Florida Legislature Considers Revoking Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
Florida was one of the first states to pass mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws back in 1979. Now the State Legislature is considering a bill to end mandatory minimum sentences related to drug trafficking. These sweeping changes are supported by studies and policy briefs that establish the high taxpayer costs of increased incarceration – which has not been found to be an effective deterrent to drug crimes. The proposed bill could have dramatic consequences for those currently serving drug sentences in Florida.
The skilled attorney at Stroleny Law, P.A has experience in both defending drug cases and in post-conviction matters (such as modifying an existing sentence pursuant to a current law). He can help protect your legal rights during a criminal investigation, charging and other pretrial matters, at trial, and after a conviction. Call (305) 615-1285 today to arrange your free phone consultation.
What Does This Mean For Existing Sentences?
WJTC Public Media reports that the Florida First Step Act was introduced by State Senator Jeff Brandes, a Republican from St. Petersburg. Brandes and other conservative lawmakers have expressed concerns at the high taxpayer costs of lengthy incarceration for defendants sentenced under mandatory minimums for low-level drug offenses. (A study from the James Madison Institute estimates that low-level drug sentencing costs Florida $100 million every year.) Policy briefs have also found that lengthy mandatory minimum sentences do not actually deter crime. One policy director told WJTC that not only were the policy goals of mandatory minimum sentencing not met, but the opposite effects have actually occurred. “We have more drugs on the street now per capita than we did (when the policy was enacted); drug prices are lower, indicating greater supply; we have a higher drug overdose rate now than then.”
This does not mean that every existing Florida sentence would be overturned or reduced simply because it was issued under a mandatory minimum. There is, however, a separate bill pending before the state legislature that would make sentencing reductions retroactive. If this bill passes, defendants serving a mandatory minimum sentence could – with the provisions of both laws – petition a court for a reduction in their prison terms. According to the Florida Times-Union, the bill would automatically make all criminal justice reforms retroactive – including a 2014 change to drugs laws, and including any future changes to Florida’s existing mandatory minimums.
Protect Your Legal Rights in Sentencing With an Experienced Miami Criminal Defense Attorney
Mandatory minimum sentences have unfairly prevented judges from imposing individualized sentences that fairly reflect a defendant’s actions. If pending legislation passes, many defendants will have the opportunity to review their case anew. This is why it is important to consult with an experienced Miami drug crimes attorney. Call (305) 615-1285 today to arrange your free phone consultation. With a skilled Florida defense attorney in your corner, you will be better able to protect yourself from improper law enforcement investigations, prosecutions, or excessive punishments – all of which are prohibited by the Constitution.
Stroleny Law, P.A. handles a variety of criminal law cases, so call now if you have any questions.
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