Protecting children while they are in school is a major priority for all states. But it can be problematic as well. Texas has enacted new enhanced laws for those who commit crimes within school zones, and there are few exceptions to the law. Certain individuals who live within the restricted weapon-free zones also have a problem when being charged with a crime by mere technicality, and there can be other questions as well when enhanced charges are filed based merely on location.
Spirit of the law
The purpose and spirit in which the specific sentencing guidelines were established is obvious when recent events across the nation are considered. The issue then becomes the legal purpose and what activity actually happened to justify the charge. There are basic questions that can be raised in any criminal defense strategy, and eliminating involvement of any school children can result in a charge reduction based on material evidence in less serious cases.
The level of punishment in weapon-free school zone cases depends on the actual level of charge as well. Class A and B misdemeanors are punishable by up to one-year maximum incarceration for Class A and 180 days for a Class B. Fines are capped at $2000 and $4000 respectively.
Felony cases are where the penalties are serious. A standard state jail felony is a 6 months to 2-year incarceration. A conviction on a third degree felony can result in a range of 2-10 years incarceration. A second degree felony is a range of 2-20 years while a first degree felony is a 99-yr maximum and a 5-yr minimum for a conviction.
Felony fines are also included and capped at $10,000 in each classification. There is also an enhanced penalty if sexual assault is one of the included charges.