This week, the Florida Senate made moves toward passing a bill that would lessen sentences for first time drug offenders and would also allow for judges to have a little more say in drug-related conviction sentencing on a case-by-case basis.
Senator Robert Bradley, a Republican representing Fleming Island is the one responsible for sponsoring Senate Bill 346. The proposed bill states that its purpose is “prohibiting the imprisonment for longer than a certain time for persons who possess, purchase, or possess with the intent to purchase less than specified amounts of certain substances; authorizing a court to impose a sentence other than the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment and mandatory fine for a person convicted of trafficking if the court makes certain findings on the record; deleting eligibility requirements relating to a person’s conduct before the person’s wrongful conviction or incarceration, etc.”
The bill was first filed in September 2019 and has officially made its way through being adopted by the Senate without debate in an almost unanimous vote, with only one objection by Sen. Travis Hutson of Palm Coast. Senator Bradley explains that passing this bill would be the right thing to do, not only for those being convicted, but also for taxpayers. According to a Washington Examiner article, “The measure is excepted to reduce the state’s 96,000 prison population by 4,800 for a potential savings of $50 million.”
The bill would also for those who have been wrongfully behind bars since 2008 “who had a violent felony or more than one nonviolent felony before their wrongful conviction and incarceration” to be considered for compensation based on wrongful incarceration, that would be paid at a rate of $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration up to a limit of $2 million. Those with violent felonies or multiple nonviolent felonies would not be eligible for this change.
In the past, bills of this nature have note been of interest to the House, however it appears that times are changing. The bill will soon make its way to the House and we will be keeping an eye on its progress.
If you or a loved one are in need of legal assistance, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is a smart first step. Russell Spatz has ample experience in several fields of criminal law including drug convictions, white collar crime, probation violations, domestic violence, DUI, and more. Give him a call today at (305) 442-0200 to set up a consultation.
“The Florida Senate.” Senate Bill 346 (2020) – The Florida Senate, www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/346.
Haughey, John. “Florida Senate Adopts Sentencing Reform for First-Time Drug Offenders.” Washington Examiner, 27 Feb. 2020, www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/florida-senate-adopts-sentencing-reform-for-first-time-drug-offenders.