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What is considered a drug offense?

drug exchange

Drug use and offenses

Drug use can have a huge impact on the life of the user, their family, and their friends.  When drug charges stem from that drug use, the impact is greater, more severe, changing the user’s life, and family and friends lives too. Over time, a drug user will begin having financial problems that will lead to more problems emotionally and socially. 

If a person is convicted of drug charges, they will have a criminal record the rest of their lives. That criminal record will follow them every step of the way from being employed, buying a house, losing the right to vote or own a handgun, even getting a credit card. 

What is the most commonly used drug?

Because marijuana has been referred to as a gateway drug and is the easiest to get, most experts consider it to be the most commonly used drug.  Marijuana being legalized in many states for medical and recreational use has caused a definite increase in the number of users. However, it is still illegal for most of the country and on a federal level and many are still serving time for drug charges.

Other drugs are becoming more common though, such as psychotherapeutics, or opioids. What makes this not a more commonly used drug is the need to have a prescription to get them. Cocaine is a drug that users will inject, smoke or snort and while its popularity has dropped, it is still a popular drug in many circles. In some parts of the country, methamphetamine is the drug of choice, and like opioids, it too is legal if got with a prescription. There is a wide channel of illegally produced and distributed use of this drug, resulting in many users and sellers facing drug charges today.

Is a drug charge a felony or misdemeanor?

Drug charges are crimes that can be a felony or a misdemeanor. There are factors that determine drug charges by amount and type of drug. Those two things may be coupled with other factors that can swing the drug charges either way. 

The Decisive Factors

Law enforcement may charge a person facing drug charges for a drugless dangerous or with a misdemeanor. However, if the person facing drug charges is shown to have the intention to sell the drug, they could face felony drug charges. Other factors that could aggravate the drug charges into felony drug charge include:

  • Possession of drugs at, near, or on school grounds
  • Possession of drugs in government housing, in public parks, pools, or other public places
  • Possession of drugs in or near any drug treatment facility
  • Possession of drugs in the presence of a child younger than 18 years old
  • Possession of drugs while committing a robbery
  • Has prior drug charges

What drugs are felony charges?

Drug charges are when a person has possession of any drug, drug paraphernalia or other legally prohibited intoxicating substance. Whether they intend to furnish it, sell it, or use it. The most common defense for those facing drug charges is to disprove the search and seizure process that stemmed from the drugs being found by law enforcement. 

What is the sentence for possession of drugs?

Drug charges and penalties vary by the states with a wide range of penalties when sentenced. In 1986, guidelines were enacted by Federal lawmakers for mandatory minimum sentencing. The guidelines were aimed at high-level distributors and have an effect on lower-level drug defendants too.  

A similar approach has been adopted by many states for drug sentencing. It bases the factors that determine which of the fixed sentences is handed down to a defendant on three factors:

  • Drug type
  • Drug weight
  • Prior convictions

Many states have instituted programs known as drug courts, customized for previous drug defendants facing more drug charges. A judge oversees these courts with a goal of rehabilitating the defendant, most are repeat offenders. This circumvents a trial process and the defendant that agrees to this court will spend twelve to fifteen months in treatment sessions and subjected to random drug tests. It requires them to appear before the judge regularly. 

The penalties for drug charges in several states are doubled if the incident occurred within a thousand feet of a school, making it an aggravating factor. If the drug charges are stemmed from an individual assisting an abusive partner with distribution operation, it may reduce their drug charges.   

police with lights

What is the mandatory minimum sentence for drugs?

Typically, prison time of five to ten years is the minimum sentence mandated for certain crimes. However, with drug charges that are sentenced, it is the drug, amount of drug, and prior convictions that determine the minimum.

Can a person face drug charges without possession? Yes, a person can have drug charges for possession of a controlled substance without having tangible possession of the drug. The “Constructive Possession” is a doctrine that provides law enforcement to charge you if the drugs are readily accessible by you. A person will not be arrested or face drug charges without physical evidence unless a law enforcement person has observed a crime because the evidence does need to be collected and submitted. If you are charged with drug offenses, you may be in need of drug charge bail in Clearwater, FL. Call Al Estes Bail Bonds today for help at 727-571-9999!

