Articles Posted in Drug Offenses & Drug Trafficking

798516-drug-offensesThere are several things that can happen in your drug crime trial that can make the process unfairly tilted against you. Things like a prosecutor’s misstatement of the law in closing arguments may confuse and/or prejudice the jury, thus entitling you to a reversal if you’re eventually convicted. However, it is possible that you could lose your opportunity to make that winning appeals argument if you don’t make the right objections during your trial. In other words, at every step during your criminal trial process, it is essential to know what to do and when. That is one of the many areas where it is invaluable to have a skilled Tampa Bay drug crime defense attorney on your side.

J.L.A.’s case is an example of an appeal that succeeded, in part, due to correct actions that were taken at trial. J.L.A. was on trial for drug trafficking. According to J.L.A., he was riding with his long-time friend, Malcolm, when a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputy pulled the pair over in a traffic stop. Malcolm allegedly handed his friend a bottle and said, “Tuck this.” J.L.A. testified that, as he hid the bottle, he though it contained marijuana.

The bottle did not contain marijuana. It contained more than 200 pills, including hydromorphone, oxycodone, and alprazolam. The deputy found the bottle and the pills after conducting a pat-down search.

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Many people may be familiar with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and its protection against illegal searches and seizures. Fewer people may be familiar with is the “exclusionary rule.’ This rule is something that may help you to get harmful evidence thrown out in your case if the police obtained that evidence through an illegal arrest. To get the proof suppressed, though, you still have to know what the correct legal rules are and the correct way to go about seeking suppression. In other words, you need to be sure that you have a knowledgeable Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney on your side working to protect your rights.

J.R.D.’s case was one that involved this rule and was an important victory for anyone illegally arrested due to mistakes made by the police. The case arose from a police stop of J.R.D. and his identical twin brother. The officer did a computer check and the sheriff’s department’s computerized warrant system said that both brothers had outstanding warrants. The officer called dispatch to confirm that the computer information was correct. The dispatcher told the officer that J.R.D. had an outstanding warrant, but his brother did not.

The officer arrested J.R.D. and, after searching him, found illegal drugs. On the way to the jail, the officer discovered that both the computer and the dispatcher were wrong – J.R.D. did not have any outstanding warrants. (It turns out that his brother did and he did not.) Despite this revelation, the officer took J.R.D. to jail and the state charged him for possession of controlled substance.

All of us make mistakes at various points in our lives. For some people, those mistakes may come with criminal legal consequences. If you find yourself in such a circumstance, one of the key things you can do to help yourself is resist the urge to take action that will actually only make your situation worse. In almost all situations, attempting to run from the police is one of those urges that, if acted upon, will only make your legal circumstances worse. Instead of running, take quick and decisive action by retaining the services of an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney to take on your case within the legal system.An example of how running from law enforcement can go badly took place recently in Seminole County. A ClickOrlando report indicated that three people were traveling in a white vehicle that allegedly had a stolen license plate on it. Local law enforcement officers began pursuing the vehicle. There was a problem for the occupants, though; the vehicle contained cocaine and several pieces of drug paraphernalia. The driver tried to outrun the police but eventually crashed.

The driver, J.Y., and one passenger, J.K., decided to make a run for it on foot, racing into a field. A police K9 caught J.Y. J.K., however, had a different pursuit to handle. A herd of cows detected the woman and began chasing J.K. Eventually, the cows cornered the woman in one corner of the fenced field, where law enforcement officers were waiting to apprehend her.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the “police didn’t say whether they would consider creating a bovine chase unit.”

915055-gunThe Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is one of the most important constitutional protections afforded to citizens. That constitutional amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. For example, the police cannot simply pat you down and go rummaging through your pockets for no reason. In fact, there are only a few reasons where they can engage in this kind of search. When they do so without a valid basis, that search is illegal, and the items found in the search should not be allowed as evidence at your trial. Making sure that you are getting the full protection of your constitutional rights requires many things, and one the biggest ones is a skilled Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney.

As an example of how an illegal search can occur, consider the recent case of T.N. two St. Petersburg police officers spotted T.N. sitting at a picnic table in a park that had closed 90 minutes earlier. Based on the park’s closed status, the officers approached T.N. He told them he was just leaving and headed toward his bicycle. The officers commanded T.N. to stop and, eventually grabbed the man’s bicycle so he couldn’t leave. They arrested him for violating a St. Petersburg city ordinance that bans people from being in city parks after hours.

Pursuant to that arrest, the officers searched T.N., at which point they found a concealed firearm and illegal drugs. At trial, the state charged the man with carrying a concealed firearm and two drug possession counts.

798516-drug-offensesSometimes, one can learn useful tips, even as a non-lawyer, from court opinions. They can highlight important legal rules or they can inform readers that the state of the law has changed. Other times, you don’t need a court opinion. A brief news story or two may tell you all you need to know. A recent incident that occurred in Central Florida is a stark reminder that the gulf between trying to handle your criminal case by yourself, as opposed to entrusting an experienced local attorney, can be very wide. In other words, don’t risk your future; contact an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney about your criminal charges right away.

The occurrence began, according to a villages-news.com report, when local police responded to an alleged disturbance during the wee hours of Nov. 30. The police spotted A.L.P., a 28-year-old woman, whom they alleged was on foot, stumbling drunk and about to drive away in a SUV. A check of her driver’s license revealed that she was driving on a restricted (“business purposes only”) license.

