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Clearwater Criminal Defense Blog

Drunk driving declines while marijuana influence rises

While there may be more drivers in Florida and across the country testing positive for marijuana, fewer drivers are showing signs of alcohol intoxication, according to a national driver survey. The 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol & Drug Use by Drivers shows that the percentage of drivers under the influence of alcohol has declined 77 percent in the 41 years between 1973 and 2014.

Between 2007 and 2014, however, the number of drivers who tested positive for marijuana in blood and oral fluids tests rose by 50 percent. While marijuana users were only one subset of the drivers who tested positive for drugs, they were by far the largest group in this category. Drivers operating their vehicles under the influence of marijuana drive differently than those under the influence of alcohol. Marijuana use isn't associated with reckless or aggressive driving; instead, these drivers could have slower reactions to emergent events on the road.

Man carried cocaine inside Cookie Monster

In Florida, law enforcement officials booked a man into Monroe County jail after a search of his vehicle revealed a Cookie Monster toy doll that was stuffed with cocaine. The incident occurred in Marathon on July 12 in connection with a traffic stop. According to news sources, a sheriff's deputy initially pulled the man over for an obscured license plate.

The 39-year-old resident of Key West was behind the wheel of a Dodge. When the officer approached the vehicle, he detected the odor of marijuana coming from the vicinity of the driver's open window. During the subsequent investigation, the officer discovered the popular Sesame Street character inside a backpack belonging to the charged man and noticed that the doll seemed heavy. He found two packages containing a total of 314 grams of cocaine when he probed a post-market slit in the blue stuffie.

Derek Fisher faces multiple charges

Florida residents who follow the NBA may have heard about Derek Fisher's recent legal trouble. He was charged with two counts of DUI stemming from a motor vehicle accident that took place in California in early June 2017. The accident occurred while Fisher was driving his 2015 Cadillac on Route 101 in the Sherman Oaks portion of Los Angeles.

The vehicle veered onto the right shoulder of the highway and hit a guardrail. The vehicle then landed on its hood, but neither Fisher nor his passenger were injured in the accident. He was formally charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol as well as driving with a blood alcohol content of more than .08 percent.

Lawrence Taylor pleads guilty to DUI charge in Florida

According to Palm Beach County records, former NFL star Lawrence Taylor pleaded guilty to a drunk driving charge on June 18. The charge was related to a September 2016 accident that involved him sideswiping a motorhome and hitting a police vehicle after trying to change lanes. Separate breath tests showed that Taylor had a blood alcohol content of 0.082 and 0.084 percent. Florida law says that anyone with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher is legally impaired.

Taylor will spend a year on probation and have his drivers license suspended for the next nine months. He will also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in his car for six months and be required to pay a fine of almost $7,500. Finally, he will have to serve 75 hours of community service with an option to buy up to half of those hours at $10 per hour.

When taking your medicine gets you in trouble

Many Florida residents take prescription medications to manage a variety of conditions. Most do not think of taking duly prescribed drugs in accordance with medical directions as an action that could lead to criminal charges.

However, if your medication impairs your ability to drive, you may end up dealing with a DUI arrest. This is true even if everything about your usage of the drug is completely legal and above-board.

Defining burglary in Florida

In Florida, burglary is considered to be a crime in which someone enters or occupies a residence or premises for the purpose of committing a crime. Prosecutors may generally establish that there was specific intent to commit a crime after entering a premises to earn a burglary conviction. Prosecutors must also show that a person entered a premises without permission or stayed after an invitation to do so expired.

A burglary charge could be a first-degree felony if a motor vehicle was used to destroy property or if more than $1,000 of damage was done to a home or building. If a home or building was burglarized without the use of a deadly weapon, the charge may be a second-degree felony. This may also be appropriate if a defendant did not assault anyone while committing the crime.

Police raid home while man is on Facebook Live

A 22-year-old Florida man was using Facebook Live when police raided his home. While there, police found a handgun, ammunition and crack cocaine. They also discovered Oxycodin pills and drug paraphernalia. The man was reportedly filmed running out of a room after hearing police officers identity themselves outside of the home. According to the man's neighbors, multiple smoke grenades were thrown into the home, and they said that it sounded like bombs went off.

As a result of the raid, the man was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of weapons or ammunition by a convicted felon. It is possible that the video of the man holding up money could implicate him in one or more crimes. However, police say that they planned to execute the warrant even before they knew about the video.

Speedy jury trials

Criminal defendants in Florida and the rest of the nation are guaranteed the right to an attorney under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. They are also entitled to a speedy trial by an unbiased jury.

Criminal defendants should be tried for their alleged crimes within a reasonable time period after their arrest. For most crimes, criminal defendants have a constitutional right to be judged by a jury, which must have no reasonable doubt when issuing a guilty verdict.

2 Nebraska football players charged with pot possession

On May 26, it was reported that two University of Nebraska football players were taken into custody by authorities in Florida and charged with possession of marijuana. The two football players were identified as a wide receiver and a safety. Both were released following the incident.

The marijuana was reportedly discovered during a traffic stop. The officer involved said that he could smell the odor of marijuana as soon as he was behind the vehicle. The odor only got stronger as he got closer. During a search of the vehicle, the officer reportedly found a plastic bag containing what appeared to be marijuana in a backpack on the backseat. One of the players told the officer that the marijuana belonged to him and that he had purchased it while he was vacationing in Florida.

Large drug bust results in several arrests

Five people have been arrested in Florida and charged with allegedly possessing large quantities of drugs. The arrests took place in Milton on May 17 after police exercised a search warrant on a home located in the city.

Officers with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Unit reportedly forced their way into the home after initially attempting to knock. Inside, the deputies reported that they found four people and that one of the four tried to run away before being caught. The officers arrested a fifth person who drove up to the house because he allegedly had methamphetamines in his possession.