What happens if I’m caught with drugs near a school in NJ?
New Jersey law imposes enhanced penalties against anyone caught in possession of illegal drugs near a school. The idea behind the harsh penalties is that children need to be protected against the dangers of drug use. That’s why NJ lawmakers carved out a special place in the criminal code for school zone drug possession charges and school zone drug distribution charges. If you are convicted of distributing marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or any other controlled dangerous substance (CDS) in a school zone in New Jersey, you will likely be subject to a minimum mandatory term of imprisonment. For instance, while most third degree felonies carry a presumption of incarceration – meaning that you may be able to avoid prison time if convicted – a third degree charge for marijuana distribution in a school zone carries a presumption of incarceration. This means that you will probably be sentenced to prison time if convicted.
Additionally, keep in mind that the school zone drug laws in New Jersey were drafted very broadly. You can be charged with a school zone drug offense if you are caught with illegal narcotics on any school property that is used for school purposes, including a school bus. In fact, if you are arrested for possessing drugs within 1,000 feet of school property, you can be charged with a school zone crime and face enhanced criminal penalties.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Former Atlantic County Prosecutor About Your Drug Crime Charges in South Jersey
Drug charges in New Jersey are serious business: a conviction can lead to severe penalties that include a lengthy term of incarceration in jail or prison. Many times, however, a first-time drug offender can get an alternative sentence that allows for entry into a program such as drug court or conditional discharge. These alternative programs are focused on rehabilitation instead of punishment, so they allow for a defendant to avoid jail time and get the help they need to move forward with their lives.
John Tumelty previously served as a prosecutor with the NJ Attorney General’s Office, Division of Criminal Justice and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Trial Section. Mr. Tumelty’s prior experience prosecuting defendants in criminal cases gives him a major advantage when he represents you in your New Jersey drug crime case because he knows how the other side thinks and strategizes. Call or email Mr. Tumelty now to schedule a free initial consultation at his office in Atlantic City, NJ.