| Read Time: 4 minutes | Drug Charges

DUIs and Marijuana in Florida

Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana can be frustrating. Attitudes about marijuana are changing across the country. But in Florida, cannabis is still illegal for recreational use. Medical marijuana is legal, but you are still not allowed to drive while high. You can get a DUI for weed, even if you have a prescription to use it.  But don’t assume an arrest equals a conviction. At Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law, we’re here to fight for you and your freedom. Whether you or a loved one is facing DUI marijuana charges, give us a call at 407-720-8507 to set up a free, confidential consultation.  Can You Get a DUI for Being High?  Yes, you can be convicted of a drug DUI if you are caught driving while high. Florida’s driving under the influence law, Florida Statutes section 316.193, says you can be punished for driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of any chemical or controlled substance that’s impaired your normal faculties.  While you may have thought you could only get a DUI for having a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher, the truth is that you can get a DUI for being intoxicated by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.  All a prosecutor has to do is prove:  You were impaired because of a substance, and You were driving or in control of a vehicle.  Call our Orlando DUI defense attorneys as soon after an arrest as you can. There are ways to defend yourself, but you shouldn’t go down this road alone.  How Can a Police Officer Detect Marijuana?  A police officer can pull you over if they have a reasonable suspicion that you’re committing a crime. For example, they might see you commit a traffic violation like rolling through a stop sign or speeding. They might suspect impaired driving if they see you driving erratically, such as randomly slowing down and speeding up, crossing lane lines, or weaving in and out of traffic without using your signals. Another possibility is that the officer witnessed you or a passenger smoke something that looked like a joint or pipe.  Once the officer’s pulled you over, they’ll observe several things:  Whether they smell cannabis; Your appearance, including whether your eyes are red or bloodshot, and Whether your speech appears delayed or slurred when you answer their questions.  Call a defense attorney right away if you believe the officer didn’t have any reason to suspect that you were high.  Chemical Testing and Implied Consent in Florida  If the officer notices signs of intoxication, they may ask you to blow into a roadside breath test or get out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests. You are not legally obligated to do any of these things.  You can politely decline to take a roadside breath test or perform any field sobriety tests. However, that won’t stop an officer from arresting you.  If the officer arrests you for a marijuana DUI, they can ask you to submit to a urine or blood test. Under Florida Statutes §316.1932, Florida’s implied consent law, by accepting the terms of your driver’s license you’ve already agreed to submit to chemical testing if the police arrest you for a DUI.  If you refuse to take a urine or blood test, you can face civil and criminal consequences. A refusal causes a one-year driver’s license suspension, and a second refusal leads to an 18-month suspension. A prosecutor also can charge you with a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail.  What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana?  The potential punishment depends on whether you’ve been convicted of one or more DUIs before. It doesn’t matter whether you’re facing a DUI based on alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs.  First DUI (Misdemeanor) Penalties Up to six months in jail; Fines between $500 and $1,000; License suspension between six months and one year; 50 hours of community service (or a buyout option); and 10-day vehicle impoundment.  Second DUI (Misdemeanor) Penalties Up to nine months in jail; Fines between $1,000 and $2,000; Ignition interlock device; License suspension between 180 days and one year; One year of probation; A psychosocial evaluation; 50 hours of community service (or a buyout option); and 10-day vehicle impoundment.  Third DUI (Misdemeanor or Felony) Penalties Up to one year in jail (Up to five years for a felony); Fines between $2,000 and $5,000; Ignition interlock device; One-year license suspension (Up to 10 years for a felony); One year of probation; and A psychosocial evaluation; 50 hours of community service (or a buyout option); and 90-day vehicle impoundment.  Fourth DUI (Felony) Penalties Up to five years in prison; Fines up to $5,000; Permanent license revocation; 50 hours of community service (or a buyout option); and 90-day vehicle impoundment. Whether this is your first DUI or you’ve had multiple DUI offenses, you should have an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you. You deserve a vigorous defense to pursue a dismissal, acquittal, or lenient sentence.  Defending Against a Florida Marijuana DUI  There are several possible DUI defenses, including arguing:  The officer didn’t have a valid reason to perform the traffic stop; The officer conducted an illegal search and seizure; The prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence to prove you were impaired, including chemical test results; You have a valid prescription for medical marijuana use and were not impaired at the time; Despite a chemical test showing trace amounts of THC, the prosecutor lacks evidence of impairment; or The prosecutor can’t prove you were in control of a vehicle at the time.  We encourage you to call an Orlando DUI defense lawyer to talk about your options.  Call Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law Today  If you were recently arrested for a marijuana DUI in Orlando or Orange County, FL, let us handle your DUI case. We bring years of trial experience to the table. And because we believe representation should...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Drug Charges

