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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / Navigating Florida’s Legal System As A First-Time Drug Offender

Navigating Florida’s Legal System As A First-Time Drug Offender


There are some people who sadly become used to navigating the legal system. However, the experience is very different for most first-time offenders, particularly if their alleged crime is a drug-related offense. While it is possible for some first-time drug offenders to experience a lighter sentence or avoid jail time, it is important to know that Florida takes drug crimes very seriously, and sometimes, the sentence will be the same as it would be for an experienced offender. An attorney can help you clarify your position.

Different Potential Paths

Because of Florida’s past history with drugs and drug distribution, even simple possession of a small amount of a controlled substance can be charged harshly in the state’s courts. The major factors that can impact sentencing if convicted, however, have to do with the classification of the substance involved, and the amount of the drug (or, if mixed with something else, the weight of the mixture). For example, possession of a small amount of heroin (Schedule I) and a large amount of anti-epileptic drugs (Schedule V) will result in similar sentences.

Even a first offense in Florida can result in significant jail time, plus fines and any court costs. Still, it is worth noting that despite Florida’s harsh drug laws, first-time offenders are sometimes shown a degree of leniency, such as being offered pretrial diversion options instead of simply facing jail time at trial. Florida’s legislature is committed to different paths for different criminal offenders, granting a chance at redemption for those deemed to merit it.

Pretrial Diversion Is An Option

If you have been charged with a drug offense in Florida, and you meet the requirements, you may qualify for a program known as drug court. The first drug court was opened in Miami-Dade County in 1989, but now they are run in almost every Florida county, including Palm Beach. Drug court is a program involving not only counseling services, but also random drug tests and the kind of supervision that many people need in order to succeed. Palm Beach County’s drug court is somewhat unique in that it is not restricted to first-time offenders, though the majority of its clientele still falls in that category.

If you are approved to attend drug court and fail to complete the program, your charges will be reinstated and allowed to proceed, but if you complete the program, the charges will be dismissed and in some cases, expunged. Drug court and pretrial programs are not the best choice for every defendant, but if this is your first time in trouble with the law, it may be a good option for you, particularly if you are able to stick with the program and avoid potential jail time.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug crime in Florida, but have never been in trouble with the law before, you may be feeling frightened or overwhelmed. A West Palm Beach drug offenses attorney at Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help – we are ready to guide you through the legal process and protect your rights. Call our office today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.



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