Penalties in New Jersey involving marijuana are enhanced when the offense occurs within a school zone. New Jersey defines school zone as any school property used for school purposes. The property must be owned by or leased to an elementary or secondary school, or school board. It also encompasses areas within 1,000 feet of those properties. Additionally, school zone includes any area within 1,000 feet of a school bus. These provisions are contained in N.J.S. 2C:35-7.

Persons convicted of third- and fourth degree offenses involving distribution of marijuana in New Jersey are often able to avoid a prison sentence. But distribution of marijuana in a school zone is, itself, a separate third degree offense. In such situations, a sentence to state prison becomes very likely. In conjunction with that imprisonment, as originally enacted, the judge was required to specify a period during which the convicted person could be released on parole. Where the quantity of marijuana was one ounce or more, that period was a minimum of one-third of the total sentence, or three years, whichever is greater. Where the quantity was less than an ounce, the parole ineligibility was required to be at least one-third of the sentence, or one year, whichever is greater. These periods of imprisonment and parole ineligibility applied equally to New Jersey convictions for possession with intent to distribute, even when no actual distribution ever occurred. Further, the intent to distribute, itself, need not have been in a school zone. These enhanced penalties apply so long as it was within the school zone that the possession with intent occurred.

N.J.S. 2C:35-7 also specifies certain factors that cannot be used as defenses. It is no defense that school was not actually in session. It is no defense that no children were the area. And it is no defense that the person did not know that he was in a school zone.

The requirements just stated began with the New Jersey Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987. Those requirements remained inflexible for many years. They were relaxed somewhat in 2009. This relaxation allows the judge under some circumstances to lower the period of parole ineligibility. The judge can even sentence the defendant to probation, with no imprisonment at all. Here are factors that that judge can consider:

  • The defendant's prior criminal history
     
  • The seriousness of the offense for which the defendant was convicted
     
  • Whether school was in session at the time of the offense
     
  • Whether children were in the immediate area
     
  • How far the offense was from the school or school property itself

Allan Marain and Norman Epting, Jr. are New Jersey marijuana lawyers. NJ Marijuana Lawyer and NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer NJ Law Offices of Allan MarainThey have been successfully representing clients in school zone cases since the law was first enacted in 1987. Exposure upon conviction is incredibly severe. Their assistance can make all the difference in the world. You owe it to yourself to discuss your situation with them when facing charges such as these. They are available to discuss your situation in a no-charge no-obligation office conference. Call them!

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“He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

--The Declaration of Independence


“Chris Christie is a disgrace not just to NJ and the USA, but to humanity as a whole. His refusal to acknowledge the majority in this country of cannabis supporters is appalling. He is literally the cancer killing our country and we need to bury this sack of garbage in a landfill FAR FAR away from politics.”

--Jason Mueller, June 30, 2015,
Responding on Yahoo! to Chris Christie announcement
that he is seeking to be President of the United States

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Reefer, pot, weed, grass, Mary Jane, cannabis, ganja, dope, marijuana, marihuana: Call it what you will, spell it as you please, we will defend marijuana charges against you with the benefit of approximately seventy years combined experience handling marijuana and marijuana-related arrests. Centrally located in Middlesex County, New Jersey marijuana lawyers Marain and Epting also handle marijuana arrests and charges arising in Bergen, Burlington, Hunterdon, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren Counties. Their cases have included marijuana arrests at the Sports Complex, and at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel. Other frequent hot spots for marijuana arrests handled include Seabright, and Seaside Heights. Rutgers University arrests in New Brunswick and Piscataway number among the frequent fliers. Towns that we cover include Asbury Park, Bedminster, Belleville in Essex County, Bergenfield, Berkeley Heights, Bernards Township, Bernardsville in Union county, Bogota, Bound Brook, Branchburg, Brick in Monmouth County, Bridgewater, Clifton, Clinton in Hunterdon County, Closter, Cranbury, Cranford, Cresskill in Bergen County, Deal, Demarest, Denville, Dover in Morris County, Dumont, Dunellen, East Brunswick in Middlesex County, East Rutherford, East Windsor, Edison in Middlesex County, Elizabeth, Emerson, Englewood, Englishtown in Monmouth County, Ewing, Fair Lawn, Franklin Township, Freehold, Garfield, Garwood, Hackensack, Highland Park in Middlesex County, Hillsborough, Hillsdale, Hillside in Union County, Jersey City, Kearny, Kenilworth in Union County, Lakewood, Lawrence Township, Mahwah in Bergen County, Manville, Marlboro, Matawan, Metuchen, Middlesex Borough in Middlesex County, Monroe, Mountainside, New Brunswick, North Brunswick in Middlesex County, Nutley, Old Bridge, Paramus, Parsippany, Paterson, Perth Amboy in Middlesex County, Piscataway, Plainfield, Plainsboro, Point Pleasant, Princeton in Mercen County, Rahway, Raritan, Readington, Red Bank in Monmouth County, Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Ridgewood, Robbinsville in Mercer County, Rockaway, Rocky Hill, Roselle, Roselle Park, Rutherford in Bergen County, Sayreville, Scotch Plains, Seabright, Seaside Heights in Ocean County, Seaside Park, Secaucus, Shrewsbury, Somerville, South Amboy in Middlesex County, South Bound Brook, South Brunswick, South Orange, South Plainfield, South River, Sparta, Spotswood in Middlesex County, Summit, Teaneck, Tenafly, Toms River, Trenton, Union, Wall, Warren, Washington, Watchung, West Windsor, Westfield in Union County, Woodbridge, and other communities in Bergen County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Ocean County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County. Arrested elsewhere? Call anyway. We can suggest experienced marijuana lawyers in other New Jersey counties, and even in states other than New Jersey.

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