‘Drug-Free Zone’ Areas Reduced In Utah
Prior to the implementation of House Bill 348 on October 1, 2015, a 1,000-foot radius around schools and other facilities where children could be present (churches, parks, etc.) were labeled as drug-free zones. The revisions to House Bill 348 have now significantly decreased ‘drug-free zones’ from the previously mandated 1,000 feet radius to 100 feet.
It is also important to mention that some of the areas that are labeled ‘drug-free zones’ are only considered as such during their operational hours. And the new legislation for drug-free zones has been amended to criminalize only those holding drugs with intent to distribute; simple possession of a controlled substance is viewed differently under the revised law.
Utah Code § 58-37-8(4) Provides Special Enhancements In Select Drug Cases Including:
- in, on the grounds of, or within 100 feet of any structure, facility, or grounds of a public or private elementary or secondary school, vocational school or postsecondary institution between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
- in, on the grounds of, or within 100 feet of any structure, facility, or grounds of a preschool or child-care facility during the preschool’s or facility’s hours of operation.
- in or within 100 feet of any structure, facility, or grounds of a public park, amusement park, arcade, or recreation center when the public park, amusement park, arcade, or recreation center is open to the public.
- in, on the grounds of, or within 100 feet of any structure, facility, or grounds of a house of worship.
- in, on the grounds of, or within 100 feet of any structure, facility, or grounds of a library when the library is open to the public.
- in the presence of a person younger than 18 years of age, regardless of where the act occurs.
- for the purpose of facilitating, arranging, or causing the transport, delivery, or distribution of a controlled, or counterfeit substance to an inmate, or on the grounds of any correctional facility.
Increased Funding For Treatment In Lieu Of Incarceration For Select Drug Crimes
The changes approved and passed in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in 2015 offers parolees and probationers new opportunities to reduce their time on supervised releases. The changes mandate that the Board of Pardons and Parole grant a reduction of, at minimum, four months, when prisoners successfully complete a priority in their particular case plan.
Marijuana Charges That Could Affect Your Utah Driver’s License
Under the current Utah statute 53-3-220, a driver’s license may be suspended for up to six months for any type of conviction that falls under the Utah Controlled Substances Act or the Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act. PLEASE NOTE: this includes any charge of possession of marijuana or any drug paraphernalia. However, there are some possible avenues to avoid this type of suspension, thus talking to an attorney before pleading guilty is certainly advisable.
Current Marijuana Criminal Penalties
Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana has long been classified as a Class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to 6 months in jail as well as $1,900 in fines. In the past, possession of 1 ounce to 1 pound was classified as a Class A misdemeanor, and the possession of 1 pound to 100 pounds was classified as a Third Degree Felony, and any possession of over 100 pounds was considered to be a Second Degree Felony. But with Utah’s new drug law revision that took effect just last October, possession of any amount less than 100 pounds is now classified as a Class B misdemeanor. This is a significant change that will impact many cases for individuals across the state. For the specific information please research Utah Code 58-37-8.
However, it is critical that everyone understand these changes will not necessarily prevent someone from being charged with a felony if they have 99 pounds of marijuana. There is no lower cutoff amount stated for the charge of Possession with Intent to Distribute, so if someone is in possession of more marijuana than what the court decides could be for “personal use,” a felony charge could still be handed down to the offender.
Further, possession of paraphernalia is also classified as a Class B offense with the same potential penalties. Research Utah Code 58-37a-5 for detailed information.
EXAMPLE: If a police officer finds a pipe type device with marijuana resin in it you could be charged with both possession as well as paraphernalia as resin is still considered to be an offense, and the sentence can be handed down as consecutive. Will you go to jail for a year if you are caught in possession of a well-used bong? The chances are slim that this will happen, but maximum penalties are always possible, and depending on the judge, you could be headed to jail. Additionally, it is probable that the judge will order drug treatment and fine you as well, on top of the usual collateral consequences, such as a new criminal record and possible driver’s license suspension. See the information above for additional details.
For more information on Reduction Of Drug-Free Zone Areas In Utah, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 455-1743 today.
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