Interviewer: Is there any leniency for first time offenders when it comes to drug cases?
Randy Berman: The leniency comes in with the drug courts. First time offenders, if it’s not a trafficking quantity of drug are almost always offered the option of going to the drug court, going through the program and getting the case dismissed. But leniency in the form of just letting them go doesn’t happen.
Repeat Offenders are a Common Occurrence when it comes to Drug Related Cases
Interviewer: How often do people receive second or third kind of offenses in drug cases? Does that happen often?
Randy Berman: It’s happens more often in drug cases. The people repeat the offense more often than any other type of charge because they are generally associated with addiction which has been determined to be a disease. When someone is afflicted with a disease and doesn’t address the disease effectively that disease will continue to make them choose wrong decisions and get re-arrested for possession or sale.
The Process of Initial Arraignment for Drug Related Charges in the State of Florida
Interviewer: Going to the actual process, what happens during the initial hearing or initial arraignment? What happens there?
Randy Berman: Well, it depends. For first time offenders, with low quantities of drugs, the cases are transferred to the drug courts. For people with more serious drug charges, the case proceeds in the same manner as any other criminal case proceeds. The state attorney delivers the discovery to the defense. The discovery includes any police reports, witness statements, recorded statements, drug analysis by the lab and any other evidence that the government intends to introduce against you. Then your attorney will review that with you and you come to a decision about your strategy of defending your case. That might be pretrial motions, it might entail working out a plea deal and ultimately if no plea deal is reached, getting prepared for and going to trial.
Potential Timeframe of Resolution for a Drug Related Case in Florida
Interviewer: How long could a case potentially last?
Randy Berman: That also depends on a number of factors: how many witnesses are involved, whether there are scientific issues to explore, whether you need to engage expert witnesses and whether there are a number of pretrial motions to be filed. The more involved the facts and issues of the case are, the longer it takes to get prepared for trial. It can be as quick as three months or it can drag on for close to two years.
Generally it will fall somewhere in the middle. In a case that’s going to go to trial usually it’ll take about a year to prepare and proceed.
Violation of Constitutional Issues Can Potentially Suppress Evidence and Have the Case Dismissed Prior to Trial
Interviewer: How are some ways that cases, drug cases get dismissed?
Randy Berman: Well, prior to trial if you’ve got constitutional issues that allow you to suppress evidence, suppress or quash the arrest, if those motions are granted the cases get dismissed. If you go to trial you don’t actually get dismissed, you get acquitted because if the jury finds you not guilty, you get acquittal. There is no dismissal, you already went to trial but you’ll walk away the same way, without a conviction.
Drug Cases Are Not Restricted from Sealing or Expunction in the State of Florida
Interviewer: If someone was to have it dismissed would they then be able to have it removed from the record eventually?
Randy Berman: Yes, with some restrictions. Certain offenses do not allow for a sealing or expunction. Drug cases don’t have that restriction so if the case gets dismissed prior to trial then that can be immediately expunged. If you get acquitted after you go to trial, initially that case can be sealed then ultimately after ten years of sealing it can be expunged.
The Failure to Give Miranda Warning When You are Arrested Does Not Negate the Validity of the Arrest
Interviewer: If I was arrested for a drug crime and I was not read my Miranda rights, would that case be dismissed?
Randy Berman: No. The Miranda rights only protect you from being a witness against yourself. If you are not read your Miranda rights and you make some of the statements that implicate yourself that statement is subject to being excluded from the trial so that the jury will not be able to hear that admission. The failure to give Miranda warning when you are lawfully arrested does not negate the lawfulness of the arrest or the right of the prosecutor to proceed with the prosecution.