Articles Posted in Drugs

Florida passengers en route to California are being arrested after authorities at local airports detect the smell of marijuana on them. California, as most are now aware, is one of the handful of states that now allows the cultivation, sale and possession of marijuana for recreational use. Florida law is much more stringent, allowing sale, use and possession only for medicinal use, as recommended by a physician.Fort Lauderdale civil forfeiture

VICE.com reports on criminal investigations and civil forfeiture actions lead by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office’s narcotics and money laundering task force that target passengers on their way to California.

While in criminal cases, the burden of proof is on prosecutors to prove one’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil forfeiture action, however, it’s the property owner who has the burden of proof to show the cash or other property to establish that those funds or properties weren’t being used for criminal drug activity. That often deters people from filing counterclaims to retrieve their items. Law enforcement appears to count on the assumption that people won’t pursue retrieval of their property. Continue reading

Florida’s penalties for drug traffickers are harsh. With few exceptions, penalties imposed for homicide are much harsher. But increasingly, when drug users die, their dealers are being charged with their murder – thanks to a 2017 Florida law passed unanimously by the state legislature. drug crime defense lawyer

For example last year, a 26-year-old father reportedly died one month after moving from Ohio to Florida, where his girlfriend and son were slated to join him weeks later. The medical examiner reported finding a form of opioid fentanyl in his system, at which point his death investigation became a homicide investigation. Several neighbors were interviewed, after which police identified the suspected dealer of the drugs in the decedent’s system. They arranged two undercover buys, after which time he was arrested for selling drugs near a school – a felony. The investigation continued, and the suspect was charged with first-degree murder in the death of the man who had overdosed.

It’s not that defendants in Florida couldn’t be charged with homicide for dealing drugs that someone later died of on overdose after using. Technically, that law has been on the books since the early 1980s, when the War on Drugs was raging. However, it was rarely used in practice, individuals were rarely convicted and it wasn’t until 2017 that fentanyl was added to the list. Now, our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers have noted an uptick in these types of criminal case. Those facing first-degree homicide charges in Florida overdose cases can, themselves, face the death penalty.

Florida arrests that begin with probable cause searches initiated by the “sniff test” (i.e., detecting the distinct aroma of cannabis) may be no more. For that, we can thank the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill legalizing hemp and its derivative CBD (cannabidiol), as well as the Florida statute that followed to align with it as Congress instructed.marijuana arrest lawyer

The federal law, which went into effect Jan. 1st, removed industrial hemp and CBD from the U.S. Controlled Substances Act list of unlawful and dangerous drugs. However, many states – Florida included – still had laws on the books that criminalized these substances. Florida’s new law fixes that.

Florida’s New Hemp/CBD Law Sweeping in Effect on Criminal Pot Cases

What this now means, as Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers can explain, is not only will future marijuana arrests in Florida most certainly be significantly curtailed, but it may even impact pending cases – at least going back to July 1st and possibly all the way back to January. Continue reading

Cannabidiol oil, better known as CBD, is touted in Florida stores as a means to alleviate anxiety and depression. But a dose of it with a little too much THC could have you feeling a different kind of anxious – in a South Florida jail cell.Fort Lauderdale CBD arrest

Criminal defense attorneys in Palm Beach know this probably has a lot of folks confused. After all, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized commercial hemp and the CBD that is derived from it. Hemp is used to make a wide range of goods and products, from textiles to soap. CBD is a derivative of hemp which is a type of cannabis, but unlike it’s cousin marijuana, hemp has little-to-no THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol). This is the psychoactive extract of the drug, meaning that’s what makes a person feel that euphoric high.

But while federal the latest Farm Bill removed commercial hemp and CBD from the list of federally-controlled substances, there are two things to keep in mind:

  • The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) still prohibits CBD for use in food, beverage and cosmetics products. (Many business owners are flouting this rule, and currently do so at their own risk.)
  • State marijuana laws are a patchwork, and not every state allows CBD oil. In Florida, you could still run into trouble with CBD if it contains any trace amount of THC (the federal limit 0.03 percent) and you don’t have a doctor-recommended state-issued marijuana patient card.

Continue reading

The saying goes that one man’s trash is the next man’s treasure, basically meaning that we all place different value on material goods. But in the case of a South Florida defense attorney, it’s more likely to refer to the fact that you’re literal trash may be the treasure of a prosecutor seeking to put you behind bars. South Florida defense attorney

With the proliferation of DNA evidence as key to prosecutions, digging through a suspect’s trash has become a growing source of evidence for many state and federal attorneys. Generally speaking, unlike the contents of your home or even a DNA test of your own bodily fluids, once your trash is carried to the garbage for disposal, it becomes fair game for law enforcement authorities to access – without a warrant. As established in the 1978 federal case of U.S. v. Crowell by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy per the Fourth Amendment for the garbage you place outside for collection. In fact, so-called “trash pulls” have become a veritable treasure trove for some narcotics units in Florida. In some cases, it even becomes the basis for securing a search warrant on your actual home.

