On Wednesday, June 14, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed an aggressive law that will implement a new minimum mandatory prison sentence for any person caught with 4 or more grams of the deadly drug fentanyl. According to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, “This legislation was my top priority this session – because it gives law enforcement and prosecutors the tools we need to combat the trafficking of fentanyl and save lives.”
As Florida’s opioid epidemic continues to worsen, this legislation seeks to target drug traffickers and minimize access to addictive and illegal drugs on the street. Fentanyl and carfentanil killed 853 people in the first half of 2016, and over time the death rate has grown. Beginning in October, judges will be legally bound to sentence people based on the amount of fentanyl they are caught holding: 3 years in prison for 4 grams, 15 years in prison for 14 grams, and 25 years in prison for 28 grams.
Despite the government’s honorable intentions, not everybody agrees that mandatory minimum sentences are the best way to handle drug offenders. Many members of the Florida Legislature opposed the bill during voting, because they felt judges should have more discretion to determine the appropriate punishment in difficult cases.
Attorney Maj Vasigh, one of Tampa’s premier criminal defense attorneys, agrees with the members of Congress who opposed the mandatory minimum legislation. According to Vasigh, though mandatory minimums seek to achieve the important goal of reducing illegal drug use, the real life implications of the law will only enhance punishment for addicts, not the dealers themselves who have contributed to the growth of the opioid epidemic.
In Vasigh’s opinion, treatment programs are a far better alternative than extended prison sentences. In addition to costing less than half the price of prison per day, drug treatment programs give addicts an opportunity to recover and become constructive members of society once again. Mandatory minimum laws ultimately make it harder for addicts to seek legitimate forms of support and recovery.
If you need a respected, trusted, and responsive criminal attorney for your own drug charges or other problems, don’t hesitate to contact Attorney Vasigh at (813) 800-1111. He handles everything from domestic violence and DUIs to violations of probation and possession of a controlled substance, so you will always receive the help you need in such a difficult time.