School Zone Enhancement: Consequences of Conviction. A Washington Criminal Defense Lawyer | Attorney’s Prospective.
Certain felony drug offenses are subject to additional prison time when the offense takes place in a protected zone. One of these zones is a school zone. This additional time, which is automatically added to the underlying sentence, is called an “enhancement” in the criminal system. Unfortunately, as with most laws, it does not discriminate between the user who is caught dealing to help their habit and a professional dealer, so it falls on your criminal defense attorney to | lawyer to vigorously argue the law and equity of each case to the prosecuting attorneys office and the judge.
The State of Washington has designated certain “zones” as areas worth increasing punishment over. School zones and the associated areas that minors go to or hang out at have been targeted for enhancements to keep professional dealers out. This “dealer” focus is incorporated in the language behind this “enhancement”: “manufacturing, selling, delivering, or possessing with the intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance”. This “enhancement” does not apply to simple possession for personal use unless the facts surrounding the case indicate an intent to sell. This enhancement also does not apply to the dried leaves and flowers of marijuana. By this law, RCW 69.50.435, these zones include:
- Schools (including high schools, colleges, public or private) or school buses;
- 1,000 feet of a school bus route or a school ground perimeter;
- Public parks;
- Public transit vehicles or public transit stops;
- Civic centers designated as a drug-free zone by the governing authority or 1,000 feet of the perimeter of the facility, if the local governing authority specifically designates the 1,000 foot perimeter;
- In a public housing project designated by a local governing authority as a drug-free zone.
In general, the enhancement duration on felony convictions is 24 months added to the underlying presumptive sentence and the maximum imprisonment and fine are doubled (RCW 69.50.406 offenses are excluded).
If you or a child or loved one is caught with drugs in a public or private school, public or private college, public park or within a 1000 feet of these locations, it becomes imperative that they take steps to speak with our experienced criminal defense lawyers | attorneys. Aside from taking the necessary steps to investigate the crime and challenge the factual determinations that support it, we find it essential to quickly develop and present any equitable arguments (scholarships, grades, sports, community involvement, addiction and treatment) before a prosecuting attorney makes a decision and becomes attached to it. Not all cases are the same and exceptional results require exceptional efforts.
The criminal defense lawyers | attorneys in our office have handled a wide variety of complicated cases in the criminal arena over the course of our lengthy criminal law careers. We are a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, skills and temperament. Our lawyers know criminal cases are rarely as simple as the police reports claim and our clients hire us because they want staunch, uncompromising and effective counsel who takes the time to fight vigorously for the right result. Whether our role is as counsel, negotiator or litigator, we have years of experience working and fighting with prosecutors to resolve cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.