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In addition to harsh penalties for drug trafficking, Florida law also established mandatory prison sentences for defendants convicted of drug offenses at certain locations. Statute 893.13 lists numerous places where drug offenders may be subject to these enhanced penalties including schools, parks and community centers. The law applies to the sale, delivery, manufacture and possession with intent to sell controlled substances, so basically every crime except simple possession applies. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors love to charge this offense not only due to the potential mandatory 3-year sentence, but also because it elevates a basic delivery charge by one degree. The potential for mandatory or increased time has persuaded many defendants from pleading guilty to standard delivery or possession with intent, which is no small crime in itself. If you have been charged with a drug offense within 1,000 feet of a school, church or other protected area do not let police and prosecutors bully you into pleading guilty. There are numerous defenses that may be available in your case, and an experienced lawyer can explain all of these defenses in detail. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in enhanced delivery and possession with intent charges. He has successfully defended numerous defendants facing 3-year mandatory jail sentences, and has won jury trials for delivery within 1,000 feet of a school. Benjamin is available 7 days a week at (954) 543-0305 to offer a free consultation about your case, and has flexible meeting hours at his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach offices.
The laws regarding enhanced penalties for certain drug crimes can be difficult to understand. While the 3-year mandatory penalty is the most severe enhancement, it only applies in applies in cases involving common dangerous street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and crystal meth. It also only applies when the alleged crime is committed within 1,000 feet of child-care facility or a public or private elementary, middle or secondary school from the hours of 6 a.m. to 12 midnight or at all hours within 1,000 of a public park, community center or other area where community based activities occur. In addition to the potential 3-year penalty, any of these charges is elevated to a first-degree felony with a 30-year maximum prison sentence. Other locations such as churches, assisted living facilities and convenience stores are included in the enhanced statute, but violations around these places do not carry a mandatory prison sentence.
Delivery or possession with intent to sell cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school, church, etc. never carries a mandatory prison sentence, but rather is elevated from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. This is a big jump, as second-degree felonies score much higher on the sentencing guidelines. Any drug felony committed within 1,000 feet of a protected area also carries a mandatory $500 fine and 100 hours of community service. Failure to do the entire 100 hours would result in a violation of probation, but some judges allow defendants to buy out community service at $10 per hour.
In order to prove an enhanced location-based drug offense the state must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime actually occurred not an inch less than 1,000 feet. This means a police officer would actually have to go to the scene with a measurement device and count out the feet to the protected location. Through the use of satellite maps, it is sometimes clear that the police were either mistaken or intentionally lying about the distances. An experienced lawyer will be able to effectively cross examine the police in other issues as well, such as the common practice of luring a suspect closer just to meet the 1,000-foot threshold. Benjamin Herbst will not let weak cases like this stand, and does whatever it takes to fight for a dismissal. If you have been charged with a drug felony anywhere in Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach County contact South Florida criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime at (954) 543-0305. Benjamin also is a skilled Treasure Coast lawyer for clients in Martin County and St. Lucie County.