The Different Paths for Drug Offenders

For individuals facing drug offenses for the first time, the law offers alternative routes that emphasize rehabilitation over punitive measures under Florida Statute § 948.08. In contrast, repeat offenders are subject to a more stringent legal framework under Florida Statute § 775.084, where the focus shifts towards the gravity and repetition of their criminal conduct, often resulting in heightened consequences.

These approaches underscore the recognition that criminal justice does not lend itself to a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it requires a thoughtful balance between accountability and opportunities for rehabilitation.

Drug Offenses Under Florida Statute § 893.13

Florida Statute § 893.13 governs drug offenses in the state, encompassing a range of activities related to controlled substances. The statute outlines specific prohibitions and penalties for actions such as possession, distribution, and the illegal sale of controlled substances.

The statute prohibits specific acts involving controlled substances and assigns penalties based on the nature of the offense. Factors that determine the severity of the charges may include the amount of drugs involved, the intent to sell, and the specific substances involved. Offenses involving controlled substances may result in felony charges of varying degrees. However, most cases involving drug possession result in third-degree felony charges.

Typically sentencing and penalties for offenses involving controlled substances can involve up to five years in prison, fines of up to $5,000, court-mandated drug treatment programs and drug counseling, and suspension of the offender’s driver’s license.

Eligibility for Pretrial Substance Abuse Program

Pursuant to Florida Statute § 948.08, individuals who have been charged with a non-violent felony may have the option to voluntarily enroll in a substance abuse education and treatment intervention program before their trial. In order to be eligible for this program, the individual must have been identified as having a substance abuse problem and must be willing to undergo treatment.

In general, individuals with a violent criminal history, arrests for drug sales or trafficking, or more than two previous non-drug felony convictions are not eligible for the program. Additionally, they must have no more than two prior felony convictions for non-violent offenses.
Importantly, an offender can only participate in the Drug Court Program if the State Attorney approves their diversion from formal prosecution to the program.

The Drug Court Program

When an individual is arrested for a drug-related offense and appears before a judge, he or she will offer a full, detailed explanation of the program. This program entails regular urine tests, mandatory attendance at drug treatment programs, and regular court appearances. The drug court judge tracks the client’s urinalysis records and treatment reports. Based on the client’s compliance with the program, the judge may choose to be supportive or impose a punishment.

Some defendants may understandably be hesitant to participate in the program. If they end up refusing or withdrawing from the program, they will be sent back to criminal court. If found guilty, they may end up serving jail time. Moreover, every person’s situation is different, and the drug court tries to cater to each client’s needs by offering flexible and personalized treatment plans.

Repeat Offenders Under Florida Statute § 775.084

Unlike first-time non-violent drug offenders, habitual offenders face a stricter legal framework. Eligibility for programs like the Pretrial Substance Abuse Program is generally not extended to habitual offenders under § 775.084. Instead, their cases follow a procedure outlined in the statute, considering the nature of their prior convictions and the specific criteria for each category.

If someone has been convicted of two or more felonies, they may be classified as a habitual felony offender. This can also happen if the person committed the current felony while in prison for a previous felony or other qualifying criminal offense within five years of the prior offense or within five years of being released from prison.

Therefore, if someone has a history of multiple felony convictions, especially if the current offense is related to drug crimes, and they committed the current offense either while under supervision or within five years of their last conviction or release, they could be considered a “Habitual felony offender” and may face a longer prison term.

Florida Statute § 775.084 outlines the sentencing for habitual offenders. The statute provides for increased penalties for individuals who fall under the category of habitual felony offenders, habitual violent felony offenders, or three-time violent felony offenders. The penalties under § 775.084 involve enhanced sentences based on an individual’s prior criminal history.

The court, following the guidelines in the statute, may impose extended terms of imprisonment depending on the nature and severity of the current offense and the individual’s past criminal conduct. It’s important to note that specific details of the penalties can vary based on the offender’s classification and the details of their criminal history. Consulting legal professionals or referring directly to the statute is advisable for accurate and case-specific information.

Legal Assistance in Drug Offense Cases

An experienced attorney can be instrumental in protecting your legal interests, working to secure the best possible outcome for individuals facing drug-related charges. For first-time offenders, an attorney can explore avenues such as the Pretrial Substance Abuse Program, aiming for rehabilitation rather than strict punishment. They can advocate for eligibility and guide clients through the intricacies of the legal system.

In cases involving the Drug Court Program, lawyers can advise their clients about the requirements and potential consequences of not complying with the program. Should a defendant hesitate to participate or face challenges within the program, an attorney can provide valuable counsel on the best course of action.

For repeat offenders falling under § 775.084, the assistance of an attorney is invaluable. Understanding the criteria for classification as a habitual felony offender, habitual violent felony offender, or three-time violent felony offender requires legal expertise. Attorneys can parse through the sentencing guidelines outlined in the statute, working to mitigate the impact of past convictions on the current case.

Moreover, legal professionals can provide experienced counsel and advocacy based on the specifics of an individual’s situation. The penalties under § 775.084 depend on the nature and severity of the current offense and the individual’s criminal history. An attorney can provide clarity on these details, offering tailored guidance to address unique circumstances.

If you have questions about your legal rights and options concerning drug offenses, call Patrick B. Courtney at (813) 252-1529 to discuss your case today.