Articles Tagged with criminal defense attorney Broward

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

In November, a Broward County Sheriff’s Office crime lab analyst being investigated for missing drugs resigned. That was almost two years after discrepancies arose with regard to the amount of cocaine evidence she had been working on. When the office came up 0.4 grams short, an independent analyst was asked to re-check her work. By then, the amount had shrunk by 5 grams. Then a random sampling of her work was done, and it was discovered one was off by 12 grams. Her supervisor was forced to resign. scale1

Now, with questions raised about the 5,800+ drug cases she worked during her nine-year tenure at the agency, the Broward New Times is taking a closer look at what it alleges were lax policies and poor oversight at the crime lab.

This is potentially a big deal, as it could result in thousands of Broward drug cases either being reopened or thrown out completely. A few grams may not seem like a major deal, but when it comes to criminal prosecutions, it is significant because it could mean the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, a few months in prison versus several years.  Continue reading

Following a scathing report criticizing treatment of mentally ill defendants who languish sometimes for years in the criminal justice system (and six times longer than a person with comparable charges in regular court , the Broward State Attorneys Office devised a partial solution: A mental health diversion program that would get people out of the criminal justice system.sad

The idea, modeled after a program launched in Miami-Dade in 2008, focuses on treatment – rather than incarceration – for those who are mentally ill. Non-violent offenders without lengthy rap sheets who have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness would be vetted by the state attorneys office. Those accepted would receive housing support, therapy, medication management and other assistance. Those who successfully complete the program (in six months to a year) would be allowed to have the criminal charges dropped.

It’s a start, critics say, but so far, the program has accepted just one applicant. What’s more, even when it reaches capacity at 60 defendants, that’s not going to make much of a dent when there are an estimated 1,200 cases overflowing in felony mental health court. Plus, there is no guarantee of assistance to those who are already enmeshed in the system, charged with minor felonies.  Continue reading