In Florida, can drug trafficking mandatory minimums be waived?
Florida's drug crimes are strict, especially trafficking charges. Trafficking charges are not always much harder to prove for the state than a simple possession case, but carry a much heftier penalty. Trafficking charges carry what are commonly referred to as "min mans" or mandatory minimum sentences.
The sentence depends on the amount of controlled substance someone is caught with. The lowest mandatory minimum is 3 years prison and a $50,000 fine all the way up to a potential life sentence with a $250,000 fine. These are statutorily mandated and a judge does not have the authority to waive these sanctions. There is, however, a very narrow way around these minimum mandatory sentences.
One way around a mandatory minimum is to have the state waive the sanctions. Florida statute 893.135 allows a prosecutor to waive any min man sanction under one circumstance -- substantial assistance. This means the person facing the min man must assist law enforcement or prosecutor in going after co-defendants or another target of law enforcement.
This may involve being an informant, setting up a deal, or testifying against other individuals. When a prosecutor seeks to waive these sanctions, a hearing must be held in front of a judge and detectives must be notified of the state's intent to seek a waiver of the sanctions. The judge will hear testimony from the prosecutor and law enforcement and make a decision to waive the penalties. If the state and law enforcement are in agreement to waive the penalties, it is likely that the judge will do so.
Another way to get out from underneath a mandatory minimum is to convince the prosecutor to amend the charge to a lesser criminal charge that does not involve a mandatory sentence, such as possession of drugs with intent to sell.
Please contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.