Articles Posted in Drugs

There is no question that we have a major problem with opioid addiction in this country. While many of these cases, including ones where people overdose involve illicit narcotics like heroin, many still involve the use of prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet or OxyContin.

Drug Defense In many cases, a person will get prescriptions from various doctors and hospitals and take the take the medications themselves.  In other cases, a person will do this same thing, but sell the drugs he or she doesn’t use, so they can buy more drugs. Pills on the street go for a lot more money than they do at a pharmacy, and when you obtain the drugs legally, you likely have insurance that will pay the bill, or at least some of the bill. Continue reading

Florida state senators in the Criminal Justice Committee are weighing a measure that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the Sunshine State.marijuana

If passed, violators would receive a civil citation instead of facing arrest. Possession of less than one ounce would be considered a first-degree misdemeanor, for which the penalty would be a $100 fine.

Similar measure have been undertaken by local governments, including Broward County. In 2015, Broward County Commissioners gave law enforcement agencies the option of issuing a $150 citation to those who were caught for the first time with 20 grams or less of marijuana. Second-time offenders would have to pay $250 and third-time offenders would be charged $500. After three arrests for this same offense, it would be considered a crime. However, officers still have the choice to make an arrest, which is exactly what officers have opted to do in the majority of instances. Fort Lauderdale, however, opted out of that program. Continue reading

A number of factors appear to have played a role in lower arrest rates at South Florida’s premier electronic music festival in Miami this year compared to years past. festival

The Miami Herald reports there were a total of 35 arrests over the course of the three-day revelry at Bayfront Park, which was attended by more than 150,000 mostly-young guests from around the globe. This number of arrests represents a 50 percent drop from 2016, continuing the downward arrest trend that began in 2013.

Police officials say part of it has to do with a number of changes, including increased police enforcement and a crowd that is maturing. Authorities say educating the public was a big part of this success, as was close cooperation with the event creators and promoters.  Continue reading

After decades, it seemed there was finally a general bipartisan consensus – even if unspoken by some – that the so-called, “War on Drugs” was a failed one. Formally kicked off and coined in 1971 by President Nixon, it began with a primary focus on drug addiction treatment. However, it morphed over the next decade with the Reagan’s, “Just Say No” campaign to one of heavy-handed enforcement, including harsh minimum mandatory penalties on even low-level, non-violent drug offenders. pass it

But there was a recognition over time that this hyped enforcement did little to curb drug use, didn’t make communities safer and actually had a disproportionate impact on lower income and minority communities. In the last decade, there has been a reversing trend that once again focuses on treatment and has peeled back some of the tougher penalties for low-level drug crimes. Marijuana is now legal in most states (including Florida) for medicinal purposes and in a handful of states for recreational use and sales.

However, some are concerned that new U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions may be preparing to crack down once more. Sessions has a long history of disdain for drug use and drug users. Still, some thought it unlikely he would return to policies that had proven unpopular and ineffective. Still, some of his recent comments seem to indicate he may not back down. Continue reading

Marijuana laws are rapidly evolving around the state – including here in Florida, where voters agreed to widen access to medicinal pot. At the same time, four other states were added to the list of those that now allow recreational marijuana use (bringing the total to eight). studentunion

But while the state marijuana laws in this country vary wildly, there are two things you should know that apply everywhere:

  • Marijuana is illegal under federal law.
  • Most college campuses still do not allow it.

Take, for example, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. A spokesman for the university recently told USA Today that while marijuana was legalized statewide for adults to possess, sell and use for recreation, it’s still not allowed on campus. Because it’s illegal at the federal level, it’s barred on campus and considered a violation of student code, similar to possession of alcohol.  Continue reading

In criminal cases, scientific evidence is given a significant amount of weight, whether that is DNA evidence or proof of that a certain substance is in fact illegal. However, as we’ve seen in a number of instances across the country in recent years, that evidence is not infallible. One of the most infamous cases of this was that of a chemist in Massachusetts, who reportedly admitted to manipulating drug test results in order to give prosecutors a leg up. She is believed to have been involved in more than 20,000 drug cases in the course of her 8.5 years working with the state crime lab (from which she was later fired).powder

Now, the question is what to do about all those potentially tainted convictions, many of which were secured using the test results of that chemist. Recently, more than 4.5 years after the chemist confessed, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has called on prosecutors to reverse potentially thousands of those.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, prosecutors have been reluctant throughout this process to reverse convictions where the chemist’s work played a role. In one instance, prosecutors argued they didn’t have any obligation to let those convicted know of their possible innocence in the court’s eyes. Incredibly, one prosecutor even opined that many of the defendants were probably too poor or else too tied up with issues that were more pressing, such as addiction or mental illness, to have any real desire to address these cases. But the state’s highest court isn’t buying that. Continue reading

