Under both federal and state laws, the willful possession of illegal controlled substances is a crime.
If you ever get arrested for drug possession, know that you are facing a serious charge that carries penalties that include fines and jail time. However, if authorities ever find evidence that you had the intent to distribute or sell the drugs found in your possession, then you are liable to face drug distribution charges, whose consequences are more severe than those for simple drug possession.
Whether you’re facing drug possession or drug distribution charges, you are going to need the services of an experienced drug lawyer to represent you in court.
Let’s take a look at some facts about drug possession and see how it could turn into a more serious drug distribution charge.
F.S. § 893.13 provides that a person may not sell, manufacture, or deliver, or possess with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver, a controlled substance. The penalties can be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the type and quantity of controlled substance you possess, among other things such as selling on a school, church, or nursing home grounds.
F.S. § 893.03 lists the controlled substances and how they are classified under Florida law.
- Schedule I: Drugs that have a high potential for abuse and have not currently accepted medical use. Some examples include Heroin, LSD, Peyote, PCP, and MDA.
The majority of criminal cases in Florida get resolved by plea agreements. In the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 3.171 governs plea agreements. The prosecutor has broad discretion in plea agreements. The prosecutor may engage in discussions with the defendant’s attorney or, if the defendant is unrepresented, with the defendant himself as long as a record is made of the discussions.
The prosecutor may ask the defendant to enter a plea of guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) to a charged crime or to a lesser or related offense in exchange for the prosecutor agreeing to any of the following:
1) abandon other charges;
Search and seizure issues are normally at the top of the list in any criminal case where physical evidence is recovered from a defendant. Florida law, like federal law, provides protection for citizens against illegal search and seizure. This protection stems from the Florida Constitution and the United States Constitution. At its essence, it is centered on idea that the government needs a good reason to intrude on a citizen’s expectation of privacy. In criminal law, evidence that is gathered in violation of state or federal search and seizure law can be suppressed. A good criminal defense lawyer will always immediately begin this analysis whenever hearing the facts of a new criminal case for the first time.
Recently, in the case of Cole v. State of Florida, the Third District Court of Appeals (3rd DCA) reviewed a case involving an alleged violation of search and seizure law. Cole was charged with tampering with evidence, trafficking in cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia after he was pulled over by a police officer. The traffic stop had been initiated due to a faded temporary tag placed on the car Cole was driving. The defense filed a motion to suppress the evidence that it believed was the result of an illegal search. During the traffic stop, Cole acted nervous, clinched his fists, and held a pen tightly in his hand. He was also sweating and stuttering. The stopping officer believe that the pen could potentially be used and a weapon. She ordered Cole from the car to do a pat down. Florida law allows an officer to conduct a pat down when there is a reasonable suspicion that a person who is being temporarily detained may be armed with a weapon. The court ruled that the pat down was reasonable under the circumstances.
As Cole was getting out of the car for the pat down, he threw something underneath the car. It was later discovered to be cocaine. During the pat down, something was felt in Cole’s sock, and the officer removed the item. It turned out to be cocaine, as well. The appellate court found that it was wrong for the officer to pull the bulge from Cole’s sock, but found that it would have been discovered anyway after Cole was arrested for the drugs that were thrown underneath the car. This is referred to as the “inevitable discovery” doctrine. The court said that it did not matter that the wrongful search by the officer came before the drugs under the car had been discovered. The appellate court held that the trial court was correct in denying Cole’s motion to suppress.
Posting pictures or videos of yourself committing crimes is probably not the wisest thing to do in a country where just about everyone is on social media and can easily view what you post. Even grannies, people with no real friends, and the police have social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. Now, I imagine that there are places in the world where lawlessness runs rampant and posting pictures or videos of yourself using drugs, possessing stolen property, or beating your spouse won’t land you in hot water, but America is not one of those places. Well, maybe in some parts, but you get what I mean. In general, I think that it takes a special type of stupidity to believe that you can do these types of things and suffer no consequences. Recently, in Gainesville, Florida, according to accesswdunn.com, a group of young men were arrested after posting images of themselves on Snapchat holding guns, drinking alcohol, and using marijuana.
The young men, one of which was a juvenile, were arrested after someone viewed the images and reported the group to the police. They were arrested shortly after. One of the young men was in possession of a gun that had been stolen from a burglary of a car. In Florida, breaking into a car and stealing a gun is considered an armed burglary. Believe it or not, this offense is actually punishable by life in prison, even when the burglary is only to a car and not a person’s home. That doesn’t mean that the young man in this story will get sentenced to life in prison, but that is an unfortunate, yet unlikely, possibility. Although, in my experience such a sentence for a young person, especially someone that doesn’t have much of a record, is not likely, this does not mean that bad things can’t happen that will make the young man in possession of the stolen gun very uncomfortable.
Our country’s constitution grants criminal defendants protection against self incrimination, which means you are not required to tell on yourself. However, when you post images or videos of yourself on social media that show you and your friends committing crimes, you’re pretty much waiving your right against self-incrimination.
Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers know that ordinary people can find themselves on the wrong side of the law easily. Yes—even people who are not thought of as troublemakers. A fraternity in New York has come under fire for a hazing that resulted in the death of a pledge. Chun Michael Deng died after receiving a fatal brain injury, according to JDjournal.com. Pledge Deng was sent running through a gauntlet blindfolded and wearing a thirty pound backpack. He was somehow knocked unconscious during the run. Deng was reportedly taken inside the fraternity house, his clothes were changed to hide traces of affiliation to the fraternity, then those that were present called for help. A grand jury has apparently decided that charges should be filed against fraternity members in relation to Deng’s death. Third degree murder is a charge being considered by New York authorities.
