Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1, any person who violates N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 by distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog while in, on or within 500 feet of the real property comprising a public housing facility, a public park, or a public building is guilty of a crime of the second degree, except where the person is in possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, then it is only a crime of the third degree. As you will see below, a second degree felony is punishable by up to ten (10) years in a New Jersey State Prison and fined up to $150,000. The team of marijuana distribution within 500 feet of a park defense lawyers on staff at the Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall fully understand what a criminal conviction could do to your life. We have extensive experience defending individuals charged with various drug offenses, whether it be cocaine possession, marijuana distribution, ecstasy possession, heroin possession within intent within 500 feet of a park, crack cocaine distribution or possession of Xanax with the intent to distribute in a school zone. If you would like to set up a free initial consultation with any one of our eight Morris County, New Jersey drug distribution defense lawyers, please contact our Morristown office at 973-309-7050.
Marijuana Distribution in a Public Park Defense Attorney in NJ
What is Considered a Public Housing Facility in New Jersey?
To understand this offense, one needs to know how the law defines these various prohibited places. Public housing facility means any dwelling, complex of dwellings, accommodation, building, structure or facility and real property of any nature appurtenant thereto and used in connection therewith, which is owned by or leased to a local housing authority in accordance with the “Local Redevelopment and Housing Law,” for the purpose of providing living accommodations to persons of low income. Public park means a park, recreation facility or area or playground owned or controlled by a state, county or local government unit. Lastly public building means any publicly owned or leased library or museum for the purposes of this statute.
If you are found to be within 500 feet of any qualifying structures, whether it be a public housing facility, public park, or public building, which, as stated above, just means libraries and museums, it is no defense to this crime that you were unaware that you were within 500 feet of any of these structures. Furthermore, a violation of this section of the criminal code cannot be merged with other offenses committed. This means that you can be charged with possession with intent to distribute and with this offense at the same time. More plainly, for example, if you are found to possess with intent to distribute any drug but marijuana you could be facing up to 20 years in jail (the maximum sentences for two second degree offenses running consecutively). The only affirmative defense to such a violation is that the distribution involved in the charge was not distributed for profit and did not involve any minors. It is up to the defendant to prove this defense by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it just must be more likely than not true, a substantially lesser burden than proving it beyond a reasonable doubt.
What are the Penalties if I am Convicted of Distributing Cocaine in a Public Park in NJ?
Regardless of whether such a defense exists, though, possession or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance within 500 feet of these public structures is a serious offense in New Jersey which can lead to incarceration for between 5 and 10 years and a fine of up to $150,000. You cannot afford to face these and any other related distribution or possession charges alone.
Morris County NJ Drug Distribution in a Park Zone Attorneys
Here at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we have decades of collective experience defending against criminal charges in Morris County, including these types of controlled dangerous substance charges. So please, if you or a loved one has been charged with this serious offense, do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced attorney about the particulars of your case. We have over 100 years of combined experience on staff, including over twenty-five years of prior prosecuting experience. If you have been charged with a drug offense in towns like Mendham, Butler, Pequannock, Morris Township Parsippany, Denville, Dover, Boonton, Jefferson, Madison or East Hanover, the Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall can help.