Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Drugs and School Zone Statutes


In Massachusetts, if you are convicted of a drug offense within a school zone, playground, or public park, you could face stiff punishment and even prison time. This legislation, known as the "School Zone" statute, is designed to keep the environment around children drug-free and reduce drug possession in public schools, parks, and playgrounds. The school zone statute and other drug laws in the Commonwealth can be difficult to understand to the average person. You should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you need immediate legal advice.

According to Massachusetts General Law,

"Any person who violates the provisions of [G. L.c. 94C, §§ 32, 32A-32F, or 32I,] while in or on, or within 300 feet of the real property comprising a public or private accredited preschool, accredited headstart facility, elementary, vocational, or secondary school if the violation occurs between [5 A.M.] and midnight, whether or not in session, or within one hundred feet of a public park or playground shall be punished by a term of imprisonment in the state prison for not less than two and one-half nor more than fifteen years or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not less than two nor more than two and one-half years. No sentence imposed under the provisions of this section shall be for less than a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years. A fine of not less than [$1,000] nor more than [$10,000] may be imposed but not in lieu of the mandatory minimum two year term of imprisonment as established herein. In accordance with the provisions of [G. L. c. 279, § 8A,] such sentence shall begin from and after the expiration of the sentence for violation of [the predicate offense]. Lack of knowledge of school boundaries shall not be a defense to any person who violates the provisions of this section."

This law was created by the Massachusetts legislature in response to public outcry that more should be done to protect children from drugs. While some people support the law, others believe that it may be unfair and violate a person's due process rights. Some opponents of the law say it could unfairly punish innocent people who may not be drug users, recreational drug users utilizing less than one ounce of marijuana, or individuals who may find themselves in a situation in which they possess a controlled substance within 300 feet of a school or 100 feet of a public park by chance and not by design or purpose to sell or distribute drugs in a school zone.

The law carries severe mandatory minimum jail sentences that can result in up to 15 years in state prison. A conviction will carry a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two years behind bars. If you have been accused or charged with a school zone drug violation you should speak with a well-versed criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights and create an effective defense strategy for your case.

If you are arrested for selling or distributing over an ounce of marijuana to a family member or friend for personal or recreational use within 300 feet of a school in Massachusetts you can face a mandatory jail sentence under this legislation. Mandatory means that your sentence will not be lowered and you must serve some time in jail. The Commonwealth takes drug offenses very seriously.

If you have been accused or charged with a drug offense or a school zone violation involving drugs, you should immediately consult a criminal defense attorney. The consequences can be devastating and may include jail or prison time and hefty fines. Boston Criminal Defense Attorney Edward Molari can provide you with legal advice that may help reduce the punishment or lessen the charge. He cares about your situation and provides personalized legal services in every case. Contact Attorney, Edward Molari at 617-942-1532 for a free consultation.