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Alleged drug crimes in protected locations have harsh penalties

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Drug Crimes |

In Missouri people who are charged with drug crimes need to understand that the severity can vary based on the circumstances. For example, the location of where the crimes related to controlled substances are committed. The penalties will escalate based on the severity of the allegation.

Law enforcement and prosecutors are particularly serious about drug crimes committed in “protected” locations. That includes areas where young people might congregate. Knowing what constitutes a protected location and the possible penalties that can be assessed for a conviction on drug distribution charges in these areas is an essential part of creating a viable legal defense.

What are protected locations?

The distribution, sale or delivery of a controlled substance in protected locations will be a Class A felony. That includes heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, Fentanyl and any controlled substance except for up to 35 grams of marijuana or a synthetic cannabinoid to a person who knows that the act is occurring in these areas.

That means if this happens within two thousand feet of a school or school bus, it is done in a protected area. The schools in question include a public elementary school, a private elementary school, a vocational school, a secondary school or a school bus.

If it occurs within one thousand feet of a park that is used for recreation, then it is also considered a protected area. Other protected areas include public housing or governmental assisted housing. The objective is to protect young people and those who are simply in areas for recreation or their home.

Drug distribution allegations must be scrutinized

The penalties for a conviction of a Class A felony are significant. The person can be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison, but not more than 30 years. Drug crimes can easily escalate to a situation where the person is confronted with extensive jail time and hefty fines. They are likely to be fearful about the future and wonder if there is any way to avoid the worst penalties or even get acquitted.

Fortunately, there are avenues of defense that can be effective to combat even the most serious accusations. The evidence must be examined in depth to determine how strong it is. If, for example, the person accused of drug distribution did not realize they were in a protected area and was not distributing drugs at the time, it could be beneficial to a defense.

Other factors could come into play such as how the investigation was conducted, if law enforcement was within its rights to conduct a search of a person or their vehicle, and if there were mistakes made at any point in the case. Any drug charge is worrisome, but if it is a Class A felony, the consequences are daunting. Before doing anything else, it is imperative to keep a clear head and know how to move forward in fighting the charges to try and reach a positive outcome.