Yesterday, June 11th 2017, Governor Scott signed into law the latest House Bill 477 increasing the penalties for people convicted of trafficking in Fentanyl.
This is in response to the epidemic of fentanyl abuse and the number of deaths from overdoses. The dealers are coming under attack by law enforcement, and you can expect to see homicide charges filed in overdose cases where they can identify the supplier of the fentanyl. The penalties are going through the roof and any dealer charged with trafficking in fentanyl, if convicted can expect to receive a long minimum mandatory sentence. This new effort is supposed to be combined with more availability for treatment but bed space is still a big issue at the rehab facilities
I have been blogging on this for a year. There needs to be a civil commitment of a person who overdoses for at least ten days. If this was enacted it would help identify the addicts and get them help before they go on to overdose. As it stands, if a person addicted, overdoses and is revived, there is no mandatory treatment and they are free to go. Stiff prison sentences addresses part of the problem, but not the underlying cause which is addiction. I wish the legislators and law enforcement had thought out the problem a little better when they passed the law creating the drug database for opioid pill users. No one really anticipated the fact that the addicts when deprived of the opiates (OxyContin, oxycodone and Percocet) would simply switch to the alternative heroin.
Fentanyl, because of its strength and availability, has now replaced heroin and now people are dropping like flies
The legislature needs to look at the pawn shop laws and change them. The pawn shops facilitate addicts by making it easy for them to sell stolen items. I recently had a case where a local pawn shop took in over 300 items from an addict in a year. Not once was any item redeemed. The items were all new. The addict obviously was stealing them from his employer and there is no possible way the pawn shop can claim they are not a willing participant in dealing in stolen property. Preventing crime associated with addiction should be the goal. Punishment of the addict seldom accomplishes anything.
As a Sarasota and Bradenton criminal defense lawyer I can honestly say, more punishment is not the answer.
Law enforcement, the prosecutors and the Court’s are going to show no mercy. The penalties are going to be harsh, and there will be little sympathy from the jurors in cases of death. The prosecutors are also going to try and deprive people of being able to hire a good defense attorney and will try to prevent them from bonding out by requiring a nebbia hearing with respect to bond premiums and collateral. If a relative is arrested on a trafficking charge, they are in for a long uphill battle. As a former federal agent, former federal prosecutor and thirty year veteran criminal defense lawyer, I see the writing on the wall.
The Fentanyl war has begun
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