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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

DUI Manslaughter Defense

DUI Manslaughter Defense

Analysis of Postmortem Specimens

Strict Liability vs Causation

Florida had a strict liability DUI manslaughter statute until 1986.  All the state needed to prove was that the defendant was driving while impaired, was involved in a car accident and somebody died as a result of the car accident. It did not matter if the defendant was at fault for the accident. The legislature amended the DUI manslaughter statute in 1986 to include the element of causation.

Constitutional Issue with Strict Liability

The problem with the strict liability DUI manslaughter statute, in my opinion, was that the criminal culpability for a misdemeanor DUI and the criminal culpability for a DUI manslaughter was equal. A good argument could be made that the strictly at liability DUI manslaughter statute violated the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution as a cruel and unusual punishment. The current DUI manslaughter statute requires the state to prove the following: 1) driving under the influence; 2) an accident resulting in death and 3) and that the defendant was somehow at fault for the accident. The causation element must be proved independent of impairment.

Not My Fault Defense

Defending DUI manslaughter cases is difficult under any circumstances. It is human nature to look for somebody to blame when somebody dies before their time.  It is also human nature to not speak ill of the dead.  However, a legally viable defense to DUI manslaughter is that the decedent was at fault for the accident even though the defendant was driving drunk. The defendant would be guilty of DUI, but not DUI manslaughter in that scenario. The “not my fault defense” is a particularly difficult proposition to sell to a jury. In essence, you are saying to the jury “Yes, my client was driving drunk. Yes, my client was involved in a fatal car accident. However, the car accident was the dead guy’s fault.”

Theory vs. Reality

Nobody ever gets screwed by the law in a bar exam essay question.  However, this is not a law school exam question. Defense attorneys need to stop thinking about legal theory and focus on where the rubber meets the road.  Technically, the defense bears no burden of proof, but if this is your defense, you are going to need to show some solid evidence.  The jury is looking to blame somebody and there is a good chance that it is going to be the defendant.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to use this defense if it did not have a strong factual basis.  The risk of alienating the judge and jury by blaming the victim without any serious basis is too great.

Where to Find the Evidence

The autopsy report from the County Medical Examiner’s Office is a valuable source of information for the defense. Please note that the Medical Examiner’s Office may be called something different in another state.  Biological specimens, such as blood and urine, are preserved during the course of an autopsy. Toxicology testing is performed on the specimens. The results of the toxicology tests may show that the was under the influence of some sort of drug or alcohol at the time of the accident.

It should be relatively easy to establish whether the decedent was under the influence of a drug at the time of the accident. The postmortem blood sample will identify the drugs in his or her system at the time of death. Postmortem quantitative analysis of controlled substances in a decedent’s blood is another topic for another time. The biggest problem that defense attorneys run into when trying to evaluate the culpability of the decedent is the quantitative analysis of ethyl alcohol in the decedent’s blood.

No matter what methods are used, using the BAC at the time of autopsy in order to determine the decedent’s impairment at the time of the accident is an educated guess at best and gross speculation at worst.  The reason for the uncertainty is because alcohol can be produced or destroyed in between the time of death in the time of the autopsy. Autolysis is defined as the self digestion or destruction of an organism’s own cells through the action of its own enzymes. This begins to occur within hours of an individual’s death and his present throughout the vast majority of the vascular system within hours. The result is an environment which supports the endogenous production of alcohol. Multiple environmental factors contribute in determining if endogenous alcohol is produced or the extent of the endogenous production. The two most significant are typically time and temperature.

Postmortem BAC Testing is Never Ideal

We obviously want the BAC to be as accurate as possible. In an ideal world we would like to have a blood sample taken from the decedent as soon as possible after the accident and a second blood sample taken 45 minutes to an hour after the first blood sample with both being prior to death. If that is the case, we would probably not need to use the postmortem sample.

If possible, the first thing that the defense attorney should do is check the decedents medical records in order to determine if a BAC screen was ordered by a doctor at the hospital. You may have to request a subpoena duces tecum if the medical evidence from the hospital is not provided in discovery.  Sometimes individuals die on the scene or on their way to the hospital so this is not always available. If there is no antemortem sample, the defense attorney has to be able to assess the reliability of the autopsy sample.

