Distribution Within 500 Feet of a Public Park or Housing

Intent to Distribute in Proximity of Public Housing Facility, Park, or Building

It is a separate offense from Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance “CDS” under 2C:35-5 if the conduct took place within 500 feet of a public park, public housing, or public building, which includes a public library or museum. New Jersey statute 2C:35-7.1 provides for an upward adjustment on the grading of indictments for possession of CDS with intent to distribute where the offense is committed within 500 feet of a public housing project or public park. More specifically, the offense shall be treated as a Second Degree Offense as opposed to the Third Degree Offense unless the drugs are marijuana and under one ounce of total weight. This is a devastating scenario for any defendant because a conviction of a 2nd degree felony carries a mandatory 5 – 10 years in state prison even for a first time offender with no prior record. Through attentiveness and negotiations with the county prosecutor’s office we are normally able to get our clients out of the second degree category to avoid prison. To speak with one of our criminal attorneys for a free consultation to discuss your case contact us today at (609) 683-8102.

Penalties for Intent to Distribute Within 500 Feet of Public Park

The penalties include mandatory fines and assessment through state that total thousands of dollars. In addition, the court will seek to suspend your driving privileges for not less than six months or more than two years. As your lawyers we will petition the Court to find compelling circumstances which establishes a hardship exception because you need your license to maintain employment and or transportation from school. Moreover, an extended term must be imposed if a defendant has any prior convictions of manufacturing, distributing, dispensing, or possessing with intent to distribute drugs. A minimum term must be fixed at between one-third and one-half of the total sentence, or three years, whichever is greater, and the defendant will not eligible for parole for the first eighteen months. An experienced defense attorney can work with the prosecutor to seek a waiver of the extended term.

500 Ft. Public Park vs. 1000 Ft School Zone Charges

It is not a valid defense that you did not know your conduct took place within 500 feet of a public housing facility, a public park, or a public building. Nor does it matter if you were within the zone as a result of the police pulling you over and directing you stop your car at that point. Furthermore, cases have held that an individual can be convicted under this statute for intent to distribute under the doctrine of constructive possession. This means that even if you do not have the drugs in your actual possession within 500 feet of the park because they are stashed nearby you can still be found guilty. For both school zone and public park charges the prosecution must produce the defendant with a municipal or county map prepared by an engineer which depicts the boundaries of the area. A third degree conviction for Intent to Distribute within 1000 feet of a School Zone merges with a second degree conviction for possession of CDS with intent to distribute within 500 feet of public property. However, the mandatory minimum term required for the school zone offense must be imposed as part of the sentence even if there would normally be no mandatory minimum term to be served for a 3rd degree public park zone conviction. A defense lawyer can explain your options and rights based on the circumstances of your situation. Contact our Princeton office today at (609) 683-8102 to speak with one of our criminal attorneys for a free consultation regarding your case.

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