Congressman’s cocaine arrest in D.C. helps illustrate Florida’s punitive drug laws

The Florida Congressman who pleaded guilty to cocaine possession in Washington, D.C., this month for possession of cocaine would have faced much more severe penalties had he been busted in his home state. Congressman Trey Radel, who represents the Fort Meyers area, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession and faces a maximum of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to a report in the Miami Herald. Radel bought cocaine from an undercover agent after the person Radel had been buying from was arrested and gave authorities Radel’s name, the newspaper reported. Radel is now on a leave of absence from his Congressional role, but compared to how his case would have been handled in Florida, Radel is fortunate he was not busted in the Sunshine State.

In Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases, and all Florida Drug Crimes cases, possession of any amount of cocaine is a felony. Any amount whatsoever. There is no such thing as a misdemeanor cocaine possession charge, as there is in Washington. In Jacksonville drug crimes cases, possession of cocaine is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Outside of marijuana, nearly all Jacksonville Drug Crimes and Florida Drug Crimes are felonies and not misdemeanors. When it comes to prescription narcotics, it’s the same thing. All charges are felonies. And, what can be even more devastating in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases, are the minimum mandatory sentences that kick in – even on amounts as small as a few pills.
While there are some instances with first-time offenders that people can enter drug treatment and have the adjudication withheld if the defendant meets certain criteria in probation, those are details that would have to be negotiated and could drag the case out.

If Radel was to just immediately plead guilty, as he did in Washington, he would have lost his voting rights and right to carry a gun – both rights that can eventually be restored but are automatic when someone pleads guilty to or is convicted of a felony in the state of Florida. Another penalty, which is not as well known, that any plea or conviction to any Jacksonville Drug Crime results in an automatic two-year suspension of a person’s driver’s license. Professionally, there’s no doubt this may be difficult for Radel to overcome. But from a legal perspective, he’s fortunate he was busted in Washington and not charged with a Florida Drug Crime. Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of people on drug crimes charges in Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney knows all of the ancillary consequences of pleading guilty to a crime and can advise you of the ramifications, and thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Duval County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.