While the penalties for these crimes are already harsh, they can be sharply elevated if the crime takes place in a drug-free zone. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug crime within one of these restricted areas, such as a school, you are likely worried about the enhanced penalties a conviction could bring. At Hessler Law Firm, we understand the distress a drug charge can cause. As a school zone drug possession attorney, Sean Hessler has years of experience in getting drug charges reduced and dismissed for good people.
Call (317) 886-8800 today to see how we can fight for your rights and protect your freedom.
Understanding Drug-Free Zones
The main purpose of drug-free zones, commonly referred to as school zones are to protect children from drug exposure and the violence usually associated with these crimes. If a drug-related offense takes place within one of these zones, the penalties upon conviction are enhanced dramatically. The hope is that harsher consequences will cause drug users and drug dealers in Indiana to avoid these areas altogether.
In Indiana, drug-free zones are considered any area within 1,000 feet of the following locations:
- Certain parks
- Public housing developments
- Youth programs
- School bus stops
- Drug treatment centers
Strangely, Indiana does not classify colleges and universities as drug-free zones when prosecuting marijuana crimes. It was determined in the late 80s that ramping up penalties for college students who use marijuana on campus would lead to a broader interpretation of drug-free zones than was originally intended.
Crimes That Occur in Drug-Free Zones
Possession and use of marijuana both carry unfair penalties, but neither crime is actually affected by drug-free zones. Marijuana possession will usually result in being charged with a class A misdemeanor or a class D felony depending on whether less than 30 grams or more than 30 grams was possessed, respectively. The crime of selling or dealing marijuana, however, does receive harsher penalties if it occurs within a drug-free zone. Selling between 30 grams and 10 pounds of marijuana will elevate the crime from a misdemeanor to a class D felony, which can carry prison time.
Dealing controlled substances, such as heroin and cocaine, and possession with intent to sell are subject to the enhancement of drug-free zones. Either of these crimes occurring within a school zone will result in the accused being charged with a class A felony. This offense type is the most severe. If convicted, the penalty for this elevated charge is up to 50 years in state prison.
Contact Hessler Law Firm Today
There are a number of defenses that a skilled Indianapolis drug attorney can use to get your charges wiped out or reduced in the court of law. It could be the case, for example, that you had no idea you were committing a crime within a drug-free zone. Proving this can lead to your charges being lessened from a felony to a misdemeanor. You may have also have had your civil rights violated. If you were not read your Miranda rights, for instance, your case can be thrown out on the grounds that your arrest was illegitimate.
Since the penalties for crimes in drug-free zones are so life-altering, it is essential to seek skilled representation. Call Hessler Law Firm today at (317) 886-8800. Our Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys are well-versed in fighting drug charges. We know that there are two sides to every story and we are dedicated to telling yours. Our team will work tirelessly to protect your rights and help your case reach a desirable outcome.