According to the police, they gave the woman multiple chances to call for a ride home. Instead, she allegedly fought the officers and required the threat of a taser before cooperating. As all this transpired, the police searched the woman’s vehicle and allegedly found a marijuana grinder with small amounts of the drug in it.

798514-burglaryToday, in this age of the Internet and social media, “Florida man” has become something of a meme, as “Florida man” is arguably infamous for finding trouble in unique and sometimes head-scratching ways. Often, Internet news sources play these stories for laughs. However, these stories involve real people who are often facing really serious crimes based upon their alleged actions. While you may never be the subject of a “Florida man”-type story, what you should be sure you know is that, regardless of how ordinary or extraordinary the facts are in the criminal case facing you or a loved one, you need to be sure you have an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney on your side to ensure you or your loved one gets the justice you need.

NBC Miami recently reported on an incident it flagged as an “Only in Florida” story. P.E., a man from Pinellas County, was inside a home and approached a locked “lock box.” He broke into the box and found a bottle labeled “hydrocodone acetaminophen,” which is a powerful opioid painkiller. P.E. poured the bottle’s contents into his hands and left the home. P.E. was caught on video engaging in this theft.

According to the report, P.E. discovered, after leaving the home, that what he had was not hydrocodone, acetaminophen, or any other type of opioid. What he had was a handful of “Equate Gentle Laxatives.” “Equate” is the house brand of health and beauty products sold at Walmart stores. A bottle of 100 Equate Gentle Laxative pills, which has the same active ingredient as Dulcolax, can be purchased at Pinellas County Walmart stores for less than $5. P.E. decided to throw the pills in the trash.

Sometimes, obtaining a reversal of your conviction may not be feasible. The state may simply have amassed too much evidence against you at trial. Even if you cannot reasonably expect to obtain a reversal of your conviction, that definitely does not mean that you should abandon filing an appeal altogether. Sometimes, pursuing (and succeeding in) an appeal of your sentence can provide you with very significant benefits, including a lot less time behind bars. To make sure that you get a truly fair hearing, whether it is at your trial or at your sentencing hearing, be sure to obtain the services of an experienced Tampa Bay defense attorney to represent you.

An example of a such a case where the defendant received a fair trial but not a fair sentencing hearing took place recently in DeSoto County. K.L. was arrested and charged with selling meth within 1000 feet of a place of worship and possessing drug paraphernalia. The state secured a conviction at trial. At the woman’s sentencing hearing, the prosecution called K.L. a “consistent drug dealer” and stated that multiple police officers could testify that K.L. had a “predisposition for dealing drugs multiple times to multiple people, not just this one drug sale.” The court allowed the state to use this evidence in the sentencing hearing.

The woman appealed her conviction and her sentence. The appeal of the conviction went nowhere, but the appeals court concluded that the woman was correct in her challenge of her sentencing hearing. This meant that K.L. was entitled to have her sentence thrown out and to get a new sentencing hearing before a different judge. The problem with the first sentencing hearing that triggered a reversal and a new hearing was the trial judge’s allowing in impermissible evidence. The state argued during the sentencing hearing that K.L. had a history of engaging many instances of dealing drugs subsequent to the sale upon she was arrested. The state, however, had never charged the woman with any drug-selling crimes other than the one deal that was the subject of this trial. Based on charged offenses, the state had a record of K.L. dealing drugs exactly once.

Sometimes, Florida can be famous – or infamous – for news stories with strange twists. While some of those twists might elicit a chuckle or two, the possible legal consequences for the subjects of those news articles can be profoundly serious. If you are facing arrest, it’s no joke. Make sure you retain a skilled Tampa Bay defense attorney.

One possible takeaway from a recent South Florida news story is this: if you are going to cut off someone in traffic in Miami-Dade County, make sure it isn’t a law enforcement officer. One man made that mistake and found himself the subject of a traffic stop, according to a recent Miami Herald report. Once the police initiated the traffic stop, they found several things they deemed suspicious inside the man’s car. These included six guns, several bottles of strong cough syrup (without a prescription), suspected marijuana oil and nearly $20,000 in cash.

The Herald report also noted that the police proudly touted the bust on a local TV station. “It’s amazing how something as simple as a traffic stop can lead us to crack a lot of cases,” the police told CBS 4. There was one not-so-small problem: it wasn’t a “good” bust.

Sometimes, one might find oneself in an uncomfortable encounter with law enforcement. The officer suspects you of a crime. The officer is questioning you. The facts look bad, and you do not have a clear reply to dispel the officer’s suspicions. You have a couple of options at this point. You can invoke your right to legal counsel and refuse to explain anything, or you can go for a “far-from-run-of-the-mill” explanation. More often than not, if an officer is questioning you toward the end of possibly arresting you, the less you say the better. Instead, retain counsel and let your experienced Florida drug crime attorney handle the interactions with the police.

A woman recently stopped by police in Fort Pierce went with a long shot of an explanation in her interaction with police, according to a news report from Local10.com. Law enforcement officers allegedly noticed her vehicle driving erratically and made a traffic stop. According to the police report, the officer detected an aroma of marijuana upon approaching the vehicle. The officer searched the woman’s car. The officer also searched the woman’s purse. Inside the purse, the officer found marijuana and cocaine in separate bags inside the purse.

The woman informed the officer that the marijuana was hers, but the cocaine was not. What’s more, she professed not knowing for sure how the bag of cocaine found its way into her purse. Instead of leaving it there, she attempted to offer a possible alternative theory of the case. “I don’t know anything about any cocaine. It’s a windy day. It must have flown through the window and into my purse,” the woman theorized, according to the police report.

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