New Jersey considers marijuana distribution in a public park 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, or public buildings.
New Jersey defines “public park” in N.J.S. 2C:35-7.1f. Under that provision, public park means “a park, recreation facility or area or playground owned or controlled by a State, county or local government unit.” Thus a park that is privately owned and controlled, but open to the public, is not a public park within the meaning of this statute.
Regardless of its definition, this separate offense exists when the offense occurs within 500 feet of the park. 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 park. It is no defense that no one was in the park, or even that the park happened to be closed at the particular time of the offense. 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 park, 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 park 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 and Norman Epting, Jr. are New Jersey marijuana lawyers. They have successfully representing numerous clients who faced public park-related marijuana charges. They are available to discuss your situation in a no-charge no-obligation office conference. Call them!
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