Florida has enacted some of the toughest drug laws in the United States. What most people do not realize is that mere possession of a relatively small quantity of certain types of drugs, e.g. hydrocodone, ecstasy, oxycodone, can result in minimum mandatory prison sentences that are stunning. For example, the mere possession of approximately six, that’s right six, Loratabs (hydrocodone tablets) warrants a three year minimum mandatory prison sentence! As far as I know, Florida is the only state in the nation that calls the mere possession of certain quantities of drugs, even if they are clearly for personal use, “trafficking.”
Designer drugs have become more popular in recent years--- drugs such as “spice,” “molly,” etc. that at one time, because the molecular structure of the drug was not controlled as a Schedule I or II drug were not illegal. However, Florida lawmakers have put an end to designer drug possession---now there is a special law that applies to the designer drugs that makes possession of these precursors or molecularly altered drugs carry the same penalties as the drugs they are precursors of.
Our prisons have more than 30% of the prison population locked up for mere non-violent drug possession offenses. I have not discussed the draconian penalties associated with Federal Court Prosecutions yet! Florida State and Federal Drug laws carry so many “minimum mandatory” prison sentences that are locking up people who are not making drugs to sell and profit from but who are mere addicts. It is a sad state of affairs and costing tax payers millions of dollars yearly to house these folks. But, I digress. I just feel a need to explain to people who may read this section how serious the consequences are to even merely use illicit substances. Selling drugs, even marijuana, is a very dangerous activity because in general most people who get arrested and have “the heck” scared out of them by law enforcement claiming they are going away to State or Federal Prison for five, ten, fifteen years or longer will cooperate with authorities. (A very simple way of phrasing this dynamic).Types of Drug Crimes
There are a variety of drug crimes that may be prosecuted under state and federal law, many of which relate to controlled dangerous substances. Such crimes include:
- manufacturing of a controlled substance;
- delivery of a controlled substance;
- possession of a controlled substance;
- possession with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver a controlled substance;
- importation/trafficking of any controlled substance;
- sale of a controlled substance;
- fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance;
- fraudulently prescribing a controlled substance
- doctor shopping (obtaining the same controlled substance from two or more doctors without the doctors being aware of the person doing this; pharmacy records are easily obtained by law enforcement under new Florida laws recently enacted).
Florida law has increased penalties if drug offenses are committed near childcare facilities, churches, playgrounds, public parks and/or schools. Selling of controlled substances to minors carry hugely enhanced penalties.Prosecutions of Doctors
Doctors are now being prosecuted regularly if their prescription methodologies do not meet the “Standard of Care.” Most, but not all, of these prosecutions are brought in federal court and result in M.D.s who breach this vaguely defined standard of care often get life sentences. A book on this subject one may be interested in is “Pain in America – and How Our Government Makes It Worse!” by John P. Flannery II. Doctors are now hesitant in prescribing pain medications that for chronically injured patients because of the scrutiny of the DEA.
What Defense Might You Have if You are Arrested for a Drug Offense?
The Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Art. 12, §1 of the Florida Constitution provide many technical defenses. A car could be stopped illegally, a search could be done without your consent or in violation of your Fourth Amendment Right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures, statements could be obtained illegally without a person having had their Miranda Warnings read to them properly or at all, acquiescence to apparent authority could occur—this is when the person believes they have no choice but to comply with an officer’s orders. The list of defenses is lengthy.
I have had more than several trafficking in cocaine cases suppressed because of illegal search and seizures. I wrote an article published in The Florida Bar Journal, the monthly magazine that is distributed to Florida’s 80,000+ lawyers "The State of Our Trash in Florida: The Use of Evidence Found in Residential Garbage to Establish Probable Cause to Search a Citizen's Home" January of 2008.
If you have been accused of a drug-related offense in the state of Florida, call us at (850) 434-9304 or contact us online to discuss your legal options. In most cases we can help you affect a far better outcome than you otherwise might. However, as mentioned elsewhere on this website Jim Jenkins will be honest and forthright with you about your case---he neither paints a worse picture or a better picture than realistically exists. What he can promise you is he will do all he can to help you. Jim can be reached after hours at his home office at (850) 474-4182.