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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