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School Zone Offenses

Wall New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys serving Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and all surrounding NJ areas.

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 then 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.

More About This Law

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, call the law firm of Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC. today at 732-303-7857 . Our experienced former prosecutors can let you know whether your case qualifies for a probationary sentence and whether your case can be challenged on other legal grounds.

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