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer you be able to have your charges downgraded and have the mandatory term of imprisonment waived entirely. 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 are interested in learning more about how we can help you or your loved defend a charge for distribution of drugs in a school zone, contact us at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal attorney or schedule an appointment at any one of our offices. We have representatives available 24/7 to answer your call.

2C: 35-10(a)(4) Possession of Marijuana in a School Zone

Most people think that charges for drugs in a school zone only have to do with distribution charges. But in fact, there is a separate statute for just mere possession of marijuana in a school zone. Typically simple Possession of Marijuana under 50 Grams is a disorderly persons offense which punishable by up to 6 months of jail time, probation, and $1000.00 fine. If the offense takes place within a school zone (one thousand feet of school property) you will face enhanced penalties which can include court ordered community service of at least 100 hours. This is in addition to all the other penalties that the judge will normally impose for a conviction of possession of marijuana. For purposes of the New Jersey statute, the definition of a 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 understand what exactly is included in a school zone and what is not – for instance a university, day care or nursery school would not count as a “school”. Moreover, it is not a valid defense that you were unaware you were within a school zone or that it was at night and there were not any children present. However, our criminal defense attorneys are experienced in handling these cases and we will make a discovery demand to the state to produce a valid map adopted by the township depicting the school zones, leasing documents, and verifying the buildings use. We will then work with the prosecution to negotiate for a downgrade, dismissal or to secure your admittance in a Conditional Discharge program so the charges are extinguished upon completion. If you are interested in representation for your charges, then contact us at (908) 833-0150 for a free initial consultation with an experienced drug crime lawyer.

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