Distribution of CDS in a School Zone
If an individual distributes or dispenses a controlled dangerous substance (“CDS”) within 1,000 of a school zone, it results in a violation under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1. This is what is commonly referred to as a “school zone” or “1,000 foot charge”. When this law applies, a minimum period of parole ineligibility, also referred to as a minimum sentence, is triggered. What this means is that if you are convicted of distributing or selling drugs within 1,000 feet of school property, you will stand a high probability of serving a jail term. The best way to combat this risk is, in our opinion, to select the best attorney you can find. The lawyers at our firm not only comprise one of the largest defense staffs in the state, but also possess exceptional experience, including service as former prosecutors. Our attorneys also have over 100 years of collective experience fighting all varieties of drug offenses at the Superior Court in Elizabeth and are highly qualified to defend you. An attorney is available all times of day or night to assist you at 908-272-1700. Call us for a free telephone consultation or to set up an in person meeting at our Cranford Criminal Defense Firm.
How Is “School Zone” Defined. 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.
Proving The 1,000 Foot 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.
Mandatory Minimum Sentence. 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.
Waiving The Period of Parole Ineligibility. This law 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.
Elizabeth 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 Linden, Plainfield, Rahway or another municipality, the place where the 1,000 foot case will be decided is the 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.