Yes, there is a formal drug court in many counties in Florida but those are generally reserved for people who possess personal amounts of drugs and their goal in the drug court is to put them through a very rigorous counseling program to hopefully get them to abstain and kick the habit. There are circumstances if the prosecutor is convinced that a person may have a trafficking amount of drug even though it is for their own use and reasonable prosecutors that appreciate that and are willing to give that person a break would have to reduce the charge to a non-trafficking amount to allow them to enter Drug Court. The mandatory sentences on trafficking are just that, if they are convicted, they have to be sentenced to those prison terms.
It can be done, it has been done, not all the time and certainly not if you are actively selling that will be a rarity. There are exceptions to that too like a lot of people who are addicts sell small amounts just to be able to earn enough money to support their own habit. That is a situation where even though it is a more significant offense to be selling as opposed to be possessing, if it is for small amounts that obviously are meant to just allow you to continue to use yourself, sometimes the prosecutors will reduce those charges that will allow you to go into the drug court. There are other alternatives. For the Misdemeanor Marijuana, they have got a first-timers’ program that allows you to get the case dismissed if you go through their counseling program.
There are still opportunities to avoid convictions for possession cases where the Drug Court is not offered or that person does not want to accept it where you could take a probation without being adjudicated guilty, avoiding a conviction, yet being able to keep it off your record.
Advice For People Contemplating A Guilty Plea To A Drug Charge
Just like any other criminal charge, there are all types of defenses that are available to you in pretrial motions to suppress or dismiss and so before assuming that there is no way to win, you really need to speak to a qualified experienced attorney to make a thorough evaluation of the facts of your case. Every case is different, so you just cannot say that, you can always get this or you can always get that. It really depends on the facts of the case but the benefit of having a qualified attorney is that you will not ignore those types of issues that might get you off the hook without any problems. Going to someone who is not qualified and is just looking to get a quick plea for a cheaper fee is not recommended. I always look at these drug cases just like any other case with an open mind about the prospect of defeating the charge as opposed to accepting any responsibility or a punishment for the charge.
I will give you an example and this is because of my pharmacy background. I saw in a case that I handled where the prosecutor listed the wrong drug on the charging document and they did not know what oxy-morphine was because that was the drug that they found. They put down oxycodone because they were more familiar with that name. These are separate and distinct drugs, they are related but they are not the same. The charging document has to give you the specific allegation against you and has to prove that allegation. We went into this case with an ace in our pocket knowing that they charged the wrong drug and once the state rested their case, we moved for a dismissal because the drug that they had was not the drug that they proved or that they ultimately put on evidence that he had.
There are so many ways to attack a criminal case and it begins with whatever the officer does and says, whatever the prosecutor does and says, it is not something that you can have an absolute checklist for, you just have to have the experience to know what to look for and, again, in these drug cases with my drug experience and expertise, I find a lot of things that a lot of lawyers do not.
Why Do People Generally Co-operate With The Police?
It is a combination of a lot of things, the stress of the situation, the fear of the situation, the worry about that instance being published to friends or family and the not knowing for sure what your rights are. My best advice is that if you get arrested, you can post a bond almost immediately. If you make admissions or you let them search and they find illegal substances, you are kind of giving away all your chances of being successful and fighting the charge. Your silence cannot be used against you and when you are under that kind of stress, it is very difficult to get your thoughts together in an appropriate way to communicate what you want to and you might say something stupid or what may be perceived to be some type of admission. So, rather than run that risk, knowing that it is not going to be used against you, you should always remain silent and you should never allow police to search your car without a warrant.
Additional Information Regarding Drug Charges In Florida
I wanted to just reiterate that so often I see people stopped in a vehicle when the police have no probable cause to search who are asked and who voluntarily give up their right by agreeing to the search that causes them their problem. If more people would stand on their constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, a lot more people would avoid the consequences of the criminal justice system. The right to remain silent and the right to refuse a search cannot be used against you in court, even though the police want to convince you that it can because they will say things like, “If you let us search, we will go easy on you” or, “Just tell us what you got. We will put it in good words to the prosecutor”.
None of that is binding on them and the reality is that the prosecutor does not have to believe anything they do or say, it is all up to the prosecutor and then ultimately the judge. So, knowing that it cannot be used against you, it is a good idea not to give a statement if you are challenged by the police other than your identity and it is also a good idea to refuse any searches that are not based on probable cause.
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