On May 5, 2017 the Florida legislature passed a bill which adds penalties for Drug Trafficking in Fentanyl. The bill lays out that anyone who “knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession” of at least four but less than 14 grams, the mandatory minimum prison term would be three years, plus a $50,000 fine. For at least 14 but less than 28 grams, the mandatory minimum prison term would be seven years, plus a $100,000 fine. For at least 28 grams but less than 30 kilograms, the mandatory minimum prison term would be 15 years, plus a $500,000 fine. For 30 kilograms or more, punishable by life in prison. If a death related to the drug crime occurs, it can be a Capital Felony plus a large fine.
As prosecutor, I remember having a Fentanyl case and noticing there was no drug trafficking statute for it. There is a federal statute for Trafficking, but nothing at the State level. This legislation appears to be a response to a large rise in recent years of Fentanyl appearing on the streets. Fentanyl is cheap and often mixed with Heroin. It is extremely powerful and easy to cause an overdose.
What is very interesting for defendants is that Senator Randolph Bracy out of Orange County attempted to include the following amendment:“For an offense listed under this subparagraph, a court may depart from the applicable mandatory minimum sentence under sub-subparagraph if the court finds in giving due regard to the nature of the defendant’s crime, the defendant’s criminal history and character, and the defendant’s chance of successful rehabilitation, there are compelling reasons on the record that imposition of the mandatory minimum is not necessary for the protection of the public.”
The amendment originally passed in the Senate, but the House would not agree to it. The Senate then revoted to pass the fentayl legislation without the amendment, which ultimately passed.
This effort by Senator Bracy demonstrates that people are beginning to see that these Drug Trafficking minimum mandatory sentences are putting addicts in prison when other avenues like rehabilitation may be more constructive.