Drug Possession Near a School or Public Park in New Jersey

Guidance from a Skilled Parsippany Criminal Defense Attorney

New Jersey law recognizes certain situations in which the possession of drugs is considered a greater danger to the community than others. These situations include proximity to schools, public parks, public housing, and public buildings. The assumption is that any possession that takes place in the vicinity of these areas is particularly damaging to the community and constitutes a potential drug sale.

These particular enhancements can dramatically change the outcome of a simple possession charge. If you have been accused of drug possession while in proximity of a school or public park, then I invite you to contact my firm today. At The Law Offices of Christopher G. Porreca, P.C., my clients benefit from skilled, award-winning counsel with nearly two decades of legal experience. I bring the knowledge, insight, and diligence necessary to secure a reduction or dismissal on your behalf.

Retain a Parsippany criminal defense lawyer capable of protecting your future. Contact my firm today.

Additional Penalties of School Zone Distribution

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 defines the offense of "Distribution on or within 1,000 feet of school property." This not only refers to school grounds, but also possession and distribution that occurs on a school bus or within 1,000 feet of a school bus. Those convicted will be subject to usual drug offense penalties along with additional sentencing.

Additional penalties for this offense include:

  • 100 hours of community service
  • Limited eligibility for parole
  • Possible additional fines

Note that N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 defines this crime as "distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute." This means possession charges (with no intention to distribute) can easily be misconstrued in these cases. Also, the accused does not need to even be aware that they were in proximity to school property to be charged with this crime.

Penalties for "Public Parks" Offenses

New Jersey's drug crimes are complex and because the "public parks" statute is an enhancement of a drug offense, the penalties can vary. As N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 states, these enhancements apply for any drug possession and distribution charges that occur within 500 feet of public parks, public housing, or public buildings.

Penalty enhancements for "public park" drug offenses includes:

  • For second degree crimes: up to 10 years in prison and $150K in fines
  • For third degree crimes: up to 5 years in prison and $35K in fines

In cases where there is one ounce or less of marijuana is involved, lesser penalties will apply. For more specific information about these charges and what penalties you could be facing, contact me today. I am ready to sit down with you, assess your defense options, and begin developing a defense that will make securing a reduction or dismissal a priority.

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