Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

            The criminal offense of driving under the influence (DUI) seems straightforward but is much more complex than people first think.  It can be found at Florida statute §316.193.  All drivers within the state of Florida should know about the state’s DUI laws, and what they entail, so they do not find themselves facing charges.  If you have been charged with a DUI, your Jacksonville criminal attorney can assist you with getting the best result out of a bad situation.

             DUI vs Drunk Driving

            The Florida Statutes define the offense of DUI as driving or having physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, chemicals, or controlled substance that results in a blood alcohol or at least 0.08 percent, or that impairs a person’s normal faculties.  Many people use the terms “DUI” and “drunk driving” interchangeably, but the two are different.  While a drunk driver is considered to be under the influence, not all motorists under the influence are drunk, as chemicals and controlled substances can also impair a person.  Some people can be impaired taking over-the-counter medications such as Nyquil.  Consult your local Jacksonville criminal attorney if you have been charged with driving under the influence.

In the state of Florida, a person who has any alcohol in his or her body is prohibited from being in physical control of a motor vehicle.  F.S. 322.62.  The penalties for violation of this law result in being placed out of service immediately for a twenty four hour period.  If one has a blood alcohol level of .04 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or a breath-alcohol level of .04 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, he or she is exposed to additional penalties that are enumerated in F.S. 322.61.  The ramifications could result in adverse effects on one’s livelihood with restrictions on the operation of a commercial vehicle.

What Are the Possible Ramifications of a Single Drink?

A single drink can result in fulfilling the first element of proof required to prove a DUI charge.  The next element required to meet the definition of a DUI in Florida is proof that an individual was driving a motor vehicle within the state of Florida.  The last element required to prove a DUI case is that the offender’s normal faculties are impaired.  The last element may be proven by an officer’s belief that the driver was impaired and or by the smell of alcohol on his or her breath, slurred speech, difficulty standing, walking in a straight line, based on a field sobriety test.  This is a non inclusive list.

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.

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