WHERE YOU POSSESS DRUGS CAN INCREASE YOUR PRISON SENTENCE
Most people know that possessing large quantity of drugs, and/or drugs that are packaged for sale can result in a prison sentence. However, many people don't realize that even possession of smaller quantities of drugs can result in a substantial prison sentence, simply due to your location when you possess them.
In New Jersey, any person who violates subsection a. of N.J.S. 2C:35-5 by distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog while on any school property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or within 1,000 feet of such school property or a school bus, or while on any school bus, is guilty of a crime of the third degree and shall, except as provided in N.J.S. 2C:35-12, be sentenced by the court to a term of imprisonment. A Third Degree Crime carries a prison sentence of at least 3 years and a fine of up to $150,000.00 may also be imposed upon any conviction for a violation of this section.. The sentence is reduced to a minimum term which shall be fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence imposed, or one year, whichever is greater, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole, if less than once ounce of marijuana is involved.
However, it isn't just schools, school property or buses where the penalties are enhanced. Any person who violates subsection a. of N.J.S. 2C :35-5 by distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog while in, on or within 500 feet of the real property comprising a public housing facility, a public park, or a public building is guilty of a crime of the second degree, except that it is a crime of the third degree if the violation involved less than one ounce of marijuana. A Second Degree crime carries a prison term of between 5-10 years.
A Public housing facility means any dwelling, complex of dwellings, accommodation, building, structure or facility and real property of any nature appurtenant thereto and used in connection therewith, which is owned by or leased to a local housing authority in accordance with the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, P.L. 1992, c.79 (C. 40A: 12A-1 et seq.) for the purpose of providing living accommodations to persons of low income.
Public park means a park, recreation facility or area or playground owned or controlled by a State, county or local government unit.
Public building means any publicly owned or leased library or museum.
Most towns have maps that show a 500' and 1,000' perimeters around school and public buildings, and these maps are used in prosecuting offenders under theses sections. It's no defense that the offender didn't know they were within the perimeter while possessing the drugs.
The problems most people encounter in these types of cases is:
1. without a copy of the town's map (and who really carries one), no one really knows if they are within the perimeters.
2. depending upon the circumstances, possessing even a small amount of drugs may still result in a prosecution for "distributing, dispensing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog".
3. they don't even have to be real drugs. Anything that looks like a real drug (an analog), will still result in prosecution.
So, whats the moral of the story? Since it's hard to know when you are within one of those perimeters, don't posses drugs. If you do, don't possess them outside your home, and if you do that, make sure they are in such a small quantity (personal use) and not possessed in a way that would indicate you were trying to sell/distribute them.