New Jersey law has established severe penalties for distribution or possession of marijuana in a school zone. Whether or not school is in session is not necessarily a defense, but the state must provide a proclamation from the municipality where the arrest happened stating that the area was deemed a “drug-free school zone.” Although not being aware that the location was within 1,000 feet of a school zone is also not a defense, other defenses can be utilized against these charges. If you or a loved one is facing possession of marijuana charges, consult a New Jersey Marijuana Lawyer to defend your case in court!
Schedule I Drug Crimes (N.J.S.A. 24:21-5)
In New Jersey, it is a crime to be in possession of what is known as CDS—Controlled Dangerous Substances. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and no generally recognized medical value. (N.J.S.A. 24:21-5.) Even under medical care, if a drug doesn't have an accepted safe use, it is placed in the Schedule I category.
For simple possession, using, being under the influence of, or intending to distribute Schedule I drugs, the punishment varies. For example, simple possession, use or being under the influence of marijuana can result in up to 18 months in jail and a fine from $500 to $15,000. If there is possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, the punishment can be up to ten years in prison and fines between $750 and $100,000.
Defending Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute in a School Zone (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7)
Possession of marijuana in a school zone in NJ carries enhanced penalties such as additional community service hours and higher fines. Any person in possession of marijuana while on any school property (or within 1,000 feet of school property) including a school bus, will face additional sentences. These provisions are defined in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.
New Jersey is well known for having some of the most stringent marijuana laws nationwide. Quantity and location will determine the degree of the offense. For example, marijuana possession of less than 50 grams is classified as a disorderly persons offense, but the distribution of marijuana in a school zone would be considered a separate third degree offense. And remember, it doesn't matter if school isn't in session or if children were not present in the area at the time of the arrest.
Contact a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer to Defend Your School Zone Drug Charge
If you or a loved one have been charged with possession of marijuana in a NJ school zone, you have rights. There may be methods to limit the damage done by the many charges that can accrue for the prosecution of drug possession on or near school grounds. Contact the NJ drug possession lawyers of Villani & DeLuca at 732-709-7757 for a free initial consultation. A criminal defense lawyer experienced in drug charges will discuss your situation, the associated penalties and possible defenses available to you in your case.