What Are The Potential Penalties For Drug Related Charges In Florida?
If you are dealing with drugs close to a school, a convenient store or close to a house of worship within 1,000 feet of those areas, the case becomes much more difficult, because the penalties become much stricter from a third or second degree felony to a first degree felony. It becomes a thirty year penalty potentially. The legislator has seemed fit that anyone selling and distributing drugs around elderly care facilities or children or houses of worship, you are probably likely to go to prison for a good deal of time. But, marijuana possession is a third degree felony. Many of the possessions are third degree felonies, possessions with intent to distribute the cocaine; those are second degree felonies, which is a fifteen year felony.
Third degree is five, second is fifteen, first is thirty and then we get into charges that are punishable by up to life and then you have capital sentences, life imprisonment with the exception of the marijuana and the paraphernalia typically, those are misdemeanors, the small amounts of marijuana, but then you get into circuit court and convictions and convictions lead to loss of driver’s licenses, even in the misdemeanor courts. In Florida, if you are convicted of misdemeanor marijuana, so if you had a joint in your pocket and you get convicted, you will lose your driver’s license for one year, you will go to prison potentially, you are subjected to fines, costs and the trafficking offenses also have very steep fines that are attached with all of this.
With some of the drug convictions, there are also community service hours, probations, drug treatment and urinalysis and all those things which cost money. So there is a long path of getting a sentence completed sometimes. When you get the sentence completed, if you are convicted of a drug offense, it becomes a never ending cycle of potential poverty, because employers will not hire someone who has a conviction. You cannot vote, possess any ammunition or firearms that gives you a three year mandatory if you get caught with any offense, but the most important thing is you become an outcast in the society. People are unwilling to take the chance with somebody with a felony conviction and it is just hard to get jobs and people just tend to cycle back into what they know. So there are a lot of collateral consequences to a conviction.
If it is a possession of the drug and they do not have any prior forcible felony convictions, they may be eligible by statute to go to pre-trial drug intervention. That is a minimum generally between a year and two. If they go through a process of substance abuse treatment therapy and subject to urinalysis and stay clean and other things, therapies and different things, meet regularly with the court, be employed or be looking for work, they will get through that process and they are on a drug deferral through the drug court, then ultimately they are successful and the state will enter a nolle prose which is the dismissal of the charge against them. So they will keep their record clean, but that is only for possession.
Pretrial Or Alternative Programs Available To Drug Offenders In Florida
Initially, you have three different phases. The first phase is you have to be in court every week. Once a week, you got to show up and say, “Hi”, because the courts are making sure that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. You are not using, but you have been evaluated and you are going to begin therapy. As you progress, you will see the court less, see your officer less. I do not know what the other alternative is. Another alternative is you take withhold of adjudication of guilt and you will be subjected to drug offender probation. I have told people, “If you get 3 months sentence, and you give a urinalysis, your name comes up, your number comes up and you have to go give a urine sample and you got THC in your system, if you did that on drug offender probation, you’re going to be violated, put in jail and likely, you’re subject to going to a long stay in the county jail and/or state prison”.
In drug court, the drug court judge has the ability to give you a shock treatment, put you in jail for a weekend, but keep you on the program, keep you going towards hopefully a successful completion. Personally, I think if you are getting there and you are serious about it, it is a great way to keep even withhold of adjudication of guilt, that finalization of that charge off your record. People run into problems and they just cannot stop using it. I have had clients that love it and clients that hate it. The stick on that is if you fail, then you have to go back to court and then the court’s going to sentence you as the court sees fit. It is the best thing we have going currently and the problem is that it is confined as simple possession. If you have possession with intent, you can be foreclosed from going.
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