New Jersey Law – Criminal Statutes
2C:35-7. Distribution on or within 1,000 feet of school property
Any person who violates subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-5 by distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog while on any school 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 such school property or a school bus, or while on any school bus, is guilty of a crime of the third degree and shall, except as provided in N.J.S.2C:35-12, be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment. Where the violation involves less than one ounce of marijuana, the term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, or one year, whichever is greater, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. In all other cases, the term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, or three years, whichever is greater, during which the
defendant shall be ineligible for parole. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:43-3, a fine of up to $150,000.00 may also be imposed upon any conviction for a violation of this section.
Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2C:1-8 or any other provisions of law, a conviction arising under this section shall not merge with a conviction for a violation of subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-5 (manufacturing, distributing or dispensing) or N.J.S.2C:35-6 (employing a juvenile in a drug distribution scheme).
It shall be no defense to a prosecution for a violation of this section that the actor was unaware that the prohibited conduct took place while on or within 1,000 feet of any school property. Nor shall it be a defense to a prosecution under this section, or under any other provision of this title, that no juveniles were present on the school property at the time of the offense or that the school was not in session.
It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for a violation of this section that the prohibited conduct took place entirely within a private residence, that no person 17 years of age or younger was present in such private residence at any time during the commission of the offense, and that the prohibited conduct did not involve distributing, dispensing or possessing with the intent to distribute or dispense any controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog for profit. The affirmative defense established in this section shall be proved by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence. Nothing herein shall be construed to establish an affirmative defense with
respect to a prosecution for an offense defined in any other section of this chapter. (6) Criminal mischief is a crime of the third degree if the actor tampers with a grave, crypt, mausoleum or other site where human remains are stored or interred, with the purpose to desecrate, destroy or steal such human remains or any part thereof.
Amendment to New Jersey School Zone Law- No Longer Mandatory State Prison
On January 12, 2010, the Governor of New Jersey signed legislation radically changing a Judge’s sentencing options for a defendant charged with Distribution or Possession with intent to distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS or Drugs) within 1,000 feet of a school zone. Under the old law, a defendant was almost invariably required to serve a minimum mandatory State Prison sentence if convicted of Possession of CDS with intent to Distribute within 1000 feet of a school zone. The old law did not factor
into the equation whether or not school was in session or whether or not the entire town in question fell within a “school zone.”
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7a. provides that distributing or possessing with intent to distribute any controlled dangerous substance within 1000 feet of a school or school property is a crime of the third degree and requires a term of imprisonment. If the CDS (drugs)consists of less than 1 oz. of marijuana then the sentence must include a minimum of 1 year of parole ineligibility. All other CDS related distribution offenses requires a minimum 3 years of parole ineligibility. Practically speaking, defendant’s charged with distribution of cocaine, heroin or any other type of illegal drug in a school zone were often facing 5 years New Jersey state prison with a 3 year period of parole ineligibility.
Subsection b of the new legislation, however, now allows the sentencing Judge to waive the mandatory prison terms and even grant probationary sentences. Subsection b. of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 allows the waiver of the mandatory minimum prison sentences after the court considers:
(a) the extent of the defendant’s prior criminal record and the seriousness of the offenses for which the defendant has been convicted;
(b) the specific location of the present offense in relation to the school property, including distance from the school and the reasonable likelihood of exposing children to drug-related activities at that location;
(c) whether school was in session at the time of the offense; and
(d) whether children were present at or in the immediate vicinity of the location when the offense took place.
The bottom line is that accused individuals now have sentencing options when charged with school zone offenses. If you or a family member has been charged with a school zone offense or have recently been sentenced on a school zone offense, contact the Law Offices of William D. Ware, Esq. of today. Mr. Ware can let you know whether your case qualifies for a probationary sentence and whether your case can be challenged on other legal grounds.