|Clearwater Florida: The Rules are Different|
A few years ago Florida spent millions of dollars to promote as its apt tourist slogan, "the rules are different here." For those who live in this sunshine paradise as well as the travelers who spend time at our beaches, bays, lakes, bike paths and rivers time spent here can be carefree and beautiful.
Yet that slogan also has deeper meaning in that Florida imprisons a greater portion of it's population than most any other state not in the deep south. Yes, without a doubt the rules are different in Florida. Its not unusual for Floridians and vacationers to find that their Florida dreams are ruined from criminal accusations.
Florida is a state that harasses, arrests and incarcerates people for 'crimes' such as marijuana possession that would not even be illegal in many parts of the country. In fact in Florida it is still an illegal misdemeanor to co-habitate with someone who is not your wife or husband.
Clearly, Florida prosecutors, sheriffs, deputies, officers and judges should prioritize crimes. They should use discretion with understanding and compassion. Technically criminal offenses of a nonviolent nature such as drug crimes, thefts, and trespass should be taken care of with a civil citation requiring a fine or community service for quick dismissal of the case without need of hiring a criminal defense lawyer.
In some parts of the state such as Tallahassee experiments with civil citations program are being used effectively for victimless crimes such as petty theft. Having succeeded in not making criminals of large portions of the population the civil citation program should be promoted in every part of Florida rather than just the capital. But law enforcement and prosecutors prefer to make arrests so that they can justify their ever increasing budgets.
In Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida alleged incidental bad behavior often results in an unnecessary arrest that forever brands the accused as a criminal even if the charges or dropped or the defendant is later found not guilty. For example, is it really reasonable to arrest someone for criminal mischief who is caught taking the air out of a friend's tire as a joke? Somehow police, prosecutors and judges have lost proportionality in arrests and sentencing. Until the criminal laws in Florida are changed a Clearwater criminal defense attorney often must be retained to bring some common sense to the prosecutors, the police and the judge.