State and federal laws take drug offenses seriously. As the country continues to struggle with an opioid epidemic, states are trying to take steps to combat addiction and impose strict penalties on those who manufacture, transport, or distribute illegal substances. Texas has established so-called drug-free zones—areas in which law enforcement strictly prohibits the possession, use, or distribution of controlled substances. If you are facing drug charges involving a drug-free zone, here’s what you should know about what to expect in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
How Texas Law Defines a Drug-Free Zone
Under Section 481.134 of the Texas Controlled Substances Act, certain locations and institutions are identified as drug-free zones. Most of these areas tend to be places where children under the age of 18 congregate. Drug-free zones include public or private schools, daycare centers, private and public youth facilities, playgrounds, colleges, and universities. If law enforcement finds you in possession of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of these drug-free zones, you can face severe penalties. Additionally, you cannot possess or distribute drugs within 300 feet of a public swimming pool, video arcade facility, or school bus.
Consequences For Drug Offenses in Drug-Free Zones
Texas imposes stricter criminal penalties for drug offenses occurring within drug-free zones. Essentially, you can expect that a drug offense occurring within a drug-free zone will be elevated by one degree. For instance, possessing two grams of cocaine constitutes a third-degree felony in Texas—but if law enforcement arrests you for this same offense in a drug-free zone, you could face a second-degree felony charge. If convicted, you will face more time behind bars, more expensive fines, or both.
What To Do If Law Enforcement Arrests You in a Drug-Free Zone
First, try to remain as calm as possible. Arguing your innocence or resisting arrest may jeopardize your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome, so exercise your right to remain silent. As soon as you can, contact a knowledgeable Houston area criminal defense attorney to discuss your situation. Together, you and your attorney will determine the most strategic course of action aimed at securing you the best possible outcome given the specifics of the case.
If you or a loved one is facing drug charges in Pearland or Brazoria County, call Keith G. Allen, PLLC, right away at (832) 230-0075 to schedule a free consultation with a skilled criminal defense lawyer.