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Drug Free School Zones

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Case:  State of Tennessee v. Douglas E. Linville

Facts:  Defendant was convicted and sentenced under the Drug Free School Zone for possessing drugs near a park. Pursuant to the “School Zone” law, the record reflected the Defendant was to be punished one classification higher, but the judgement form did not reflect the enhancement.

Appellate Decision:  The intermediate court held there was a “clerical error” because the judgement form did not reflect the Defendant was to be sentenced one classification higher under the School Zone law.

Review Granted:  August 5, 2021. The Supreme Court’s order limited review to the following issue: “Whether the Court of Criminal Appeals erred in its statutory interpretation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-432(b) when it found that the defendant is subject to sentencing at one classification higher than is provided for in section 39-17-417(b)-(i) when the drug-free zone is created by a park.”

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court will reverse the determination of a “clerical error” and clarify that, under 39-17-432(b)(3), the Defendant should not have received any enhanced sentencing (other than increased fines) since “parks” are among the enumerated locations which are not subject to “additional incarceration.” If the Defendant received 100% sentencing under the “School Zone” law, that would be an illegal sentence and should be modified to the appropriate (significantly lower) parole eligibility depending on his sentencing range.