In the State of Florida, as is the case in most states, possession of a controlled substance is a felony offense. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case possession of a controlled substance may be charged as a first, second, or third-degree felony. A felony conviction can have long-term consequences above and beyond the actual sentence imposed by the court. Fortunately, Florida has a drug court program option that may allow you to avoid a conviction on your permanent record or that may allow you to petition for early release from probation if you have already pleaded guilty.
Although eligibility for drug court may vary somewhat by county, most drug courts in Florida are intended for first-time, non-violent offenders who have been charged with a second or third-degree felony for purchasing or possessing a controlled substance. In Florida, drug court is not an option for a defendant who has been charged with selling or trafficking drugs. Even if a defendant meets the statutory criteria for drug court, there is not a guarantee of admittance. The State Attorney has the discretion to admit a defendant to drug court or deny a request for drug court.
From a defendant’s perspective, drug court is a voluntary option. While successful completion of the Florida drug court program does result in significant legal benefits to a defendant the program is intense and is intended for people who have a serious drug program and who are committed to rehabilitation. If you are admitted to Florida drug court you will commit to an 18 to 24-month program that includes treatment for substance abuse, frequent drug testing, and numerous appearances in court.
If you have not yet pleaded guilty to your controlled substance charges you may have the option to enter into the pre-trial drug court option, known as “Pre-Trial Intervention”. If you successfully complete the Pre-Trial Intervention drug court option your charges will be dismissed.
If you already entered into a guilty plea and enter the drug court program as a condition of your probation, you may petition the court for early release from probation AND to have adjudication withheld if you successfully complete the program.
If you have a drug addiction problem the drug court program may be able to help you obtain treatment. In addition, successful completion of the program may prevent a serious felony conviction on your permanent criminal record. If you have been arrested or charged with a drug-related offense you should consult with an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney to determine if you qualify for drug court and to discuss your legal options. Contact the criminal defense team at Powers Sellers & Finkelstein PLC by calling 727-531-2926 today to schedule your appointment.