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Another Florida city decriminalizes some drug charges

Thousands of people in Florida have been charged with possession of drugs, drug paraphernalia or drug distribution. These criminal charges can have far-reaching consequences on the liberty, family and career of suspects. This is one of the reasons that many people facing charges feel the need to defend themselves in court.

Some lesser charges are rapidly becoming summary offenses, saving courts valuable time and saving suspects a lot of trouble dealing with them. Palm Bay is now the second major city in the Sunshine State that has decriminalized low-level charges related to marijuana possession. The city council voted to establish new civil penalties for these charges.

Previously, people in Palm Bay charged with possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana or several piece of marijuana-related paraphernalia could expect up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000 as well as court costs. New civil penalties feature reduced fines and a focus on community service or an outpatient treatment program.

"It supports our community by giving second chances, all while holding people accountable of their actions," said the council member who supported the motion. "Other municipalities haven't had issues with collecting fees or fines, or community service. And I don't believe we will, as well."

People facing criminal drug charges may still face the full weight of the law. It is important to retain legal counsel for dealings with law enforcement, prosecutors or the court. An attorney can help explain the weight of charges and work out the best way to line up an effective defense in court.

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