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Drug-Free Zones Increase Criminal Penalties in California

Feb 24 2017, by Jessica McElfresh in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, Legal Blog

In California, drug crimes are taken very seriously. Since the war on drugs was declared in 1971 by Richard Nixon, relatively low-level crimes have been assigned punishments that are consistent with violent felonies. To make things worse, there are certain case elements that can dramatically increase a person’s sentence. If you have been accused of a drug crime, you may be worried about paying fines and spending a significant amount of time in prison.

Our San Diego drug lawyer at McElfresh Law understands how difficult these situations can be. We will work tirelessly to maintain your freedom. To see how you can avoid fines and time behind bars, contact our team at (858) 756-7107 today.

Drug Crimes in Drug-Free Zones

According to state and federal law, drug crimes are punished far more harshly when they are committed within 1,000 feet of drug-free zones (DFZs), otherwise known as drug-free school zones. However, DFZs include a number of facilities and property types, such as elementary schools, high schools, playgrounds, colleges, youth centers, swimming pools, and even arcades. When a drug crime is committed within a specified distance of any of these locations, the penalties are severe.

Federal law states that drug crimes committed near DFZs are subject to twice the maximum punishment allowed by law. They are also subject to twice the supervised release term, during which an offender is monitored after they are released from custody. Anyone who is found guilty of a drug-related crime in one of these zones is also required to pay up to twice the fine that would normally be assigned. To make things worse, those who are found guilty are subject to a one-year mandatory minimum.

Employing Children to Sell or Distribute Drugs in a Drug-Free Zone

Another crime that frequently occurs in DFZs is employing children to transport, distribute, and sell illegal substances since they are juveniles. Federal law states that anyone found guilty of employing, hiring, persuading, or coercing an individual under the age of 18 into selling drugs is subject to triple the normal fine and sentence. This law also applies to adults who use children to avoid detection or who attempt to blame children for drug crimes that they committed. As with any drug crime committed in a drug-free zone, there is a mandatory minimum. The law states that anyone who is found guilty of this offense must be imprisoned for no less than three years.

How McElfresh Law Can Help

DFZ crimes can be complicated because you may not have even known that you were in a relevant zone. You may be falsely accused or have been unaware that a controlled substance was in your vehicle. There are many defenses to DFZ crimes. McElfresh Law will help you build a strong defense no matter what happened.

Contact us today at (858) 756-7107 or online to find out how we can help.