How to Beat a Simple Possession Charge in Florida

If you or a loved one were recently arrested for possessing a small amount of drugs, call Moses & Rooth’s Orlando drug lawyers right away. We’ll explain the law, the potential sentence, and how to beat a drug charge.  Never assume you have to plead guilty for simple possession in Florida. You can fight.  What Is Simple Possession?  In Florida, a possession charge means you had control over or access to drugs, but you didn’t manufacture, sell, or distribute them. Simple possession refers to a small amount of drugs for personal use.  Legally, you can possess drugs in two ways: actual or constructive possession. Actual possession means the drugs were on your person, like in your pocket, bookbag, or purse. Constructive possession means you had access to them, but they weren’t on your person. Instead, they’re usually in a vehicle or residence.  What to Expect from a Simple Possession Charge  Drug possession is either a misdemeanor or a first, second, or third-degree felony. Possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana, some Schedule V drugs, or drug paraphernalia is a first-degree misdemeanor. You face up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,000. Everything else is usually a felony.  For example, it’s a third-degree felony for possession of Schedule IV and III drugs. More specifically, possession of fewer than 28 grams of cocaine, 4 grams of heroin, 1 gram of LSD, 14 grams of meth, or 10 grams of MDMA are all third-degree felonies. You face a sentence of up to five years in prison and fines up to $5,000.  Possession of more than 10 grams of a Schedule I drug, like heroin, is a first-degree felony. The sentence is up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.  Talk with a drug crime defense lawyer right away about the level of the charge and potential sentence. Florida sentencing laws are complicated. The penalties can add up quickly, and you face a host of collateral consequences in addition to jail time and fines. You may have to deal with probation, a driver’s license suspension, loss of federal financial aid for school, difficulty getting a job, and more.  How Do I Beat a Drug Possession Charge?  Stay Silent  The first step in beating a simple possession charge is knowing your rights. After your arrest, you have the right to remain silent and to get a lawyer. The police should tell you this as they read your Miranda Rights to you.  The only thing you should say to the police is, “I’m invoking my right to remain silent, and I want a lawyer.”  After that, don’t say anything else. The police may try a number of different tactics to get you to talk and effectively waive your right to talk to your lawyer first. Don’t let them. You do not have to be rude. Just assert your right to remain silent until you speak with your lawyer. Don’t answer any questions and never admit you possessed any drugs or knew about the drugs in a vehicle or home.  Hire a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer  A defense attorney makes sure you understand the law and your rights. You’ll tell your lawyer the story of what happened. Where you were, what you were doing, and who you were with. It’s important to be honest about everything. Your attorney needs to know what happened to build you the best defense possible.  Ways to Avoid a Drug Possession Conviction  Sometimes the best way to handle a drug charge is to pursue an alternative route and not fight in court.  Pretrial Intervention Programs  A pretrial intervention program isn’t a defense but can be a good option to avoid a conviction. You may be eligible for a pretrial intervention program with a misdemeanor or third-degree felony charge.    Once you complete certain requirements during probation, the court dismisses the charge. You usually need no or a limited criminal history to be eligible.  Pretrial Diversion Programs  Florida offers a three-tiered drug diversion program.  Level One: Applies to defendants charged with possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana or possession of drug paraphernalia. Level Two: Applies to defendants with no criminal history or minor criminal history charged with:  Simple possession of illegal narcotics (heroin, cocaine, felony cannabis, and fentanyl, and others);  Possession of marijuana with intent to sell;  Purchase of illegal narcotics;  Obtaining or attempting to obtain illegal narcotics by fraud; and  Possession of a controlled substance without prescription.  Level Three: Can be offered to defendants charged with most misdemeanors, misdemeanor DUI, third-degree felony charges, and some second-degree felony charges.  How to Beat a Simple Possession Charge in Court  There are several defenses your attorney can put forth to demand a dismissal, win an acquittal at trial, or pursue a lenient sentence.  No Drugs: Officers often arrest people based on suspicion of possession of a drug, but it turns out the substance wasn’t anything illegal. There are also times when the officer claims you possessed drugs, but there are no controlled substances in evidence.  Lack of Possession: You may be able to show that you were unaware of the drugs and didn’t have actual or constructive possession of them. It might be that the prosecutor has no way to prove the drugs belonged to you if they were found in someone else’s bag, a car that other people use or occupied, or a shared apartment.  Lack of Knowledge: You may not have known that an item in your possession contained drugs. For example, if a friend left their gym bag at your home that was later discovered to possess drugs. You may not have even opened it or known what it contained.  Medical Marijuana Use: You may be able to prove you have a prescription for marijuana use.  Illegal Search and Seizure: The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. If the officers violated your rights by performing a search without probable cause, a warrant, or your consent, then the evidence...

