Princeton NJ Public Park Drug Violations Attorney

With Offices in Trenton and Pennington

Drug charges have become more and more common in New Jersey as legislators and law enforcement have cracked down on drug crimes throughout the state. For example, NJ lawmakers responded to the alarming number of drug deals in publicly funded parks and public housing projects by passing special laws to keep drugs out of these areas. As a result, drug distribution offenses in these areas carry enhanced penalties. Anyone convicted of selling drugs near a publicly owned area is subject to a mandatory minimum term of incarceration.

Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson is a well-respected law firm that has been defending New Jersey clients against drug distribution charges for more than 40 years. Our attorneys appear regularly in courtrooms throughout Mercer County, including Hamilton, Lawrence, and Ewing. Our familiarity with local courtroom procedure and personnel gives us an edge in your drug distribution case. Call KCR today to speak with a member of our litigation team and start your defense.

Distribution of Drugs near a Mercer County Public Housing Facility

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 governs drug distribution offenses in publicly owned areas. As set forth by the statute, the distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) within 500 feet of a public park, a public housing facility, or a public building is a serious criminal offense that can result in enhanced penalties.

The protected areas are defined in very broad terms. “Public park” means any park, recreational facility, recreational area, or playground owned or controlled by the government. “Public housing facility” generally means any dwelling, building, or structure which is owned by or leased to a local housing authority for the purpose of providing low-income living accommodations. “Public building” means any government-owned or government-leased library or museum.

It won’t matter that you did not realize you were near a public park. That’s because drug distribution in a public park is a strict liability offense; the intent or awareness of the offender does not affect the charge. It also won’t matter that you were only in a protected zone because the police stopped your vehicle and instructed you to pull over near a public park.

Penalties for Drug Distribution in a Trenton NJ Public Park

Enhanced penalties for public park drug offenses apply to distribution of any controlled dangerous substance (CDS). This includes marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and prescription drugs.

The penalties for drug distribution near a publicly owned area vary, depending upon the type and weight of drug:

  • Less than 1 Oz. of Marijuana: third degree felony, punishable by an additional 3–5 years in New Jersey State Prison
  • 1 Oz. or More of Marijuana: second degree felony, punishable by an additional 5–10 years in New Jersey State Prison
  • Heroin: second degree felony, punishable by an additional 5–10 years in New Jersey State Prison
  • Cocaine: second degree felony, punishable by an additional 5–10 years in New Jersey State Prison
  • Prescription Drugs: second degree felony, punishable by an additional 5–10 years in New Jersey State Prison

Second degree felony drug charges carry a presumption of incarceration. Even first-time offenders are subject to a mandatory minimum term of incarceration for a public park drug offense. Moreover, the standard penalties for drug distribution still apply even if you are also charged with a public park offense. This means that the penalties for distributing in a publicly owned area will be in addition to any other penalties for distributing drugs. You will still be subject to penalties such as suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months–2 years and heavy fines.

Related Charge: School Zone Drug Offense

A public park drug distribution offense is actually punished more severely than a school zone drug offense. The radius for school zone offenses is twice as large – 1,000 feet – so school zone drug violations occur more often. However, public park drug violations are still quite common in New Jersey because a 500-foot radius encompasses an extremely large area.

Additionally, the charges are not mutually exclusive. This means that you can be charged with both distribution near a public park and distribution near a school zone.

Call a Hightstown Marijuana Distribution Lawyer

Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson is prepared to help you fight your public park drug charges. Call us now to speak with one of our experienced litigators about your case, or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Trenton or Pennington.