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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / Florida Drug-Free Zones Help Protect Children

Florida Drug-Free Zones Help Protect Children


The concept of the drug-free zone has been present in U.S. jurisprudence since the 1970s, with many of them centered on schools and places of worship. The intent of such a policy is obvious – to protect children from being exposed to drug-related activity in the places they might congregate. On its face, this is simple common sense; however, as the years have gone by, various problems have appeared as laws governing drug-free zones have evolved. If you have been charged with a drug offense that allegedly occurred in a drug-free zone, know that your sentence will be very serious if you are convicted.

Crimes In Drug-Free Zones Charged More Harshly

Florida is notoriously tough on those tried for drug-related offenses, imposing harsh penalties on those convicted – specifically, mandatory minimum sentences for many drug crimes, despite them being phased out slowly in other states. Because of the state’s history with illegal substances, the government of Florida sees drug offenses as particularly serious crimes against society, and law enforcement prosecutes them with regularity. Drug-free zones are seen as a tool to help in prosecuting those who use or sell illegal substances.

There are many different drug-free zones in Florida, including some that one might not realize, such as 24-hour convenience stores that sell food. If you are convicted of selling or trafficking drugs in a drug-free zone, or within 1,000 feet of a drug-free zone, you will receive a stiffer sentence than if you did so elsewhere. The rationale is that places designated as drug-free zones are often frequented by those the legislature wishes to shield from all forms of drug activity, so committing a drug offense there is a more serious crime.

More Serious Sentences

If you have been charged with trafficking or with possession with intent to sell or deliver drugs, this is a serious charge that carries a potential for years behind bars. If your crime was allegedly committed in a drug-free zone, many state’s attorneys will try to charge it one degree higher – for example, if your offense would normally be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, prosecutors may charge you with a third-degree felony if it occurred in (or near) a drug-free zone.

While drug-free zones do play a role in protecting vulnerable children from drug activity, it is worth noting that they are not universally popular across the board. Defendants often cite the zones’ ubiquity in arguing that they should not be charged with a drug crime – it is far too easy to ‘accidentally’ commit this offense, particularly in a city where a very small distance can be the difference between a calm evening and a visit from law enforcement. A knowledgeable attorney can help ensure your rights are protected if you have been charged with this kind of offense.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney

Being charged with any kind of drug offense can be a frightening and even shameful experience. If this has happened to you, know that you have the right to a defense in court, and that the right legal help can make an enormous difference. A West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can answer your questions and will do their best to manage your concerns. Contact our office today to speak to an attorney.



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