Do you need a lawyer for a probation violation?

Lawyers making plan

Dealing with a violation

Getting arrested and going to jail is a traumatic event, especially if it is your first time. Once you’re released on bond, that doesn’t mean your legal woes are over, especially if the judge places you on probation. Probation is defined as being released from custody, then being subjected to a supervised period of good behavior. Within that period, you need to be aware and conscious of any possibility of committing a probation violation. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself back in jail.

Depending on a person’s criminal history and the crime committed, the judge can sentence the accused to probation vs jail sentencing, or a combination of both. While probation and parole are similar, meaning, they are both an alternative to serving time behind bars; they are different.

Typically, probation transpires prior to or instead of serving time in jail or prison. The judge will give parole to a person who is released from prison. In either case, the person on probation or parole will have requirements to follow specific restrictions and under the supervision of a court-appointed person, usually meeting with a parole officer on a set schedule.

If that person were to have a probation violation, they were re-arrested and placed in jail again. It will be the court’s decision if it requires them to pay a fine, such as a probation bond before being released again. In most cases, it will extend their probation period it will add a longer period and more restrictions for them to follow.

For anyone that has never found themselves in this legal predicament, there are many questions. We have answered some of the most common questions here, intending to provide helpful information. 

What happens when you violate probation for the first time?

Probation violation is when the accused breaks the conditions and terms of your probation. There are the judge considers several factors when determining the punishment. Those factors include: The nature and seriousness of the probation violation

  • The accused’s previous record and prior violations
  • Any circumstances that may appeal to the severity of the probation violation

Sentencing will transpire immediately after the hearing that determines if the accuser is guilty of a probation violation. The penalties for probation violation may include the probation extended, the judge could implement additional terms to the probation, heavy fines, jail time, any of or a combination of these. 

What happens at a probation violation hearing?

The first thing that will is the judge will preliminarily consider if the probably should be revoked due to probable cause.  This will include reviewing the police report and/or testimony by the arresting police officer.

If the judge finds that there was probable cause support a probation violation, he/she may do one of the following:

  • Issue an arrest warrant
  • Issue a bench warrant
  • Issue a detention order

This is to be a temporary suspension with a formal hearing on probation revocation to follow. This does not mean the probationer is free from probation, they still to follow the restrictions originally set in place.

Next is the formal probation revocation hearing. While there is no right to a fast hearing, the courts must hold this hearing as soon as convenient. This is to ensure that the information and resources are available and fresh.

At this formal hearing, the judge will take into consideration the earlier probation terms and the probationer’s conduct in relation to the probation violation.  If the judge rules there was a probation violation, he or she uses the following considerations to determine what steps are next: 

  • Nature of the probation violation – such as did it violate any of the terms of probation
  • If the public was in any danger or harmed
  • Any previous probation violations
  • The attitude of the probationer
  • Previous criminal history of the probationer

The probation may be reinstated by the judge with the original conditions and terms, if he/she feels they are still appropriate. They may add more fines, order community service, or sentence the probationer to serve time.

How long do you have to go to jail for a probation violation?

If the judge gives a reinstatement of probation or a new probation sentence for the probation violation, the judge will credit all the time served of probation. If the probationer has any time in incarcerated, it gives credit for that time. There is no overlapping of a jail sentence and a probation sentence. 

Can a probation violation be dismissed?

A probation violation does not mean the judge will return the probationer immediately back to jail. There is a court process that they must follow, just as it was with the original arrest. The only difference is that the hearing is in a probation court instead of a criminal court.

The judge or the prosecutor has the ability during this process to dismiss any probation violation charges. The probationer’s lawyer can assist their client by requesting the probation violation charges be dismissed.

Lady Justice

Can you beat a probation violation?

Often, offenders cannot follow probation orders and will commit probation violation. In this situation, the best way to handle the matter is to own up to the errors of one’s ways. Judges listen to defendants give excuses daily and have become numb to those excuses. It is usually not possible to persuade a seasoned judge.  

