Under New Jersey law, any criminal charge that is related to illegal drugs or controlled substances can be serious. However, if the crime is committed on or near a school zone, the resulting consequences can be exponentially worse.
School Zone Drug Charge Law
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 states that an individual is guilty of a crime if he or she distributes, dispenses or possesses with the intent to distribute a controlled substance while meeting the following conditions:
- On school property that is used for educational purposes
- Occurs within 1,000 feet of school property
- Occurs on any school bus
The charge of possessing a controlled dangerous substance (known as a CDS) without having the intent to distribute or dispense the substance is different from a charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7. As such, you can be charged under both laws and face both sets of penalties.
Punishment For Violating the New Jersey School Zone Law
Violating the New Jersey School Zone Law can result in very serious consequences. If you are convicted of the offense in the first degree, you may be subject to a prison term of 10 to 20 years. A second degree conviction can result in 5 to 10 years in prison, while a third degree conviction can result in up to 5 years of incarceration. If you are convicted of violating the New Jersey School Zone Law, the minimum amount of time you will serve is between one-third and one-half of your sentence or three years, whichever is greater.
In addition to a prison sentence, you may face a maximum of $150,000 in fines for this crime.
Certain factors may impact the sentencing for a school zone drug conviction, including:
- Whether there were children present at the time the offense was committed
- Whether you have a prior record
- Whether you possessed a firearm at the time the offense was committed
- Whether the offense involved a threat of violence
The bottom line is that the punishment and penalty for a school zone drug violation conviction is serious and should not be taken lightly. There may be ways to limit the damage done by the litany of charges that can accrue for these charges. However, you need to hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
If you or someone you know has been charged with violating the New Jersey school zone law, it is important to understand the potential punishments under the law and other important facts. It is also imperative that you immediately seek the legal assistance of an aggressive attorney who specializes in these types of cases in order to prevent the penalties of the charge.
For more information or to schedule a free consultation with New Jersey CDS defense attorney Dan T. Matrafajlo, please call Beninato & Matrafajlo at (908) 248-4404. One call can make a big difference.