In a series of decisive actions, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida has recently signed two significant pieces of legislation aimed at addressing pressing concerns in the state. These new laws touch upon issues related to bail reform and the illicit distribution of dangerous substances like "rainbow" fentanyl.
House Bill 1627, a critical component of Florida's legal landscape, has been enacted to address concerns regarding bail practices and pretrial detention. The legislation mandates that the Florida Supreme Court establish a statewide bond schedule. Additionally, it expands the list of crimes eligible for pretrial detention to include DUI manslaughter, fentanyl trafficking, written threats to kill, and extortion.
Under this law, judges are prohibited from setting bail amounts lower than those specified by statute, ensuring a more uniform application of bond requirements. However, they are granted discretion to exceed these predetermined minimums if deemed necessary. Furthermore, pretrial release is barred for individuals arrested for violent crimes or those who are believed by a judge to have likely committed such offenses. Notably, the legislation adds manslaughter while driving, boating under the influence, trafficking fentanyl, extortion, and written threats to kill to the list of heinous crimes subject to these provisions.
The overarching goal of HB 1627 is to protect Floridians from the perceived negative consequences of certain bail reform efforts gaining traction in various jurisdictions nationwide. Governor DeSantis expressed concern that lenient cash bail policies allow potentially dangerous individuals to be released, contributing to a cycle of recidivism and creating additional challenges for law enforcement.
Governor DeSantis also signed House Bill 1359, which focuses on addressing the alarming rise in cases involving "rainbow" fentanyl. This legislation enhances penalties for fentanyl-related crimes, particularly when the drug is packaged to resemble candy or is made attractive to children.
The penalties imposed by HB 1359 are severe, with potential life sentences for traffickers. Those convicted may face a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and a fine of one million dollars for each count. Moreover, the law elevates the possession, sale, or manufacture of candy-like controlled substances, including fentanyl, to a first-degree felony.
Governor DeSantis emphasized the urgency of tackling the issue of "rainbow" fentanyl, citing a significant increase in its prevalence over the past few years. The new law aims to treat drug traffickers who distribute these deadly substances with the severity reserved for murderers.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody praised these legislative actions, highlighting Florida's commitment to upholding the rule of law, supporting law enforcement, and holding offenders accountable for their actions. She expressed gratitude for Governor DeSantis' leadership in signing these laws, underscoring their significance in safeguarding the well-being of Floridians and the state's countless visitors.
In Florida, these measures reflect a commitment to protecting public safety, deterring criminal activity, and ensuring that those who break the law face appropriate consequences. Governor DeSantis' actions underscore the state's dedication to a robust legal framework and its commitment to keeping Floridians and visitors safe from harm.