Too Many People Languish in Florida Prisons Due to Outdated Mandatory Minimum Sentencing for Drug Crimes
There are at least hundreds of – if not more than 1,000 – Florida inmates who are currently serving mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes that are no longer technically legal under the law. For example, someone sentenced in 2016 for the exact same crime committed by someone else who was sentenced in 2011 could be released by now, while the former could still be serving time under a 15-year sentence.
The laws stem from a clause in the Florida constitution that dates back to the Jim Crow era; a clause that has already been repealed by Florida voters, but not yet implemented by the state legislature. In the 1990s, Florida put these laws into action in an effort to crack down on drug lords. However, the laws ended up most significantly affecting everyday ‘regular’ people: Those who perhaps had pain issues and couldn’t get their pills, so they sought them out on the street; or individuals caught with one joint of marijuana.
Most of Those Sentenced Are Addicts with No Prior Record, Not Dealers
In 2012, the Florida Legislature itself issued a policy indicating that the law, in effect, went far beyond its intended scope. Most of those convicted for trafficking were addicts, not top-level dealers, and of those cases analyzed in its report, almost 75 percent had never previously even been to prison.
These laws do not just frustrate those serving time and their advocates: Judges themselves are frustrated by the requirements that they have to impose, regardless of the circumstances, including whether someone has no previous criminal record; without the ability to exercise any discretion whatsoever. For example, having or selling 22 hydrocodone pills – less than what would be included in one prescription – triggers a mandatory minimum trafficking sentence of 15 years. As a result, people caught with prescription painkillers often receive tougher sentences than those with the same amount of street drugs–sometimes five times the sentence–because that’s what the current laws dictate.
In addition, inherent in this system is a serious amount of scientific oversight: Florida law determines the sentence based on the weight of the drug itself, not how much illegal substance is at issue. For example, it counts the entire weight of the pill as if was 100 percent oxycodone, not the actual amount of opioid drug in each pill.
Do Not Become a Victim OF Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Contact The Very Best in Florida Criminal Defense
If you have been arrested for a drug crime here in Florida, regardless of the circumstances of your situation, you could be serving more than a decade in prison without any questions asked, or the judge or jury able to make any other choice. This is why it is crucial for you to work with the very best drug defense attorneys in the state.
At The Baez Law Firm, that’s exactly what we do: Provide the very best in criminal defense representation so that you are not made a victim of the law. Contact our Orlando drug crimes attorneys at the Baez Law Firm today for a consultation to discuss your case.