How Can Drug Charges Get Worse in Certain Situations?
Texas drug lawyer Stephen Hamilton discusses how drug charges can be enhanced in certain situations.
When certain situations exist, an otherwise straightforward charge may be viewed far more seriously.
Being caught with drugs in a drug-free zone is one example. Drug-free zones are basically areas where children tend to cluster, such as a daycare or youth center, a school, or on a school bus, all being locations drug charges are greatly enhanced. The fact that you might have been unaware that you were in a drug-free zone is not a valid defense.
What otherwise would be a misdemeanor becomes a state jail felony. A state jail felony offense would become a third degree felony, a third degree felony become a second degree felony, and so on.
Drug-free zones include:
-Any location within 1000 feet of a public or private elementary or secondary school.
-Any location within 1000 feet of a public or private youth center, as defined above.
-Inside a school bus.
When a child is involved in a drug-related crime, that also bumps up the severity of the charge, and the penalties increase. For example, if you deliver drugs to a minor, it’s automatically considered to be a second degree felony.
The law also frowns upon using a child to commit a drug crime, such as if you asked a minor to sell or deliver drugs to someone. Or if you coerced or threatened them in order to get them to do it. If this is the case, you’re automatically facing a first degree felony, no matter how minor the crime otherwise might be judged.
If somebody was seriously injured or killed as a result of taking a controlled substance that you delivered, the charge against you automatically rises to a first degree felony.