Prosecutors may try to throw the book at you once you are charged for any sort of drug crime. This can impact your career and life for years to come. Even if it is a misdemeanor, there are other crimes and charges that can be stacked on based on your location alone. School zone drug violations are proximity-based offenses. The aim is to protect children, but it may further complicate a criminal defense.
In section 44-53-445 of South Carolina’s health laws, they detail what falls into this proximity.
The school zone proximity
Drug crimes of any sort (selling, purchasing, manufacturing, etc.) carry their own charges, but are exacerbated if any of those activities take place within a half-mile of any of the following locations:
- Public or private elementary, middle, or secondary school
- Public vocational or trade school
- Public or private college or university
- Public playground or park.
There are some caveats to this. It must be proven that a suspected offender knows they were dealing with drugs in or within a half-mile of one of those locations, and these acts must have taken place inside that radius. For example, the offense is not valid if a suspect is just picked up by police within that radius when criminal offenses happened outside the radius.
Consequences of the school zone violation
This added offense carries a felony-level charge that can see fines or jail time as high as $10,000 and 10 years. The only exception is if a suspect is only charged with a drug purchase offense, in which case it is a misdemeanor carrying a $1,000 fine or one year imprisonment.