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Posted by FAMM on Thursday, April 27, 2017

 

History of Legislation:

2017:

HB 481 by Representative Ben Diamond, and SB 694 by Senator Jeff Brandes, create exceptions to mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking offenses in Florida. However, while both bills provide such exceptions, they are not identical. Below is a summary of each bill

HB 481

HB 481 adds a section to Florida’s drug trafficking statute. The new section allows sentencing courts to depart from mandatory minimums – down to 1/3 of that minimum – if the court finds on the record that:

  • The defendant has not previously been convicted of drug trafficking or any other violent offense;
  • The defendant did not engage in a “continuing criminal enterprise”;
  • The defendant did not use or threaten violence, or use a weapon, during the offense; and
  • The offense did not result in a death or serious bodily injury to another person.

Example: Under current law, a first-time offender convicted of illegal possession of more than 50 Oxycodone pills faces a 15-year mandatory sentence. Under HB 481, a judge has the option of sentencing the same offender to five years in prison instead. However, if the same defendant has been convicted of drug trafficking (or any violent offense) previously, or if the court finds the defendant meets the criteria for participation in a continuing criminal enterprise, or if the defendant used a weapon or threatened violence during the offense, the judge would not be able to depart from the mandatory minimum.

SB 694

SB 694 adds a section to Florida’s drug trafficking statute. Like, HB 481, the new section allows sentencing courts to depart from mandatory minimums under certain circumstances. However, SB 694 creates fewer exceptions to such departures and does not provide a minimum. Under SB 694, courts may impose a term of imprisonment less than the mandatory minimum if all of the following circumstances are met:

  • The defendant did not engage in a “continuing criminal enterprise”;
  • The defendant did not use or threaten violence or use a weapon during the offense; and
  • The defendant did not cause a death or serious bodily injury.

Example: Under current law, a first-time offender convicted of illegal possession of more than 50 Oxycodone pills faces a 15-year mandatory sentence. Under SB 694, a judge has the option of sentencing the same offender to any prison sentence the court deems warranted. However, if the same defendant is found to have participated in a continuing criminal enterprise, or if the defendant used a weapon or threatened violence during the offense, or if the defendant caused a death or serious bodily injury, the judge would have to impose the mandatory minimum sentence.

2016:
Governor Rick Scott signed CS/SB 228, which repeals the mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated assault with a firearm! Beginning July 1, 2016 – and for the first time since 1999 – judges will have discretion over sentencing in aggravated assault cases. Learn more here. FAMM has worked for years to reform Florida’s 10-20-Life gun sentencing law. 

A new bill to implement a safety valve, a mechanism to enable judges to depart below the mandatory minimum under certain circumstances, has been introduced in the Florida Senate. The bill would restore needed judicial discretion for nonviolent felonies and misdemeanors that carry mandatory minimum sentences. Although it recently passed one committee stop, we do not expect the bill to become law this session; however, we are working closely with the bill’s sponsors and supporters, and hope to lay the groundwork for success in the near future.

2014:
Florida raised the threshold weights that trigger mandatory sentences for Oxycodone and hydrocodone trafficking, and recalibrated mandatory sentences for those offenses. It also created a “safety valve” for certain aggravated assault offenses. In 2016 Florida repealed the mandatory minimum for aggravated assault with a firearm.  

 QUICK FACTS

   State Expenses/Budget: 

  • Florida Department of Corrections prison budget = $2.05 million 
  • Total State cost of prisons = $2.08 billion 
  • Average annual cost per inmate = $20,553  

   State Population: 19.89 million people 

    Prison Population: 

  • Housed: 98,010 inmates in its 150 correctional facilities
  • Supervised: over 136,500 active offenders on community supervision throughout the state.

 

How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Your State

You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.

Encourage your state lawmakers to support mandatory minimum sentencing reform. Be sure to connect with FAMM and other sentencing reformers on Facebook, Twitter, and by signing up for our email list.

Sentencing/Criminal Justice Reform Groups in this State:


October 30, 2017

FAMM Hails Introduction of Drug Mandatory Minimum Reform Bill in Florida

Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 FAMM Hails Introduction of Drug Mandatory Minimum Reform Bill in Florida Tallahassee, Fla. – FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) State Policy Director Greg Newburn today cheered the introduction of a reform to Florida’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws. Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Rep. Ben Diamond (D-St. Petersburg) filed… Read more »


August 2, 2017

Eric Patrick Wright Didn’t Get Justice—and He’s Not Alone

  Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 Eric Patrick Wright Didn’t Get Justice—and He’s Not Alone   WASHINGTON, DC – FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) President Kevin Ring responded to a Florida appeals court’s decision yesterday to uphold Eric Patrick Wright’s 20-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Wright fired a gun at the ground when an ex-girlfriend barged into his… Read more »



May 31, 2017

Fentanyl Trafficking Bill Goes To Scott

Originally published at WUSF News A bill that would impose minimum mandatory sentences for people who traffic in the synthetic drug fentanyl was sent Tuesday to Gov. Rick Scott. The legislation (HB 477), sponsored by Rep. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, and Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, would impose a minimum three-year sentence for anyone caught with at least four… Read more »