Drug-Free School Zone Re-sentencing

Sentence Reductions for prisoners sentenced under drug free school zone law – amendment permits release from prison

On January 12, 2010 the Governor signed into law A2762 which dramatically changes Drug Zone sentencing in New Jersey. 2C:35-7(1)a provides that distributing or possessing with intent to distribute any controlled dangerous substance within 1000 feet of a school is a crime of the third degree and requires a term of imprisonment. If the CDS consists of less then 1 oz. of marijuana then the sentence must include a minimum of 1 year of parole ineligibility. All other CDS requires a minimum 3 years of parole ineligibility. This effectively means that persons convicted under this law must actually serve 1 and 3 years in state prison respectively.

A2762 adds section 2C:35-7( 1)b.1. which allows the court to waive or reduce the minimum term of parole ineligibility or place the defendant on probation. In making this determination the court considers:
(a) the extent of the defendant’s prior criminal record and the seriousness of the offenses for which the defendant has been convicted;
(b) the specific location of the present offense in relation to the school property, including distance from the school and the reasonable likelihood of exposing children to drug-related activities at that location;
(c) whether school was in session at the time of the offense; and
(d) whether children were present at or in the immediate vicinity of the location when the offense
took place.

A2762 section 2C:35-7(1)b.2 states that the court shall not waive or reduce the minimum term of parole ineligibility or sentence the defendant to probation if it finds that:

(a) the offense took place while on any school property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school board, or while on any school bus; or
(b) the defendant in the course of committing the offense used or threatened violence, was in
possession of a firearm, or committed a violation of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-2 (Eluding a police officer in a motor vehicle).

If your family member or friend is now serving time in a New Jersey prison under the minimum mandatory 1 year or 3 year stipulations without parole eligibility, it may be possible to file a motion with the sentencing court to re-sentence him or her in accordance with the new law. This may result in his or her immediate release from prison. Please contact Randolph H. Wolf to begin the process.

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