Florida is a hot bed of drug use and distribution, as its location makes it easier to import a variety of illegal substances, with cocaine being a popular one. If you face a drug charge, whether it be possession, manufacturing, distribution or trafficking, you may think a conviction means automatic jail time. However, you may be able to avoid jail if your attorney is able to come up with a good defense, and even with a conviction jail is not necessarily the route you will have to take.
According to FindLaw, the prosecutor is the one who must present evidence of the illegal nature of the drug, the defendant's knowledge of its presence and that the drug was under the control of the defendant. A defendant's lawyer may be able to fight the charges by presenting evidence that the defendant did not know about the drugs or was not aware they were illegal. Other defense tactics include a medical prescription (this includes for marijuana), proving police entrapment and unlawful search and seizure.
Even if the result of the trial is a conviction, the Florida Courts discuss specific drug courts that may allow nonviolent defendants to partake in intervention programs in lieu of jail. As part of the program, an offender may:
- Attend substance abuse education classes
- Go through drug rehab programs
- Partake in regular drug testing
- Meet regularly with probation officers
- Receive addiction services
Over the years, studies show the use of drug courts not only decrease the number of prison-bound offenders, but they also result in enhanced treatment outcomes, crime reduction and improved cost benefits.