By taking responsibility and being honest with the judge, this action will show a positive character, and that will make more impact on a judge. Besides admitting fault, the offender should illustrate that they are working to fix the problem and prove that they will not repeat the offense.

Probation is an alternative to jail time. One of the intended goals of probation is to monitor the behavior of the offender. Another intention is to provide community protection. If it is demonstrated by the offender that they are not able to stay within the probation terms, i.e. probation violation, the punishment is a jail sentencing. If you are dealing with probation violation in Clearwater, FL and need bail, dial 727-571-9999 for Al Estes Bail Bonds today!

Can You Get a Bond for a Felony?

A Man Handcuffed Behind His Back.

Bond for Felony Charges

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a felony charge, then you’ll need to call a bail bond agent for a felony bond. What is felony bond? A felony bond is a bail bond that can be used to get those arrested for felony crimes released from jail. A lot of people ask, “What does out on felony bond mean?” and that means that a person who was charged with a felony is out of jail because someone posted bail for them. In Florida, felonies are classified in five categories. These are the types of felonies you can be convicted of in Florida.

  • Third Degree Felony: An example of a third degree felony would be burglary or if someone had been arrested for a third DUI. Someone convicted of a third degree felony can go to prison for five years, have five years of probation, and have to pay a fine of $5,000.
  • Second Degree Felony: Sexual battery and severe child abuse are examples of the second degree felony in Florida. This type of felony can land someone in prison for 15 years, with 15 years of probation, and a fine of $10,000.
  • First Degree Felony: Examples of first degree felonies would be human trafficking and robbery with a weapon. Someone convicted of a first degree felony can go to prison for 30 years, have 30 years probation, and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Life Felony: Crimes that are considered a life felony are murders that are unpremeditated or kidnapping. Like the name suggests, the person will get life in prison, without the possibility of parole or probation. The fine for this type of felony is $15,000.
  • Capital Felony: Armed kidnapping and murder are considered capital felonies in the state of Florida. These types of felonies are punishable by either life in prison or the death penalty.

Depend on the type of felony, someone might be eligible for bail. However, if its the person second felony conviction, then they might not be eligible for bail. It is all up to the discretion of the judge and the court.

Does a Felony Ruin Your Life?

When it comes to being convicted of a felony, it can make things in your life harder. For one, if someone is convicted of a felony, they will go to prison no questions asked. Every category of felony in the state of Florida requires that the person convicted serve some time in prison. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of social stigmas when it comes to people who have been charged and convicted of felonies. A lot of the freedoms that someone once has might be taken away or limited due to parole or probation. Then there is the obstacle of finding work and housing. It can prove to be difficult, but many people who have been convicted of felonies and released have been given second chances and have been able to reintegrate themselves back into society.

Can Felony Charges Be Dropped?

Depending on the circumstances of the case, a felony charge can be dropped for certain reasons. Sometimes the judge will choose to drop charges because there isn’t enough evidence or the statute of limitations on the particular crime has run out. A lot of things can come into plan when deciding if a felony case should be dropped, such as criminal record, prior convictions, etc. While you can hope that felony charged will be dropped, if there is enough evidence and not a lot of time has gone by, you can be pretty sure that those charges will stick.

Felony Bond Violation

There are a couple of ways in which you can be in violation of your felony bond. If someone chooses to skip their court date, that would be considered a violation and a reason for the police to come after you. Another reason that bail can be violated is if another crime is committed while someone is out on bail. Other felony bond violations include violating other bail conditions that have been put in place by the court or judge.

Does a Felony Guarantee Jail Time?

A Man Standing in Front of a Judge in a Courtroom.

Can You Get a Felony and Not Go to Jail?

Whenever you are charged and convicted of a felony, then you won’t just get jail time–you will go to prison. The length of times will vary, but felony convictions can range from five years in prison to life in prison. However, waiting for your trial to start, you can be eligible for a felony released on bond. If you are needing a felony bond in Clearwater, FL, know that you can depend on the bail bondsmen at Al Estes Bail Bonds. We can offer bail services that will get you released from jail quickly. Whether its emergency bail bonds or a regular surety bail bonds, we are ready to help you. Give us a call at 727-571-9999 for felony bail bond services.

