Drug Possession in a School ZoneIt is no secret that the state of New Jersey is serious about targeting and eradicating drug use. One tool in their arsenal is New Jersey Statute 2C:35-7. This law allows the state to charge individuals who are guilty of certain drug offenses within 1000 feet of a school building or school bus with at least two crimes for the same action. The following is some information regarding the relevant laws regarding drugs and school zones.

N.J.S.2C:35-5 : Manufacturing, Dispensing, or Distributing – Under this law, it is unlawful to knowingly or purposely manufacture, distribute or dispense, or to possess or have under his control with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, a controlled dangerous substance (CDS). Depending on the substance and quantity of the substances, penalties can be as high as a first-degree crime and a fine of up to $300,000.00.

N.J.S.2C:35-7 : School Zone Distribution of Drugs – Under this law, any person who violates a subsection of the above law while on any school property used for school purposes that 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 be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment. This section imposes minimum prison sentences of at least 1 – 3 years depending of the severity of the violation and another fine of up to $150,000.00. This is in addition to any penalties for the drug crime itself.

The burden is on the state to prove the elements of each crime including the intent, location, and identity of the substances. No matter how obvious the evidence may be, never volunteer information without an attorney present. You are under no obligation to answer the interrogations of a police officer and you should always have an attorney present when you talk to police or prosecutors. Furthermore, certain defenses are provided in the statute that can be used to reduce or eliminate these charges.

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If you are accused of any crime, it is important to consult an experienced attorney who understands the law and can aggressively advocate on your behalf.  Attorney Leon Matchin understands the letter of the law and the criminal justice process in New Jersey. Contact us to discuss your situation today.