When a person is accused of using, possessing, selling or trafficking illegal drugs, the person can face criminal charges. A conviction on drug charges can change a person’s life. The penalties for drug charges in Louisiana are harsh. They can include large fines, long prison sentences, probation and more. They can affect a person’s ability to get a job, find stable housing or vote.
Police in Louisiana aggressively prosecute drug crimes. Because of the dangers and risks associated with drug use, these crimes are not ignored or overlooked by police. In fact, the state has even passed legislation to increase the penalties for certain drug crimes.
These laws create so-called drug-free zones which are supposed to be safe from drug use or other drug crimes. In general, these zones are supposed to protect children from drug use and drug culture. However, they often work to enhance the penalties for those found with drugs in certain areas.
Under Louisiana law, a drug-free zoning law goes into effect when a person is accused of drug possession with intent to sell. A drug-free zone exists within 2,000 feet of certain institutions. These institutions include daycare centers, religious centers, schools, public housing complexes and drug treatment facilities. The definition of school includes typical schools for children and universities.
If a person is found guilty of violating the drug-free zone, then the person can face enhanced penalties for the drug crime. The person can be given up to 1.5 times the maximum sentence for the drug crime and the maximum fine.
There is, however, one exception to this rule. If the alleged drug crime takes place in a private residence without children present and the person did not profit from the offense, then the enhanced penalties do not apply.
If people face enhanced penalties under these rules, they must ensure that their rights are being safeguarded. In this situation, an attorney can provide more information about drug-free zones and criminal defenses to drug charges.