NBC Miami reports that a veteran Miami-Dade police officer was arrested this past week for allegedly obtaining illegal prescriptions for medications.
He has been charged with trafficking in oxycodone.
In the State of Florida, trafficking in oxycodone is one of the most serious trafficking offenses that you can be charged with. If the amount in possession is over 28 grams, you are facing a 25-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.
While reports have not released how much oxycodone (the generic name of the drug OxyContin) the officer allegedly had in his possession, published reports have shown that the officer is being held on a $200,000 bond.
Bonds in trafficking cases are typically high because Courts fear that suspected traffickers will use drug money to post their bonds. Also, due to the mandatory prison terms required by law, the Courts also fear that people accused of trafficking offenses are more likely to flee.
Remember - trafficking has nothing to do with the transportation or sale of drugs. Trafficking, under Florida law, is entirely based on weight. That means that what is technically drug possession will actually be drug trafficking if you are accused of being in possession of the threshold weight.
Possession of oxycodone without a prescription is a simple 3rd degree felony. In fact, with little or no prior criminal history, you will probably be given a chance to go to Drug Court.
However, let's presume that somebody has a serious drug addiction and has in their possession several bottles of oxycodone pills. This person may have no criminal history and no intent to sell these pills, but if they have over 4 grams in their possession, they are already looking at trafficking charges. If they have over 28 grams in their possession, they are now looking at a mandatory prison sentence of 25 years.
Don't get me wrong, folks. I am a proud Floridian. But our government has very unusual priorities. Why is it that a good citizen with no criminal history but a drug problem can go to prison for 25-years whereas a person who displays a firearm during the commission of a felony only faces a mandatory 10-year sentence? It just doesn't make sense.
I can't change the law but I can fight back. As a criminal defense attorney, I fight each and every day of my life to get mandatory sentences waived.
While the Courts have no discretion to waive trafficking mandatory minimums, the State Attorney can. I have been successful in getting prosecutors to waive mandatory sentences in several trafficking cases. While past results do not guarantee future results, I may be able to do the same for you.
This officer is not a drug dealer. He is a working man who proudly serves his community. But like so many of our colleagues, friends, and loved ones; he probably suffers from a drug addiction.
Painkillers, such as oxycodone, are highly addictive. Many people are prescribed them for injuries, and then once the injury heals and the prescription runs out, they find themselves addicted to the drug.
This officer should be given a chance to recover from his disease. He should not be made to rot in prison for making a personal choice that is harmful to nobody but himself.
We need reform of our state trafficking laws immediately.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward. He was a prosecutor in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and now handles criminal defense matters exclusively. Call today to speak with Attorney Eric Matheny regarding your case, or the case of a friend or family member.