DRUG CRIMES IN TAMPA AND YOUR RIGHT TO CRIMINAL DEFENSE REPRESENTATION
How does a Florida prosecutor prove that someone is guilty of a drug crime? What if the accused person is innocent? Keep reading, because you’re about to learn what everyone should know about drug charges in the State of Florida.
Specific charges and penalties for drug crimes in Florida – possessing, selling, or manufacturing illegal drugs – are determined by the quantity of drugs or amount of money involved, the type of drugs, whether weapons or minors were involved, and a defendant’s previous criminal history.
However, even a first offense for simple possession of an illegal drug is a serious matter. Acting as your own lawyer in a drug case is always a bad idea. Florida’s drug laws are complicated, and it’s far too easy to make a mistake or to say something that may be incriminating.
WHAT IS A DEFENSE LAWYER’S ROLE IN A FLORIDA DRUG CASE?
Your defense lawyer in a drug case should have substantial experience representing persons who are accused of drug crimes. Your lawyer will explain the charge or charges against you, review the details of the case, and fight for justice on your behalf.
A not guilty verdict is usually the goal in these cases, but if the state’s evidence against you is persuasive, and if a conviction is inevitable, your lawyer may negotiate for reduced or alternative sentencing. You may qualify for a Drug Court program.
HOW DOES A DRUG COURT PROGRAM WORK?
Prosecutors determine who is accepted into a Drug Court program, but if you qualify, your attorney can ask to have you admitted. A drug court program requires work. Defendants must make a commitment to the program and take personal responsibility for completing it.
Drug courts in Florida combine the resources and efforts of defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, social workers, corrections officials, and drug counseling and treatment professionals.
Drug Court program requirements are personalized for each participant. The minimum contract is 18 months, however the program may be terminated early if the defendant has perfect attendance and has not violated the agreement in the first 12 months. The State Attorney’s Office then drops the criminal charge when the program has been successfully completed. A Drug Court program may include:
- group and individual counseling
- urine screens and other drug tests and monitoring
- regular case reviews before a judge
- frequent meetings with a Florida Department of Corrections probation officer
Participants in Drug Court programs obtain treatment and counseling, avoid jail, and in many cases, retain their jobs or find employment. Graduates of a Drug Court program will possess the tools to stay free of drugs in the future.
WHAT IF A DEFENDANT ISN’T GUILTY?
If you complete a Drug Court program successfully, the criminal charge or charges against you will be dismissed. Of course, if you were wrongly arrested, and you’re innocent, you should accept no deal, and instead, you should fight the charge with a good criminal defense attorney’s help.
If you’re charged with a drug crime in the Tampa Bay area, politely insist on your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present during questioning. Don’t say or sign anything until you’ve consulted with an experienced Tampa drug crimes lawyer.
WHAT DEFENSES ARE TYPICALLY OFFERED AGAINST DRUG CHARGES?
Sometimes, your best defense in a drug crime case is attempting to discredit the police. Your attorney may challenge the testimony of an unreliable witness, an informant, or the arresting officer in your case.
If the police conducted an illegal search and seizure, planted evidence, or illegally placed a suspect under surveillance, a defense lawyer will insist that any charges against a defendant must be dismissed.
Another defense offered in some drug cases is the claim that police officers entrapped a defendant. Entrapment happens when someone is induced or lured by police officers into breaking a law when that person would not have broken the law without the inducement or lure.
When a suspect is wrongly charged with possessing another person’s illegal drugs – and that suspect’s attorney can prove it – or when law enforcement officers violate a suspect’s rights, that is usually sufficient to have a drug possession charge dismissed.
A good defense attorney in these cases may consider a number of different defense strategies, look for weaknesses in the state’s case against you, and argue for a dismissal of the charge, a reduction of the charge, or an acquittal by the jury if the case goes to trial.
IF YOU FACE DRUG CHARGES IN THE TAMPA BAY AREA
Tampa drug crimes lawyer Patrick B. Courtney has over 24 years of legal experience. He’s been a prosecutor, so he knows how drug cases are handled. Pat Courtney knows how to protect his clients’ rights and bring a drug case to its best possible resolution.
He represents clients in Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties. Learn more by calling Pat Courtney’s law offices at (813) 967-2000 or by completing the online contact form on this website.