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Drug Court | Broward County Drug Court Treatment Program

Broward County Drug Court

Drug Court Works

The Broward County Drug Court Treatment Program is a pretrial intervention program designed to break the cycle of drug addiction which is crippling the criminal justice system.  Broward County’s Drug Court program is the second oldest in the State of Florida and the third oldest in the nation.  Broward County’s drug court diversion program is divided into felony drug court and misdemeanor drug court.  The Broward County Circuit Court handles felony drug court while the County Court handles misdemeanor drug court.

Drug Court is an Alternative to Punishment

Florida Statute 921.002(1)(b) states that the primary purpose of criminal sentencing is to punish the offender and that rehabilitation is secondary to the goal of punishment.   While completing drug court is not easy, a defendant who completes either felony or misdemeanor drug court will typically be eligible to have his or her criminal record expunged.  Drug court puts rehabilitation first.  Accordingly, the concept of drug court appears to be at odds with Florida Statute 921.002(1)(b).  Nevertheless,  Broward County Drug Court has been in existence for 25 years.   There is no current legislative effort to put an end to drug court and, to the best of my knowledge, there never has been any effort to put an end to drug court.  The reason why there is no legislative push to end drug court is because it works.  Broward County’s Drug Court Treatment Program would have been eliminated long ago if had a high recidivism rate or allowed criminal behavior to continue unchecked.  As such, the legislature appears to have turned a blind eye to drug courts across the State of Florida.

Am I Eligible for Drug Court

Different Circuits have different rules.  In order to be eligible for Broward County’s Drug Court Treatment Program, you must be over 18, have no prior felony convictions and be charged with a second or third degree felony related to a purchase, attempted purchase or possession of a personal quantity of a scheduled controlled substance listed in Florida Statute 893.033.  Drug court is designed to assist individuals with drug problems not drug dealers.  Accordingly, any allegation of an intent to sell or deliver to another individual is typically disqualifying.

How do I get Drug Court

Individuals are screened for the drug court program beginning at the time of arrest.  A case is typically assigned to drug court by the intake attorney at the Office of the State Attorney.  If, for some reason, you qualify, but are not placed in drug court, your attorney can file a motion to transfer your case to drug court

Advantages of Drug Court

A conviction for possession of any type of illegal drug can have devastating consequences on an individuals future.  In the Broward County Drug Court Treatment Program, a defendant only waives his or her right to a speedy trial.  A defendant may be eligible to seal or expunge his or her criminal record upon successful completion of drug court.

Decriminalization of Marijuana | Broward County

Decriminalization of Marijuana

Decriminalization of Marijuana in Broward               County, Florida

On November 10, 2015, the Broward County Commissioners passed ordinance number 2015-45. The recently passed ordinance gives police officers in Broward County the discretion to issue a civil citation in lieu of a misdemeanor criminal charge for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. Despite the language used to describe it, this ordinance is does not constitute decriminalization or the legalization of marijuana.

Is this Legalization of Marijuana?

No. Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is still illegal pursuant to Florida Statute 893.13 People are still getting arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in Broward County every day.  A state criminal statute is superior to a municipal ordinance. The Broward County Commission does not have the legal authority to, and did not attempt to, invalidate Florida statute 893.13.

The Broward County ordinance does not “decriminalize” possession of marijuana.  Possession of any amount of marijuana is still illegal under federal and state law.  The recently passed ordinance does provide a discretionary noncriminal means of enforcement.  Police officers have always had broad discretion when making an arrest decision for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. The officer now has the option to charge misdemeanor possession of marijuana civilly as opposed to criminally.  Prior to the effective date of November 17, 2015, a police officer in Broward County had the following options when making an arrest decision for misdemeanor possession of marijuana:

  • Make a formal arrest and take the suspect to jail;
  • Issue a Notice to Appear for a misdemeanor criminal offense;
  • Confiscate the marijuana and take no further action.

Now that the ordinance is effective, a police officer in the exact same situation has a fourth option:

  • Make a formal arrest and take the suspect to jail;
  • Issue a Notice to Appear for a misdemeanor criminal offense;
  • Issue a civil citation for a violation of the Broward County Code;
  • Confiscate the marijuana and take no further action.

Not Decriminalization Not Legalization

In reality, nothing has changed. When someone is arrested for possession of marijuana, it is usually not the only criminal charge. Marijuana charges typically come in two’s. Possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Somewhere back in time an unknown police officer came up with the idea that the plastic bag holding your marijuana could be charged as drug paraphernalia.  The Broward County ordinance does not address possession of drug paraphernalia. However, since possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, the police officer has the discretion to simply not charge you at all.  The probability that you will be charged criminally for both possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia has a strong correlation to how big of a jerk you are to the police officer.

