In 2014, Florida approved and passed SB 360/HB 99, which effectively raised
the minimum trafficking weight thresholds for drug trafficking charges
related to prescription painkillers and similar opioids. Now, two years
later, we can get a clearer picture of how this bill has impacted
Florida drug crime law and whether or not it is living up to its intended purpose.
Before SB 360/HB 99 was approved, anyone possessing more than four grams
of most prescription painkillers could be charged with drug trafficking.
Due to the fact that Florida law counts the weight of the whole pill,
not just the portion of it that is used to refine an illegal substance,
in most cases holding seven or eight pills was enough to get hit with
the felony charges. For people who had become addicted to opioids, it
was not unusual for them to have this many on them, despite them clearly
having no intention of trafficking or distributing them. In the end,
thousands of people who had really only been violating the law through possession
were being jailed for up to 3 years and losing thousands in fines for
trafficking charges. All of these people incarcerated also meant the average
Florida taxpayer was putting more of their money into the prison system.
What Did SB 360/HB 99 Change?
In response to the massive influx of imprisoned individuals, SB 360/HB
99 pushed up the minimum trafficking thresholds for painkillers and also
split them into more subgroups. In particular, the law targeted prescription
painkillers that had hydrocodone or oxycodone in them. By a rough estimate,
hydrocodone thresholds were nearly tripled at the lower end of the spectrum
and oxycodone thresholds were doubled at the lower end of the spectrum;
both hydrocodone and oxycodone maximum thresholds – the amount that
would give the maximum prison sentence if convicted – were more
With these changes solidly in place for two years, Florida has seen a decline
in opioid drug trafficking arrests. It is also expected to save taxpayers
millions of dollars that would have gone towards the prison system for
the next three or four years. Empirically measuring this amount is unreliable
at this time and will likely need to be done once the expected financial
changes have fully run their course.
If you have been arrested for trafficking an opioid painkiller, law enforcement
may have been following the law before SB 360/HB 99 was approved. Defend
your rights to a fair trial with the help of Law Offices of Jason K.S.
Porter, P.A. The Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys at our law firm
have more than 90 years of combined legal and trial experience. Call
904.701.0591 today for a
free case evaluation.