Possession of Drugs on School Grounds Has Serious Consequences

lockers in a school - drugs on school grounds

Possession of Drugs on School Grounds Has Serious Consequences

September is the first full month of school in Arizona, and with a new school year comes the need to refresh everyone’s memories of the rules. No running in the halls, make sure you have your bathroom pass, keep weapons off the grounds (or at least lock them away in your car), and do not carry, sell, or do drugs on school grounds.  

Arizona Schools Are Drug-Free Zones 

The state of Arizona has designated all schools as drug-free zones. And even though dangerous drugs are already illegal, possessing them on school property carries even harsher penalties. 

Because of the damage drugs (and alcohol) can have on the developing brain of a child, fines and sentences are greater for possession in school zones. Harsher consequences may help keep drugs out of the hands of children. 

It’s important to note that when it comes to schools, the state of Arizona groups alcohol and marijuana into the same category as illegal drugs. The drug-free school zone extends 300 feet from the school and its grounds, including sports fields and parking lots. It also applies to any public property within 1,000 feet of a school, a school bus stop, and the school bus itself.

Having Drugs on School Grounds Is a Bad Idea

Crimes like possession of dangerous drugs already have sentences of up to 25 years in prison. But if a drug offense is committed in a drug-free zone, there is an additional 1 year of prison or jail time added to the sentence. Along with additional fees, drug offenders also lose eligibility for probation or suspension of sentence.

Arizona Revised Statute 13-3411 also has a provision that requires all school staff to report violations to the authorities. If they fail to do so, they could be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor. Most teachers and staff are not willing to risk 30 days in jail, or a fine of $500 dollars on their salary, so don’t risk bringing drugs to school. 

Drug Possession Is Also a Serious Charge for Minors

If you are under 18 and have any type of drug in your possession, you could be facing serious consequences. A minor in possession of marijuana or alcohol can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, minors can be sentenced to 6 months in a juvenile detention center and fined up to $2,500. 

But if minors are in possession of drugs or alcohol while in a school zone, their fines start at $2,000 and only go up from there. They can also be detained for 18 to 24 months.

Do College Campuses Count as School Grounds?

You are only allowed to possess controlled legal substances like alcohol or marijuana on college campuses if you are 21 or older. However, if you are under 21, you and those you partied with could face charges. 

Colleges may also set their own rules regarding the use of alcohol and marijuana on their campus. For example, Arizona State University has a strict no alcohol or drug use policy for students living in campus housing. Violating those rules means you could lose your housing, your scholarships, or even be expelled. 

Illegal drugs, for example, cocaine, are not allowed on campuses because they are not allowed anywhere. If you are caught with them, you could be charged accordingly. 

Call a Lawyer and Stay Silent

If you have been arrested or detained for drug possession, ask for a lawyer and do not answer any questions. By remaining silent, you ensure that you do not say anything that can be used against you.  

Being charged with a drug-related crime is a serious matter. A conviction on your record can make it difficult to find a job, enroll in college, or even stay in a current college program. With the added consequences of extra jail time and heavy fines for drug offenses on school property, you will need an excellent lawyer. 

Todd Coolidge Has The Experience You Need

Todd Coolidge has over 25 years of experience as a certified criminal defense attorney in Arizona’s criminal justice system. He knows the ins and outs of the law and personally handles every case that comes through our office, to ensure that each defendant gets the representation they deserve. 

If you have been charged with possession of drugs on school property, contact us today for a consultation on your case.





Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (9/4/23). Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash.