In Texas, the possession of marijuana in an amount totaling less than two ounces will usually be charged as a Class B misdemeanor, while possession of between two and four ounces will typically be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor. These are referred to as simple possession offenses and although they should be taken seriously, are preferable to a state felony, which applies in cases involving more than four ounces of the substance.
Simple possession charges can, however, be enhanced in certain cases, including when the accused is arrested while in possession of drugs in a drug free zone (DFZ). In addition to enhancing charges by at least one degree, these circumstances can also affect a defendant’s eligibility for parole. Raising a strong defense to these kinds of allegations is critical to the outcome of a case, so if you were recently arrested for drug possession in a drug free zone, you should reach out to an experienced Houston drug charges lawyer for help.
What Qualifies as a Drug Free Zone?
Many people are not aware that lawmakers have designated certain areas as drug free zones, but even those who do know about these designations are often unaware of what actually qualifies as a drug free zone, or DFZ. For instance, many are under the impression that only places like elementary schools and parks are DFZs. The reality, however, is that the definition of a DFZ is much broader and includes any location that is at least 1,000 feet from:
- A school;
- A park;
- A playground;
- A daycare; or
- Any other facility where children tend to congregate.
Those who are found in possession of even small amounts of drugs while in a DFZ can expect to face much more severe charges.
Enhancing the Charge
A DFZ allegation is detrimental to a case in a couple of different ways, the first of which is that these kinds of accusations enhance the punishment range of an offense by at least one degree. What would normally be charged as a Class B misdemeanor, for instance, would automatically be upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor, which comes with much harsher penalties. Similarly, a Class A misdemeanor charge would be increased to a state jail felony.
A DFZ allegation can also have significant repercussions on a person’s eligibility for parole. For example, someone who has served twenty percent of his or her sentence, and who would typically be eligible for parole, won’t be eligible until he or she has served at least five years if the conviction involved a DFZ.
Set Up an Initial Consultation Today
Even being charged with a minor drug crime, like simple possession of marijuana can have significant repercussions on a person’s life, especially if that person is also accused of possession in a DFZ. To learn more about defending yourself against this kind of allegation, please call The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates and speak with one of our experienced Houston drug charges lawyers. Feel free to call our office at (281) 280-0100 or to contact us via online message.