In the 1980s and into the 1990s, many states adopted severe drug sentencing policies that resulted in packed prisons across the nation. Corrections costs were driven to near bankruptcy and communities, families and individuals’ lives were torn apart – all for drug offenses that were often non-violent and usually related to a cycle of relentless addiction. driving

As states have begun moving away from these types of policies, including minimum mandatory sentencing, it may also be time to explore whether the forms of punishment meted out are truly necessary and effective. One of those is the driver’s license suspension. Usually, people would loose their driver’s license for a period of time if they were arrested or convicted of an offense like drunk driving or reckless driving. However, they would usually have it returned after a certain time frame and completion of various requirements, such as paying fines and completing driver’s education classes. This ability to regain one’s license is important because in our modern society, one needs to have the ability to get to work, provide for their families and address their medical needs. The thinking goes we should only revoke the privilege when the individual has proven a threat to others on the road. But this kind of reasonable consideration was tossed aside when the War on Drugs came along.

Drug offenders started being denied all kinds of public services, and in the 1990s, Congress threatened to slash federal highway funds to states that didn’t revoke licenses of people convicted of drug offenses. So of course, some did, though a fair number also opted out when they learned how harmful these suspensions were and also how much it cost to oversee the process.  Continue reading

Federal investigators began looking into a suspected grow house in Boca Raton back in 2011. But just a few days after they began their inquiry, the prime suspect allegedly fled the country for Costa Rica. marijuana

Now, the 69-year-old has been extradited from the Central American country to face charges of illegal marijuana cultivation. However, The Sun-Sentinel reports the man, appearing recently before a Palm Beach County judge, insists he was never an international fugitive because he wasn’t hiding. He pointed to the fact that he continued to pay his taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. What’s more, he was collecting his Social Security payments addressed to Costa Rica and he was even registered with the U.S. Embassy there. He also opened a cigar store and lounge in the capital city and gave interviews to local media.

Ultimately, it was a local dispute regarding his cigar store that garnered the attention of local officials, who later discovered he was wanted in the U.S. He later agreed to the extradition to the U.S. on the marijuana grow house charges, which were filed after he left the country. Investigators say there were a total of 984 marijuana plants on the property. Continue reading

Often, when people think of “child neglect,” they think of someone who has either left a young child alone or who willfully fails to feed, shelter or clothe them. However, it can also mean a failure to properly supervise that child or, as noted in F.S. 827.03, it can mean not providing services necessary to maintain a child’s physical and mental health. This kind of broad interpretation is meant to give authorities leverage to ensure children are safe.child

The state has a valid and vested interest in this, of course. However, the charge is often filed in many drug cases to be used as leverage against defendants. The accused individuals may be offered deals to plead guilty to certain drug offenses, in exchange for prosecutors dropping the child neglect charge, which may complicate matters of child custody and haunt them into the future. Prosecutors know a conviction for child neglect carries a heavy social stigma, and is much more difficult to explain away to a potential employer than a drug possession charge.

If you are charged with child neglect in Florida, you could be facing up to five years in prison – and that is assuming the neglect doesn’t result in any great bodily harm. It’s a third-degree felony. It is imperative that you contact an experienced defense lawyer to help you navigate through this type of case, not just for your own sake, but for the sake of your family.  Continue reading

Drug trafficking is a serious offense in Florida, and it can lead to decades behind bars for those convicted. The failed War on Drugs for years pushed this arcane agenda that often led to even low-level offenders serving many years in prison. Today, even as some of those minimum mandatory penalties for possession have been rolled back, dealers of illicit drugs still face hefty punishment. Additionally, as addiction to heroin and prescription opioids has become epidemic nationally, prosecutors are increasingly looking to hold responsible doctors and dealers for fatal overdoses. That can mean a possible life sentence for simply writing a prescription or a single, low-level drug deal. needle

That’s what happened recently in Palm Beach County, where a federal jury sentenced a 25-year-old man to 30 years in prison for supplying a 23-year-old man the dose of fentanyl on which he later fatally overdosed. In what is believed to be the first federal prosecution of its kind, The Sun Sentinel reported jurors found the defendant, Christopher Massena, criminally liable for the death of the other young man.

In this case, the fentanyl sold to the decedent was reportedly 50 to 100 times more powerful than the heroin the victim believed he was buying. This, alleged prosecutors, displayed a “total disregard for human life,” warranting the three-decade sentence. The U.S. District Judge additionally ordered the defendant to serve three years of supervised probation upon his release and to pay restitution to the victim’s parents in the amount of $5,000.  Continue reading