It’s unfortunate but true that America has declared a unilateral drug war against its own citizens. The power of the state could have been used to promote awareness of the risks of various drugs and to help those addicted beat their habits. Instead otherwise law-abiding citizens are branded as criminals. Many are arrested on the flimsiest of excuses as law enforcement officers become liars in an effort to lock up as many people as possible.
Once arrested those suspected of having even small quantities of drugs often face significant prison sentences in federal and state courts in Florida. For example, it only takes being in possession of a handful of oxycodone, vicodin or other otherwise legal prescription pills to create a situation where a judge has no discretion to go under the federal or Florida minimum mandatory sentencing requirements. Even when a minimum mandatory sentence does not apply the strict standards of the sentencing guidelines may require a judge to give prison time even for a first time offender. Clearly the strict drug laws must be changed as soon as possible. The laws should focus on rehabilitation not punishment and on helping people not hurting them. More peoples lives have been destroyed by the strict enforcement of American drug laws than have been harmed by the illegal drugs themselves. But until federal and Florida drug laws are amended Clearwater criminal defense lawyers must find the best possible ways to minimize the terrible damage done to countless lives after a drug arrest. Here are the most important and effective things to do if you or someone you love has been arrested for a drug charge in Tampa Bay, Florida:
- Do whatever is necessary to get out of the Pinellas Jail which is well known for having poor food, unsafe conditions and providing poor medical care. Contact a bail bondsman if you don’t have the entire bail amount. Typically by paying ten percent of the entire bond to the bondsman which you forfeit as his fee, the bondsman pays the remaining 90% thus insuring that you don’t have to wait for months in jail while the case is being resolved. If the bond is still too high then a lawyer can file a motion with the judge to lower the bond by establishing that you are not a flight risk and that you have strong ties to the community.
- As soon as possible contact a reliable defense lawyer who is committed to helping you find the best results. Make sure the lawyer has prior criminal law experience and that criminal law is his one field of practice rather than finding a general practitioner or someone who also does civil law.
- Help your lawyer help you by providing any evidence you may have such as phone records, bank records, video or audio. It’s important to remember that you and your lawyer are now a team working together for the common goal of keeping you out of prison and finding the best result. Any information you provide may be helpful in arguments your lawyer may present to the prosecutor or judge in an effort to have your case dismissed or reduced to a misdemeanor.
- If the case can not be dismissed or reduced then it’s important to make a decision as soon as possible as to whether or not to have a jury trial. If you are not going to trial then you may want to co-operate with the government to obtain a better sentence. If you’re going to fight the charges then taking sworn depositions of the witnesses may be necessary. The decision on whether to go to trial is often pivotal as to how much prison time may be at risk.
It’s possible that your drug case may be decided in the special drug court. If that happens trial is unlikely as the purpose of the drug court is to give the judge other options than prison and punishment. Whether your case is decided in drug court or in a typical felony division, the Florida sentencing guidelines provide the map by which the judge will make most sentencing decisions. Therefore it’s important that your defense lawyer understand the sentencing guidelines and how they apply in your drug case.