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Florida teacher accused of cocaine possession

An arrest for drug possession in Florida can have long-term side effects. If convicted of drug charges, the defendant may face not only the legal penalties, but serious consequences in connection with employment, housing and professional licensing. This is the situation faced by a young Jacksonville area teacher who was arrested for being in possession of cocaine in her classroom.

The 23-year-old teacher had been with the Clay County schools for one year. According to the Clay County Sheriff's Office, the teacher was in a meeting with school administrators when a school counselor offered to retrieve the teacher's purse from her classroom so the teacher could go home. The teacher called the substitute who was covering her classroom duties and told her how to unlock the drawer where she kept the purse. She also allegedly told the substitute to close the zipper on the purse.

When the counselor retrieved the purse she noticed a plastic bag containing a white powdery substance, along with a straw that had been shortened to a few inches long. The counselor notified the school administration, who called the police.

The teacher is charged with cocaine possession, a felony under Florida law, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia. She has no prior record.

In drug cases, as in all criminal cases, the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case they must prove not only that the cocaine was in the teacher's purse, but that the teacher knew it was there. Since the purse was not in the same room as the teacher at the time the cocaine was allegedly discovered, there may be some room for the defense to raise some reasonable doubt on this point.

Source: Florida Times-Union, "Clay fifth-grade teacher charged with having cocaine in classroom," Charles Broward, April 24, 2013

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