New Jersey has over 600 different school districts, of which each district may have more than one actual school-related property. Considering that possession with intent to distribute faces enhanced penalties when it occurs within 1,000 ft. of a school zone, you realize why such an enhancement was charged in your case. Pursuant to the New Jersey Supreme Court case State v. Ivory, it is irrelevant whether or not you intended to make such a distribution within 1,000 ft. of school property. As a crime of the third degree, the penalties for possession with intent in a school zone are not only severe but may also bar you from admission into a diversionary program, like PTI, where the drugs are a Schedule I or Schedule II drug. The Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall has been defending individuals charged with possession of heroin with the intent to distribute in a school zone, distribution of marijuana, possession of cocaine and distribution of heroin cases throughout Morris County, New Jersey, in towns like Parsippany, Dover, Denville, Roxbury, Morristown, Hanover and Boonton for over a decade. For assistance with your case, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall today at 973-309-7050. An experienced criminal trial attorney is available to take your call and discuss any and every option with you in handling your case.
Marijuana Distribution in a School Zone Defense Lawyers in Parsippany NJ
What is Considered a School Zone in Morris County, New Jersey?
To demonstrate that a property operates as “school property”, the state must prove a two prong test. First, the property must be owned by or leased to a primary, or secondary, education unit and the school property must actually be used for school purposes. Second, it must be shown that there are indicia from which an objectively reasonable person could know that the property was used regularly, consistently and actually for school purposes. In most cases school use will be self-evident; in other cases signs, banners, or flags may evidence this use. Furthermore, it is not a defense that no juveniles were present on the school property at the time of the offense or that the school was not in session.
What are the Penalties for Possessing Marijuana with Intent to Distribute in Boonton?
While possession with intent to distribute in a school zone is a third degree crime, the penalties are not quite the same as every other third degree crime. Just like other third degree crimes, possession with intent to distribute carries between three (3) and five (5) years of incarceration. However, possession with intent to distribute marijuana in a school zone carries a minimum term of incarceration (i.e. parole ineligibility). Where the violation involves less than one (1) ounce of marijuana, any term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third (⅓) and one-half (½) of the sentence imposed, or one year, whichever is greater, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. In all other cases, any term of imprisonment shall include the imposition of a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, or three years, whichever is greater, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. Moreover, a fine of up to $150,000.00 may also be imposed upon any conviction for a violation of this section.
However, in 2010, the Legislature revised the mandatory minimum sentencing provision of drug-free school zone cases. Judges were given the discretion, without the prosecutor’s concurrence, to waive or reduce the mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment and parole ineligibility in certain cases. Previously, the mandatory minimum sentence could only be waived by the prosecutor.
Before a court may waive or reduce the minimum term of parole ineligibility or place a defendant on probation, the court must consider:
- The extent of the defendant’s prior criminal record and the seriousness of the present offense.
- The specific location of the present offense in relation to school property and the reasonable likelihood of exposing children to drug-related activity.
- Whether school was in session at the time of the offense.
- Whether children were present or in the immediate area where the present offense took place.
It is important to note here, that the aforementioned non-custodial option is not available to individuals who have a prior conviction for drug distribution or possession with the intent to dispense or distribute, as that defendant is subject to a separate and distinct mandatory three year minimum term of parole ineligibility. In addition to any custodial sentence or fiscal penalties, the court is also permitted to suspend the defendant’s driving privileges for up to two (2) years.
Morris County Drug Distribution in a School Zone Lawyers
For assistance with your pending drug distribution charges, contact the Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall at 973-309-7050. Our team of Morris County, NJ drug distribution defense attorneys have the experience and skill set required to successfully defend your freedom. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug offense in Morris County, in towns like Mendham, Florham Park, Jefferson, Mount Olive, East Hanover or Montville, the Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall can help.