Imagine you’re walking through your neighborhood one day while smoking a joint. You know it’s unlawful to do so, but you also don’t expect to get caught. The next thing you know, a school bus pulls up, drops some children off and then a police car races up alongside you with its sirens blaring.

Before you know it, the cops are arresting you and accusing you of possessing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school bus. Later, you find out that the punishments associated with possessing drugs in New Jersey increase dramatically when the crime happens in a school zone or near a school bus. The exact nature of the increased penalties depends on the type and quantity of drugs involved.

Let’s take a closer look at the increased penalties for marijuana possession inside a school zone:

  • If it was under an ounce and in your possession within 1,000 feet of a school zone or school bus, the penalty could be as much as $150,000 with an extra year in prison.
  • If it was over an ounce and in your possession within 1,000 feet of a school zone or school bus, the fine could be as high as $150,000 with an extra three to five years in prison.
  • If it was hasheesh of any quantity within 1,000 feet of a school zone or school bus, the extra penalties are also as high as $150,000 and an extra three to five years in prison.

No one ever said being arrested and accused of a drug crime was easy, but — as you can see by the penalties above — such accusations get a great deal worse when they involve a school zone or school bus. As such, if you’ve been accused of a drug crime inside a school zone, you may want to consider your criminal defense carefully.