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Explaining Florida Drug Free Zones
Drug free zones were created in Florida with the intention of curbing illegal activity in potentially important locations, such as schools, government buildings, assisted living facilities, and places of worship (among others). If someone is caught selling or otherwise distributing illegal drugs, they will face a more serious punishment (if convicted) than they would have if their offense was committed elsewhere.
Certain Crimes At Certain Times
There are two types of drug-free zones in Florida. There are some where enhanced penalties for drug offenses will always apply, and some where the enhanced penalty will only apply if the offense was committed during certain hours – for example, school zones are only considered drug-free zones between the hours of 6am and 12am. It is important to keep in mind that in the overwhelming majority of cases, a person will be subject to the increased penalties for drug-free zones even if they were unaware of the area’s status.
In many cases, depending on the controlled substance involved, the sentence for those convicted of drug offenses will be raised one level if the crime occurred in a drug-free zone. For example, if a person is caught selling drugs on a random street corner, they might be charged with a third-degree felony if the amount is minor. If the sale occurred on the grounds of a school or church, though, the charge would be bumped up to second-degree.
Know Your Rights
If you have been charged with selling, delivering, manufacturing, or delivering an illegal drug while in a drug-free zone, you will almost certainly face a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 3 years if you are convicted. However, the reality on the ground often means that people with no intent to sell may also be charged – it is not uncommon for prosecutors to charge people who do not show any intent to sell if they are in possession of disproportionate amounts.
It is crucial that you enlist a knowledgeable attorney to help defend against these charges – a conviction will not only result in a jail sentence, but may also remain on a person’s criminal record after the fact, which can in turn affect long-term job and housing prospects. You have the right to your day in court.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney
Florida’s drug-free zones are here to stay for the foreseeable future, and if you have been charged with a drug offense that took place in one of them, it is crucial that you enlist experienced legal representation to help you through the legal process. A West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. will help to protect your rights. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.