Articles Posted in Drugs

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which way the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to swing, especially since Justice Stephen Breyer stepped down and has been replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.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

It’s been nearly 1.5 years since the City of Miami signed off on an agreement to allow police to issue civil citations for minor misdemeanors like marijuana possession rather than making arrests. Now, The Miami New Times reports the city police chief will be allowing his officers to actually do so.marijuana arrest defense

This delay in implementing the policy has meant that thousands of people – 2,800 – facing minor charges were arrested – and face a permanent criminal record – rather than simply receiving civil citation. Approximately 85 percent of those were for marijuana possession. One of the charges in question – illegally possessing a milk crate – was filed almost exclusively against the homeless.

City Commissioner Ken Russell has been pushing for the city to issue civil citations for some time now, and was reportedly surprised to find the police had yet to put the policy into practice, saying, “I assumed that it had been enacted.” He was anticipating a report on how the first year of it had gone. The former police chief retired earlier this year, and the new police chief said he could not account for why the program was not put into effect previously. He did say that once he took over, it took several months to train police officers on how the new procedures would work. Plus, the department also had to set up an account with the county so those civil citations could be paid, order the paperwork books on which citations would be issued, write the policy and create a radio signal for the violation. Continue reading

You may be aware that sealing and expungement is available for certain first-time offenders convicted and adjudicated guilty. Did you also know it’s important for those found NOT guilty to seal and expunge their records too? criminal defense attorney

This specifically involves cases where a defendant reaches a plea deal that involves a judge withholding adjudication, meaning the defendant isn’t formally convicted. However, the arrest will still pop up on a Florida criminal background check, which all but eliminates whatever benefit might have been derived from avoiding conviction in the first place. Florida law – specifically F.S. 943.053 – makes adult criminal history records public (with special restrictions for access) unless those records have been sealed or expunged. This encompasses not just your conviction and/ or case disposition, but your original arrest and charges. That’s why it’s so important after a case outcome wherein adjudication was withheld to determine whether you qualify for expungement or sealing of your record. The benefit of this is you can legally deny/ fail to acknowledge an arrest covered by that record (with exception for those seeking a change in immigration status or certain types of jobs, such as with a law enforcement agency or the Department of Children and Families).

The Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney team at The Ansara Law Firm can help you with both. It can be a somewhat confusing process, but markedly less so when you hire a lawyer to help you navigate it. (Note that Florida allows for automatic expungement of certain juvenile records when the minor reaches age 21, though you’ll want to check with an attorney to be certain and determine if other action must be taken.)  Continue reading

Marijuana became legal in Florida for limited medicinal purposes last year, and a number of communities have been decriminalizing possession (or at least giving law enforcement discretion in whether to arrest or issue a civil citation). However, there are strict limitations on how far these laws go, and they won’t necessarily protect you from drug trafficking charges. marijuana criminal defense

You will need to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer to determine what legal strategy will result in the best possible outcome in your case. Decline to give a statement to law enforcement until you have done so.  Continue reading

A South Florida physician was recently convicted in the opioid overdose of a 34-year-old woman, with a jury finding him guilty of charges that included conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute furanylfentanyl resulting in death. Prosecutors alleged the orthopedic surgeon was the source of counterfeit oxycodone pills distributed across South Florida. He’s facing up to life in prison. Florida drug trafficking defense attorney

Prosecuting doctors and other health care providers criminally for the overdose deaths of patients is one of the ways law enforcement and prosecutors are taking a hard line against accused drug offenders. In one study analyzing the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s data presented in its Cases Against Doctors report, Florida ranked No. 5 nationally for the most physician arrests (4.3 per 10,000 doctors) and the same for overdose deaths (23.7 per 100,000). More than 70 percent of these doctor drug arrests in Florida involved opioids, including oxycodone and hydrocodone. Alprazolam (also known as Xanax) accounted for 11 percent. Opioids were also cited in 40 percent of fatal drug overdoses nationally in the last two years.

The priorities of drug enforcement in Florida have shifted, from illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin to illegal distribution of controlled medications. This isn’t to say law enforcement won’t arrest still arrest you for possession of marijuana, but our Fort Lauderdale drug arrest attorneys know far more resources have been dedicated in recent years to these deadlier drugs, identified by public health officials as an epidemic.  Continue reading

Since the passage of Amendment 2 in 2016, Florida lawmakers have been trying to weed through the state’s already-complex marijuana statutes to hammer out new rules for growing, processing, distributing and possessing/ using the plant. Some individual cities have adopted their own ordinances with regard to recreational marijuana, which has led to many people being confused about what’s legal and what isn’t in Florida.marijuana defense lawyer

What we can say for certain is that Amendment 2 did NOT:

  • Alter Florida’s drug possession laws;
  • Change the fact that you can be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana – medical or not;
  • Grant permission for the public consumption/ smoking of the drug;
  • Have any impact on federal law, which expressly prohibits marijuana possession and distribution, regardless of purpose.

Continue reading

As Florida – and the rest of the country – have been grappling with a crisis of opioid addiction, law enforcement and prosecutors have been pursuing criminal action against those who make these drugs available. Drug-dealing has never been legal, but increasingly, prosecutors are going after doctors, pharmacists and others with murder charges against those who distribute drugs that lead to fatal overdoses.criminal defense attorney

Recently though, a circuit court judge in Central Florida has tossed several first-degree murder charges against dealers accused of doling out a fatal dose of fentanyl, based on the fact that the cases were reportedly initiated under a faulty legal premise. As The Orlando Sentinel reports, several other defendants are now seeking to have their homicide cases dismissed.  The state attorneys office has sent notice to attorneys and judges in similar cases of the ruling, as it could have a direct bearing on pending criminal cases in that region – and potentially throughout the state.

It was only last October, Gov. Rick Scott signed off on a law that would add fentanyl to the list of illicit drugs for which dealers could be charged with murder in the event of a deadly overdose. Maximum penalties per F.S. 782.04, the state’s murder statute, could include either life in prison or execution. Continue reading

It’s become increasingly common in Florida DUI cases for prosecutors to rely heavily on the investigation and testimony of drug recognition experts (DREs). These are police officers who are specially trained to recognize the signs of impairment in drivers who are under the influence of drugs. DUI defense

Last year, the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that for the first time, drivers killed in crashes are more likely to be on drugs than drunk. Forty-three percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes had used a legal or illegal drug, surpassing the 37 percent who tested above the legal limit for alcohol. It’s worth noting that researchers were unable to definitively say there was a causal link between the presence of those drugs and the crash, or even that the drugs were present in levels that indicated impairment.

F.S. 316.193 makes it clear that no driver is allowed to be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of any substance – legal or otherwise – if it impairs his or her normal faculties. But while legislators have created a per se limit of intoxication that pertains to alcohol consumption (0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or per 210 liters of breath), no such cut-off exists for drug impairment. That means the question of whether someone is “under the influence” is often a subjective question that comes down to the observation of the arresting officer – who has more credibility in a courtroom with DRE certification. That does not mean the assertions made by that officer are correct. Our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys encourage all defendants to remain respectfully silent during questioning and ask to speak to a defense lawyer as soon as possible. Continue reading

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