Monmouth County Defense Attorneys for Drug Offenses Within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property
Although any conviction for drug charges in New Jersey can result in serious repercussions with the potential to damage your reputation, career, and future opportunities, these consequences becoming increasingly threatening if the offense was committed within 500 feet of a public housing facility, public park, or other government-owned building. Under New Jersey law, these premises are categorized as “certain public property,” and drug offenses committed in their immediate vicinity are subject to enhanced penalties, including a mandatory minimum term of incarceration.
A charge for possessing, dispensing, or distributing a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) within 500 feet of certain public property is graded as a second-degree indictable felony, with the exception of cases involving less than one ounce of marijuana. In all other cases, whether the substance in question is heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs, or marijuana in excess of one ounce, the offense is punishable by a New Jersey State Prison term of between 5 and 10 years. Further, these offenses fall within the purview of “strict liability,” meaning that the intent or awareness of the defendant is irrelevant to the charge. In other words, the fact that you were not aware of your proximity to the public property in question is not considered a viable defense under the law.
With such devastating consequences hanging over your head, it is critical to mount the most comprehensive and compelling defense possible. At Chamlin, Uliano & Walsh, our strategic defenses are informed by decades of experience and appearances at all levels of the court system, from federal, to state, to local. The leader of our criminal department, partner Charles J. Uliano, has represented entire coalitions, including educators and even police officers, during his lengthy tenure as a Certified Civil and Criminal Trial Attorney in New Jersey. His unique and diverse insights allow us to identify all of the potential sources of weakness in our case in order to build the strongest cases in defense of our clients. If you or someone you love is faced with a criminal predicament, one of our skilled legal professionals is always available to discuss your options. Simply contact our West Long Branch office at 732-440-3950 for immediate assistance.
Distributing, Dispensing or Possessing Within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property in New Jersey: N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1
The crime of Distributing, Dispensing or Possessing a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) Within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property is outlined in section N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, which provides:
a. Any person who violates subsection (a) of N.J.S.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 that it is a crime of the Third Degree if the violation involved less than one ounce of marijuana.
b. It shall be no defense to a prosecution for violation of this section that the actor was unaware that the prohibited conduct took place while one or within 500 feet of a public housing facility, a public park, or a public building.
It is important to understand the key terms utilized in this statute, which are defined as follows:
- “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.
- “Public building” means any publicly owned or leased library or museum.
Penalties for Drug Offenses in New Jersey Parks, Housing Facilities, and Public Buildings
As mentioned above, the penalties associated with a conviction for a drug offense within 500 feet of certain public property are distinguished according to the substance involved in the alleged offense, as well as the quantity of said substance. These potential consequences are detailed below:
- Less than 1 Ounce of Marijuana within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property: punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison, as well as a fine of up to $35,000
- At Least 1 Ounce of Marijuana within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property: punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 5 to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison, as well as a fine of up to $150,000
- Cocaine within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property: punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 5 to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison, as well as a fine of up to $150,000
- Heroin within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property: punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 5 to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison, as well as a fine of up to $150,000
Notably, these penalties must be imposed in addition to any other penalties issued in connection with other charges for which you are found guilty. In other words, if you are convicted of possession of cocaine as well as cocaine possession in a school zone, the court may impose one penalty for each charge, which you are required to serve consecutively. Essentially, this means that you must serve one sentence prior to beginning the second.
Contact Tinton Falls NJ Attorneys for Drug Charges on Public Property
An experienced attorney can serve as an integral contributor to your success in cases involving enhanced penalties and strict liability. Without an advocate who is fluent in State law and the nuances of these often complex cases, you may not effectively pursue all of your available opportunities for resolution. The highly knowledgeable attorneys at Chamlin, Uliano & Walsh leave no stone unturned in pursuit of a favorable outcome. Contact our Monmouth County offices anytime at 732-440-3950 for additional information.