It is even more important that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are hit with a drug-free zone enhancement. Such an enhancement can truly have catastrophic effects. For example, if you plea to a drug-free zone enhancement, a sentence to time requires the person to serve out his sentence day for a day or 5 years day for day, whichever is less. See Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 508.145(e) (West 2018). This enhancement thus affects parole drastically. You always want to get this enhancement waived, even if you plea to probation (“community supervision”). The reason being, what if your probation gets revoked? You will have to do time day for day if you are a sentence to a term of years.
The good news is that a good defense attorney, at a minimum, can typically get the State to waive the enhancement.
The drug-free zone enhancement applies, typically, to possession or distribution of drugs at or within 1,000 feet of a school or playground. See Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 481.134 (West 2018). The enhancement can also apply to drug possession or distribution at or within a certain amount of feet to a public swimming pool, video arcade facility, youth center, or a school bus. See Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 481.134 (West 2018). The enhancement covers all of the drug penalty groups and thus includes marijuana, marijuana concentrate, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, dangerous drugs, mushrooms, and MDMA.
The bottom line
Possession or distribution of drugs in a drug-free zone increases the offense level by one degree. See Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 481.134 (West 2018). Thus, a Class B Misdemeanor becomes a Class A Misdemeanor, a Class A Misdemeanor becomes a state-jail felony, a state-jail felony becomes a third-degree felony, etc. See Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 481.134 (West 2018). If the amount of drug possessed or distributed, with the drug-free zone enhancement, is a third-degree felony or second-degree felony, the minimum amount of punishment starts out at 7 years, while if it is a first-degree felony, the minimum amount of punishment starts out at 10 years. See Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 481.134 (West 2018).
If this enhancement applies to you or a loved one, it is important to contact the experienced attorneys at Case J. Darwin for more information or to schedule a consultation.