How Being Under the Influence of Drugs May Impact Charges for Violent Crimes

Posted on July 17, 2013 in: Felonies

A person who commits a violent crime while under the influence of drugs – or any controlled substance – may be subject to a variety of criminal charges and penalties depending on the nature of the alleged acts. Florida laws governing assault, theft, controlled substances, the use of firearms, and many other laws may factor into the prosecution.

Intoxication may be relevant in a criminal defense strategy specifically when trying to demonstrate a lack of intent. Florida lawmakers are very serious about fighting violent drug crimes, which may warrant an aggressive defense in such cases.

Using “Under the Influence” as Part of a Criminal Defense

In some cases, a person who is accused of committing a “specific intent crime” in Florida may claim voluntary intoxication as part of a criminal defense. A specific intent crime is one that requires premeditation on behalf of the accused.

In other words, it must be proven that the defendant set out to intentionally commit a crime, examples include: 

  • first-degree murder;
  • forgery; and
  • embezzlement.

By claiming intoxication as part of a defense, the accused is essentially saying that he or she was incapable of premeditation because of the mental incapacitation caused by the drugs. The Personal Injury Lawyer Hollywood FL may try to assert that the defendant did not possess the mental wherewithal to intentionally commit a violent crime, such as assault.

Proving intoxication or a lack of specific intent does not automatically prove one’s innocence. This is particularly true if compelling evidence exists connecting the defendant to other crimes. It may, however, prove valuable in helping the defense to argue for reduced charges and penalties, such as reduced jail time and lower fines.

How the Use of Firearms or Other Weapons Would Apply

Florida law prohibits the use of firearms while under the influence of controlled or chemical substances, including alcohol and drugs. In this case “use” includes either discharging the weapon or having it readily available for discharge.

This violation is considered a second-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by as much as 60 days imprisonment and fines of up to $500. These charges would, of course, be elevated if someone were to suffer injury or death as a result of the use of the weapon.

The Connection Between Drug Use and Violence in Florida

Florida lawmakers take the connection between drug use and violence/criminal activity very seriously. The National Drug Intelligence Center – which has long monitored South Florida as a region with high drug activity – reports that drug-related violent and property crimes are common in South Florida high-intensity drug trafficking areas (HIDTA).

The organization attributes this to street gang members seeking to establish and maintain control of territory as well as those who commit crimes in order to sustain a drug habit. As a result, legislators, prosecutors, and law enforcement place a high priority on curbing drug-related violence and crime.

The Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council is part of the state’s multi-faceted approach to dealing with drugs and violence in Florida. Such crimes are aggressively prosecuted in Florida: Related charges may warrant an equally aggressive defense.

If you have been charged with committing a violent act while under the influence of a controlled substance, speak to a defense attorney who is familiar with how Florida prosecutes violent drug offenders. Call 877-663-5110.

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