Alternative Sentencing Motions

St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyers Protecting the Rights of the Accused

The war on drugs has been mostly an enormous failure. For decades politicians with little understanding of or care for those suffering from addiction have pushed an agenda of zero tolerance and harsh penalties for drug offenders. Their thought process was that a great deal of crime arises from the drug trade, so ever harsher penalties would have the result of stemming the tide of drugs entering the country. Instead of helping people who need it and providing resources for those suffering the effects of dangerous drugs, our society has instead provided jail cells.

Instead of having any positive effects, the war on drugs has resulted in a huge spike in the amount of people in jail and prison, especially people convicted of nonviolent drug related offenses. In recent years, after reflection and public backlash, it has become clear that the war on drugs has had a significant negative effect on our society as a whole. While our government and elected officials have begun to take steps to reduce the damage done by years of tough on crime policies, there is still a long way to go. If you or a loved one is a victim of the war on drugs, you should immediately contact an experienced St. Petersburg drug crimes lawyer who can advise you about the best way to address your case.

One obvious negative result of the war on drugs has been increased penalties--including harsh prison sentences--for people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. As more and more drug offenders ended up flooding the prison system, our lawmakers began to realize the mistakes they had made and put in place mechanisms to decrease the negative effects of the war on drugs. One of those mechanisms has been the alternative sentencing provision of Florida Statute 948.20.

The alternative sentencing provision of 948.20 applies in several circumstances, and the sentencing judge must conduct an inquiry to determine if the defendant qualifies for an alternative sentence other than prison. First, the defendant must be facing a mandatory prison sentence based on the calculation of his or her criminal punishment code guidelines. Second, the court must determine if the defendant is a chronic substance abuser. If the defendant is a chronic substance abuser, he or she may qualify for an alternative sentence and can proceed with the motion.

After determining that the defendant is a chronic substance abuser, the court then looks to the type of criminal offense that the defendant is facing. If the pending offense is a violation of 893(2)a or (6)a, which criminalizes the simple possession of controlled substances, then the defendant qualifies for an alternative sentence, and the court may sentence the defendant to drug offender probation or post adjudicatory drug court instead of sending him or her to prison. It is important to consult a seasoned St. Petersburg drug crimes lawyer who can determine if your case might qualify for this type of alternative sentence.

The second circumstance where a defendant would qualify for an alternative sentence requires a twofold analysis. First, the court must determine if the defendant is facing charges for a “nonviolent felony.” If the court finds that the offense is not violent, then the court must examine the criminal punishment code scoresheet to determine whether the scoresheet exceeds 60 points. If the crime is nonviolent and the scoresheet calculation is less than 60 points, then the defendant will qualify for an alternative sentence and the court is permitted to sentence him or her to a non-prison sentence.

Speak to Our Lawyers Today

Florida’s criminal statutes can be complex and nuanced. A comprehensive knowledge of Florida’s criminal laws can be the key to achieving the best results on your case. The St. Petersburg drug crime lawyers at Hanlon Law have that knowledge and the experience to put it to use. Call us today for a consultation about your criminal charges at 727-897-5413.

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As a practicing attorney, I was shocked to hear that a family member of mine was alleged to have committed a sex crime. Knowing full well the consequences this type of allegation can have on anyone and their future, I immediately reached out to William Hanlon for help. I had every confidence that Mr. Hanlon had the knowledge, expertise, and experience to handle this problem. Approximately 4 weeks from an initial conference with Mr. Hanlon, we received a call with the news that a letter of release was being issued and the case was being dropped. Now my family member can finally exhale, take a deep breath, and go on with his life. Thank you, William! Jerry
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I was facing a charge that if convicted would carry two years in prison minimally. Not only was he empathetic and listening to what I had to say but he arranged with the prosecutor for my charges not to be filed under terms of a pre trial investigation. Would highly recommend. Alec
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Mr. Hanlon did what no other lawyer could do. Not only did he turn my criminal history into a thing of the past so I could move on, he was a loyal associate. No matter how bad the situation is, he has miraculously cleared me on every charge since he became my lawyer 5 years ago. I have the best lawyer that the legal system has to offer. I have had other really good lawyers try to get my business, but I know that no one can do a better job than William Hanlon. Jesse