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Fort Lauderdale Criminal Law Blog

City council approves marijuana decriminalization

Florida law views possession of marijuana up to 20 grams as a first-degree misdemeanor that could send someone to jail for up to one year and impose a $1,000 fine. The city council in Cocoa Beach, however, has chosen to decriminalize possession in those small amounts. In a 3-2 vote, the council gave city officials the ability to issue civil citations instead of criminal charges. The decision also applied to people found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia.

The city's police chief said that the decision would confuse people. It gave the impression that misdemeanor marijuana possession would only result in a ticket in Cocoa Beach. He said that would not be the case.

A Florida prison guard is arrested on drug charges.

If the allegations prove true, a Florida corrections officer may be looking at the other side of prison bars. After a raid, the accused guard faces multiple counts of drug possession with intent to sell, weapons possession and other charges.

Police in Hollywood were investigating a potential drug trafficking operation in the city and obtained a search warrant. After obtaining the warrant, law enforcement officials uncovered a cache of illegal substances, including heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and methamphetamines. Firearms, ammo, cash and drug paraphernalia were also discovered and confiscated.

Do these things if you’re accused of shoplifting

On the surface, shoplifting is not the most serious crime. However, depending on the situation, it can result in criminal charges that impact your life in a variety of ways.

There are times when shoplifting leads to nothing more than a citation. In more severe cases, such as a more expensive item being stolen, it can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges.

Man busted for pot says police illegally searched his vehicle

For now, it is still illegal to possess recreational marijuana in Florida. However, it is also illegal for police officers to illegally search someone's vehicle in order to find evidence. Those two issues are the center of a current criminal case in Miami-Dade County.

According to media reports, the case involves a male defendant who was arrested on drug charges in 2018 after police officers claimed they could smell marijuana coming from his vehicle. During the search, the officers found over 20 grams of marijuana and an undisclosed amount of cocaine. The defendant, who does not have a Florida medical marijuana card, was charged with possession of cannabis over 20 grams, possession of cannabis with the intent to sell or deliver and possession of cocaine.

Seven people face drug charges after Florida raid

Seven Florida residents were arrested during a drug bust in Wakulla County in February. The operation came about after several citizens complained about alleged drug activity on a residential street in the area.

According to the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office, detectives executed a search warrant at a home on Summer Lane in the early morning hours of Feb. 15. During the search, they seized several packages of suspected methamphetamine, several packages of suspected marijuana, a syringe, a digital scale and smoking devices. As a result, seven of the eight people living at the home were taken into custody.

Understanding curfew law violations in Florida

Florida has a state law that aims to prevent teens under 16 from being out in public places late at night. These laws are generally intended to protect teens' safety as well as cut down on petty crimes. The Florida curfew bars minors from being out in public places between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. between Sundays and Thursdays except in the case of legal holidays.

In addition, the curfew law bars minors from being out late at night between 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, so even non-school days are restricted. In addition, teens who have been suspended or expelled from school face an additional restriction: They cannot be in public between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. during school days and also cannot go within 1,000 feet of the school. A minor will receive a written warning if they are found on the street during these hours. After receiving an initial written warning, minors would receive a civil infraction and be fined $50 for each subsequent violation.

Detention center worker fired after drug arrest

On Feb. 7, a Florida detention center worker was fired after she was taken into custody on drug charges. The 43-year-old defendant was an employee of the Monroe County Detention Center in Key West.

According to authorities, the defendant was riding in a car that was pulled over by police for having a faulty brake light. At some point during the traffic stop, an officer searched the interior of the car and allegedly uncovered crack cocaine rocks, marijuana and a notebook that listed the details of drug sales. Meanwhile, a search of the trunk yielded two law enforcement drug field test kits. It is not yet known how the kits got there.

Guilty pleas in motorcycle gang methamphetamine case

Members of a Florida motorcycle gang pleaded guilty to allegations of distributing methamphetamine, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Orlando said on Feb. 4. The members of Pagan's Motorcycle Club, a banned "outlaw" gang, hailed from a number of areas across the state. They were accused of drug charges, including conspiring to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine in the Central Florida area to both group and individual customers.

The motorcycle club members involved in the case included two 33-year-old men and one 47-year-old man. One 33-year-old man was considered an "enforcer" for the Pagans in Daytona Beach. The 47-year-old man was accused of being part of a 13-member group directing drug distribution and other activities for the motorcycle gang. Not all of the people involved in the case were motorcyclists, however. A 47-year-old woman from Ormond Beach, a 41-year-old man and 51-year-old woman from Oak Hill, a 49-year-old man from New Smyrna Beach and five people from Daytona Beach also pleaded guilty to a variety of charges.

Protect yourself with the right drug possession defense strategy

A drug possession conviction in Florida has the potential to alter your life forever. Not only is this a red mark on your permanent record, but it can result in a large fine and/or prison time.

With so many penalties associated with a drug possession conviction, it's imperative to understand the many types of defense strategies you can use. The right approach in court puts you in position to avoid a conviction and everything that comes along with it. Here are a few strategies to consider:

  • Unlawful search and seizure: There are times when drugs are legally seized, such as if they're in plain view during an arrest. There are also times when this doesn't happen, such as if an officer breaks into your trunk during a routine traffic stop. If you can prove unlawful search and seizure, any evidence collected won't come into play during your trial.
  • The drugs aren't mine: This defense strategy is used for many crimes. In short, you're arguing that you didn't do anything wrong. With this defense strategy, you must be able to show that the drugs belonged to someone else, such as a passenger in your vehicle or roommate.
  • Missing drugs: It's important to ask the prosecution to produce the drugs seized during the arrest. An inability to do so could result in a dismissal, thus allowing you to avoid punishment altogether.
  • Entrapment: Police officers are permitted by law to set up operations with the intention of catching people who are breaking the law. However, entrapment occurs when an officer induces you to commit a crime that you wouldn't commit on your own. An example of this is an officer who pressures you to hand the drugs over to another party.

Former Miami cop pleads guilty to drug charge in bribery case

On Jan. 24, a former Florida cop pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge after accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to protect drug trafficking operations in Miami. On an undercover recording, she was caught saying that she didn't care if her actions helped cover up a "dead body cut up in pieces".

According to the FBI, the defendant and two other Miami police officers were caught up in an undercover investigation that occurred between April and October 2018. During the course of the investigation, the defendant reportedly sold a Miami Police Department uniform to an undercover FBI agent for $1,000. She also sold the agent a Miami police badge for $500. The agent was posing as a high-level cocaine and opioid drug trafficker who needed the items for a hit man.

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Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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