All fifty states have passed laws increasing penalties for drug-related crimes committed with so-called “drug free zones” around schools and other institutions. In Illinois, the drug free zone for schools and churches is 1,000 feet. Drug-related crimes committed within these zones usually entail additional penalties upon conviction.
A resident of Mascoutah was recently arrested and charged with various drug crimes for selling cocaine and other drugs in two of these protected zones. The man was arrested near Mascoutah High School and charged with six felonies. He was charged with allegedly dealing or possessing illicit drugs, including cocaine. Two of the deliveries was alleged to have occurred within 1,000 feet of the high school. The man was also charged with dealing cocaine within the zone of protection.
Police have also alleged that the suspect made two unlawful deliveries of drugs within 1,000 feet of the Conqueror’s Christian Center in Belleville. He was also charged with unlawful possession of and intent to deliver methamphetamine and unlawful possession of 100-500 grams of marijuana. According to police, the suspect was convicted on two other cannabis possession charges in 2011.
Penalties for drug crimes committed within drug free zones are usually twice as severe penalties for drug crimes committed outside these zones. The utility of these zones as deterrents to the sale of narcotics has been questioned by many experts in the field, the penalties remain the law in Illinois. Anyone charged with a drug-related crime committed within a drug free zone may be facing very harsh penalties, including large fines and significant jail time, if convicted. A capable criminal attorney may be able to provide an evaluation of the prosecution’s case that will support a favorable plea agreement or lead to an acquittal.
Source: Belleville News-Democrat, “Mascoutah man charged with dealing cocaine near high school, church,” Kara Berg, Nov. 8, 2017