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Texas drug laws and 'drug-free zones'

Texas takes drug crimes extremely seriously -- even more so, however, when a defendant is caught with drugs inside a "drug-free zone." While it may seem unfair, getting charged with a drug crime inside of one of these zones can lead to much more serious consequences than if you were charged while standing just a few feet down the road.

What's a drug-free zone?

Drug-free zones were borne out of early efforts in the so-called "War on Drugs." Essentially, they are tough laws designed to enhance the penalties for drug trafficking near children. In numerous states throughout the nation, the laws create protected areas around places that children are likely to frequent -- such as schools and parks. Anyone caught with drugs inside those protected areas faces enhanced charges -- and higher penalties -- than they would face for the exact same crime somewhere else in the state.

The laws vary greatly from state to state. In Texas, anywhere within 1,000 feet of a school (including a university or college), a youth center, a video arcade or a playground is considered a drug-free zone. So is anywhere within 300 feet of a public swimming pool. The only exception to these rules is if the drug offense occurred inside a private residence where no child under the 18 years of age was present.

A drug-free zone affects the potential punishment someone faces. If convicted of a drug offense within a drug-free zone enhancement, you face an additional five years on top of whatever sentence you would ordinarily face -- which also affects how much time you have to serve before parole is possible.

If you've been charged with a drug crime, fighting any drug-free zone enhancement must be a top priority for your defense team. Make sure that you understand everything about the charges you face before you consider a plea deal -- because it may be in your best interests to fight the charges instead.

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San Marcos, TX 78666

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