Distribution & Possession w/ Intent to Distribute in a School Zone

Under MGL c. 94C s. 32J, if you are charged with distribution or possession with intent to distribute in a school zone, you face a minimum mandatory 2 years IN ADDITION to the sentence imposed for distribution or possession with intent to distribute charge. For example, let's say you are convicted under MGL c. 94C s. 32C for possession with intent to distribute marijuana and the judge sentences you to two years in jail. If that crime took place in a school or park zone, you are now sentenced to 4 years in jail instead of 2. 

In order to be charged under this statute, the "school zone" is anywhere within one of the following: 

  • 300 feet of a private or public accredited preschool, headstart facility, elementary, vocational, or secondary school, between the hours of 5 am and midnight; or
  • 100 feet of a public park or playground
Lack of knowledge of the school, park, or playground boundaries is not a defense to this charge. 

In addition to all of the available defenses to other drug crimes, this particular charge may be challenged on the grounds that you were not within the "school zone." A certified measurement might demonstrate that you were 105 feet away from the park or 310 feet away from the school, in which case you are no longer facing the mandatory minimum under this statute. It is not uncommon for the police to inaccurately estimate your proximity to the school, park or playground. Further, we will investigate the classification of the school, park or playground. What happens if the school lost its accreditation the year before you were alleged to have violated this statute? You cannot be charged with the school zone violation. What happens if the playground is in fact not open to the public, but rather is part of a privately owned institution? You cannot be charged under this statute. Each case present various legal and factual issues that must be examined by a skilled defense attorney as soon as possible.

Under MGL c. 94C s. 32J, you face the following potential penalties for this offense:

  • 2 years jail (minimum), up to 15 years in state prison
  • $1,000- $10,000 fine

If you have been charged with distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance in a school, park or playground zone, contact our office immediately:

(617) 830-2188

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