Florida man pleads no contest on drug charges

A Florida man has been sentenced to 25 years in a state prison for possessing a controlled substance, trafficking heroin and resisting arrest. The sentence was handed down during a Dec. 18 hearing in Escambia County. A spokesperson from the Office of the State Attorney said that the 46-year-old Pensacola resident was sentenced to the mandatory minimum for his offenses, which means that he will serve the entire 25 years.

The sequence of events that led to the sentence began on April 24 when the Pensacola Police Department received a 911 call from an individual who was worried about the man driving while impaired. PPD officers claim to have found the man passed out behind the wheel of his vehicle at about 11:30 a.m. A search of the man's car allegedly led to the discovery of a set of digital scales, two bags containing the opioid Tramadol and approximately 74 grams of heroin. Officers say that the man resisted when they attempted to place him in handcuffs.

The man entered a no contest plea to the charges against him. A records check reveals that he had been charged with felonies on 12 prior occasions. His most recent period of incarceration ended in 2014. The previous charges against him include attempted murder in the second degree, gun possession while a convicted felon and several drug offenses.

Defendants who enter a no contest plea do not admit guilt, but it carries the same consequences as a guilty plea. Defendants sometimes choose to plead no contest to avoid civil liability, but experienced criminal defense attorneys may advise against this strategy. Prosecutors have no incentive to reduce charges or penalties when defendants plead no contest, which means the sentences handed down are often severe. However, they may make generous offers to encourage defendants to plead guilty instead of not guilty.

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