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Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

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Florida drug courts were developed as an alternative to regular court, and it was meant to help those struggling with addiction. The emphasis in drug court for people convicted of Miami drug crimes is treatment and rehabilitation, rather than punishment. A non-adversarial approach is used. In a recent appellate decision, the court considered a case in which the defendant had been denied admission to drug court based on an administrative order.

The defendant asked the appellate court to review the lower court’s decision he wasn’t eligible for the drug court program and the administrative order that denied him admission to the drug court program. The appellate court reasoned that the administrative order departed from basic legal requirements.

The defendant had been charged with heroin and a DUI. The prosecutor had, at first, agreed to the defendant’s admission into the drug court program as it connected to possessing heroin. The felony judge who was assigned to the case referred the defendant to arraignment in drug court where he could be observed, and his eligibility reviewed.

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Sometimes criminal racketeering in Miami involves drugs and these drugs may be seized and forfeited as the result of an investigation. Recently, an appellate court heard a challenge to a lower court’s finding of probable cause sufficient for seizure of property, currency and accounts greater than $975,000.00 and a BMW. The appellate court determined that there was probable cause to sustain the seizure and affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

The case arose from a synthetic marijuana products enterprise. Law enforcement officers looked into three stores owned by a business that sold several synthetic marijuana products. The detectives were involved in a minimum of 80 undercover buys of prepackaged synthetic cannabinoids that were meant to be consumed. Because of the investigation, the business’s property was seized, and a forfeiture proceeding was put in place under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act and the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which is Florida Statutes section 895.05. The government claimed the property it was taking had been acquired through the sale of synthetic marijuana.

After the property was seized, the business moved to dismiss forfeiture action for lack of probable cause and motion to return assets. The government and defense agreed the motions could be presented without a hearing but after considering a narcotics officer’s deposition. The lower court found probable cause to support the seizure and denied the motions. It held that a Schedule I substance cannot be adulterated or misbranded under Florida Statute Chapter 499.

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Second chances are some of the best opportunities that we can come across in life, especially when it comes to criminal liability. Many criminal systems throughout the country have created systems that allow first-time offenders to undergo rehabilitative treatment in lieu of jail time. Known as Pre-Trial Intervention (“PTI”) programs or Deferred Prosecution (“DP”), the participant is allowed to perform community service, take a series of courses, or accomplish some other activity in exchange for a deferment of prosecution. Upon successful completion, the defendant will typically not have a criminal record and will also likely not have to pay legal fees commonly associated with criminal proceedings.

According to Florida Statute Section 948.08, prosecutors in Florida can choose whether to opt for a PTI program as opposed to prosecuting a case against a first-time offender. Typically, if the first-time offender committed a non-violent crime, the prosecution will offer a PTI program in lieu of prosecuting the charge. This program also allows a successful participant to seek the expungement or sealing of his or her record, which can further facilitate rehabilitation. 

Often, defendants find themselves facing a difficult situation when the prosecutor revokes the PTI program after the defendant has completed the program partially or in full. In 1990, a defendant faced this very issue. The prosecution revoked the defendant’s PTI agreement, and the defendant filed a motion seeking specific performance of the prosecution’s offer. The lower court agreed that the prosecution could not revoke the PTI program offer once the defendant started complying with its provisions and granted the defendant’s motion.

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Both Florida and U.S. laws provide protections for people who are either accused or suspected of committing a crime from any improper or illegal activities on the part of government officials like police officers. Some of these rights are well known, like the right to not incriminate yourself and the right to have an attorney present during questioning. One of the lesser known rights afforded to criminal suspects and defendants is the right to have the matter brought to trial within a certain period of time.

Recently, the Florida Second Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a case based on the prosecution’s failure to bring the case to trial within a reasonable timeframe. In Norton v. State, the defendant was suspected of violating Florida’s laws against so-called doctor shopping. More specifically, the law prohibits an individual who has been prescribed a controlled substance during the last 30 days from providing information about or withholding information about that prescription from another health care provider when that person is attempting to obtain a second similar or identical prescription from the other health care provider. Violations of this statute constitute third-degree felonies.

According to the information filed by the prosecution, the defendant allegedly committed a doctor shopping offense sometime between June 2009 and March 2010. The prosecution issued a capias, which is a document ordering the arrest of a specific person, on the same day that it filed the information, during late July 2010. The defendant was eventually arrested on July 30, 2014–four years later.

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In a recent case, the Florida Second District Court of Appeal considered the admissibility of confessions and searches in criminal drug cases.

In Thompson v. State, multiple officers traced evidence from the scene of a burglary to a house belonging to the suspect’s sister. At trial, the prosecution and defense offered competing evidence regarding the events that unfolded at the home. According to the officers involved with the arrest, the defendant’s sister permitted the officers to enter the home, but the sister testified that the officers forced their way into the home after she denied their entrance. 

