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Proposed law would reduce federal drug charge punishments

Drug crimes are one of the most common criminal offenses that individuals are accused of in Florida. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, the drug crimes may fall under federal court jurisdiction. In comparison, with a state-level offense, a federal drug charge will have different laws and potential punishments associated with it. Often, the punishments are much more severe in federal drug court, but this could change.

A U.S. senator recently introduced a bill that could make things easier on those accused and convicted of a federal drug charge. The bill, known as the Smarter Sentencing Act, has bipartisan political support. If passed, it would provide federal judges with more authority to grant non-violent drug convicts lighter and more reasonable sentences.

The Smarter Sentencing Act is part of a larger movement to lessen the length and severity of punishments relating to federal drug crimes. At this time, the federal prison system is burdened by massive amounts of non-violent convicts who were incarcerated for drug crimes. A lot of people see the cost of incarcerating these individuals as over-burdensome on the federal budget. They also see the lengthy jail terms as unfair, considering that the individuals are not guilty of committing violence.

It is important to remember that the Smarter Sentencing Act has not yet been passed into law. Also, even if the legislation is passed, the best course of action for an individual accused of a federal drug charge is still not to get convicted in the first place. Fortunately, no Florida resident accused of a drug charge will face punishment for the allegations unless he or she is proved to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a proper court of law.

Source: thehill.com, "Drug traffickers are driving federal prison growth, study says", Lydia Wheeler, March 11, 2015

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Ian F. Mann PA

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