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Generally speaking, no. Florida's drug crimes are strict, especially trafficking charges. Trafficking charges are not much harder to prove for the state than a simple possession case, but carry a much heftier penalty. Trafficking charges carry what are commonly referred to as "min mans" or mandatory minimum sentences. The sentence depends on the amount of controlled substance someone is caught with. The lowest mandatory minimum is 3 years prison and a $50,000 fine all the way up to a potential life sentence with a$250,000 fine. These are statutorily mandated and even a judge does not have the authority to waive these sanctions. The language in the statute is mandatory language, and any attempt to waive it would be a "abuse of discretion" on the part of the judge.
There is, however, a very narrow way around these minimum mandatory sentences. The only way around a minimum mandatory fine is to have the state waive the sanctions. Florida statute 893.135 allows a prosecutor to waive any min man sanction under one circumstance -- substantial assistance. This means the person facing the min man must assist law enforcement or prosecutor in going after co-defendants or another target of law enforcement. This may involve being an informant, setting up a deal, or testifying against other individuals. When a prosecutor seeks to waive these sanctions, a hearing must be held in front of a judge and detectives must be notified of the state's intent to seek a waiver of the sanctions. The judge will hear testimony from the prosecutor and law enforcement and make a decision to waive the penalties. If the state and law enforcement are in agreement to waive the penalties, it is likely that the judge will do so.
But aside from that narrow exception, neither the judge nor the prosecutor can waive that fine. It'sl possible that the prosecutor could lower the charges to something with lesser fines, etc... but after a conviction and sentencing, it could not be lowered or deferred. Now it's possible that it could be pardoned, by the governor (possible, but not necessarily likely) and then anything not paid would be forgiven.
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Ok, the situation is this while serving the 3 year sentence, this person made a decision to clean up her life. She has 4 years clean, has been out for almost two years, attends AA regularly, has obtained a job and held it for a year and a half, making $12.50 per hour, has regained custody of her son, and speaks once per month at a reentry program at the request of the program's administrator. Now the collection agency for the court is coming after her, obviousely at $12.50 per hour she can't pay the fine. Is there any recourse....clemency, the governor........
That would be the only recourse. Again, the judge has no authority, and the prosecutor only has authority in that limited instance.
Her story is compelling, and that would be beneficial in a clemency / pardon request.
But it cannot be "reduced" or "deferred" by the court or prosecutor. It could only be forgiven at the governor level.
Is that something that should be handled by an Attorney, or would it be better suited to be handled by her writing a letter, as well as some character references from others?
An attorney that has experience in clemency / pardon requests would be a good thing, if possible, but of course money is an issue, and it's certainly something that could be requested without an attorney.
Is there an actual place to write to, or just write to the governor?
Here's information on the process: https://fpc.state.fl.us/Clemency.htm
And here's another site: http://www.flgov.com/clemencypardons/
It's a bit more complicated than just writing the governor, and it should be an official request as laid out in that first link.
Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?
Thank you very much!
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