Recent data released by the FBI indicates that drug arrests are on the rise across the United States. This trend has serious implications for the thousands of Floridians who are arrested every year on suspicion of drug-related offenses. Long prison terms and staggering fines can affect a defendant’s life for years to come. It is therefore important to consult with a Jacksonville drug defense attorney as soon as possible after any drug-related arrest. An attorney can help defendants find the best way of defending drug charges and protecting important legal rights.
The Trends in Drug Arrest Statistics
According to Forbes, drug arrests increased nearly six percent between 2015 and 2016. More than 1.5 million drug-related arrests were made across America in 2016. This is the equivalent of an arrest every 20 seconds. In Florida, per capita arrest rates reveal which counties have the highest number of arrests for drug offenses. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Bradford County had the highest arrest rate between 2010 and 2015. Roughly 767 drug-related arrests occurred per 100,000 residents in that county. During that same time period, Miami-Dade County had the second highest number of arrests at 618 per 100,000 residents. Monroe County ranked third, Okeechobee fourth, and Pinellas County fifth. Pinellas residents were arrested for drug offenses at a rate of 547 per 100,000 residents.
The Consequences for Florida Defendants
Suspects who are arrested for drug-related offenses in Florida can be charged criminally under state or federal law. The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, found at Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes, addresses drug use in Florida in many different ways. It implements criminal penalties for drug offenses, but it also makes important safety provisions for the careful dispensing of medical drugs by doctors and pharmacists. It also creates safety education and awareness programs to keep the public informed about addiction support and recovery programs.
While health is an important consideration, many defendants are more concerned about the immediate legal consequences of drug charges. Criminal drug charges can result from even common daily activities, such as a routine traffic stop. This is what happened to a Chicago couple traveling on 1-75 in Marion County. Ocala.com reports that the couple was pulled over for speeding. By the time the encounter was over, the driver had been booked on charges of not having a driver’s license, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance and distributing marijuana. The passenger was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance and distributing marijuana.
In other circumstances, drug charges are the result of more organized and targeted law enforcement efforts. News 6 reports on one such drug bust out of Orange County. After a year-long investigation by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, two dozen suspects were arrested on a wide variety of drug trafficking and conspiracy offenses. The group reportedly used a car sales lot to conduct their drug ventures. The ventures consisted of importing heroin and cocaine from Puerto Rico using both the United States Postal Service and private delivery services.
Regardless of the circumstances of a drug arrest, it is important for defendants to seek legal advice. A Jacksonville drug defense attorney can help defendants protect their constitutional rights and mitigate the damage of criminal charges for drug offenses.