Alternative Sentencing Motions
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.