Violations in Drug-Free Zones

Lawyers Protecting Your Rights in St. Petersburg

Florida lawmakers created drug-free zones with the intent to reduce illegal drug activities and drug-related crime near schools, parks, and other areas of the community. Drug crimes committed in these areas may result in harsher penalties if convicted. Although drug-free zone laws have been criticized as unnecessarily punitive, discriminatory, and not accomplishing their intended purpose, they are currently in effect throughout Florida. If you have been arrested for violations in drug-free zones, a St. Petersburg drug crime attorney can represent you. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., we have the skill to defend people against charges for dealing opioids, prescription drugs, and other crimes in drug-free zones.

Florida Violations in Drug-Free Zones

In Florida, a person generally faces more serious consequences for committing a drug crime in a drug-free zone. Drug-free zone laws only apply to charges for unlawfully selling, manufacturing, or delivering a controlled substance, or possession with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver a controlled substance. It is important to note that even if the person did not know they were in a drug-free zone at the time of the alleged offense, sentencing enhancements may apply. Drug-free zones include schools and day care centers, parks, colleges, public housing facilities, places of worship and many other places described below.

Primary Schools and Child Care Facilities

Drug-free zones encompass areas in and within 1,000 feet of private or public secondary, middle, and elementary schools and child care facilities. School zone drug violations only apply between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight. A defendant is not subject to enhanced penalties under Florida drug-free zone laws for an alleged drug crime committed outside of that period, even if it occurred within a school zone.

Depending on the schedule of controlled substance, the offense may be enhanced by one degree when it occurs in a drug-free zone. A first degree felony committed in a school zone is punishable by a mandatory minimum of three years in prison. The mandatory minimum does not apply to felony drug offenses in or within 1,000 feet of child care facilities.

Parks and Community Centers

State, county, and municipal parks, publicly owned recreational facilities, community centers, and the property within 1,000 feet of such areas are drug-free zones. A community center is broadly defined under the law, and includes any facility operated by a nonprofit, community-based organization that provides social, educational, or recreational services to the public. The mandatory minimum three-year sentence of incarceration applies to first degree felonies committed within these zones. A drug offense may also be enhanced by one degree when committed in a drug-free zone.

University Campuses

The campuses of public and private colleges, universities, and other postsecondary educational institutions, as well as the surrounding 1,000 foot area, are drug-free zones in Florida. The offense may be classified one degree higher depending on the schedule of controlled substance. However, drug crimes committed at or near a college are not subject to the mandatory minimum sentence for primary school and park zones.

Other Drug-Free Zones in Florida

Many people do not realize that certain businesses and other places are drug-free zones in Florida. These include assisted living facilities, churches and places of worship, public housing facilities, and most 24-hour convenience stores and gas stations that sell groceries. Drug offenses committed at any time on or within 1,000 feet of these properties may be charged one degree higher.

Contact an Attorney in St. Petersburg

Arrests in drug-free zones can be serious, but you can defend against the charges with the help of a lawyer. At Blake & Dorsten, P.A., our St. Petersburg attorneys handle violations in drug-free zones, marijuana charges, and other felony offenses. We can represent people who have been arrested in Clearwater, Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, and other areas of Pinellas County. Arrange a free consultation with us by calling 727-286-6141 or contacting us online.

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