Odor of Marijuana | Automobile Exception

The outright legalization of marijuana would significantly curtail police action. The police regularly use the odor of marijuana as a basis to search a vehicle without a warrant.  That is known as the “automobile exception.”  The Broward County municipal ordinance does not overrule the automobile exception to the warrant requirement.  The police are still legally allowed to search your vehicle if they smell marijuana coming from the inside of the vehicle.

Below is a copy of the ordiance number 2015-45.  Visit https://www.municode.com for the complete Broward County Code.

Download (PDF, 2.61MB)

Broward County criminal defense attorney, Michael Dye, has extensive experience handling misdemeanor and felony violations of probation.  For more information concerning possession of marijuana and other drug charges, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 East Broward Boulevard #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286

What is Flakka? | The Truth About A-PVP

Flakka

Not Even Once

Is Flakka as Dangerous as it Sounds on the News?

Yes and no, but mostly yes.  Let’s start with what exactly flakka is. Flakka is alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone, but let’s call it A-PVP. A-PVP is a cathinone. Flakka is a Schedule I Controlled Substance under Florida Statute Chapter 893.03 which means that there is no currently accepted medical use for it and the potential for abuse is high. It is also a Schedule I controlled substance on the Federal Register which has essentially the same criteria. The terms A-PVP and flakka will be used interchangeably throughout.

Disclaimer:

There are some of you who may read this and can speak nerd/science jargon better than I can.  Not many, but some.  You will inevitable go back onto a drug bulletin board saying that I don’t know what I am talking about and spreading misinformation, we should be having a consultation.  Delivering information that it not hyper-analytical so it can be processed by the public is neither ignorant or misleading.  While this might not be PhD level chemistry or pharmacology information, it was not intended to be.  The only point I am trying to get across is DON’T USE THIS CRAP!

Misinformation on Flakka

The only stories that you hear on the news are the truly bizarre incidents.  So keep in mind that the local news only shows stories that sensationalize the topic. You will never hear “BREAKING NEWS AT 6 O’CLOCK! High School Student Kevin Smokes Flakka and Says it was Pretty Cool, but Wouldn’t do it Again!” Instead you will hear “BREAKING NEWS AT 6 O’CLOCK! MAN ON $5 DRUG THAT CAUSES INSTANT INSANITY IMPALES NUTSACK ON FENCE POST! ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE IS UPON US!”

Flakka and the current flakka hysteria is similar to bath salts and how bath salts were viewed and portrayed just a few years ago. Remember when bath salts were going to turn people into flesh eating zombies? There was the Miami cannibal attack that turned out to be a case of “this dude is crazy” rather than bath salt intoxication? Yet, that didn’t stop the bath salt hysteria.  There is also my personal favorite, a man in Pennsylvania got out of his car, ran down the street into an occupied residence(thereby committing a felony), was chased out of said house and jumped onto a police car causing damage to the police vehicle. Why? Because he was high on bath salts, believed his car was melting and that he was being chased by electricity.

So enjoy the news for what it is.  It is not an accurate depiction of the ordinary experience.  Watch this video and take a look at the recent “newsworthy” flakka incidents in South Florida.

The Sun-Sentinel is an extremely reputable and reliable news source in South Florida. What did it show?  A guy running naked in the middle of an intersection, a guy trying to break into the police department, a guy diving over a spiked fence with no regard for the safety of his testicles, some guy running around naked on his roof and some truly despicable person that attacked an old lady in her home when he was high.  I’m not going to bother to look, but chances are that guy had a violent history to begin with.  So the media’s portrayal of flakka is skewed.

Q: Ok, so if we are being mislead and Flakka isn’t that dangerous, it is OK to try it right?

Let’s Hear from Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel

“In my 36 years in law enforcement, I’ve never seen a drug this dangerous.”

Q: “I know, but he is the Sheriff and he has to say drugs are bad. Is he exaggerating?”

A: No. He is not. Flakka really is that bad.

Anybody who knows me knows that I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t truly believe it. I’ll spare everybody the speech on unregulated Chinese laboratories and quality control. The manufacturers appear to be doing a fantastic job. Make no mistake about it, I firmly believe that A-PVP and its predecessor MDPV are two of the most, if not the most, addictive substances on the face of the planet. While recovery from stimulant addiction is not nearly as debilitating as opiate addiction, the length of time from first use to addiction is faster. Cocaine is widely regarded as the drug with the quickest path to addiction. I disagree. In my experience concerning, flakka and MDPV, users go from experimenting to full blown addiction in a matter of days. While flakka won’t eat your skin away like homebrew desomorphine, it will still destroy your life. Quickly.

