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Cobb County Criminal Defense Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / What are the “Drug Free School Zone” Laws in Georgia?

What are the “Drug Free School Zone” Laws in Georgia?


Georgia is one of many states that increases the penalties for those who are convicted of committing drug-related offenses in certain areas, including “Drug Free School Zones.” In our state, anyone found in possession of, trafficking in, or manufacturing a controlled substance in such an area faces much harsher penalties if convicted. At the end of the day, for those who have been arrested for a drug offense in Georgia, where that arrest occurred could have significant repercussions, including enhanced charges and more severe penalties.

School Grounds 

Under Georgia law, a person can face enhanced drug charges if his or her arrest takes place within 1,000 feet of any property owned or leased to:

  • A public or private elementary school;
  • A secondary school; or
  • A school board used for elementary or secondary education.

Anyone accused of possessing, manufacturing, or trafficking a controlled substance in such an area will face felony charges, even for a first time offense. A first time conviction comes with imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine of $20,000, while a second conviction will result in a sentence of at least five, but up to 40 years in prison and a $40,000 fine.

Evidence of Violation 

When attempting to convict someone of committing a drug offense in a drug free school zone, prosecutors must present a prima facie evidence of the location (and its boundaries) where the crime occurred. To do so, they can present maps produced by any city or county agency or department that reveal that the location of the area was within 1,000 feet of a drug free zone. They are also permitted, however, to use other forms of evidence, including eyewitness testimony to establish proof of a violation.

Prohibited Defenses 

While there are some defenses that defendants can raise on their behalf when accused of committing a drug crime in a drug free school zone, there are also some defenses that are prohibited, including that:

  • School wasn’t in session when the offense occurred;
  • The property was being used for another purpose at the time of the offense; or
  • The crime took place on a school vehicle.

It is, however, possible for a person to raise as an affirmative defense that:

  • The alleged illegal conduct took place within a private residence;
  • No one 17 years of age or younger was present in the residence when the crime was committed; and
  • The offense wasn’t carried out for the purposes of financial gain.

Defendants who can establish these elements could avoid the more severe penalties that come with a conviction for committing a drug offense in a drug free school zone.

Contact Andrew L. Schwartz, P.C. Today 

If you were charged with violating Georgia’s Drug Free Zone law, please call 678-853-2500 or reach out to us online and set up a meeting with dedicated Cobb County drug crime lawyer Andrew L. Schwartz, P.C. right away. We can walk you through your legal options and help you build a strong defense.


 gdna.georgia.gov/sites/gdna.georgia.gov/files/imported/vgn/images/portal/cit_11783501/132824956O.C.G.A 16-13 Controlled Substances.pdf


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