Under Florida law, specifically statute 1006.63,“hazing means any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to, initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution. “Hazing” includes, but is not limited to, pressuring or coercing the student into violating state or federal law, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or other forced physical activity that could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the student, and also includes any activity that would subject the student to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment, or other forced activity that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the student. Hazing does not include customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions or any activity or conduct that furthers a legal and legitimate objective.”
When serious injury of death occurs, hazing is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison. Hazing without actual injury of death is a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up one year in jail. Avoiding hazing altogether can be accomplished by simply not doing something that can put a student in danger of harm. At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers on staff that can help you achieve the best result in your case. Call today for a free consultation with a knowledgable Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer.
Non-violent drug offenders in Jacksonville and throughout Florida are being sentenced to much higher prison terms than before. I’ve witnessed this first hand as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. According to a recent study cited by huffingtonpost.com, Florida inmates spent 194 percent more time in prison in 2009 than in 1990. The study, conducted by the Pew Center looked at trends in 35 states over the last couple of decades. Florida was one of the states where increased sentences were noted. In Jacksonville, non-violent drug crimes, particularly sales, are often targeted for prison time. Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers know that sales in Jacksonville are often recorded on audio or video equipment, which makes defending these types of crimes more difficult in most cases.
Selecting the right Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, one that is familiar with successful strategies in defending and negotiating sale of cocaine and related drug offenses, is critical. The success of any drug offense defense, or negotiations for that matter, put on by a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer is highly controlled by the facts of the case. Successful defenses or negotiations are the key to preventing a drug offense defendant from becoming part of Florida’s increased sentences statistics.
All sales of controlled substances in Florida are felony offenses, which are punishable time in Florida State Prison. Possession, of most controlled substances also will result in a felony. Florida law does not require prison in most drug offense cases, but the State’s position in most instances to push for prison time. The most important factor in whether a particular set of facts create weaknesses in the State’s case that can be exploited by a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. The next most important factor is the Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer that is handling the case and whether the criminal defense lawyer has the knowledge as skills necessary to recognize and take advantage of any available weaknesses in the State’s case.
A Tennessee power company’s investigation into a neighborhood’s power shortage issues led to a large drug bust in the Tennessee countryside. Beneath the average looking countryside home was a million dollar “pot cave”. Marijuana was being grown in buckets, with an elaborate water and light system in place to maintain the plants, according to secretsofthefed.com. (Read the story here.) A secret entrance through the garage led to a cave that went back 50 yards into the hills the house was built against. The entrance was protected by a steel door, which was operated by a hydraulic motor.
The men that were running the marijuana operation had spliced into power lines, and stole an estimated $61,000 worth of electricity. In, Florida, this drug bust would have led to Grand Theft and Trafficking in Cannabis charges, among other things. Florida law calls for minimum sentences that apply in Trafficking cases, with three years being the lowest minimum that applies and fifteen years as the highest minimum. The maximum sentence allowable under Florida law is 30 years in Florida State Prison. Mandatory fines range from $25,000 to $200,000.
With these kinds of punishments as possibilities, finding the best criminal defense attorney available is a must. If you or a loved one have been arrested for a criminal offense in the Jacksonville area, experienced criminal defense lawyers are available for a free consultation at the Law Office of David M. Goldman. Call us today at (904) 685-1200.
Under the current status of legal marijuana in Florida and the long road traveled to arrive at Florida’s limited medical use of legal marijuana, it doesn’t seem likely that the near future makes Florida a place where people can freely offer marijuana to the president without the threat of criminal prosecution and the need for services of a Florida criminal defense attorney. This past Tuesday, President Obama spent time in Denver, Colorado, and reportedly made his rounds, taking advantage of the Denver’s nightlife. While spending time at a bar formerly owned by Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper, President Obama shot pool with the locals, spoke with citizens, and was even offered marijuana on more than one occasion before finally calling it a night. According to the Florida Times-Union, the President refused each time and was back in his hotel room by 9 p.m.
In June, Florida governor, Rick Scott, signed a law that allows limited use of marijuana for medical purposes. Specifically, a low THC strand of marijuana will be allowed to treat diseases such as epilepsy and cancer, according to The Huffington Post. The law is not yet effective and still has details that must be worked out. However, one thing is crystal clear: Florida’s newly signed law does not allow recreational use of marijuana. Colorado, for example, allows residents over the age of 21 to grow up to six marijuana plants for private use, but the marijuana is required to stay where it is grown. Residents of Colorado are also allowed to travel within the state while possessing up to one ounce of marijuana, and may give up to one ounce as a gift to another person, as long as the recipient is also 21 years old or older.
Possession of marijuana is currently illegal in the state of Florida. In fact, possessing more than 20 grams is a felony that could potentially land a person in prison for up to five years; while possessing less than 20 grams puts a person in jeopardy of spending up to a full year in the county jail. As the amount of marijuana increases, the consequences and severity of potential sentences increase, as well. At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced criminal defense attorneys available for free initial consultations in the Jacksonville area. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 to learn how our experience can go to work for you or a loved one in drug related offense and other legal matters.