Drug Free Zone Laws in Georgia: Drug Crimes Committed Near Minors Equals More Time Behind Bars

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Drug Free Zone Laws in Georgia: Drug Crimes Committed Near Minors Equals More Time Behind Bars

Many states increase the penalties for drug-related activities conducted in the proximity of minors. And, you guessed it! Georgia is one of them. Whether a person is aware or not—possessing, selling and/or manufacturing drugs in a Drug Free Zone in Georgia can result in harsher penalties than committing the underlying crime outside of the perimeter of such zones. The underlying policy of Drug Free Zone laws is the government’s interest in protecting children from the dangers that subsequently arise from drug-related activities such as drug abuse/use and drug-related violence in and out of schools. Moreover, if you’ve been arrested for a drug violation in Georgia, location will matter.

Location Matters…

Under Georgia law, it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance or marijuana in, on, or within 1,000 feet of any real property owned by or leased to any public or private elementary school, secondary school, or school board used for elementary or secondary education. Any person who violates or conspires to violate this law shall be guilty of a felony. Upon a first conviction, the defendant will be subject to imprisonment for not more than 20 years or a fine of not more than $20,000.00, or both. Upon a second or subsequent conviction, a defendant may face imprisonment for not less than 5 years nor more than 40 years or a fine of not more than $40,000.00, or both. It shall be mandatory for the court to impose a minimum sentence of 5 years which may not be suspended unless otherwise provided by law. (O.C.G.A. §16-13-32.4 (a) and (b)).

How easy can the State prove its case? Very…

Also, under Georgia law, the State can prove its’ case by providing prima facie evidence of the location and boundaries of the area which a person is being accused of conducting drug-related activities within 1,000 feet of a Drug Free Zone—a school, park or recreation center. What is prima facie evidence you ask? Essentially, it means that the prosecuting attorney has enough evidence to prove the elements of a charge by proving some basic facts. In a case such as this, the law allows the prosecution to introduce into evidence a map produced or reproduced by any municipal or county agency or department for the purpose of depicting the location and boundaries of the area on or within 1,000 feet of the real property of a school board or a private or public elementary or secondary school that is used for school purposes.

However, there are some defenses…

A person in violation of a Drug Free Zone law may assert the affirmative defense that the prohibited conduct took place entirely within a private residence and that no person 17 years of age or younger was present in such private residence at any time during the commission of the offense. And, further, that the prohibited conduct was not carried on for purposes of financial gain. The following, however, are not defenses to a Drug Fee Zone violation: whether or not school is in session, whether or not the facility at the time of the defense was being used for educational purposes and whether or not the drug-related activity took place in a school vehicle.

Charged with a Drug Free Zone Law? Call Bixon Law…

If you have been charged with violating a Drug Free Zone law, call us. We want to hear your side of the story. The facts that you provide will allow us to advocate on your behalf to try and get the charges reduced or dismissed. At Bixon Law, we are experienced attorneys and we always go the extra mile for our clients. If you or a family member has been charged with any violation of the law, please call us at 404-551-5684 for a free consultation today.


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