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Union County NJ Criminal Defense Lawyers

Over 200 Years Combined Experience

Former County & Municipal Prosecutors




Distribution to Persons Under 18 & Pregnant Women

Elizabeth NJ Sex Offense Defense Lawyers

The penalties for distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) are severe enough with the situation getting that much worse if you sell drugs to someone under 18 years old (i.e. a minor) or is pregnant.  The existence of either of these aggravating factors results in enhanced penalties under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-8 (“Distribution to persons under 18”).  You face double the standard fine and jail/prison when you sell heroin, marijuana, cocaine or another form of CDS to a person who is 17 years old or younger (or who is pregnant). There is little doubt that you require an attorney experienced in defending complex drug charges at the Union County Superior Court in Elizabeth if you have been charged with this offense. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall fit this description as members of a defense team with over 100 years experience, including significant time serving as prosecutors. Call us anytime 24/7 if you were arrested in Elizabeth, Springfield, Linden, Union Township, Plainfield or another town for this charge. A seasoned Union County defense lawyer is available for free consultation at 908-272-1700.

What Does The Prosecutor Have To Show In Order For This Law To Apply?  

The enhancement applies to an individual, over the age of 18, who sells drugs/CDS to someone under 18 or to a pregnant women. In order to prove this charge, the state is not required to show intent to distribute drugs to an individual in either of these protected classes. What this means is that an individual is subject to the provisions of this law and the  enhanced penalties even though the sale was unintentional in terms of knowing that the recipient was a minor or pregnant. In other words, even if the accused was acting reasonable in assuming that the person he distributed to was 18 or over, the enhancements apply. The only issue is whether the buyer was under 18 or pregnant and, if they were, this provision of the NJ Criminal Code applies. This is what is commonly termed a “strict liability” statute.

Burden of Proof. Since this enhanced sentencing provision is not an individual criminal charge, the burden of proof (the amount of proof the state is required to establish) is not “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”. Instead, the burden is a “preponderance of the evidence”. This standard of proof requires far less, namely, that there is a better chance than not that the buyer was under 18 or pregnant at the time of the sale.

Presumption of Non-Incarceration. A presumption of non-incarceration is lost whenever someone is convicted of distributing CDS to a minor. Accordingly, if the underlying distribution offense is one which would otherwise carry a presumption of non-incarceration (i.e. the defendant is facing a third or fourth degree intent to distribute charge and has no prior record), he could not be sentenced to probation absent an clear departure from the norm by the sentencing judge. What this means is that if you do not aggressively and effectively defend these allegations, you stand a high likelihood of being sentenced to state prison.

Penalties That Apply. This sentencing enhancement doubles the applicable prison term, fine and also doubles any term of parole ineligibility.

Union County Distribution of Drugs to a Minor Defense Attorneys

The enhancements provided under this provision of the law obviously have the potential for making a bad situation far worse. With the lessened burden of proof and the severity of the consequences, obtaining a team of experienced criminal defense attorneys is crucial. At The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall our staff includes former prosecutors and other highly skilled criminal lawyers who are ready to provide a free initial consultation over the telephone or in person at our Union NJ Office. Call us now at 908-272-1700 if you have been accused of selling drugs to someone under 18 in Cranford, Westfield, Rahway, Fanwood or Roselle Park. An attorney is available immediately to assist you without obligation.