Massachusetts places a strong emphasis on maintaining the safety of its schools and the areas surrounding them. A person guilty of drug possession with intent to distribute within a school zone faces a 2- year mandatory minimum prison sentence and a possible $10,000 fine. A state jail sentence can run up to a maximum of 15 years. However, if the charge can be reduced to drug possession, a person is not subject to the school zone increased penalty.
Until recently, if a person was within 1,000 feet of a school he or she faced the school zone enhanced penalty. The legislature agreed that 1,000 feet was too large of an area because it essentially covered the entire state. Therefore, the law was amended and now, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant possessed the drug with intent to distribute within 300 feet of a school. However, it is does not matter whether the defendant knew that he or she was within 300 feet of a school or within 100 feet of a playground/park.
In order to convict someone of a drug violation near a school zone, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) the underlying crime (distribution, possession with intention to distribute drug); (2) the defendant was within 300 feet of a school zone or within 100 feet of a public playground or park and (3) the offense occurred between five o’clock in the morning and twelve o’clock midnight.