Drug-Free Zones

“Drug-free zones” are areas designated by statute. The intent of designating an area as a “drug-free zone” is two-fold: First, it is to protect individuals, often children, expected to be in such zones.  Second, it is to provide greater punishment to individuals who engage in illegal conduct in these zones.

Drug-free zones include schools, day care centers, and institutes of higher education, such as colleges, medical schools, junior colleges, technical institutes, etc. Public swimming pools are also protected by this statute. A playground is also considered a drug-free zone if the playground is both open to the public and intended for recreation. To be covered under the drug-free zone statute, the playground must include three or more play stations intended for children, such as slides, teeterboards, swing sets, etc. Video arcades also qualify if they are both open to the general public, (including minors), intended for the use of common video arcade equipment such as pinball or video machines, and contain at least three video or pinball machines. Finally, youth centers, intended primarily for those 18 and under, which provide athletic, cultural, or civic activities on a regular basis are considered drug free zones.

Different types of drug cases have different “enhanced” consequences if committed in a drug-free zone. In some cases, the minimum prison term is increased by five years, and the fine can double if the offense is committed in a protected zone. In other cases, the offense can be enhanced from a state jail felony to a felony in the third degree. This increases the minimum jail term from 180 days to two years. Similar enhancements cover crimes otherwise considered misdemeanors under the law.

Contact Us

Accused of possession in a drug-free zone? Call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal lawyers are here to help. During this call we will:

  • Discuss the facts of your case;
  • Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
  • Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.

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Health and Safety Code Section 481.134

DRUG-FREE ZONE

(a)  In this section:

(1)  “Minor” means a person who is younger than 18 years of age.

(2)  “Institution of higher education” means any public or private technical institute, junior college, senior college or university, medical or dental unit, or other agency of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code.

(3)  “Playground” means any outdoor facility that is not on the premises of a school and that:

(A)  is intended for recreation;

(B)  is open to the public; and

(C)  contains three or more play stations intended for the recreation of children, such as slides, swing sets, and teeterboards.

(4)  “Premises” means real property and all buildings and appurtenances pertaining to the real property.

(5)  “School” means a private or public elementary or secondary school or a day-care center, as defined by Section 42.002, Human Resources Code.

(6)  “Video arcade facility” means any facility that:

(A)  is open to the public, including persons who are 17 years of age or younger;

(B)  is intended primarily for the use of pinball or video machines;  and

(C)  contains at least three pinball or video machines.

(7)  “Youth center” means any recreational facility or gymnasium that:

(A)  is intended primarily for use by persons who are 17 years of age or younger;  and

(B)  regularly provides athletic, civic, or cultural activities.

(b)  An offense otherwise punishable as a state jail felony under Section 481.112, 481.113, 481.114, or 481.120 is punishable as a felony of the third degree, and an offense otherwise punishable as a felony of the second degree under any of those sections is punishable as a felony of the first degree, if it is shown at the punishment phase of the trial of the offense that the offense was committed:

(1)  in, on, or within 1,000 feet of premises owned, rented, or leased by an institution of higher learning, the premises of a public or private youth center, or a playground;  or

(2)  in, on, or within 300 feet of the premises of a public swimming pool or video arcade facility.

(c)  The minimum term of confinement or imprisonment for an offense otherwise punishable under Section 481.112(c), (d), (e), or (f), 481.113(c), (d), or (e), 481.114(c), (d), or (e), 481.115(c)-(f), 481.116(c), (d), or (e), 481.1161(b)(4), (5), or (6), 481.117(c), (d), or (e), 481.118(c), (d), or (e), 481.120(b)(4), (5), or (6), or 481.121(b)(4), (5), or (6) is increased by five years and the maximum fine for the offense is doubled if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the offense was committed:

(1)  in, on, or within 1,000 feet of the premises of a school, the premises of a public or private youth center, or a playground; or

(2)  on a school bus.

(d)  An offense otherwise punishable under Section 481.112(b), 481.113(b), 481.114(b), 481.115(b), 481.116(b), 481.1161(b)(3), 481.120(b)(3), or 481.121(b)(3) is a felony of the third degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the offense was committed:

(1)  in, on, or within 1,000 feet of any real property that is owned, rented, or leased to a school or school board, the premises of a public or private youth center, or a playground; or

(2)  on a school bus.

(e)  An offense otherwise punishable under Section 481.117(b), 481.119(a), 481.120(b)(2), or 481.121(b)(2) is a state jail felony if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the offense was committed:

(1)  in, on, or within 1,000 feet of any real property that is owned, rented, or leased to a school or school board, the premises of a public or private youth center, or a playground; or

(2)  on a school bus.

(f)  An offense otherwise punishable under Section 481.118(b), 481.119(b), 481.120(b)(1), or 481.121(b)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the offense was committed:

(1)  in, on, or within 1,000 feet of any real property that is owned, rented, or leased to a school or school board, the premises of a public or private youth center, or a playground; or

(2)  on a school bus.

(g)  Subsection (f) does not apply to an offense if:

(1)  the offense was committed inside a private residence;  and

(2)  no minor was present in the private residence at the time the offense was committed.

(h)  Punishment that is increased for a conviction for an offense listed under this section may not run concurrently with punishment for a conviction under any other criminal statute.