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Drug Charges

Finding a Lawyer for Possession with Intent to Distribute Charges

Facing a drug charge can be daunting. Being convicted of a drug charge is life-changing. In Florida, possession with intent to distribute is a serious crime that is subject to heavy penalties. Not only do you face prison time and fines, but as a convicted felon, you lose your right to vote and own a firearm. You may also find difficulties in other aspects of life, such as obtaining a mortgage and securing employment.  If you have been arrested for possession with intent to distribute, you need our team of skilled defense lawyers at Moses and Rooth, Attorneys at Law, to build a strong case for you. As former prosecutors, we can anticipate the state’s case and create a solid strategy to defend you. For experienced criminal defense legal assistance following Florida drug charges, contact Moses and Rooth.  Possession with Intent to Distribute Under Florida law, it is a crime to possess a controlled substance with the intent to distribute. The severity of the drug charge, whether it be a felony or misdemeanor, depends on how Florida’s drug schedule classifies the substance.  Controlled Substance Schedules Controlled substances are categorized into schedules based on their potential for abuse (i.e. physical or psychological dependence) and accepted medical use. The schedules organize them by level of severity from Schedule I substances, having the highest potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical purpose, to Schedule V substances, being the least addictive and commonly used for medical treatment. Here are some examples:  Schedule I includes heroin, GHB, ecstasy or Molly, and LSD; Schedule II includes methamphetamine, oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), Adderall, and cocaine; Schedule III includes anabolic steroids, suboxone, and Vicodin; Schedule IV includes Xanax, Valium, Tramadol, and Ambien; and Schedule V includes Tylenol with codeine.  Possession with the intent to distribute a Schedule I substance is a third-degree felony, while the same drug charge involving a Schedule II substance is a second-degree felony. Drug sales of a Schedule V substance typically results in misdemeanor charges. How to Prove a Possession with Intent to Distribute Charge To be successful on charges of possession with intent to distribute, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: You had possession of the controlled substance with the intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver the substance; The substance is listed under Florida’s drug schedule; and You had knowledge of the illicit nature of the substance.  Your entire case will be dismissed if the prosecution fails to prove even one element of the crime.  Possession Possession can be actual or constructive. You have actual possession over the substance if it is found on you or is somewhere that you can reach and you have control over that place. Constructive possession is where the substance is not physically on you, but it is in a place you have control over and you know or should know the substance is there.  Intent to sell When determining if you have the intent to sell, the prosecution will look at a multitude of factors, such as the following:  Admissions by you or your associates of the intent to sell the drugs; Quantity of the substance found; Packaging of the substance; Presence of sales paraphernalia, such as scales, baggies, and rolling papers; Large amounts of cash; Presence of weapons; and Records of sales or debts owed.  It is common for the prosecution to take a simple possession charge and elevate it to a possession with intent to distribute charge by pointing to any one of the factors listed above.  Penalties Drug charges in Florida are serious crimes that come with hefty jail time and fines. For a first-degree felony possession with intent to distribute charge, you face up to 30 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. A second-degree felony charge also carries a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in jail. For a third-degree felony charge, you could spend 5 years in jail and be fined $5,000. Misdemeanors carry possible jail time of 60 days to a year and a fine of $500-$1,000. The level of a possession with intent to distribute charge depends on four factors: The type and amount of substance,  The location of the substance’s distribution,  Whether the distribution involved a minor, and  The defendant’s criminal history.  These factors can also support elevating felony possession charges in Florida to possession with intent to distribute charges.  Type and Amount of Substance The penalty for possessing a controlled substance is impacted by the type and amount of substance involved in the crime. When determining if your Florida drug charge is a felony or misdemeanor, we look at how it is categorized in the Florida drug schedule discussed above.  The quantity of drugs police found is equally important. Possessing even a small amount of a Schedule I substance (such as ecstasy) could result in a third-degree felony charge. Location of the Distribution  The location of the alleged drug sale could elevate a charge. Florida law prohibits the possession and distribution of a controlled substance in, on, or within 1,000 feet of the following places: Childcare facilities; Public or private elementary, middle, or secondary schools between 6 AM and 12 AM; Public or private post-secondary educational institutions; State, county, or municipal parks, community centers, or public recreational facilities; Places of worship; and  Public housing.  The penalty also varies based on the location of the drug distribution. For example, Florida imposes a minimum jail sentence of three years for selling heroin within 1,000 feet of a public elementary school, but that required jail time does not apply if the sale took place near a church.   Involving a Minor If the defendant is over 18 and either sells drugs to a minor or uses a minor to facilitate a sale, the defendant will be charged with a felony. The degree varies based on the type of drug, but can result in a 15 to 30 year jail sentence and a $10,000 fine.   Criminal History  Florida imposes harsher penalties for repeat offenders.  A...

