New Jersey considers marijuana distribution in a public building to be a separate offense, over and above the distribution offense itself. The particular statute that defines this offense is N.J.S. 2C:35-7.1. That is the same statute that prohibits distribution on or near public housing, and on or near public parks.
For purposes of this statute, “Public building” has a very specific meaning. It does not mean city hall, or your local fire house, or even municipal court. Rather, what “public building” means is any publicly owned or leased library or museum.
Regardless of its definition, this separate offense exists when the offense occurs within 500 feet of the library or museum. And the separate offense applies to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, even when no actual distribution occurs. It is no defense that the person was unaware that he was in or within 500 feet of the library or museum. Further, the intent to distribute, itself, need not have been within the 500 foot distance. These enhanced penalties apply so long as it was within the indicated area that the possession with intent occurred.
As indicated above, the distribution, or possession with intent to distribute in the public building, or within 500 feet of it, is actually considered to be a separate offense from the distribution itself, or the intent to distribute. When the amount of marijuana is one ounce or more, New Jersey defines this separate offense to be a second degree crime. Upon conviction, a sentence to state prison becomes a virtual certainty. The normal New Jersey State Prison term upon conviction for a second degree crime is five to ten years. Under some circumstances, this normal range can be doubled. When the amount of marijuana distributed or intended for distribution in the New Jersey public building area is less than one ounce, it becomes a third degree crime. The normal prison exposure in that situation is three to five years.
Allan Marain is a New Jersey marijuana lawyer. He has successfully representing numerous clients who faced public building-related marijuana charges. He is available to discuss your situation in a no-charge no-obligation office conference. Call him!
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