Additional Reading

Postmortem analysis of biological specimens for ethyl alcohol is very complicated.  Try as I might, I cannot say it any better than it is said on this website: BAC Analysis in Postmortem Specimens. Another good website for forensic science in general is The Truth About Forensic Science

Remember that it is the State’s burden to prove that the defendant was at fault for the accident. If you can put on strong evidence that the decedent was impaired it is up to the State to rebut that.  There are simply too many variables for the toxicologist to credibly testify as to a definitive state of impairment at the time of the accident.

For more information, 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

Florida Sentencing Guidelines

Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet

It’s like golf! Less Points = Better!

Am I Going to Prison?

Every criminal defense attorney gets asked this question. From DUI cases to murder cases, every defendant is concerned with their exposure to a prison sentence. In felony cases, if you are found guilty, the length of your prison sentence is typically determined by a simple mathematical calculation.  I will use algebra to explain thereby making this unnecessarily complicated and creating job security.  P = Total Sentence Points.  If P > or = 44 then your recommended prison sentence is calculated as follows, .75(P – 28) .

Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet

The form for the Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet is found in Florida Rule of Criminal  Procedure 3.992. The assistant state attorney handling the prosecution of a felony matter is required to complete a Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet. The Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet is also known as the sentencing scoresheet. The purpose of the criminal punishment code scoresheet is to provide the court with a “recommended” sentence.

How is it Scored?

Think of sentencing points like a golf score.  The less points you have, the better off you will be.  The sentencing scoresheet assigns a point value to all criminal offenses currently before the court. All felonies are divided into various “offense levels.” The various offense levels can be found in Florida Statute 921.0022. Section 1 is called the primary offense. The primary offense carries the most sentence points out of all charges on the scoresheet. I use a felony DUI in the example below. A fourth(4th) DUI conviction, and all subsequent DUI convictions, are 3rd degree felonies pursuant to Florida Law. Looking at section 1, you can see that a fifth(5th) DUI conviction is a third-degree felony, the statute is 316.193 and the offense level is six. A level VI primary offense earns 36 sentence points. However, a level VI additional offense is only 18 points.

Additional points are added for certain aggravating factors and prior convictions. The assistant state attorney will calculate the total amount of sentence points.  However, the defense attorney needs to check to make sure it is correct.  If the total amount of sentence points is less than 44, the lowest permissible sense is a non-state prison sanction. A non-state prison sanction can include some jail time, probation, community control or a combination of all of the above.

Calculating a Hypothetical Scoresheet

Primary and Additional Offenses: In the example that I use below, John Smith has been arrested for a fifth DUI and possession of cocaine. Both crimes are felonies. The fifth DUI is the primary offense because it is a level VI offense. The possession of cocaine is an additional offense because it is a level III offense. Accordingly, Mr. Smith is assessed 36 sentence points for the DUI and 2.4 sentence points for the possession of cocaine.

Victim Injury: Section 3 deals with victim injury. This area of the scoresheet is a bit more subjective and there is room for a criminal defense attorney to attempt to get less sentencing points. In this example, there was a victim injury and the injury was described as moderate. An additional 18 sentence points are added due to the degree of the injury of the victim.

Prior Criminal Record: Section 4 assigns points based on the defendant’s prior criminal record. In this section, you will find yourself going back to Florida statute 921.0022 in order to find the offense levels for any prior convictions. In the example below I simply put four prior DUIs for the sake of simplicity.

Legal Status: Section 5 assigns points for legal status violations. A legal status is when an individual can be classified as an escapee, and absconder or, amongst others, already incarcerated. Section 6 assigns points for violating terms of pretrial release or probation.

Community Sanction Violation: Section 6 is used quite often because of high recidivism levels. So if an individual is on probation when he or she gets convicted for a new charge,  it will enhance the length of the sentence for the new charge.

Sections 7, 8 and 9 are fairly self explanatory.  These sections are not used as often because they typically apply to much more serious criminal offenses.

If the total sentencing points is greater than 44, you subtract 44 from the total score and multiply times .75 which gives you the minimum amount of prison time. A judge is authorized to sentence a defendant to consecutive maximum terms of imprisonment.  The guidelines are merely suggestions. A Judge may be required to provide a written explanation concerning a deviation from the guidelines under certain circumstances In the example below, the maximum sentence would be 10 years. However, the recommended sentence would be 29.55 months.

Download (PDF, 137KB)

For more information, 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.  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