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Federal Agents Make More Drug Ring Arrests

In mid-September, federal prosecutors charged eight additional defendants with drug trafficking offenses. Drug trafficking is the crime of selling, transporting or illegally importing unlawful controlled substances, such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana or other illegal drugs.  In Florida, Federal prosecutors are aggressively pursuing charges against the suspects. The federal investigators may bring more charges in the coming weeks.  Federal drug charges are extremely serious. If you have been charged with a federal drug crime, the experienced litigators at Moses & Rooth can help. Contact the Orlando federal criminal defense attorneys today to schedule your initial consultation.  Federal Investigators Have Been Investigating a Drug Ring in North Central Florida The federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) have been investigating a drug ring in north-central Florida for the last two years. The drug ring in question is allegedly responsible for distributing MDMA, cocaine, and methamphetamine throughout the Florida panhandle. The prosecutors returned the original indictment in May. The recent indictment of eight more suspects is a continuation of the original indictment. The suspects could face serious penalties, including life imprisonment and fines up to $20 million. Federal Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys The recent arrests of multiple suspects for drug possession and trafficking demonstrate law enforcement’s focus on the war on drugs. Prosecutions for federal drug crimes make up the majority of criminal prosecutions in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are actively involved in arresting suspects for drug trafficking.  The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is a federal drug policy that used to regulate the distribution and manufacture of certain controlled substances. The CSA classifies drugs into five different schedules based on their potential for abuse. The schedules are as follows: Schedule I: Marijuana, ecstasy, LSD, and heroin Schedule II: Methamphetamine, morphine, cocaine, oxycodone, Dexedrine, fentanyl, Vicodin, and Ritalin Schedule III: Ketamine, Vicodin, and anabolic steroids Schedule IV: Tramadol, Valium, and Ambien Schedule V: Lyrica and cough suppressants  Possession of an Illegal Substance The Controlled Substance Act makes it a crime to possess some types of illegal controlled substances. It also criminalizes the possession of chemicals used to make illegal controlled substances and some accessories to drug use. Federal prosecutors must be able to prove that the defendant did the following beyond a reasonable doubt: Knew that the drug in their possession was a controlled substance, and Knowingly had possession or control over the controlled substance Federal prosecutors must prove each element in a drug crime. In many instances, prosecutors do not have the necessary evidence to bring a charge. Our attorneys will find any discrepancies in the prosecutor’s case and use them to defend our clients.  Seeking Legal Help for Your Federal Drug Possession Charge As federal prosecutors seek to make more drug-related arrests, it is wise to understand federal drug laws. If you are facing a federal drug possession charge, it is essential that you seek help from skilled defense attorneys. Those convicted of federal drug possession crimes face serious consequences. That is why our attorneys fight hard for the rights of our clients throughout the entire process. Contact our Orlando criminal defense law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Criminal Defense

