Why Are Mandatory Minimum Sentences So Strict In Florida?
The trafficking is usually much more of a problem with cocaine and the pill charges because typically, when the doctors fill a prescription for Oxies or whatever you call it, it is usually a thirty day prescription. So you have thirty days’ worth of the drugs. There are folks that want to buy a whole thirty day prescription. If you can live with thirty days with the pain, you can make yourself some money exchanging your pills for drugs or money. A lot of people get caught up selling their prescriptions or possessing someone else’s prescriptions and are looking at trafficking charges. Most of the people that are charged with these trafficking offenses with the Oxies and Hydrocodone and whatnot are sixty to seventy percent of them have never been convicted of anything in their lives and going to get prison sentence in Florida.
If they had convictions, they were for non-violent offenses. We are just putting people away, that is mostly poor folks are on the street, they are the ones that always get busted generally. Most of these people that same study shows that probably sixty to seventy percent of them also were addicted to the substance. These drugs used to be utilized only for the very severely ill and patients that would have severe pain, terminal illness and whatnot in the last decade. They are used for everything now. You go to see your dentist for a toothache and he will give you a prescription for Oxycontin. People get these prescriptions and put them in the medicine cabinet. Most people do not put their drugs under lock and key and then they have children, they have grandchildren and the next thing they know, boom, they have been siphoned off and sold along the street.
One thing that I personally have, is a broken disc in my neck, I had two herniated disc in my back, I have spent a great deal of time in a different lifetime and I was in a martial arts school and I would walk around and it hurts a little bit, but some of these kids that come in and I call them kids, but they are young people, in their twenties, charged with these drug charges, and I say “What’s the matter with you?” They tell me and I think they are close to what I am suffering from. They still devolve and are addicted and they are all on the methadone trying to get off their addictions and that is no way to go through life. The medical practitioners need to be very cautious on who they prescribe these medications to and how much to give them. Thankfully, we have television and movie documentaries that are documenting the problems we are having. We also have the influx of the heroin epidemic; it is starting to make its way to our neighborhoods.
Folks get addicted to opiates, legally prescribed opiates and then the doctor says, “I’m not going to write anymore prescriptions” because in our area, a number of doctors have been criminally charged with over prescribing, so they have cut back, but once you get someone who now they become addicted from these drugs and that they no longer have the legal means to go and get a prescription, the opiates are available on the black market like heroin, which is even cheaper. A lot of these individuals are maintaining their addictions through heroin, which is creating a whole list of new problems.
Ultimately, we treat everything as it is a criminal justice problem and most of the stuff should be treated as a public health problem. Other countries have done so with great results. Not to mention the fact that our population has been disturbed by the illegal curtails in Mexico and in other central and Latin American countries and there are Russians and everybody is getting into the process.
Can Police Conduct A Warrantless Search If They Suspect Drugs On The Premises?
In an automobile, an officer cannot simply pull you over and begin searching. They have to have some probable cause that there is criminal activity. You would be surprised that the number of officers that I have found that actually can smell un-smoked raw cannabis hidden tightly in plastic bags and put into a trunk. They can actually smell raw cannabis coming out of the car trunk, because the courts informally have given officers the ability to search the car from front to back and left to right if they smell cannabis. Unfortunately, sometimes things are found as a result of the search and the ends justify the means. Especially in my area, I-95 in the Florida is well-known for whole packs of officers waiting to stop individuals coming off the highway, searching their vehicles.
They have been arresting folks in possession of drugs. But, if you arrest somebody for something else, let us say I have been arrested for driving while license suspended, well if they are going to tow my car, the officer has the right to inventory the vehicle to make sure that there is nothing that will harm anyone. If they recover drugs during the inventory search, well that can also be added against me as a crime. A person’s home is still their castle. If you are going to come to my home and you want to search my home, you better have a search warrant. A search warrant is what you have to have probable cause and that has to go to the magistrate. In our area, judges have to look at an application under oath as to what zeroes in on that particular home.
What allow us to be able to go through the door and look throughout that individual are personal effects, and there has to be some reasonable suspicion that there have been drugs being harbored and or sold out of this particular residence. If you do not have that, you do not get into an individual’s home. If you are an officer and you come to the door, walk in the house and see a pot plant around the corner, then the person is subject to arrest and they can certainly find out what else is going on. Typically for all intents and purposes, the home is a person’s castle and you need a search warrant. A lot of times, applications are made by the officers using these nefarious individuals known as confidential informants. That is a whole different area, but something is needed in order to give the judge the ability to sign off on a warrant.
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