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Can First-Time Florida Drug Offenders Go To Jail?
If you have been charged with a Florida drug offense for the first time, emotions are likely running high. Dealing with law enforcement can be frightening for someone who has never been in trouble with the law before – but it is crucial to understand how high the stakes may be in your case, and to enlist the right legal help to get you through. Depending on the charge, first-time offenders can and do receive severe sentences in Florida courts. The right legal help on your side may help turn things around.
Anyone Convicted May Receive Jail Time
It is perhaps understandable that the average person who has never been in trouble with the law before might believe that being a first-time offender would be a mitigating circumstance, and in some states, it would be. However, Florida’s history with drugs and drug crime has resulted in its legislature enacting strict laws, with some of the harshest sentences in the United States in place. Unlike many other states, Florida also retains mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses, regardless of how many times a person may have been in trouble before.
The primary factors that will affect the charge and potential sentence for a drug offense are the drug or drugs involved, and the weight of the drug or mixture at issue. For example, a person stopped with 10 grams of methamphetamine has committed a third-degree felony, while a person stopped with 10 grams of cannabis has committed a misdemeanor. Because of the damage drug crime has done to Floridians and Florida as a whole, state’s attorneys will generally prosecute these crimes aggressively.
First-Timers Have More Potential Options
While a first-time drug offender cannot be guaranteed a sentence without any jail time, they do generally have access to more options that can help them avoid jail or conviction. For example, most Florida counties have pretrial intervention programs, colloquially known as drug courts, that can offer first-time offenders the chance to reach an agreement with the state – usually involving substance abuse treatment, weekly monitoring, and random drug tests, among other things. If you complete the program to the satisfaction of the court, your charges will be dropped.
Another potential option for some is simply to go on the offense, so to speak. State’s attorneys must prove specific facts if they want to obtain a conviction – that you had possession of an illicit substance, that you knew it was illicit, and you knew of its presence on your person or in an area you controlled, among others. If there is a way to establish reasonable doubt, an experienced attorney can and will find it.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney
When many people get in trouble with the law for the first time, their impulse is to surrender. However, there are often ways in which a person can avoid the worst of a long sentence. A West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can address any concerns you may have, and work hard to ensure you get your day in court. Call our office today.