Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently revealed that the number of deaths in the United States caused by painkiller medications dropped for the first time since 1999. The decrease is attributed to a crackdown in Florida and other states on “pill mills” and doctors who were over prescribing the opioids. It is also believed that prescription drug monitoring programs have thwarted some doctor shopping activities.
Heroin Use Now Seen as Epidemic
The Office of National Drug Control Policy released a report this month confirming what many in the substance abuse treatment community already knew. The scarcity and high cost of prescription painkillers (such as OxyContin) has now fueled a heavy demand for cheap heroin. This change is simply the result of supply and demand economics.
A Higher Risk of Accidental Overdose
Heroin carries a higher risk of accidental overdose because it contains toxic impurities and it lacks a predictable potency that is typically found with commercially produced pharmaceutical prescription pain medications. As a result, first responders are seeing a significant corresponding rise in the number of heroin overdose cases. Some police departments have begun issuing officers overdose kits of the drug Naloxone or “Narcan.” Law enforcement officers who arrive first on the scene of a heroin or morphine overdose now use a Narcan nasal atomizer by spraying the drug into the victim’s nasal passage ways. This “opioid antagonist” has been responsible for saving thousands of lives.
The latest surge in Pinellas heroin usage is eerily similar to that reported in an article thirty-four years ago in St. Petersburg’s first daily newspaper, the St. Petersburg Independent. See: “Pinellas Hit By Increase in Drug Addicts.” Heroin overdose has clearly reached “epidemic” proportions. Earlier this year, law enforcement in Pinellas County conducted “Operation White Pony” which was designed as an arrest “sweep” of those individuals engaged in the organized distribution and sale of heroin. The current demand for an opiate related “high” is so pervasive, that our local Sheriff’s Office recently uncovered evidence that Suboxone “breath strips” were being smuggled into the Pinellas County Jail.
Arrested for Possession of Heroin?
The use of heroin has surged because it produces a high similar to the effects of painkiller medications. Unsurprisingly, the Pinellas Justice Center is experiencing an escalation in the prosecution of individuals for the felony drug offense of “possession of heroin.” See: Pinellas Heroin Arrests Becoming More Common. This is unfortunate because restricting access to opioid painkiller meds doesn’t constitute drug treatment. Rather than directly addressing the addiction problem, the government has inadvertently driven those with a substance abuse problem to a more dangerous alternative.
Your Efforts to Avoid a Felony Conviction & Jail
If you have been arrested for possession of a controlled substance our office can help. It is imperative that we create a strategy designed to achieve the best possible results. We want to avoid incarceration in the state prison system or county jail. We also need to take steps in an effort to avoid your becoming a convicted felon. Your participation in the PTI diversion program or a plea bargain that entails a withhold of adjudication can avoid a felony conviction. This could set the stage for the later sealing or expungement of your Pinellas county arrest records.
We need to discuss:
Who the judge is that is assigned to your Pinellas county criminal case and how this could impact you.
Are you a first time offender in the St. Petersburg or Clearwater area? In the alternative, do you have a prior criminal record we need to consider?
Is the Pinellas County Drug Court Program right for you?
How taking immediate steps to get a proper substance abuse evaluation can be critical to show your amenability to outpatient or residential treatment, as opposed to incarceration.
How many of our local judges find it counterproductive to pull someone out of an ongoing drug treatment program for the purpose of imposing a period of incarceration.
The facts and circumstances of the arrest to determine if the search and seizure leading to the discovery of the contraband was lawful.
The evidence available to the prosecutor for proving actual or constructive possession, such as incriminating statements, the location of the drugs, forensic evidence (such as DNA or fingerprints), and your possible defenses.
Let’s discuss all of your options. A consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer is free.
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