Serving the Elizabeth NJ Superior Court & All Municipal Courts in Union County

Union County NJ Criminal Defense Lawyers

Over 200 Years Combined Experience

Former County & Municipal Prosecutors

Distribution of CDS in a School Zone

Linden NJ School Zone Distribution Lawyer

If an individual distributes or dispenses a controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”) within 1,000 of school property, it results in a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7. The property falling within this protected area is commonly referred to as a “school zone” and this violation is often termed a “1,000 foot charge”.  When this law applies, a minimum period of parole ineligibility applies if you are convicted at the Elizabeth NJ Superior Court. What this means is that you stand a high probability of being sent to state prison for a considerable time if you plead or are found guilty of CDS distribution within 1,000 feet of school property (i.e. in a school zone).  The best way to combat the risk associated with a school zone distribute offense is to select the most skilled lawyer you can find. The lawyers at our Union Township firm not only comprise one of the largest defense staffs in the state, but also possess exceptional experience with over 100 years in criminal practice combined. We also happen to employ several former prosecutors who have the benefit of learning how the court system works from the opposite perspective. An attorney at The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is ready to defend the charges that were filed against you in Elizabeth, Linden, Plainfield, Clark, Cranford or elsewhere. An attorney is available immediately in our Union NJ Law Office by calling 908-272-1700.

What Constitutes a School Zone Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7?

The protected zone is limited to within 1,000 feet of “school property”. To qualify as “school property”, the location must be owned by or lease to a school or school board, and must be used for school purposes. Non-owned or leased property does not qualify under 2C:35-7, nor do properties that aren’t regularly and consistently used for school purposes.

How Does The Prosecutor Prove That The Sale/Distribution Occurred in a School Zone?

To prove that there was distribution within a school zone, the state must produce a map depicting the 1,000 foot zone and, in addition, that the activities occurred within its boundaries.

What Is The Period Of Parole Ineligibility For a School Zone Offense?

Absent a waiver, an individual convicted for distributing CDS in a school zone must serve a minimum period in jail. To satisfy this requirement, the sentencing judge must impose a period of parole ineligibility. If the charge involves possession with intent to distribute less than one ounce of marijuana, then the parole ineligibility period is to be set at between one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, with one year being the absolute minimum. In cases involving heroin, cocaine, an ounce or more of marijuana, or other types of drug distribution, the same requirements apply except that the mandatory minimum cannot be less than three years.

Can The Mandatory Minimum Sentence On A School Zone Charge Be Waived?

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 sets forth factors that a court may consider in determining whether to waive or reduce the mandatory parole ineligibility period. In this regard, the court should consider the record of the accused, seriousness of the offense, whether children were or could have been exposed to the activity, and whether school was in session. A waiver cannot be granted if the distribution/possession with intent to sell took place on school property itself or if the accused used force, threats or a firearm during the course of the offense. Obtaining a waiver is difficult and requires the assistance of an attorney with intimate knowledge of this process.

Plainfield NJ School Zone Offense Defense Attorneys

As with all felony cases, a school zone charge may only be heard at the county court. Accordingly, whether you were arrested in Rahway, Hillside, Union Township, Clark, Mountainside or another municipality, the place where the 1,000 foot case will be decided is the Criminal Division of Union County Superior Court in Elizabeth NJ. Our attorneys are well acquainted with this Courthouse, having actively defended criminal charges their for decades now. A lawyer is accessible around the clock to assist prospective clients at 908-272-2700. We hope to hear from you if you have been charged with distribution of CDS/Drugs in a school zone anywhere in Union County.