In order to understand why flakka is so dangerous you first need to understand the different types of commonly used recreational stimulants and how those stimulants affect your mind and your body. There are four(4) primary types of recreational stimulants. There is cocaine, amphetamines, methylphenidate and cathinone’s. Each of those classes has what are called analogs, isomers and/or derivatives which are structurally similar and have similar effects.  We are going to ignore methylphenidate and its related compounds for this discussion. For some reason, there has never been much in the way of recreational use of cocaine analogs. However, they are freely available and, for the most part, are not scheduled controlled substances. For amphetamines there are different types of amphetamines such as methamphetamine, dextroamphetamie and 4F-amphetamine. There are literally hundreds of amphetamine analogs that are not scheduled and legally available. There is also a wide variety of substances that fall under the cathinone variety such as MDPV, BK-MDMA, Mephedrone, Methylone and even the antidepressant Wellbutrin. Some legal, some not.

How Stimulants Work

All stimulants work in essentially the same way. Stimulants increase the amount of three neurotransmitters in your brain. Those neurotransmitters are dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Dopamine is believed to be the primary neurotransmitter affected by stimulants. Your body and mind associate dopamine with pleasure. The more dopamine that is present in your synapsis, the more pleasurable the activity.  When you are taking part in a pleasurable activity your brain naturally releases more dopamine into your synapsis thereby making the experience pleasurable. As the pleasurable activity ceases to exist or ceases to take place the dopamine is reabsorbed and you go back to a normal mood.

When it comes to stimulants, there are two ways to increase the amount of dopamine in your synapsis. You can produce more thereby flooding the synapsis with dopamine.  This is the way that amphetamines operate. Think of filling up a bucket with water. The bucket is the synapsis and the water is the dopamine. When you take methamphetamine, dextroamphetamine or any other type of amphetamine that chemical compound is telling your brain to pump more dopamine into the synapsis. (Note: I know that ALL amphetamines don’t necessarily act like this. Ecstasy is in the amphetamine class and it releases more serotonin than dopamine, but don’t be so picky and just humor me on this one.)

The second way to increase the amount of dopamine in your synapsis is by not allowing it to leave. Normally dopamine is released into the brain, does its job and is reabsorbed. Cocaine prevents dopamine from being reabsorbed. That makes cocaine a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Cocaine will let dopamine in but will not let it out. Cocaine forces dopamine to remain in the synapsis and accumulate.

Synthetic Cathinones

There are numerous types of synthetic cathinones and not all of them work the same way. Certain synthetic cathinones, such as methylone, have a more serotogenic effect(huggy, kissy, cuddly) than a dopamine effect. However, the compounds related to pyrovalerone such as MDPV and A-PVP appear to focus primarily on dopamine and norepinephrine.  The increase in norephinephrine is an important concern to law enforcement as norepinephrine provokes the “fight or flight” reaction in people. An increase in norepinephrine can lead to aggressive, hostile, violent behavior and purported acts of superhuman strength in agitated users.

Here is Why Flakka is so Dangerous

A-PVP, like its chemical cousin MDPV, acts as both a dopamine/norepinephrine release and reuptake inhibitor simultaneously. If using cocaine is compared to standing in a rainstorm for 15 minutes smoking A-PVP is the equivalent of standing and a thunderstorm for four hours. Flakka increases both dopamine and norepinephrine by pumping more dopamine and norepinephrine into the synapsis while at the same time preventing it from leaving.  While cocaine is a short acting dopamine reuptake inhibitor, flakka is a longer acting reuptake inhibitor.  While dopamine levels might not rise quite to the level that would be associated with cocaine use, the heightened levels of dompaine and norephinephrine, sustained for hours on end, can induce stimulant psychosis and negative physical side effects quickly.  Due to the intensity of the drug, the compulsion to redose is extreme and tolerance develops very quickly. The prolonged heightened levels of norepinephrine quickly leads to increased heart rate, increase body temperature, grinding teeth and the other negative physical side effects.  Onset of stimulant psychosis develops quickly due to several factors including, but not limited to, compulsive redosing, the sustained large amounts of dopamine in the synapsis and sustained high levels of norepinephrine resulting in decreased sleep.  It is not uncommon to see stimulant psychosis appear within a matter of 2 days with MDPV or flakka.

This is a very basic overview. While you might not run down the street naked and get hung up on a fence by your crotch, even short term use can cause permanent neurological damage. If you are not familiar with the Montana Meth Project. Take a look at their videos. Same goes with flakka. Not even once.

For more information, please contact us at:

The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 1 E Broward Blvd #700, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954)990-0525 or
The Law Offices of Michael A. Dye, PA, 2 S Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33131 (305)459-3286