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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / Is Addiction Ever A Factor In Florida Drug Offenses?

Is Addiction Ever A Factor In Florida Drug Offenses?


When a person is arrested for a drug-related offense in Florida, they will often face jail time, even if they have never been in trouble with the law before. Florida’s history with illegal drugs and contraband lead law enforcement to take drug crimes extremely seriously, to the point where prisoners serving time for drug-related offenses make up a significant part of the state’s incarcerated population. Many of these prisoners are in fact addicted to drugs or alcohol, and it is a major factor in the commission of their offenses – but in most cases, it will not have any effect on their sentencing.

Drugs Play A Role In Violence

Data from the American Addiction Centers estimates that almost 20 million people suffered from addiction to some kind of substance in 2017, with that number rising through the years. Causes of drug and alcohol addiction are primarily genetic, but mental health problems and environmental factors may also play significant roles. Either way, it is fair to state that a majority of the reasons for susceptibility to addiction are generally out of a person’s control.

That said, it is also fair to state that drugs play a significant role in one aspect of crime in the United States – not only with offenses that are directly related to drugs (possession, trafficking, sale), but also with “drug-related” offenses. Examples include committing violence against rival dealers or committing theft in order to be able to afford drugs. It is because of this that Florida’s law has chosen to take a hard line, effectively choosing to see all drug offenses as potentially contributing to lawlessness instead of seeing some of them as the product of disease.

No Mitigation Is Possible

Despite the fact that in many cases, addiction is not something that the average person can control, Florida law is explicit and unyielding: the relevant statute states unequivocally that addiction or substance abuse “is not a mitigating factor” and does not “justify a downward departure” from sentencing guidelines. Florida imposes mandatory minimums for most drug offenses, and being addicted is not seen as sufficient cause to deviate from them.

The only real exception is in cases where an offender agrees to attend drug court as an alternative to jail. Drug court is a diversion program, usually offered to first-time offenders, which offers treatment and other potentially helpful programs. However, this situation does not truly involve any mitigating circumstance; if the person fails to complete drug court, their charges will usually be reinstated and trial will proceed as it would have before.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney

Addiction is a terrible disease which can destroy a person’s life. If you have been arrested and charged with a drug-related offense, however, you must be aware that it will not make any sentence you receive lighter, at least not in Florida. Calling a West Palm Beach drug offenses attorney from the firm of Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can ensure that you get your day in court, and that there is someone there to stand up for your rights. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.



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