Monday, February 1, 2010

Texas Drug Free Zones

Possession of controlled substances (including marijuana) within "drug-free" zones in Brazos County (and all areas of Texas, for that matter) result in more sever penalties and punishments. Depending upon the alleged offense, the range of potential punishment can rise to the next higher level, or minimum possible punishments can be increased. Even more problematic is the provision that punishments increased under the drug-free zone provision MUST run consecutively to other sentences imposed for other crimes. In other words, sentences under this scenario are stacked one upon another.

For instance, a person gets into a knife fight within 1000 feet of premises of a school, public youth center, playground, or on a school bus. Further, the person has several grams of a controlled substance in their possession and it's found upon their arrest within the zone. If convicted of aggravated assault and convicted of possessing the controlled substance in a drug-free zone, the punishment for the drug-free zone offense must be stacked on top of the punishment for the aggravated assault. Very onerous, indeed.

Assuming facts exist to convict, the accused is in a very tight spot. The criminal defense lawyer would be successful if able to persuade the prosecutor to waive the drug-free zone allegation, thereby removing the automatic stacking provision. In any case, the prosecutor's in the driver's seat and defense lawyers must work hard to help client's make the best of a poor situation.

4 comments:

Jonathan said...

Was this what this rule was intended to do?

Stephen Gustitis said...

Jonathan: I the policy behind the drug free zones was to better protect young people from the influences of the drug trade. I reality, it simply gives prosecutors more leverage against defendants.

Jacqueline Coronado said...

What if the possession wasn't found on the them.. But in their car.. Could you fight that?

Jacqueline Coronado said...

What if the possession wasn't even on them.. It was in two someone else's car.. And they took the charge... Could it be fought?