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Enhancers — § 939.632, School Zone — Constitutionality

State v. Leonard J. Quintana, 2008 WI 33, affirming 2007 WI App 29
For Quintana: James B. Connell, Robyn J. DeVos, William R. Kerner

Issue/Holding:

¶81      We conclude that the school zone penalty enhancer is not unconstitutional as applied to Quintana. The legislature has sought to increase the penalty for those who commit violent crimes within 1,000 feet of “school premises.” Under Wis. Stat. § 939.632, the crime of mayhem is specifically included in the definition of “Violent Crime.” Violent crime also includes a number of other crimes, such as homicide, battery, sexual assault, kidnapping, arson, intimidation of a witness, robbery by use of a dangerous weapon, child enticement, sexual exploitation of a child, and soliciting a child for prostitution.

¶82      Thus, the legislature seeks to deter a broad swath of violent or potentially violent crimes by increasing penalties for those crimes that occur within 1,000 feet of school premises. One possible reason for such a law is to create a safe, or at least safer, zone around our schools where the population of children is likely higher. Achieving safety zones around our schools is a legitimate governmental interest. Children should feel safe at school and, if possible, on their way to school. The legislature seeks a safety zone in order to create a safe haven that children may not have further away from school. Moreover, a safety zone around schools fosters a good learning environment.

¶83      The 1,000-foot perimeter is rationally related to the government’s interest. One thousand feet is a reasonable distance around schools so as to further the legislature’s goal of creating safety zones around our schools. The legislature has clearly concluded that children congregate on or near school premises and are more likely to live near school premises. While one may argue that any number of feet is to some extent arbitrary in that the legislature chose a particular distance, the 1,000-foot perimeter is not patently arbitrary. Moreover, it is rationally related to the government’s interest.

The State bears a burden of proof, however minimal — see, e.g.,State v. Conklin, Or App No. A127226, 7/11/07.

 

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