Once inside the house, the police officers asked the defendant if he consented to a search of the room in which he had been staying. Although the defendant refused, he stated that the room contained needles with methamphetamine. After obtaining a search warrant based in part on the defendant’s admission, the police officers conducted a search of the room, during which they found illegal drugs, stolen property, and other related items.

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Recent reports have indicated that a new drug has hit Florida’s streets. Referred to as flakka, the drug has been involved in a string of bizarre and unusual crimes throughout Florida. For example, one man ran through a Florida neighborhood naked while engaging in lewd sexual behavior, while another was arrested while running naked down a busy city street in broad daylight, claiming that a pack of german shepherds was chasing after him.

Another pair of flakka users were caught attempting to break into the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, stating that they thought a group of people had been chasing them. One of the individuals suffered injuries after becoming impaled on a fence. In Palm Beach County, a SWAT team was called to the scene after a man was observed firing a gun from a rooftop, claiming that a Haitian gang had threaded his family and that he was being followed. 

Flakka is a synthetic drug, similar to ecstasy and bath salts. According to authorities, flakka can be obtained through the mail, and it is commonly created in countries overseas, including Pakistan and China. For example, DEA agents recently intercepted several packages destined for Palm Beach County containing flakka that was manufactured in Hong Kong.

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Florida’s drug possession statutes are some of the strictest laws in the country, posing severe penalties for minimal amounts. Due to Florida’s location and close proximity to South American countries known for drug trafficking, the state enacted strict drug possession laws in the 1980s to help dampen the flow of drugs from these foreign locations through Florida.

In Florida, you do not need to be a drug dealer or trafficker to face heavy fines or jail time for possessing a small to moderate amount of drugs. For example, if you are caught while in possession of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or another illegal drug, you could face a felony charge for possession of a controlled substance. A defendant facing drug possession charges for a third-degree felony may be sentenced to prison for a term of five years or less and required to pay up to $5,000 in fines. Additionally, possession of more than 10 grams of heroin constitutes a felony in the first degree and carries a potential 30-year prison sentence and $10,000 in penalties. Other opiate-based drugs carry similar punishments. 

Florida treats the possession of certain manufactured drugs like ecstasy, MDMA, and GHB as a second-degree felony charge, which can result in a 15-year prison sentence and $10,000 worth of fines. Unlike many states, Florida’s marijuana possession statutes have not been relaxed. A small amount of marijuana can result in severe fines and penalties, including a misdemeanor criminal offense. Individuals who are caught in possession of 25 or more marijuana plants face a third-degree felony charge and a possible 15-year prison sentence. Additionally, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana constitutes a fourth-degree felony charge, which carries a potential five-year prison sentence and may result in up to $5,000 in fines.

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In recent years, the illegal acquisition of prescription drugs for use or profit has increased dramatically in the state of Florida. To combat the rise of prescription fraud, law enforcement in Florida has developed extensive tactics to discover and prosecute cases where controlled substances are concerned.

In fact, in many Floridian jurisdictions, the prosecution of prescription fraud is a top priority.

So what exactly is prescription fraud? Charges can include, but are not limited to: 

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Did you know that possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor offense in the state of Florida? The problem with possession of drug paraphernalia is that it must be proven to be in conjunction with intent to commit the act of drug use, which can sometimes make this accusation a little shaky. But even so, you should never try to defend yourself if you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

When accused of possession of drug paraphernalia, the best possible thing you can do is to first stay calm, and then seek the help of an expert in Florida Criminal Law. A South Florida criminal attorney such as Evan A. Hoffman and his teammates can help anyone who is facing charges of drug paraphernalia. Whether or not you believe it, you can fight these charges. If you contact us, you can help yourself to avoid conviction of possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Maybe the most surprising thing about possession of drug paraphernalia is that it does not always go along with a drug possession charge. While these charges do often occur in conjunction with each other, you can still be charged even with no actual illicit substances in sight. So if you have in your possession objects such as a pipe, scale, syringe, bong, water pipe, or other similar objects, you could still face this common misdemeanor charge.

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Have you been accused of drug trafficking? Believe it or not, a prosecutor is not required to prove that you are in fact a drug dealer. If you are in possession of drugs, whether illicit prescription drugs, marijuana or cannabis, cocaine, or opiates such as heroin, the state of Florida needs only to show that, along with possessing them, you knew these drugs were illicit in nature.

If you find yourself in the distressing situation of being charged with conspiracy to traffic drugs, there is no need to panic. The professional legal team at The Hoffman Firm, led by Miami Criminal Attorney Evan A. Hoffman, can help. Evan Hoffman, a highly experienced criminal lawyer, is also a former prosecutor. If you have been wrongly accused, feel free to contact us to learn more about our services.

Conviction of drug charges in Florida means a minimum of 3 years of incarceration. Conspiracy of drug trafficking, regardless of degree, means that the person in question has personally intended to engage in a transaction with at least one other person.

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