In State of Tennessee v Mimi Barrett , The Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on Ms .Barrett’s appeal of her sentence. The trial court denied her request to serve her sentence on community corrections. Community corrections is a form of alternative sentencing that avoids prison time. Community corrections is a more restrictive than regular probation. On appeal, the state contended that prior case law required Ms. Barrett to serve her sentence due to the wording contained in the Drug Free School Zone Act. Many different panels of the Court of Criminal Appeals have held that a defendant convicted of violating the  drug free school zone case commonly referred to as DFSZ must serve the sentence.

Here is the takeaways.

  1.  Plead guilty to a drug free school zone charge. You go to prison.
  2. Alternative sentencing is not an option.
  3. If you are charged with a drug free school zone charge, you must try to enter a plea bargain  without the drug free school zone enhancement.

Here is a closing comment. Years ago, I was discussing the drug free school law with a prosecutor who lobbied for it’s passage. Some Tennessee District Attorneys wanted to take the trial court’s discretion away in sentencing. The Tennessee District Attorney General’s Conference accomplished their goals.  Under T.C.A. 39-17-432, the intent of the statute was to create drug free school zones for the purpose of providing vulnerable persons an environment in which they can learn.  This law has lead to abuse over the years. Police waiting until someone drives through a school zone or luring someone into a school zone. In Nashville, you drive I-65 north and you pass several school zones without the intention of ever going to school property. It is time the Tennessee Legislature reexamines the Drug Free School Zone punishment. The intent of the law was in the spirit of protecting students. Yet, It was used as a hammer.

Charged with a drug free school zone charge, contact a attorney fast.