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Florida and Over-Criminalization

I read with interest the attached article from Daniel McCarthy, who is with the Center for Florida Tax Reform, Department of Social Justice. I encourage you to read it as well. In his article, Mr McCarthy highlights what many attorneys and others in the criminal court system in Florida have noted for years- that the Florida legislature has over the last decade expeditiously classified many low-level, non-violent actions as Third Degree Felonies. A conviction for a felony charge can have a ripple effect andmany collateral consequences, not only for the individual, but that person’s family. We as a society understand that there are offenses which should and need to be classified as felonies due to the seriousness of the offense committed, if proven by the government. However, in Florida, as with many states and the federal government, we are charging and incarcerating many individuals for felony offenses that in many parts of the civilized world handle as misdemeanor crimes.

Pages Three and Four of the attached article outlines some of the low-level/nonviolent offenses that are now third degree felonies in our state. We as a state need to understand that as we increase the number of offenses classified as felonies, with potential for prison sentences, we stretch our resources, not only in the criminal courts
(which judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys are pulled far and wide on a daily basis already), but also within our jails and prisons, and the costs to the citizens for incarceration only increases.

As a former prosecutor for many years, and as a criminal defense attorney for many years as well, it is time, in my opinion, for the Florida Legislature to take a close look at this issue. If you have been arrested or charged with any type of crime and would like to speak with me regarding representation, please contact me at 386.257.1222.

Posted: April 14, 2014