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Clearwater Criminal Defense Blog

Drug arrests are on the rise

Drug arrests are on the rise in Florida and across the United States. According to the FBI's Uniform Report, there were more than 1.5 million drug-related arrests in 2016, which represents a 5.63 percent increase compared to 2015. Nearly 85 percent of these arrests were for drug possession only. Arrests for marijuana possession increased and accounted for 41 percent of all drug arrests in 2016.

As more states are legalizing marijuana for medical and personal use, many Americans are now against criminalization of marijuana. In some states, the majority of Americans are now against incarceration for simple possession charges for citizens with no record of violence.

Strange hit-and-run incident involves meth and junk food

In late September, Florida Highway Patrol officers arrested a Mississippi couple who crashed into a Navarre convenience store and then fled the scene before being found in possession of a very peculiar loot. According to the FHP report, a 2015 Chevy Malibu pulled into the parking lot of a Circle K on Navarre Parkway on a Saturday morning. The driver hit a wooden box that ended up cracking the glass windows of the store. He then sped away as the store clerks called the police.

FHP officers intercepted the Chevy Malibu in Santa Rosa County. The officers then obtained permission from the driver to search the car and found dozens of Honey Buns and Tastykakes in their wrappers, an unusual amount of mail and credit cards in the name of numerous recipients, a syringe, a single Xanax tablet, and two small bags of methamphetamine.

Stolen tire report leads to record-breaking drug seizure

Police in Florida say that a report about a stolen tire led to the largest seizure of methamphetamine the Fort Myers Police Department has ever made. About 360 grams of the drug are said to have been recovered form a Toyota sedan on Winkler Avenue that officers had approached in connection with the theft of a tire from a parked car at a nearby shopping center. The car's two male occupants aged 20 and 24 were taken into custody along with a girl. The men are facing a raft of drugs, weapons and theft charges and are scheduled to appear in a Lee County courtroom on Oct. 16. The girl was released to the custody of her grandmother.

The series of events began when a woman returned to her parked Toyota sedan at the Edison Park Shopping Center to find one of her vehicle's wheels missing. Her children told her that a similar car had pulled up and two men emerged with tools. When the second car departed a few minutes later, the children noticed that one of the Toyota's wheels was missing. Police say that they found the second car not far away parked next to a jack with a missing hubcap.

Panama City arrest results in major drug and cash seizure

Police officers in the Florida Panhandle have reportedly seized more than $400,000 worth of controlled substances along with $3,769 in cash from the home of a 44-year old man. According to Lieutenant Edmundson of the Panama City Police Department, officers executed a search warrant that resulted in the confiscation of a smorgasbord of illicit drugs, including various amphetamines, cocaine hydrochloride in powder form and crack cocaine.

A police spokesman explained that he could not provide details on whether more suspects will be arrested as a result of this enforcement action. The officer credited the work of investigators as having led to the arrest; however, he did not elaborate on whether confidential informants were involved. The cache of drugs included more than 4 kilos of methamphetamine oil, 156.9 grams of powder cocaine and 14.3 grams of crystallized methamphetamine. Officers also reported finding paraphernalia and firearm ammunition.

Probable cause in a Florida DUI stop

One of the major rules affecting Florida DUI cases is that a law enforcement officer must have probable cause to make a stop. However, questions may arise as to whether a particular set of circumstances amounted to probable cause.

Generally, for the purposes of criminal charges, probable cause means the facts led to a reasonable belief the person who was stopped committed or was in the process of committing a crime.

Preliminary motions in Florida DUI cases

In Florida, driving under the influence is a situation that must be handled at the administrative and judicial levels. The penalties, punishment and proceedings related to driving while intoxicated are outlined in Chapter 316 of the Florida Statutes, which happens to be very lengthy and intricate. When drunk driving charges are filed against a driver, the case will not be handled as a traffic citation. It will conform to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure and the procedures outlined by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Not many DUI cases reach the trial stage. Many drivers are so eager to get on with their lives after a DUI arrest that they end up pleading guilty after their arraignments, particularly if they are not adequately represented by counsel. Even if prosecutors present strong evidence of intoxication, drivers should not rush to enter guilty pleas in DUI cases unless their situation has been evaluated by a law firm. The problem with entering a plea in haste is that doing so eliminates the opportunity of filing effective pre-trial motions.

Man allegedly attempts to hide drug money in rectum

On Aug. 26, a 26-year-old Florida man was taken into custody after a Marion County deputy smelled marijuana during a traffic stop. During a search of the vehicle, other drugs were reportedly found, including heroin, methamphetamine and rock cocaine.

The deputy conducted a traffic stop on a white Buick after observing the vehicle speeding near East Highway 40 and Baseline Road. While the man was being taken into custody, authorities noted that he had a large amount of money and a small amount of marijuana on his person. When they arrived at the local jail, however, the money seemed to have disappeared. The man said that the police had already taken the money, though the detention deputies observed money falling from the man's buttocks. During a search of the man, the deputies reportedly found more than $1,000 hidden in the man's rectum.

Man says heroin syringe was for giving chickens vitamins

Deputies working in the Marion County Jail had an interesting encounter when they processed a 53-year-old man arrested for failing to appear in court after driving with a suspended license. While searching the man, deputies at the Florida detection facility asked him to remove his prosthetic leg.

Although reluctant, the man eventually complied. Inside the leg, deputies found a syringe. The man explained that he used the syringe to inject chickens with vitamins. After authorities conducted a field test on the substance inside the syringe, they deemed it to be heroin. He then stated that he used morphine and methamphetamine, but the needle had not been used for heroin.

Woman arrested outside a Florida school on cocaine charge

A sheriff's deputy working near Lexington Middle School in Fort Myers arrested a 39-year-old woman after claiming to see her snort a white substance off of her phone screen. The woman occupied a vehicle waiting in the pick-up line for students during afternoon dismissal.

The deputy alleged to have witnessed the woman using a credit card to chop up the substance on the phone surface and then use a straw to snort it. The deputy confronted the woman and then took her to an office. According to the deputy's report, the woman admitted to having a small amount of drugs in her car. After students had cleared the area, the deputy took the woman's purse from the vehicle and found a substance in a bag described as weighing 0.05 grams. A field test conducted on the residue by the deputy allegedly showed it to be cocaine.

Are you unknowingly driving with a suspended license?

You probably know that driving without a valid license in Florida can lead to serious penalties, such as jail time and high fines. Although a suspended license is more than inconvenient, it is not worth taking the risk of driving anyway.

But what about when you do not know you have lost your driving privileges? Is it fair to receive punishment for unintentionally breaking the law? To avoid this scenario, be aware of how this can happen and what you can do about it.