Drug Free Zones in Texas are designated areas in which drug crimes are more severely penalized. What happens if you’re charged with possession of marijuana in a drug free zone in Houston?
What Are The Penalties For Marijuana Possession?
Despite the decriminalization of marijuana in some parts of the United States, possession of this drug is still severely prosecuted in Texas. The typical penalties for marijuana possession are based on the amount found on the individual:
- Less than 2 ounces is considered a Class B Misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 180 days in jail and fines up to $2,000.
- 2 to 4 ounces is a Class A Misdemeanor with penalties up to a year in prison and finds up to $4,000.
- 4 ounces to 5 pounds is a state jail felony, with penalties of 180 days to 2 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
- 5 to 50 pounds is a 3rd degree felony carrying penalties of 2 to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- 50 to 2,000 pounds is a 2nd degree felony with penalties of 2 to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- More than 2,000 pounds is considered a 1st degree felony and carries 5 to 99 years or life in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
While these are the usual penalties, they can be enhanced if the arrest for possession occurred in a Drug Free Zone.
What Are Drug Free Zones?
The Texas Health and Safety Code Section 481.134 defines Drug Free Zones as:
- Any location within 1,000 feet of schools, day cares, youth centers and playgrounds.
- Any location within 500 feet of public swimming pools, video arcades and school buses.
If a person is convicted of marijuana possession in a Drug Free Zone, it has two effects on the severity of the penalty:
- The punishment range is increased by one degree. For example, if you are found guilty of possession of 5 ounces of marijuana in a Drug Free Zone, instead of a state jail felony, it would be treated as a 3rd degree felony.
- The individual’s eligibility for parole is affected. In general, a defendant convicted of drug possession would be eligible for parole after serving 20% of their sentence. If the offense occurred in a Drug Free Zone, however, the defendant is not eligible for parole until they have served a minimum of 5 years of their sentence. If their sentence is for less than 5 years, then they will serve the full sentence without possibility of parole.
Get Help If You’ve Been Charged With Possession Of Marijuana In A Drug Free Zone in Houston
Lisa Shapiro Strauss is a Houston marijuana possession attorney with more than 15 years of experience in defending her clients’ rights. If you’ve been charged with possession of marijuana in a Drug Free Zone in Houston, call her today at 713-449-9922 to schedule a consultation.