Many readers in Florida may be surprised to learn that our state spends about $97 million per year housing drug offenders in prison. Many of these people are serving sentences for their first offenses. In fact, three out of four people serving time for prescription drug crime in our state are in prison on their first offense. This includes many who received mandatory sentences for prescription drug crimes.

Some officials note that in Florida, a person who is convicted of a prescription drug crime such as trafficking may receive a prison sentence for as long as 30 years. This is the case even if it is the person’s first offense. Critics of Florida’s current guidelines claim that this is longer than would be the case in many other states.

The concern regarding mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted of prescription drug crimes is that there is no distinction between those who are addicts feeding a habit and those who are selling the drugs to citizens of all ages. Those who have concerns about the sentencing programs note that addicts may benefit more from treatment than from long prison terms. However, as it stands now, judges in Florida have their hands tied as to the length of time that a person spends in prison if they are convicted of prescription drug crimes.

When a person finds that they face prescription drug crime charges, the amount of time that they face in prison can be disconcerting. In particular, for cases in which the person used or sold the drugs to pay for personal use, the time in prison can seem extreme to many. The potential for long prison time makes the preparation of a strong defense extremely important to those who have been accused.

Source: The Palm Beach Post, “North Palm Beach man’s case highlights discrepancies with minimum mandatory sentences for drug trafficking offenses,” Daphne Duret, Oct. 6, 2012