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Five Drug Free Zone Enhancements in Tarrant County

No matter where it occurs, drug trafficking is a serious felony. Note that monetary exchange is usually not an element of drug trafficking. Giving unused Oxycontins to a friend or co-worker, even without a quid pro quo, could be considered drug trafficking.

Drug trafficking is even more serious if it occurs in a prohibited area. Texas law outlines several such zones, as outlined below. Rather significantly, primary and secondary public schools are not on the list.

Each drug free zone has many hidden nuances that a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney can exploit. If an attorney can get the charges reduced to simple trafficking, they are much easier to successfully resolve.

Institute of Higher Learning: 1,000 Feet

Generally, a college or university property line begins at the street, and the street might be several hundred feet away from the parking lot. Furthermore, 1,000 feet is roughly three football fields. So, this drug free zone could begin a half-mile away from the college or university itself.

Things become even more complex when the offense occurred within 1,000 feet of a college extension or another such facility. Generally, these places are in mini-malls or office buildings. As a result, the drug free zone arguably does not begin 1,000 feet from the property line, but 1,000 feet away from the front door.

Playground: 1,000 Feet

The same property line rules apply with regard to playgrounds. There are a number of other rules as well. For example, the playground must:

  • Be outdoors,

  • Not be part of a school,

  • Be open to the general public, and

  • Have at least three pieces of playground equipment, like a slide, swingset, and merry-go-round.

Shopping mall playgrounds and homeowners’ association playgrounds clearly do not count. Church playgrounds and apartment complex playgrounds probably do not count either. The park in The Outsiders where Johnny knifed Bob is in even more of a grey area.

Youth Center: 1,000 Feet

Not every public gym or recreation center is a youth center. Under the law, the place must be intended for people under 18 and regularly provide cultural, athletic, or civic activities. Many public gyms do not meet both these definitions.

Is a YMCA or other private gym facility, like a 24-Hour Fitness location, a drug-free zone? Maybe. The enhancement could apply to both public and private facilities. However, these places are generally not intended for people under 18.

Public Pool: 300 Feet

The distance is much different. 300 feet is roughly one football field. So, the pool must generally be in site to be in a drug-free zone.

This enhancement is clearly limited to public pools. Water parks usually do not count, and homeowners’ association pools clearly do not count.

Video Arcade: 300 Feet

You can tell this law hasn’t been updated in a while. There are still a handful of video arcades in Tarrant County, but they are very few and very far between.

Anyway, video arcades are nearly always in malls or other shopping centers. So, the 300 foot line usually begins at the arcade’s door and not at the mall’s property line. Additionally, the arcade must be open for public use and contain at least three video games or pinball machines. A convenience store with a few video poker machines is not a drug-free zone.

Most neighborhoods have at least one drug-free zone. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. Convenient payment plans are available.

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