Those accused of drug crimes have legal alternatives

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

The penalties for possessing or using illegal drugs in Florida are significant.

In many cases, a conviction for a drug charge can lead to time in jail or prison and fines. They also may have to deal with a period of probation. Many times, probation includes other requirements like drug testing, mandatory counseling or home visits.

Furthermore, even one conviction, especially a felony conviction, can limit if not ruin a person’s job prospects and other goals. It can be hard even to find housing after a drug conviction.

In short, what may have been a one-time lapse of judgment can have serious and long-term consequences beyond jail.

Thankfully, Polk County residents have some alternatives to traditional criminal proceedings.

For example, the Office of the State Attorney which serves Polk County has a drug diversion program.

The idea behind a diversion program is that a person can work through the prosecutor’s office with respect to taking the right steps to avoid another drug crime.

If a person in a diversion program fulfills the requirements, the prosecution should either dismiss the charge or agree not to file charges at all. Whether a person qualifies for diversion depends on their individual circumstances, but they can explore this alternative.

In other cases, a person may qualify for the local drug court. Unlike diversion, these programs, which are formally called problem solving courts, involve a formal charge and hearings before a judge. Still, the point of problems solving court is to give a person a chance to show they have learned from their mistakes and can move on.

If a person completes the program, they will avoid many serious consequences of a drug offense.

Sometimes, the best legal strategy is to mount a defense to drug charges

Again, not everyone qualifies for a drug court referral. Ultimately, the judge decides who to admit to the program and under what terms and conditions.

Furthermore, it is sometimes not in a person’s best interest to enter one of these programs. Usually, entering one of these programs will require a person to acknowledge legal responsibility for their charge.

If someone did not do what police and prosecutors claim, or if they believe law enforcement acted unlawfully, they may consider mounting a defense to the charges against them.