However, it’s not unheard of for police agencies to get too hasty in their quest to gather evidence sufficient for probable cause to secure a warrant to fail to obtain adequate evidence prior to requesting that warrant. For example, simply finding cocaine residue or marijuana seeds in the bottom of a trash bin may in fact be insufficient, thus leading to an affidavit that is deficient for the warrant that is ultimately signed. Based on the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, that could mean everything that is found thereafter is inadmissible (if your criminal defense lawyer files a motion to suppress) – and may result in an entire case being tossed.  Continue reading

Florida has allowed possession and sale of marijuana for medicinal purposes since 2014 per the Compassionate Use Act, with expanded qualifying conditions effective in 2017, per the passage of Amendment 2. Miami marijuana defense attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm know many communities, including Broward and Miami-Dade, “decriminalized” the possession of small amounts of marijuana, though departments do still have discretion to issue citations and, in some cases, make arrests.criminal defense attorney

What impact, if any, do Florida’s medical marijuana laws have on vehicle searches predicated on the distinct smell of the drug?

In one case following a Miami marijuana arrest, a man is asserting a novel defense: A motion to suppress evidence found when police searched his truck and discovered a stash of marijuana based on violation of constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure. The Miami Herald reports the argument hinges on the state’s legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, which the attorney says means the odor of marijuana in and of itself is no longer cause for reasonable suspicion of a crime, which would otherwise be the foundation for a lawful search. Continue reading

Florida has allowed medicinal marijuana since the Compassionate Use Act of 2014, expanded effective in 2017. The law allows those with certain medical conditions to secure a doctor’s recommendation for a prescription and purchase certain cannabis extracts, so long as it’s not smoked. Although this is in conflict with the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, the 2018 Farm Bill did effectively legalize hemp (produced from the cannabis plant but with no more than 0.3 percent THC), which in turn should have legalized most CBD products. However, there are some significant restrictions, as can be explained by our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys and further detailed by researchers at The Brookings Institutemarijuana defense lawyer

For instance, any CBD that contains more than 0.3 percent THC (the element in marijuana with psychoactive effects) would be considered non-hemp cannabis, thus having no protection under federal law. Secondly, the Farm Bill allotted for significant shared federal and state regulatory power over hemp production and cultivation. For example, state departments of agriculture and chief law enforcement agencies are responsible for devising a plan for regulation and enforcement of hemp cultivation. Those plans must be submitted to the USDA, and state licensing can only commence once the USDA has granted approval. In states opting not to map their own regulatory plans, the USDA will draft a regulatory program with federal oversight. So essentially, hemp – and thus CBD – are legalized under the Farm Bill, but only if they meet certain criteria; you can’t grow or sell or buy these products the way you can basil or tomatoes.

But confusion persists across the state, with Florida Today reporting small-time vendors are finding themselves facing felony marijuana trafficking charges in Florida for something they thought was legal. For example, a 64-year-old in Melbourne, FL who operates a medical hemp business out of a flea market was targeted by authorities who suspect him of selling illegal cannabis products, tens of thousands of dollars of which they seized in a raid just before the holidays. Those included lollipops and other edibles as well as oils. He has not yet been charged, but authorities have reportedly told him to expect felony charges. The case underscores the fact that what is legal and what is isn’t is somewhat obscured when it comes to hemp/CBD.  Continue reading

Is a sniff a search? It seems that may be a constitutional question for the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices are considering whether to grant review in the case of Edstrom v. Minnesota. The case, as our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys understand it, turns on the issue of whether trained narcotics-sniffing dogs can lawfully be brought to a person’s door to sniff for drugs or whether this requires police to first obtain a warrant. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer

The Minnesota Supreme Court held that police do not need a warrant to walk the dog to one’s front door and see if it passes the sniff test. We have no way of knowing which way the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to swing, especially since Justice Stephen Breyer stepped down and has been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

In several previous cases the court has considered that involved drug-sniffing dogs, the court has generally come down on the side of law enforcement – but one Florida case seemed to flip the script. Continue reading

Two years ago, Floridians overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, and since then, more than 1000,000 prescriptions for the drug have been written. And yet, Miami drug crime defense lawyers know arrests for recreational use and possession have been soaring statewide. South Florida marijuana defense lawyer

In Sarasota county, for instance, Sarasota Magazine reports arrests for recreational use of the drug shot up by 35 percent in 2017 compared to 2010. Marijuana arrests rates this year suggest the trend is continuing on an upward swing. The county sheriff insists those figures are misleading because marijuana in most cases was a secondary offense, meaning those individuals weren’t directly targeted for recreational marijuana use. There is some evidence to dispute this. But while some areas such as Broward and Miami-Dade have made it more of a civil infraction than a criminal offense, police still have a wide amount of discretion when deciding whether to make an arrest or issue a ticket or warning. Some expect it could take another decade or more before Florida legalizes recreational marijuana.

In the meantime, a first-time arrest for possession of marijuana won’t lead to a criminal conviction, but defendants often are required to go through a diversion program that can cost hundreds of dollars in fines and other costs, probation, substance abuse counseling and community service. Continue reading

There are many scenarios wherein panicked people “toss the drugs” – when they are being chased by police, when law enforcement is at their door, when they fear they are about to be searched. What we are obliged to inform you as criminal defense attorneys is that if you make any attempt to tamper with evidence under Florida law (which is essentially what “tossing the drugs” is in these scenarios), you would be facing a third-degree felony charge (up to five years in prison) for this alone, per F.S. 918.13.drug possession defense Florida

It really is often a bad idea, and you’ll likely never hear an ethical Broward criminal defense attorney give you the green light to “toss the drugs,” – whether for yourself or a loved one.

However, the outcome of a 1999 case of Stanton v. State, wherein a conviction for cocaine possession was overturned, is worth a mention in this context.  Continue reading