Should You Reject a Breathalyzer Test?

Rely On Us For DUI Bail When Someone is Arrested

Drunk Driving and DUI Bail in the State of Florida

No matter which state you are in, drunk driving is a serious offense. Regardless if you do it intentionally or on accident, there are serious consequences to your life and the lives of others. The state of Florida does not tolerate driving under the influence and punishes drivers just as seriously. DUI convictions will stay on your record for 75 years, which could be the rest of your life. This will affect job applications, background checks, insurance rates, and more. At Al Estes Bail Bonds, we don’t believe in judging another person’s mistakes. We believe that people are inherently good and try to do good things, but accidents do happen. When you need help or when a loved one needs help with DUI bail in Clearwater, FL, contact us. We can help with any of your bail needs. In doing so, you or your loved one can get back to your family, to your job and your life. You can’t take care of things very well from a jail cell. Call us at 727-571-9999 to learn more.

Woman Taking Breathalyzer Test May Need DUI Bail

How Does Our State Define a DUI

One of the most important things to define is how the state of Florida understands a DUI. According to Florida laws, a person drove, or was in physical control of a vehicle, while their “normal faculties” were impaired by alcohol intoxication or impaired by a controlled substance. In either case, you were considered not physically able to properly operate a vehicle without putting yourself or others at risk. That is how our state law enforcement determine if someone is driving under the influence. 

The next important thing to understand is blood alcohol content or BAC. In order to be arrested and charged for a DUI, a person has to have a BAC .08% or higher. Knowing this will help understand the penalties and fines. If your BAC is .08%, you could face county jail time between 8 hours and 6 months. You may also face a fine up to $1,000. If your BAC is .15% jail time is increased to the max, which is 9-months. You may also face a fine between $1,000 and $2,000. There is a possibility you could see additional punishments such as 50-hours of community service, your car being impounded for 10-days, probation up to 1-year, and other options. 

The punishment handed down at your hearing will be based on several factors. If this is your first DUI offense, your previous criminal history, and more. If this is your second or more DUI offense, you could be charged with a felony crime. It’s because of this that is so important that you post bail as soon as possible. In doing so, you can get back to your family and friends. You can get back to your job, but more importantly, you can find a lawyer that will adequately defend you in court.

Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

The way that officers determine your BAC is with a breathalyzer test. This is often a device that you are asked to blow into, which will determine your general blood alcohol content. Many want to know if it is good or bad to refuse a breathalyzer test. While we are not attorneys, we can say with certainty it is often not a good idea to refuse a breathalyzer test. Even if you were stopped with unreasonable cause, that is something for a lawyer to fight against, not you. Refusing the test can mean an automatic suspension of your license as well as possible misdemeanor charges. It can often be harder to fight charges like that after you have refused a breathalyzer test, which is why we would highly recommend accepting the test.

DUI Bail for a Loved One

Can you bail someone out on a DUI charge? You absolutely can! In fact, bailing them out could be a good way to help them start preparing to fight the DUI charge. Too often many fail to fight a DUI charge, possibly because it’s embarrassing or they don’t know what to do. When you help to bail someone out, you can also help them find reliable DUI lawyers and attorneys. To help with bail, you can rely on Al Estes Bail Bonds. We are an established and reliable bail bonds company in your area. We understand that mistakes happen and we are not here to judge anyone. We want to help in the best way we know how: helping someone pay bail. Being stuck in jail doesn’t help anyone keep their job, pay their bills, or find a good attorney. We understand this and that is why we want to help. Our company offers free estimates for all bail needs, including DUI bail bonds.

Driving Under the Influence Will Result in the Need for a DUI Bail

Connect With Us Today for a Free Estimate

We understand better than anyone that life and mistakes happen. Al Estes Bail Bonds has been in business for over 50 years, we have seen it all. Our agents do not judge others or criticize others for their mistakes. We do what we can to help our community as best as we can. If you or a loved one needs help with a DUI bail in Clearwater, FL, there is no other name to trust. We are well-rated within our community because we care about the people in it. Let us know how we can help you today by calling 727-571-9999.