What Is A Drug Free Zone? How Does That Affect My Case?
A drug free zone is an enhancement provision that can be added on to any type of drug offense. What counts as a drug free zone is actually quite a long list but it encompasses a lot of the same type of areas and we think about it in the same way. Any place that is a school or even an institution of higher education like a college is counted as a drug free zone. Any playground or similar such area, a daycare, video game arcades, public pools all are counted as drug free zones. If you are found to possessing a controlled substance or marijuana in a drug free zone, it enhances the severity of the offense. First off, for the lowest grade offense, possession of marijuana, it bumps it up from a Class B misdemeanor, if you have less than 2 ounces up to a Class A misdemeanor and it bumps up a Class A up to a state jail felony. So possession of 2 to 4 ounces of marijuana which is normally a Class A misdemeanor would become a state jail felony.
State jail becomes 3rd degree and so on up the chain. It becomes more serious as it goes but as far as the actual punishment and how a drug free zone finding ends up working is that the first five years of any punishment laid down under a drug free zone offense, if the prosecutors did not waive the drug free zone provision, would be required to be served without parole. You are ineligible for parole for the first five years of any drug offense and subsequently then, you can be eligible for parole at that time. However, in addition to that, it also makes you ineligible to have any other sentences that you receive to run concurrent with that one. What that means is that they have to be stacked on top of it and then credit for one offense only goes towards that one until that sentence is completed and then additional time has to be sat out on the other charge.
Generally speaking, those are the ways in which a drug free zone offense can be used against a defendant and it is a powerful tool the prosecutors could use in order to try to coerce a plea from an otherwise unwilling defendant because of the ramifications to the actual amount of time that would be served prior to release.
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