Are offenses that happen in drug-free zones more severe?

Some college students think nothing of using or selling drugs in the dorm. And people often walk past schools and playgrounds with drugs on their person. Yet, in Texas, these spaces – and certain other public places – are drug-free zones. If you receive charges for a drug offense that happened in any such location, your consequences will stiffen.

How charges enhance in drug-free zones

In Texas, any charges you receive for possessing, selling, manufacturing or delivering drugs within 1000 feet of a university, school, playground or youth center will enhance by one degree from their original level. Your charges will also enhance by this amount if your offense happened within 300 feet of a public swimming pool or video arcade. A drug offense that is normally a class A misdemeanor, for instance, becomes a state jail felony if it happened near these places.

The exception to Texas’ drug-free zone laws is if you receive possession charges at your private residence. So long as no children under age 18 were present when your offense happened, your charges will not enhance.

How enhanced charges impact penalties

Not only will your charges enhance for an offense that happened in a drug-free zone, your penalties could enhance as well. For one, you will be ineligible for early release based on good behavior. The nature of your conviction will prevent you from receiving good conduct time during your sentence’s first five years. If you receive a sentence shorter than this, you would likely have to serve it in full. Furthermore, if you receive additional charges on top of your drug offense, state courts will stack your sentences. This means you must serve them one after the other. Due to the drug-free zone enhancement, your sentences cannot run concurrently.

After receiving charges for an offense that happened in a drug-free zone, you must take every step possible to protect yourself from a lengthy sentence. A criminal defense attorney can help you fight for a more favorable outcome.