Union County NJ Criminal Lawyers

Public Park

Distribution of CDS in a Public Park or Housing Project

New Jersey has adopted what is commonly referred to as a “public park violation” or “500 foot case.” What these phrases refer to is the criminal violation set forth under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 which creates a separate intent to distribute offense for selling drugs within 500 feet of a public park or housing project. This charge is a second degree crime, other than in cases of small quantities of marijuana, that carries a presumption of incarceration for a term of 5-10 years. Anyone arrested and charged with distribution of drugs in a public park or housing project should clear have the best representation they can find. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall representing a unique assemblage of former prosecutors who are well equipped to contest the prosecutors 500 foot charge. This is crucially important because a conviction will result in a significant likelihood of a state prison sentence and, in many case, a period of parole ineligibility will apply under the Brimage Guidelines. We have the tools to avoid this outcome and invite you to call our Cranford Office of an immediate consultation, free of charge, at 908-272-1700.

New Jersey Public Park and Housing Project Charge Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1

The important point you need to know about 2C:35-7.1 is that this violation is an independent offense from a distribution offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5. And when the distribution occurs within the 500 foot public park zone or public housing zone, an individual is subject to another offense, this one a second degree crime (except in less than one ounce of marijuana cases). A public park zone offense can result in significantly increased penalties when the underlying distribution charge is only a third degree crime. The reason is because, unlike a third degree crime can result in probation, a second degree conviction triggers a virtual certainty of a prison term of at least 5 years. Properties that qualify as prohibited public spaces under 2C:35-7.1 include parks, public housing complexes, and government owned or leased libraries or museums.  It is no defense that the individual was unaware that he was within 500 feet of a public park. In order to convict someone of distribution in a public park/public housing project, etc., the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual purposely or knowingly, distributed or dispensed, a controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”), within 500 feet of a park, housing facility, or public building. The way the prosecutor establishes that the sale was within the zone is to produce a map depicting the 500 foot radius surrounding the public property (e.g. park, housing project, building, etc.). If it can be established that the accused dispensed or distributed the CDS within the 500 foot area shown on the map, a 2C:35-7.1 charge has been substantiated. This will result in potential penalties that include five (5) to ten (10) years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

Elizabeth NJ Attorney for a Public Park/Housing Project Offense

Since this offense is an indictable crime in all instances (e.g. third degree where less than one ounce of marijuana is involved and second degree in all other cases), the only place that the charge may be decided is at the Union County Superior Court, 2 Broad Street, Elizabeth NJ. Our attorneys have been appearing in this court for over twenty (20) years now and clearly know what it takes to effectively avoid a conviction and/or penalties associated with a public park violation. If you are facing a 500 foot charge, give us a call. A seasoned lawyer will review the facts of your case and develop a strategy for reaching the best result.



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