Yesterday, Federal judge Mary Scriven found Florida’s drug law, the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act unconstitutional. The Act makes criminals out of unknowing participants of the drug trade.
As a hypothetical example, Bill may puts an illegal drug under the seat of their friend Bob’s car, unknown to Bob. Bob later is pulled over by a Palm Beach County Sheriff deputy and the illegal drug is found, thereby Bob gets to spend several years in the poky, lose his car at auction, lose his job, lose respect in the community, spends tens of thousands of dollars to defend himself and is branded a lier by authority figures in court while decrying his innocence. Bill goes free and continues buying and using his illegal drug of choice. Bob has been convicted to his new hell even though he had no intent to possess and had no knowledge the drug was under his car seat. All the while our county sheriff boasts about what a great job he is doing fighting “crime”.
Fortunately for citizens like Bob, someone in the court system finally did the right thing and came to the realization, this law is unjust and hopefully will result in the release of many innocent victims from Florida jails (victims of the court system and overzealous law enforcement).
There has been no word from Palm Beach County Sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, if his deputies will curb arrests affected by this ruling or not as the State is expected to appeal the decision. If he did end such arrests, perhaps that would help reduce the resources he needs in the field and thereby help reduce our county budget deficit for 2012. Libertarians in Palm Beach County have long been after the sheriff to focus his efforts on crimes where an actual victim exists.
The Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County strongly believes unless there is a victim, then there is no crime. The fact in our example that Bob unknowngly possessed a controlled substance, is not a crime as there is no victim, so such laws should be removed from Florida statute. The only victim in these circumstances is to people like Bob who have been wrongfully convicted.
“The legislature’s decision to deny its citizens the benefit of core, age-old constitutional principles, including the “due process” requirement inherent in the 14th Amendment, is alarming and arrogant,” Nellie King, President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, wrote,”Judge Scriven’s ruling simply renews the mandates inherent in the Constitution which our legislature opted to ignore.”