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Drug-free zones and sentence enhancements in Texas

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2021 | Criminal Defense

“Drug-free zones” were written into the Texas legal code with the idea that they are necessary barriers to prevent drug dealers and drugs from getting to children.

When someone is caught selling, carrying or using drugs in a drug-free zone, they’re subject not only to all of the usual criminal charges but also enhancements that elevate the seriousness of their offenses — and the severity of their sentences.

Once limited to schools, drug-free zones are everywhere

It was probably a good idea when it started, but the notion of a drug-free zone as an effective deterrent to drug dealing and drug use has gotten convoluted to the point that it’s virtually meaningless.

Initially, the only drug-free zones were around elementary and middle schools. Now, they’ve been expanded to include areas near:

  • High schools
  • Universities and colleges
  • Playgrounds and parks
  • Arcades and gaming centers
  • Youth centers (public or private)
  • Daycare facilities
  • Youth sports arenas
  • Public swimming pools
  • School buses

Depending on the place in question, the drug-free zone can be as little as 300 feet or as much as 1000 feet. In essence, it can be harder to find a spot in an urban area that isn’t a drug-free zone.

Sentence enhancements in drug-free zones can be fierce

Whatever the drug charge you face, getting caught in a drug-free zone means that your charges will be “bumped up” to the next level. For example, if your charge would have been a third-degree felony, it would then become a second-degree felony. If you’re convicted, that can add years to a sentence and thousands to your fines.

If you’ve been arrested for a drug crime in a drug-free zone, you’re in trouble. Speak with a qualified defense attorney before you say another word to the police.