Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

What is Mens Rea? 

Mens Rea is the mental element of an individual’s intent to commit a crime.  It can also be expressed as the knowledge that a particular act would result in a crime being committed.

Why is Mens Rea significant if I have been accused of a crime?

The United States Supreme Court handed down a decision that has been historic in a case entitled the Miranda v. Arizona, in 1966Essentially, four cases made it to the United States Supreme Court with similar issues.  All cases involved interrogation by police in a closed room where the putative Defendant was cut off from the outside world.  In three of these cases, the Defendant signed statements that were admitted at trial and one of the cases involved oral statements admitted at trial.  Following the Miranda Case, whenever a person is taken into detention, that individual must be advised of their Fifth Amendment right against making any self-incriminating statements.  When the police question someone in custody, they must advise:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything that you say can and will be used against you.

Is There a Warrant Issued in My Name?

There are numerous warrants issued for almost every type of crime that occurs in Florida.  The warrant system is used to apprehend criminals and those accused of a crime.  Despite the belief that warrants expire, they do not.  Additionally, warrants can be executed at anytime.  Just because you may not be located within the territory of the state that issued a warrant, you are not safe from exposure to arrest.  It is common for warrants to be issued for both felonies and misdemeanors in Florida.  A warrant will be active until it is served, the individual dies, or the judge recalls the warrant.  It is important to resolve a warrant promptly, so one does not have to deal with a multitude of problems unexpectedly.  Your arrest could result from the most minor traffic stop for a tailgate light.

The FDLE has a database which usually lists active warrants and may be found online at http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/.  You can select “search wanted persons” and you will be taken to a search screen.

            The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that:

            In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

            The Constitution does not define what a speedy trial means.  There is a Speedy Trial Act governing federal criminal charges and in Florida state trials there is a criminal rule of procedure that addresses speedy trial.  The Florida rule provides for Speedy Trial without Demand which requires defendants to be brought to trial within 90 days from the arrest on a misdemeanor, or 175 days from the arrest for a felony.  There is also a provision for Speedy Trial Upon Demand this provides that every person charged with a crime by indictment or information shall have the right to demand a trial within 60 days by filing a pleading entitled “Demand for Speedy Trial”.  These provisions can be found in Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 3.191.

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.

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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.

drugsF.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.

question criminal issueThe 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.

search and seizureRecently, 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.

self-incrimination on social mediaThe 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.

150915_unhappy-smoker-1526842Under 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.

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