• Success Story

25 Year Minimum Mandatory Prison Sentence Avoided for Drug Trafficking

By |2022-02-07T14:22:17-05:00February 7th, 2022|Categories: Success Stories|

Facts:

Our client, a 25 yr old young man, sold hydromorphone pills and crack cocaine to an undercover detective. The sales were between $20-$100 each and took place in Clearwater and Pinellas Park. The detective worked for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Our client was not arrested on the spot. Instead, the charges were referred to the State Attorney’s Office for prosecution. A warrant was eventually issued for his arrest for 10 total charges- five sale of controlled substance charges and five possession of controlled substance charges. Our client had no idea that there was a warrant for his arrest. He also had no idea that the person he sold the drugs to was actually a law enforcement office.

Once the warrant for his arrest was live, the police began looking for him. They set up surveillance outside of his girlfriend’s apartment in St. Petersburg. Eventually, they saw him exit the apartment and drive off in her car. He was stopped for illegal window tint (we checked it and it was actually illegal). Our client was arrested for the warrant. In the car, the police found 32 grams of hydromorphone (dilaudid), 9 grams of powder cocaine, and less than a gram of crack cocaine. He also had a suspended driver’s license.

Charges:

In addition to the 10 charges that were pending, he was also charged with trafficking in hydromorphone, a 1st degree felony which carries a 25 year minimum mandatory prison sentence. He was also charged with felony possession of cocaine, and felony driving on a suspended license. Needless to say, he was in a lot of trouble. Fortunately, he was able to bond out, which allowed him to get to work on his defense.

The Case:

Our client was only 25 and his girlfriend was pregnant with their first child. He had a small prior record of mostly juvenile offenses. It was clear that he had a drug problem and was selling to support his habit. His life and future was in our hands.

We immediately had him get evaluated at Solutions Behavioral Healthcare Consultants https://solutionscounseling.org/. He was recommended to do 12 weeks of intensive counseling and random urine screens. He took the counseling seriously, did well, and completed the treatment.

We also found out that his driver’s license was not suspended, he actually never had one. We had him take the driver’s education and road test and get a license for the first time in his life.

Finally, we had him get a job. It looked terrible that he was only using and selling drugs. We needed him to get a job and he complied. I think he joined a landscaper.

The Plea Deal:

We asked the prosecutor to consider that the drugs were not found in a car that was registered to him and that he never admitted to ownership. It was clear that they buy that argument, but they were still ready to reward him for his effoerts to straighten out his life. His child was born and he was a small time dealer simply caught with too many pills. The prosecutor agreed to waive the 25 year minimum mandatory, which was huge. Even better, instead of prison, he had to serve 1 year in the Pinellas County Jail. Once he was released, he had to be on drug offender probation. He even got the chance to early terminate the probation. On the driving on a suspended license charge, it was reduced to a misdemeanor no valid license and he got time served.

Conclusion:

Our efforts literally saved this young man’s life and the future of his family. His family will be able to visit him in jail and he will be clean once he gets out. He was given a chance to save himself.

When I announced the plea deal in court, the people in a the courtroom said it was the “deal of the century.” I even had someone run after me in the hallway and ask me for a business card. I was extremely proud to be able to give my client another chance. He and his family said the deal was better than they ever could have imagined. But, it was his efforts to follow through on the plan that I put in place that earned him this break. Had he done nothing like the thousands of other people that come through the criminal justice system, he would have been in prison right now.

Sean McQuaid