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How Florida's New Opioid Law Can Increase Drug Possession Charges

Florida criminal defense lawyerTough new drug laws in Florida will deal harsher penalties, including mandatory-minimum prison sentences, to many criminal defendants, particularly those ensnared by the opioid crisis.

News4Jax reported that new measures which took effect July 1 will limit doctors' ability to write prescriptions for certain narcotics used to treat acute pain to only 3 days. The bill will also require physicians to consult a statewide database before prescribing or dispensing controlled substances.

Cancer patients, people who are terminally ill, and those who suffer from major trauma would be exempt from the prescribing limits. However, the real risk is that the measure will push struggling users out of the medical system and straight into the criminal court system.

Limited access to prescription drugs may place patients at risk of obtaining opioids illegally. Florida takes a harsh stance on opioid possession. Even a first-time offender can face a minimum of three years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000 for possessing 4 to 14 grams of fentanyl, as outlined in Title XLVI, Chapter 893 of Florida code.

Defense of Opioid Drug Charges in Clay County

A criminal defense lawyer in Clay County knows that many Floridians have grown addicted to prescription pain killers after a serious injury. In other cases, doctors have over-prescribed pain medication for a certain period of time and then abruptly ended access, leaving patients re-victimized and forced to turn to street drugs to either control pain or manage addiction.

We recently reported on tough new fentanyl penalties (HB 477), which address the growing opioid crisis with incarceration rather than treatment. The law institutes mandatory minimum sentences for some defendants convicted of trafficking fentanyl and permits drug dealers to be charged with murder for overdose deaths.

Real Criminal Consequences for Florida Residents

The real risk is that good citizens, unfamiliar with the criminal justice system, will face very serious and significant criminal penalties.

Criminal penalties for Schedule I and Schedule II narcotics were already among the most serious crimes on the books. Defendants with little experience in the criminal justice system are statistically most likely to accept a plea offer from prosecutors. The temptation is to put an incident behind you as quietly and quickly as possible. However, this is often a mistake, as a criminal drug conviction will have significant consequences for years to come.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Clay County can help you mitigate the consequences of a felony drug charge. Clay County Drug Court may offer counseling and support services to defendants in some cases. Other alternative sentence options may also be available, particularly for first-time offenders. Defendants who assert their legal rights have a better chance of making a clean break and a fresh start.

If you are facing drug charges, it's best to contact Aguilar & Sieron, P.A. today and find out how we can help you.

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