On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County.
Brody and Michels. The opinion of the court was delivered by Brody, J.A.D.
Defendant contends in this appeal that a statute, enacted after he committed the CDS crime for which he has been convicted, was unconstitutionally used by the State to obtain the conviction. The statute relieves the State from having to present live testimony at trial to prove that a defendant was dealing in CDS on or within 1,000 feet of school property. It permits the State to use instead a map, prepared by a county or municipal engineer and authenticated by resolution or ordinance, that delineates the prohibited areas. Defendant contends that the statute was applied against him ex post facto in violation of the federal and state constitutions. U.S. Const. art. I, § 10, cl.1; N.J. Const. of 1947 art. IV, § 7, para. 3. We disagree and affirm the conviction.
Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of third-degree unlawful possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1). Because he committed the crime within 1,000 feet of a school, his conduct also constituted a separate third-degree crime carrying a mandatory prison term of at least three years without parole. N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.
Judge Sacher imposed concurrent three-year prison terms, the sentence for unlawfully possessing the cocaine near a school to be served without parole.
The State presented evidence that police officers saw defendant about to hand something to a man who had just given him cash. The transaction was interrupted when the men saw the officers and ran away. The officers caught defendant after he had thrown something on the roof of a nearby building. Firemen climbed to the roof where they found six vials of cocaine held together by a rubber band. Each vial had a street value of $20. Defendant had $40 in his possession when he was arrested. A state witness testified that in these circumstances a package of six $20 vials of cocaine would probably be possessed for sale and not for consumption.
Defendant testified that he did not intend to distribute the vials of cocaine, but had purchased them for his own consumption. He explained that he ran from the police because he knew that mere possession of cocaine was a crime. We reject as clearly without merit defendant's argument that the evidence did not support the convictions. R. 2:11-3(e)(2).
Witnesses who knew the neighborhood testified that the place where defendant possessed the cocaine with intent to distribute was directly across the street from a school. The State supplemented this evidence with a map, prepared by the municipal engineer and approved by ordinance, that showed the place to be well within 1,000 feet of the school. Judge Sacher properly received the map into evidence and instructed the jury that it constituted prima facie evidence of the location of the prohibited area. Defendant objected that use of the map against him was an unconstitutional use of an ex post facto law.
The following portion of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 authorizes the use of such a map as evidence:
In a prosecution under this section, a map produced or reproduced by any municipal or county engineer for the purpose of depicting the location and
boundaries of the area on or within 1,000 feet of any property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or a true copy of such a map, shall, upon proper authentication, be admissible and shall constitute prima facie evidence of the location and boundaries of those areas, provided that the governing body of the municipality or county has adopted a resolution or ordinance approving the map as [an?] ...