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The "Drug-Free Zone" Enhancement Explained

 Posted on July 02, 2024 in Uncategorized

Houston, TX Criminal LawyerIf a drug crime involved certain circumstances that make the offense more serious, a sentencing enhancement might apply. A sentencing enhancement means that you will serve a longer or harsher sentence. One common sentencing enhancement in drug crimes involves drug-free zones. If a drug crime was committed in a place the law considers a designated drug-free zone, you could face additional jail time. Drug-free zones are usually places where children would congregate. This sentencing enhancement is meant to discourage drug users and dealers from bringing drugs into places where children are likely to be present. If you have been accused of committing a drug-related offense in a drug-free zone, you need an experienced Houston, TX drug crimes lawyer to defend you. 

What Are Drug-Free Zones? 

Texas law designates certain types of places as drug-free zones. The creation of drug-free zones was meant to protect children from witnessing drug crime or being influenced to try drugs by unscrupulous dealers. You may recall from an anti-drug presentation you saw in school as a youth the stereotypical image of a drug dealer lurking on a playground offering children free drugs in an effort to get them addicted. This is the type of situation lawmakers were likely contemplating when they created drug-free zones. However, you would be hard-pressed to find an example of a drug dealer behaving this way in real life. 

Drug-free zones include: 

  • All schools, including college campuses and other institutes of higher learning; 

  • Playgrounds;

  • Public swimming pools;

  • Youth centers;

  • Arcades;

  • School buses;

  • Daycare facilities;

  • Athletic facilities where youth sports are played, such as baseball fields used by Little League teams. 

The drug-free zone extends to a 300-foot radius around pools and arcades, or a 1,000-foot radius around the other places listed. So, you do not need to be on a playground to face the drug-free zone sentencing enhancement–being near a playground is enough. 

Defenses to the Drug-Free Zone Enhancement

Your lawyer may be able to defeat the drug-free zone enhancement if all of the following apply: 

  • The crime happened inside a private residence; 

  • There were no children present when the crime took place;

  • You did not earn any profit from the crime. 

So, for example, the sentencing enhancement would not apply if you were smoking marijuana inside your adult friend’s house and he simply happened to live within 1,000 feet of a daycare facility. 

Contact a Houston, TX Drug Crime Lawyer 

Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. can help if you are facing a sentencing enhancement for committing a drug crime in or near a drug-free zone. Highly reputable Harris County, TX drug crime attorney Doug Murphy has been recognized as Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in America in addition to receiving numerous other prestigious awards. Contact us at 713-229-8333 for a complimentary consultation.

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