A Legal Guide for Florida Spring Breakers: Know Before You Go

CC image by Ekaterina Vladinakova at Flickr If you’re heading to Florida for spring break in 2019, the sunshine and warm water may not be all that you encounter. In fact, spring breakers are notorious for getting into legal trouble – typically for things like underage drinking. Before you go, here are a few laws and safety tips that you should review to reduce the risk of an accident and keep you out of legal trouble– Staying Safe – Avoiding the Four Ds As a mnemonic device to help you remember safety and the law when you’re on spring break, consider the four Ds that you should always avoid: Drunk driving Drugged driving Distracted driving Drowsy driving All four of the above are, first and foremost, extremely unsafe. When you drive drunk, drugged, drowsy, or distracted, you significantly increase your risk of causing a motor vehicle accident. You may also have legal consequences if you are apprehended for drunk or drugged driving, and even texting while driving is against the law in the Sunshine State. Alcohol For those who are traveling for spring break, alcohol typically presents the biggest temptation, and of the biggest health, safety, and legal risks, too. While our law firm does not condone underage drinking, we do want to remind you that if you do drink–whether of the legal drinking age or not–to never get behind the wheel after you’ve consumed an alcoholic beverage. CC image by Image Catalog at Flickr In addition to staying clear of drunk driving, remember that it is also illegal to have an open container of alcohol within the car, as found in Florida Statutes Section 316.1936. Remind your passengers that if they want to drink, they can’t do it while your vehicle is in operation. Find a Designated Driver Avoiding the four Ds means finding a designated driver if people in your group have been drinking or using drugs. You should also find another driver if those in your group are overly-fatigued; studies show that fatigued driving has the potential to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. When you’re assigning a designated driver in your group, do so smartly. Characteristics of a designated driver that are important include that the driver has/is: A valid driver’s license and auto insurance; Responsible; and Able to resist the temptation not to drink, even when hanging out with friends. It’s always a good idea to select a designated driver before you hit the bars or are exposed to alcohol. If there is no one in your group who makes for a safe designated driver, take a cab, use a rideshare, or find another way home. Know Your Limits If you will be drinking on this spring break, make sure you do so safely – which means more than just avoiding the driver’s seat. It’s also important that you set and know your limits – how much can you personally consume safely? Don’t drink more than you can handle, and try to stick to the general rule of no more than one drink per hour, coupled with a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages. (Note that depending on who you are, the one-drink-per-hour rule may be very inaccurate.) When drinking, be sure to always pair your alcohol consumption with plenty of food and water, too. It’s also important that you familiarize yourself with the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, and keep an eye out for anyone in your group who may be suffering from alcohol poisoning. The American Addictions Centers lists a few of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning as vomiting, hypothermia, seizure, loss of bowel or bladder control, irregular pulse, and blue-tinged skin. If you suspect that anyone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, you should seek emergency medical care/dial 911 immediately. Alcohol Ban on Beaches The car is not the only place that you can’t have an open container of alcohol in Florida; alcohol is also prohibited on many of the beaches, too. Refer to the Orlando Weekly for a list of beaches in Florida where you can legally drink alcohol, and note that Panama City Beach has banned alcohol on the beach as an “emergency measure” for this year’s spring break. Other Important Laws It’s also important that, in addition to alcohol-specific laws, you also review the rules regarding using a fake ID and public intoxication. As an added safety tip, we also recommend getting vaccinated before coming to Florida, which may offer protection from bacteria and viruses that are often rampant in large gatherings, like those that are found during spring break. Be Smart About Sexual Assault, Rape, and Other Violent Crimes CC image by freestocks.org at Flickr Spring break is no longer just an opportunity for young people to celebrate a reprieve from the grind of university life and get in a little sunshine; it is also a time where many people, spring breakers and otherwise, commit serious crimes, including rape, sexual assault, theft, and assault. During spring break, adhere to the following safety tips: Don’t leave a drink unattended – date rape drugs, including GHB and Rohypnol, could be placed in your drink while you’re distracted; Travel with a buddy – don’t go to unfamiliar places alone, especially in areas where drugs and alcohol are present; Have a plan, including knowing where you’re going and when, and how to get there; Don’t give out your information, including where you’re staying while on spring break, to strangers; Tell someone where you’re going before you leave and when you plan to be back; Keep your belongings close to avoid pickpocketing and theft; and If things get heated between you and another spring breaker, walk away – an assault can be dangerous, and could result in criminal charges if you’re involved. Dos and Don’ts of Interacting with the Police CC image by Alex Smith at Flickr If you are pulled over or otherwise stopped by police while on spring break this year, it’s important that you know how to respond to protect...

