Drug Charges Near School Property
Like any drug charge, at either the federal or state level, facing a drug charge in Connecticut can be devastating and have long-term effects that extend into multiple areas of a person’s life for years to come. Until very recently, however, the state had some of the most draconian drug laws in the country, eased only last year. The recently relaxed laws pertain to small possession charges of marijuana, and equalize punishment and criminal severity of cocaine and crack cocaine—for decades, crack cocaine was a much more severe charge resulting in higher fines and longer jail time. The bill included the stipulation that all felony drug possession charges would be reduced to Class A misdemeanors. It also expanded parole laws, allowing for a prisoner to be considered for release on parole after an evaluation but before having a proper hearing, providing that he or she was not convicted of a violent crime and is not familiar with the victim of the crime (ie: a person convicted of domestic violence or spousal battery would not be eligible for early release without a proper hearing).
Drug-Free School Zones
Another bombshell provision in the drug laws provided by this bill—“An Act Concerning a Second Chance Society”—reduced the scope of the crime regarding drug possession within 1,500 feet of a school or day care center to the possession of drugs on the grounds, instead. The law also reduced the penalty of possession near a school or day care to a Class E felony. Drug-free zone laws were first introduced in 1970, a full decade-plus before President Reagan officially used the term “War on Drugs,” though this law is certainly considered a major cornerstone of those concerted efforts. The idea was to protect children, or to shield them, from increased drug activity in these so-called drug-free zones, and included not only schools but also public parks. Anyone caught dealing or using drugs in such a zone faced significantly more severe punishments, both monetarily and regarding prison time.
Connecticut is not the only state that has, in recent years, reduced the punitive nature of such laws. One major reason for the reduction of severity is the fact that this law disproportionately affects lower socioeconomic communities, as populations tend to be more clustered near schools, in high-density populations areas. There is also the concern that many convicted under the previous laws were found guilty of illegal activity that did not in any way affect the children the law was intended to protect. There was also the concern that the person still faced such higher punishments, even if the crime took place outside of school hours.
Still, facing a drug charge for activity that occurred on school property can be devastating. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney today. Call 203-348-5846 to schedule your free, confidential consultation.