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Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

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It is illegal to possess prescription drugs in Florida without a valid prescription. The type and quantity of the prescription drug can determine the charges and potential sentence in a Broward County drug crime case. For example, it is a third-degree felony to possess hydrocodone in a quantity less than 14 grams without a prescription. If you exceed that threshold amount, you can be charged with hydrocodone trafficking. In a Florida appellate decision, the defendant challenged his conviction and 3-year sentence for trafficking in hydrocodone. He challenged the lower court’s denial of his motions to suppress statements and argued that Florida Statute section 893.101 transformed into an unconstitutional strict liability statute section 893.135(1)(c)1, the law under which he was convicted.

The case arose when a deputy was on patrol in a residential area and saw someone lying in the yard of a home. Although it was raining, the person lay there without moving, with his truck door open and the keys left in the ignition with the radio on. Nobody was there and the home was dark. From his car, the deputy shone his light on the person, and the person got up and went towards the officer. The deputy got out of the car and came up to him. The deputy asked the man for identification.

The man went to the truck, and the deputy followed. The man gave his driver’s license to the deputy. The deputy saw he seemed drunk; he was slurring his speech and he was unsteady. The defendant explained the home belonged to his estranged wife’s sister and he thought his wife was there. After he showed his license and put his wallet back in the truck, he seemed to be trying to hide a clear plastic bag of white pills that was there on the seat with the wallet. The deputy asked him to step aside and grabbed the bag. He asked what was in the bag. The defendant told him it was Lortab and said, voluntarily, he’d bought the pills for $10 a pill, and had previously gone to jail for this.

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The sale of a controlled substance may be punished harshly. However, there may be mitigating circumstances in which a downward departure for a sentence in a Broward County drug crime case is justified under Florida Statute section 921.0026(2)(d). In a recent drug crime case, a defendant appealed the sentences imposed by the court for several counts, including a count for sale of a controlled substance, carfentanil, within 1,000 feet of a convenience business. He asked for a downward departure for his sentence under Florida Statute section 921.0026(2)(d) on the grounds that he needed particular treatment for mental disorders that weren’t related to substance abuse and that he was amenable to treatment. He was denied on the basis that he didn’t legally qualify for this downward departure.

At his sentencing, an expert with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology evaluated the defendant. He reviewed the probable cause affidavit and discovery materials and talked to his mother. He administered two psychological tests to the defendant.

The tests showed that the defendant suffered from PTSD and mental illnesses. The expert testified that the defendant exhibited mental illnesses, and he opined that the defendant had gone through traumatic experiences that caused the PTSD. The defendant calmed himself with marijuana and alcohol. The dual-diagnosis program would treat both the drug abuse and the mental illness. However, the expert also testified that the medication that he’d get in prison wouldn’t address his mental illness or trauma. He was in denial and minimized traumatic events. The doctor recognized that there was a need for a punishment and said that there should be a county jail sentence, followed by immediate admission to probation and a dual-diagnosis program.

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Most people associate drug trafficking in Broward County with drug lords and kingpins. However, you can be charged with trafficking prescription drugs in Florida even if you do not see yourself this way, based simply on the quantity of drugs with which you were caught. In a recent case, the defendant and five others were charged with multiple crimes including trafficking in contraband drugs, conspiracy to traffic in contraband prescription drugs, organized scheme to defraud, and five counts of money laundering.

The defendant pled guilty to eight counts. In a plea colloquy, the court inquired about whether the defendant was under the influence or prescription medications, drugs, or alcohol. The defendant answered that he was and explained, upon inquiry from the court, that he took prescription drugs for his mental health for brain contusions after being in a coma. He explained that he’d been in an accident and had a lot of problems. The judge explained it was trying to determine whether he could make an intelligent and knowing waiver of rights and couldn’t make this finding because he couldn’t understand the answers. The defendant stated that his mental health symptoms weren’t affecting him at the time of the plea and that his medication was controlling those symptoms. However, he also noted he had multiple seizures every day, several times a day.

The defense attorney said he didn’t have issues with competency. The court inquired further and explained the rest of the standard plea colloquy. The defendant said he understood the plea and its consequences. The court accepted the guilty pleas as voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently entered.

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In a recent appellate decision arising out of a Broward County court decision, the defendant appealed his withholding of adjudication and sentence for one count of possession of cocaine after a plea. The appellate court considered whether the cocaine was found as a result of an Florida illegal search and seizure.

The case arose when the police discovered crack cocaine in the defendant’s food container. Early one morning, two police officers were patrolling an area known for being a high crime area. An officer wearing a vest with the word “Sheriff” written on it was driving an unmarked SUV with the windows rolled down. As the police officer started to turn at an intersection, he saw two men standing at the corner of it. One of the men was holding a fork and a food container.

The defendant turned and looked up with a startled expression. He dropped his fork, as well as a yellow item that he tried to push down into the food container. The officer recognized that the item was crack. The police officer stopped. He took the container, which held grits. The items were pulled out of the grits and tested and found to be crack.

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A new trend in marijuana consumption has emerged. Marijuana is now being consumed in wax, oil, and butter form. These concentrated forms of marijuana are highly potent with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the active ingredient that gets users “high” when they use marijuana.

The process for creating waxes and oils can be very dangerous. The most common method involves using butane to extract the THC from the marijuana plant. The maker uses a cylinder tub filled with marijuana and butane. The butane extracts the THC from the marijuana leaving an oil or wax-like substance at the end.

Butane is highly flammable. Broward County and other areas in South Florida have seen an increase in fires due to THC concentrate manufacturing. Law enforcement officers look for signs like large orders of butane and cylinder tubing to local homes as a sign of manufacture.

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