Mandatory Minimum Sentences Do Not Curb Drug Crime
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Florida began to institute what are known as mandatory minimum sentences, in order to crack down on the epidemic of drug trafficking sweeping the state. However, over time, the sentences have, more often than not, been applied to the average person on the street rather than to well-connected drug kingpins. If you have been charged with a crime that has a mandatory minimum sentence, it is crucial that you enlist an attorney to help you avoid being jailed for a disproportionate amount of time.
3 to 25 Years
Florida has a long history with the spread of illegal drugs, due to its geography and formerly-lax laws. Between the “Cocaine Cowboys” and the pill mills of the 1990s and 2000s, the legislature sought to deter drug crime of all kinds, and assumed mandatory minimum sentences would contribute. Drug use, sale, and trafficking are seen as crimes against society, which led to both state and federal authorities like the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) turning to mandatory minimums as a potential fix.
Today, drug trafficking is considered a felony under both state and federal law, and punished with a mandatory minimum sentence ranging from 3 years to 25 years, depending on the substance in question and the weight involved in each individual case. It is possible for a State’s Attorney to waive the mandatory minimum requirements for an individual case under Florida law, but they rarely if ever do so. Low-level offenders often wind up serving significantly disproportionate sentences simply because mandatory minimums are required, even though the offender may pose no risk to reoffend or may simply need treatment for addiction.
Protect Your Rights
If you are arrested and charged with drug trafficking, you will almost certainly face a mandatory minimum sentence if convicted, despite calls for reform and attempts to eliminate this manner of sentencing. Statistics show that mandatory minimums do not actually reduce crime; data from the Pew Charitable Trusts shows “no statistically significant relationship” between incarceration rates and indicators of actual drug problems within the state in question. Similarly, a study from the James Madison Institute shows that hard-line drug policies cost Florida approximately $100 million per year, with no discernable lowering of the drug crime rate in the state.
While lawmakers fight to repeal or reform Florida’s sentencing scheme, the best approach for a person facing trafficking charges is to enlist an experienced attorney and make sure your rights are protected. An attorney can articulate your defense or, if nothing else, at least try to work out a deal where you do not face a mandatory minimum sentence if convicted. While drug crimes are serious, some cases reveal much less criminal intent than others, and should be treated differently, even if the law will not allow this at present.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Trafficking Attorney
As of this writing, drug crimes will almost always result in a mandatory minimum sentence in Florida, despite statistics showing the expense and the ineffectuality of such a course. If you have been charged with drug trafficking, contacting a West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can help ensure you get your day in court. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.