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Enhanced penalties for drug crimes near parks, schools

Like many other states, Florida has special laws for those accused of selling controlled substances around certain places. For instance, a person accused of certain drug crimes near a school, a public park, public housing, child care facilities, or certain other community facilities where children and families are likely to congregate will face enhanced penalties if convicted.

In fact, in some cases, there is a mandatory three-year minimum jail term. There are also minimum fines and minimum community service requirements that may apply. Judges usually have some discretion when dealing out penalties, but mandatory minimums such as these can make it harder for courts to exercise that discretion in cases where they might otherwise give a defendant a lighter sentence.

Those who are facing drug-related charges that involve an enhancement because of where the offense occurred have all the ordinary defenses available to them. In other words, the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused broke the law by possessing or selling illegal drugs.

Moreover, a Fort Myers resident has every right to demand that the authorities respect the laws at every stage of their investigation and prosecution. If the police or prosecutors fail in this respect, it can end with the case getting dismissed on legal grounds.

Additionally, sometimes a defense attorney may be able to help a person avoid the most serious penalties associated with legal enhancements to drug charges. Perhaps most obviously, in many cases, the state must prove that the crime actually happened within 1,000 feet of a school, childcare facility, or the like. Other legal requirements also apply before prosecutors can enhance a penalty, and they must strictly follow these additional requirements.

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