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Drug Crimes in School Zones
Just as citizens need to know their legal rights during a police stop, it is important to know that the location of an alleged criminal offense can increase the penalties for the crime substantially. One example of this is a drug crime that is committed in a school zone. This is because a so-called "drug-free school zone" is, in effect, an enhanced drug crime penalty zone. If you have been charged with a drug crime in a school zone, you should talk to a lawyer about your case as soon as possible. San Bernardino and Riverside County drug crime lawyer Gregory H. Comings helps people who have been charged with drug crimes, sex offenses, and other crimes.
There are provisions in California state law and in federal law that have the potential to punish people who commit a drug crime like drug possession or trafficking much more harshly if the crime takes place in an area that has been identified as a drug-free school zone. These laws were well-intentioned - to keep drugs away from schoolchildren - but many would argue that instead they have created unreasonable punishments based on arbitrary lines that are no longer defined simply as the perimeter of the local high school, junior high, or elementary school. Instead, colleges, playgrounds, and even public housing projects may be classified as a drug-free zone (DFZ) under some statutes.
Generally, when a person is convicted of a crime like drug possession or trafficking, he or she may be sentenced to a period of incarceration, assessed with a fine, and suffer other negative consequences, such as the forfeiture of driving privileges. When there is a potential sentence enhancement, people who are subject to the enhancement may be sentenced to additional jail time, heftier fines, and other punishments. For example, an enhancement for a drug crime in a school zone could potentially double the number of years that the defendant will spend in prison.
Because of the harshness of the enhancements of DFZ-related drug cases, it is critically important that anyone who is accused of a drug crime in a school zone speak to an attorney as soon as possible. There may be a defense that could help the defendant defeat the charges against him or her - or at least convince the court that the facts do not support a finding that the enhancement factor should be used. Such defenses include entrapment by police, a violation of the defendant's constitutional rights (such as the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, or the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures), or even a factual defense. For example, the "drug" that the defendant is accused of selling, trafficking, or possessing might actually be a legal substance that police mistook for a controlled substance.
If you have been charged with a drug crime in a school zone or another DFZ, you may be facing many years of incarceration, along with other serious penalties. You need an attorney who will approach your case with professionalism and experience, and you also need someone who will be candid with you about the likely outcome of your case. At The Law Office of Gregory H.Comings, we work hard to reach a satisfactory result for each and every client charged with an offense related to meth, cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, or other controlled substances. At the same time, we respond honestly to the very important question of "What's going to happen to me if I am convicted?" If you need a confidential appointment to discuss your Riverside or San Bernardino drug crime case, call us now at (951) 686-3457 or contact us online. We also represent people who have been accused of sex offenses, felony DUI, or domestic violence.