Florida Supreme Court Upholds State’s Controversial Drug Possession Law

On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court upheld Florida’s tough drug possession law, ruling that it is constitutional. The law moves the burden of proof from the state to the defendant, so that defendants charged with drug crimes in Florida will now have to prove that they did not know they were carrying an illegal substance. In 48 other states the burden of proof remains on the state. In her ruling last year, U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven disagreed with Florida’s Supreme Court, calling the law “draconian and unreasonable,” and ruling that the law is a significant departure from the notion that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Because federal district court rulings are not binding on state supreme courts, the final decision on the law’s constitutionality will be left to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Alex Brown