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Drug Crime on School Property

State policy requires the protection of children from drug trafficking and the prevention of drug activity being present in schools. A drug distribution charge is a serious charge by itself, but if the crime was committed on school property another offense is added to the charges of the accused. You should contact experienced legal help if faced with this charge. LS&P Lawyers is experienced with criminal law and will represent people all over New Jersey.

This offense is governed under N.J.S.A 2C:35-7, and adds additional severe penalties to one convicted of this crime. Distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of school property constitutes a third degree crime and a mandatory prison sentence, one-third to one-half of which must be served with no chance of parole. A fine of $150,000 may also be imposed. "School property" is defined as any building or lot owned or leased by any primary or secondary school. Nursery schools, colleges, or adult vocational schools, among other things, are not covered by this statute. For a conviction, the state must prove that the property on which the crime was committed was within 1,000 feet of school property and used for school purposes. This means the property must be used for school purposes "regularly, consistently, and actually." So municipal property used infrequently by a school, such as a field owned by the town used by a school for sporting events, does not qualify this charge.

One can not use as a defense that he did not know the property in question was school property. If it can be shown in court that an objectively reasonable person would know the property was owned by the school, the property is presumed to be school property. A map can also be produced by the county in order to show the 1,000 feet radius of the school and whether the crime was committed within that radius.

However, the court may waive or reduce the minimum term of parole ineligibility under certain circumstances, which include:

  1. the defendant's criminal record and the seriousness of the offense committed.
  2. the actual location of the crime; whether it was on school grounds or some distance away
  3. whether school was in session
  4. whether children were present or close to the location of the offense

If these circumstances allow it, the court can remove the minimum term of parole ineligibility or place the person under probation. However, 10 days must be given to the prosecution to permit the filing of an appeal.

A court will not waive or reduce the minimum term of parole ineligibility under different circumstances, which include:

  1. the crime took place on school property used for school purposes (includes school busses)
  2. the defendant used or threatened violence while committing the offense
  3. the defendant possessed a firearm at the time of the offense.

If you have any questions regarding this statute please contact LS&P Lawyers. We are available 24/7 for consultation.

Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana is among the most common of the Disorderly Persons offenses. It is governed by N.J.S.A 2C:35-10(a)(4) and, though common, can result in serious consequences. A person can be subject to up to $1,000 in fines, six months in jail, probation, and loss of one's drivers license for six months, even if the marijuana was not found in a vehicle. If a person commits this offense within 1,000 feet of any school property or school bus, he will be subject no less than 100 hours of community service.

If committing a first time offense however, a person is eligible for Conditional Discharge. This means that if the person remains arrest free for a determined amount of time and complies with any other requirements, such as a drug test, then upon completion the original complaint is dismissed.

According to the statute, the accused must have knowingly or purposely control the marijuana. This is not limited to physical possession. Constructive possession and joint possession are different types of possession. Constructive possession is if a person has access and knowledge to a controlled substance, such as a key to a lockbox full of marijuana. Joint possession is when two or more people have physical or constructive possession of a controlled substance.

If a search of a vehicle is involved and marijuana is found, it may be hard to prove possession. The state must prove three elements of constructive possession in order to convict. First, it must be a controlled substance. Second, the defendant must be proved to have possession. Third, the defendant must knowingly and intentionally possess the substance. Thus if one does not know the character of the substance in question, he cannot be convicted with possession. So if you are a passenger and cannot detect the presence of marijuana (can't smell it, can't see it, etc), the law assumes the marijuana is in the possession of the driver and constructive possession cannot be determined.

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The Union County criminal defense attorneys at LS&P Lawyers are available 24/7 for consultation and have offices conveniently placed in NJ.

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