Tampa Criminal Defense Law Firm, Law Offices of Ben Stechschulte, Blog

Drug Crimes

Feds Reverse Decision on Minimum Mandatory Sentencing Due to Opioid Epidemic

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reinstated the push for federal prosecutors to charge even the lowest level drug users and sellers with the most severe charges possible. Under the federal minimum mandatory sentencing requirements, individuals now face 20 or more years in prison. For this reason, you need an expert criminal defense attorney by your side. Learn more in our recent blog.

Florida’s Response to Opioid Epidemic is Extreme

In response to the opioid epidemic, Florida has chosen to create new minimum mandatory sentencing requirements specifically targeting the possession of fentanyl. This rare course of action places anyone who possesses as little as four grams of fentanyl at risk of receiving a 3 year prison sentence. Criminal defense attorney Ben Stechschulte discusses this issue, as well as the importance of skilled representation.  

Tampa Decriminalizes Possession of Marijuana (Up to 20 Grams)

Although not legal, possession of small amounts of marijuana (less than 20 grams) will now draw a citation instead of an arrest in the City of Tampa.  Beware that misdemeanor charges will still apply when related to driving under the influence and in areas of Hillsborough County not included in the new ordinance like Brandon and Town n' Country. 

Weight and Consistency Critical Factors in Defense of Drug Charges

The severity of the penalty in drug trafficking charges is based, in part, on the amount of drugs in the defendant’s possession. Experienced defense attorneys challenge law enforcement’s and prosecutors’ numbers by focusing on the actual weight versus estimated weight and the consistency of the drugs in question to limit their client’s exposure to penalties and prison time.

Defending Synthetic Marijuana Cases

The laws surrounding synthetic marijuana, also known as spice, are constantly changing. Synthetic marijuana is considered more potent so, in terms of sentencing, a gram of XLR 11 (a current popular form of spice) is equal to 167 grams of marijuana. When judges use this equation to determine a jail sentence, those convicted of manufacturing, selling or using are seeing sentences increase from probation or 1-3 years to 12 to 20+ years. Criminal defense attorneys need to constantly monitor these changing laws to develop the most effective strategies to use for their clients.

Defense Still Viable After Defeat of Amendment 2

Even though Amendment 2 did not pass in Florida and it is still illegal to smoke marijuana for medical purposes, prosecutors and judges have recognized in some cases its validity.  The use of marijuana for medical purposes has to be proven that is will do less harm than the traditional treatment.  Extensive documentation from your doctor or clinic is important when pursuing a medical marijuana defense.  

You Shouldn't do a Long Time for that Drug Crime

Mandatory minumum prison sentences for drug crimes fill our prison systems with non-voiolent criminals, often times minor offenses.   Evidence also suggests the system is not deterring drug crimes.  Florida also has its own mandatory minumum sentence laws that should be ammended, allowing judges more discresion during sentencing to lighten the load on our prisons.