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Drug Crime in a School Zone Lawyers in San Diego

Talk to a San Diego Criminal Law Specialist After a Drug-Free Zone Violation

Drug crimes have always been taken seriously in California, no matter where they occur. However, when you are arrested for a drug crime in a school zone, you face much more severe penalties. Laws pertaining to drug crimes in a school zone are intended to keep drugs out of the hands of children. Some argue that the boundaries of these “zones” are far too great, and they are causing people to suffer harsher sentences based on an arbitrary distance.

Anyone charged with a drug offense needs to speak to a San Diego drug crime lawyer as soon as possible. There are defenses for these crimes, and our experienced attorneys can provide them for you. Call (760) 630-2000 to schedule a free consultation with jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys.

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What are Drug-Free Zones?

Both state and federal laws provide harsher penalties for those convicted of a drug crime that occurs within a drug-free zone (DFZ). These are also known as drug-free school zones. In California, DFZs are considered to be within 1,000 feet of a school’s grounds.

Under the law, a school may include elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, youth centers, swimming pools, and playgrounds. Any location that may cater to anyone under the age of 18 can essentially be considered a DFZ.

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How Sentence Enhancements Work

If you are convicted of any type of drug crime, such as possession or trafficking, you will be sentenced to high fines, and possibly time in jail. When a crime occurs just outside of a school zone, those sentences will be enhanced.

It is difficult to determine the severity of any sentence enhancements, as the penalties will depend on the crime that was initially committed. However, anyone found guilty of committing a drug crime in a DFZ may be required to pay up to twice the normal fee, and is subject to a minimum of one year in jail in addition to other penalties.

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Employing Children to Sell or Distribute Drugs in a DFZ

One of the most common drug crimes committed in a DFZ is employing, or hiring, children to sell or distribute drugs within the drug-free zone. This may happen if someone is trying to sell drugs on a college campus, and wants someone else to transport the drugs or be otherwise involved in the crime.

Under this law, asking anyone under the age of 18 to carry drugs in an attempt to conceal the drugs is also illegal. Anyone convicted of this crime will also have his or her sentence enhanced, including imprisonment for no less than three years. Those convicted will also be subject to three times the amount of the initial fine.

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Possible Defenses for Drug-Free Zone Violations

When you are charged by law enforcement with committing a drug crime in a drug-free zone, do not assume that you are automatically guilty and that you do not have any part of the law on your side. Sometimes, the evidence that the prosecution may use against you can be inaccurate.

For instance, the police may wrongly assume that your crime was committed within a school zone when mapping data may show that it wasn’t. A San Diego criminal defense attorney who knows the local drug crime laws that apply to your area can investigate the actual location of your incident and establish this as a key part of your defense.

Other defenses that might work in your favor can include:

  • Police wrongfully arrested you for someone else’s drug crime committed in a school zone.
  • Police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop you given the circumstances at the time.
  • Police did not have probable cause.
  • Police violated a constitutional right that you are entitled to during an arrest.
  • Police arrested you for a drug that is not actually illegal.

Additional objections to being accused of a drug crime within a San Diego school zone might include:

  • The suspected crime took place within a private residence without any children present.
  • School zone laws are broad, and they lead to prosecuting alleged crimes outside school hours not involving children.
  • A supposed violation may have actually taken place outside of a school zone.
  • Many school zones are located within packed urban areas, and they disproportionately affect minorities and low-income communities.

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Speak to a San Diego Drug Crime Defense Attorney Who Can Help

While being charged with a DFZ crime may seem hopeless, it is not. If you have been charged with this crime, contact jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, today at (760) 630-2000. We will review your case, investigate the evidence to ensure your rights were upheld, and work harder and smarter to give you the best outcome possible. Attorney James N. Dicks is not only a board-certified criminal defense specialist, he’s also a former narcotics investigator with the LAPD.

When you have been charged with a drug crime in North County, particularly one that involves enhanced sentencing such as a DFZ crime, let Attorney Dicks argue your case. It is your best chance of having the case dismissed, or the charges dropped even before going to trial.

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