In New Jersey, crimes committed within designated school zones can have harsher penalties than crimes committed elsewhere. It does not matter if a defendant was unaware that he or she was in a school zone at the time the offense took place. If the crime or attempted crime occurred within 1,000 feet of school property, whether or not the defendant was aware of his or her location is irrelevant. A school zone is any piece of school property, which includes school buildings, busses, and board of education buildings. This applies to all public and private schools serving kindergarten through twelfth grade in New Jersey.
Drug distribution is one of the crimes that becomes more serious if it is committed in a school zone. N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 states that any person found to be manufacturing or distributing a controlled dangerous substance within a designated school zone is subject to a third degree crime charge. This charge is in addition to the charges he or she recieves for distributing drugs, which are determined by the type and amount of drug that the defendant possessed and sold.
When a defendant is found guilty of distributing drugs in a school zone, jail time is mandatory. The length of the jail term he or she is sentenced is determined by the degree of crime he or she is found guilty of.
N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 defines the penalties for possession and distribution of any controlled dangerous substance in New Jersey. They are categorized into groups called schedules. Selling many, but not all, types of drugs is a third degree crime that’s punishable by a fine of up to $25,000. Distribution of a schedule V substance is a fourth degree crime, but also carries the penalty of a fine of up to $25,000.
Heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, PCP, LSD and marijuana all have their own individual sets of consequences for possessing and selling them. These substances are treated differently from the other schedule I, II, III, IV and V drugs because they have unique properties and popularity levels. To learn more about the charges and consequences for selling any of these substances, see our page on drug distribution.
In addition to the jail time and fines imposed, an additional $150,000 fine will be required for all defendants found guilty of distributing drugs within a school zone.
School zone laws exist to keep New Jersey’s children safe. Along with drug distribution laws, similar laws exist that govern speeding and driving through a school zone while intoxicated. To prove that a criminal act occurred within a school zone, the prosecution must provide an official map of the area in which the offense allegedly took place, outlining the school zone boundaries. To charge a defendant with violating N.J.S.A. 2C:35-1, the prosecution must prove that the criminal act occurred within 1,000 feet of school grounds or school property. If that cannot be proven, the additional charge for distributing drugs within a school zone cannot be added to the defendant’s sentence.
If you have been accused of selling drugs in a school zone, don’t wait to start building your defense. A strong defense is crucial to successfully winning your case and a strong defense starts with a great criminal defense attorney. Call Ron Bar-Nadav today at 201-525-1555 to discuss the details of your case and learn more about your legal options. Ron Bar-Nadav has enjoyed a long, successful career in Bergen county and will rely on his knowledge and experience to help you build a strong case. Don’t wait – call Ron Bar-Nadav today to get started on your defense strategy.