Possession in a Drug Free Zone
You’re probably already aware or at least have an idea of the statutory penalties surrounding drug possession. What you might not know if that your penalties may be enhanced if you possess a controlled substance in a certain public space. These areas are known as drug-free zone under Section 481.134 of the Texas Health and Safety Code.
Possessing a controlled substance such as cocaine or heroin in a drug free zone could lead to serious consequences. Depending on what’s in your possession, you could be facing upwards to a felony offense simply because you were near a school, playground, or other drug-free zone. That is why it’s imperative you secure legal counsel if you’ve been arrested for possessing a controlled substance in a drug free zone.
Houston Drug Possession Attorney | Texas Drug Free Zone Laws
Any drug offense should be handled with care and taken seriously. However, you should be especially careful when it comes to drug possession cases if the offense took place in a drug-free zone because you’ll likely face an enhanced jail or prison sentence. To fight for reduced or dismissed charges, your case will require the help of an experienced defense attorney.
Call Horak Law to speak with attorney Matthew Horak about your legal options. With years of experience as both a prosecutor and defense lawyer, Matthew Horak understands the ins and outs of Texas’s drug laws. He can provide an detailed case analysis for you and get started on building a defense strong enough to stand up to the prosecution’s arguments.
Set up your first consultation today with Horak Law by calling our office at (713) 225-8000. Horak Law is located in Houston and The Woodlands but we accept clients in Montgomery County, Liberty County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Harris County.
Where is a Drug Free Zone?
Texas legislators have implemented penalty enhancements for drug possession cases near certain public areas. Most of these areas are where children visit often or daily, and the purpose of the statute is to deter offenders from possessing/using/selling drugs in these places. Lawmakers also passed the legislation hoping it would cause a decline in drug use as less children would be exposed to drug use thanks to these laws.
Under the Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.134, a “drug free zone” is defined as any of the following:
- Within 1,000 feet of:
- Elementary school
- Middle school
- High school
- Institution of higher learning
- Public or private youth center
- Any school or school board property
- Within 300 feet of:
- Public swimming school
- Video game facility
- On a school bus
Drug Free Zone Texas
The crime of possession may be subject to a penalty enhancement if there’s evidence you committed the crime in a drug free zone. Anyone caught possessing, delivering, or manufacturing a controlled substance in violation of drug-free zone laws will have their penalty enhanced by one degree. Although this may not sound like much on paper, it can actually be what changes a relatively minor misdemeanor to a serious felony charge.
For instance, if you possessed under one gram of cocaine, you would normally be charged with a state jail felony. This is punishable by two years in prison. However, if the court has reasonable evidence you committed the crime in a drug-free zone, then the charge may be subject to a penalty enhancement and be reclassified as a third-degree felony. The reclassification would change your maximum prison sentence from two years to ten years.
Statute of Limitations for Drug Possession
Most criminal violations under the Penal Code carry some type of statute of limitations. It serves as a restriction for the prosecution and gives them a time limit for when they can file criminal charges against you. These deadlines exist to ensure cases are handled in a timely matter with efficiency, to preserve the integrity of the evidence including eye-witness testimony, which is infamously known for fading as time goes on.
The statute of limitations for a drug possession case will depend on what you’re charged with. If you’re facing a misdemeanor, then the statute of limitations is two years. However, if you’re charged with a felony offense, your statute of limitations is three years. It’s important to understand that if you supply drugs to a minor then the crime may not have a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations can be tolled or suspended if you’re not in the state, in custody for another criminal proceeding, or unable to stand trial.
Drug Free Zones | TCDAA – Visit the official website for the Texas District & County Attorney’s Association for insight into how the prosecution views drug-free zones and why they consider them a “tool” for a “meaningful prison term” for offenders. Access an article by Richard Martindale, an Assistant District Attorney in Potter County, and read the article to learn more about the definitions for the drug-free zone statue, the charging process, and how they obtain their evidence for their case.
Texas Laws for Drug Free Zones – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code to learn more about the legislation surrounding drug free zones. Access the site to find more information about what a drug free zone is, how close a person may be to be subject to the penalty enhancement, and how a violation will affect your sentencing.
Harris County Lawyer for Possession in a Drug Free Zone | Houston, TX
If you or someone you know has been arrested for possessing, selling, or manufacturing a controlled substance in a drug free zone, call Horak Law. Matthew Horak is an experienced attorney who has a detailed and aggressive approach in the court room. He will ensure no stone is unturned when planning your defense and fiercely execute it on your behalf. Matthew Horak understands how serious these charges can be and wants to everything he can to assist you. Call him today to schedule your initial case analysis free.
Set up your first consultation by calling our office at (713) 225-8000.