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Drug-free zone laws present fairness issues

The establishment of so-called drug-free zone laws dates back to 1970. The aim of these laws was to protect children from the dangers of drug crimes. This was done by assigning increased penalties for drug offenses committed at or near such areas as public parks and schools.

While taking measures designed to help shield children and young people from exposure to narcotics is certainly noble in principle, the reality of the stringent drug-free zone laws has a less than fair reality. According to literature produced by The Sentencing Project, the creation of drug-free zone laws has produced some rather unfortunate consequences.

To begin with, these laws are often so broadly drafted that the enhanced penalties may be applied in cases where the alleged offenses occurred miles away from any drug-free zones. Another problem is that some states have structured their drug laws in such a manner that a suspect could be subject to two separate sets of penalties for only one offense.

Perhaps the most egregious problem with drug-free zone laws is that they are disproportionately unfair to the economically disadvantaged. This is because the zones are often located in urban areas with high-density populations. This means arrests for drug offenses in these areas are more likely to receive the enhanced penalties than similar arrests made in less populated areas.

If you have been arrested for a drug offense that allegedly took place in a drug-free zone, a conviction could mean a lengthy prison sentence. Therefore,  it is likely a good idea to contact an attorney who has experience helping defendants effectively respond to such serious charges. The attorney can assess your case and help you decide which course of action may give you the most acceptable outcome.

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