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School Zone Drug Charges in Reading, PA (Berks County, PA)

by | Nov 3, 2010 | Criminal Law |

Possession with Intent to Deliver Drugs in Pennsylvania is a very serious charge with potentially serious consequences. Sentencing laws are strict and include mandatory minimum jail sentences under certain circumstances. This is a part of a series of posts meant for educational purposes for individuals or those who have friends or loved ones charged with Narcotics offenses such as Delivery or PWI of Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin or other substances prohibited by the Drug Act.

“School Zone Mandatory”
One of the most commonly applied sentencing mandatories is the Drug Free School Zone statute found at 18 Pa.C.S. Sec. 6317. Individuals face a mandatory minimum of 2 years imprisonment if they are convicted of dealing drugs or possessing narcotics with the intent to deliver within 1,000 feet of the real property of a school or 250 feet of a playground or on a schoolbus. This mandatory applies regardless of the type or amount of narcotics involved and regardless of whether the individual knew he was inside of a school zone.

I recall representing a young man about two years ago who was facing a school zone mandatory in Reading, PA. attarneys practicing Criminal Defense in Berks County are well aware that given the geographical layout of the City of Reading almost every locale in the City is a School Zone. This particular young man, 18 years old, had been sitting on the stoop outside of his home on a sunny summer afternoon with a few friends. Police in the area saw two of my client’s friends pass an unidentifiable object or objects between themselves. Police believed that this gave them justification to search each and every individual who was hanging out on the stoop that day. My client was found to be in possession of three blunts, a small amount of money and a cell phone. Remarkably, Police believed that this was enough evidence to charge my client as a suspected drug dealer and subject him to a 2 year school zone mandatory. He had no prior record, was a recent high school graduate and, at worst, was smoking marijuana at his home. Fortunately for my client we were ultimately able to beat his charges. I filed a pre-trial motion for Suppression of Evidence based on the bad search of my client’s person. The Judge dismissed the case, but by the time he did my client had spent about two months in jail. Had he been charged (correctly) with possession of a small amount of marijuana he would have likely paid a small fine or served 30 days of probation.

In contrast, individuals facing non-school zone PWI or Delivery of Marijuana typically receive probation. While still a Felony, PWI of under 1 pound of marijuana has an Offense Gravity Score (OGS) of 3. Other charges carrying the same OGS include relatively minor misdemeanors such as Simple Assault, Library Theft or Bad Checks.

Obviously there is a great discrepancy in sentencing depending of where the alleged activity took place. What is clear is that whether you or a loved one is suspected of PWI or Delivery of Drugs in Reading, PA or Berks County, PA you need an experienced attarney. Please contact our office for a no cost consultation.



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