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Drug Cartel Leader “El Chapo” Criminal Trial in NYC

Astounding security measures taken in the ‘El Chapo’ criminal trial Master escape artist Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Loera is the highest ranking drug cartel member to stand trial in America. Notorious cartel leader El Chapo pleaded not guilty to federal charges and is currently in trial in Brooklyn, New York. The 17 count indictment accuses El Chapo of operating a continuing criminal enterprise that included murder, conspiracy, other drug related crimes invoicing money-money- laundering and use of firearms. The allegations in the indictment date back to the 1980s. This long-awaited trial, which is estimated to last at least four months, began under astonishing security measures. There are reports that the Brooklyn Bridge shuts down each and every time Guzman is transported to and from his solitary confinement in the Manhattan federal lock-up. During the jury selection process, all prospective jurors were directed by the judge to not make any eye contact with Guzman. After a grueling 2 1/2 day jury selection process the selected jury panel will be anonymous and sequestered during the trial. Heavily armed federal marshals and officers with bomb-sniffing dogs stand guard outside the courthouse. If you are a non-witness or non- attorney on the case wish to enter the courthouse and watch the proceedings in person you will need to go through two separate security screenings. To enter the Brooklyn courthouse and the main courtroom each witness and spectator needs to go through an x-ray machine and then a metal detector. During the entire duration of the trial jurors will be transported to and from the courthouse by armed US Marshalls. The case against Guzman will be built mostly on the testimony of more than a dozen cooperating witnesses. Even those witnesses who may be in jail serving sentences or relocated by the US Government have remained unknown to Guzman’s defense team. Since the trial has begun the courtroom sketch artists are barred from drawing facial features or specific hairstyles of the witnesses on the stand. The judge in the federal trial along with the government prosecutors must review the sketches and authorize their release before the artist can distribute them to the public. These extreme security measures have been put in effect by Federal authorities because they believe that communications and contacts between ‘El Chapo’ Guzman and the witnesses could very much result in their death or serious bodily injury.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Lack of Evidence Forces Appeals Court to Throw Out Drug Charges

To be convicted of a crime in Florida, the state must present proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Essentially, this means that jurors must have a firm conviction that you are guilty before they can vote to convict. This principle was central to a recent appellate court decision in Florida. At issue was whether the criminal defendant “possessed” drugs found at a gas station, and the state’s evidence was very weak. Although the defendant was convicted at trial, the appellate court reversed one of the convictions for lack of evidence. Facts of the Case While investigating a shoot-out that involved two vehicles at a gas station, police searched the station property and found a cocktail shaker cup lying next to a fence. The cup was stuffed with marijuana. On the other side of town, police stopped a car with three people inside that police believed had been involved in the shootout. One of the men, Darafeal McKire, was seated in the back seat. When he emerged, he was bleeding from a gunshot wound and was taken to the hospital. In the back seat of the car, police found a bag of cocaine with traces of blood on it near the location where Mr. McKire had been seated. Based on this evidence, police charged McKire with possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana. Security video at the gas station showed McKire emerging from a car at the gas station and dropping two objects on the ground before the shootout started. After one car departed, McKire got back into his vehicle, which then drove away. At trial, he was convicted of both possession counts. Legal Issue On appeal, the court overturned the conviction for possession of the marijuana found at the gas station. First, the court held that it was not clear from the video evidence that McKire had dropped a shaker cup with marijuana in it. Second, the location where he dropped his objects did not line up with the location where police found the shaker cup against the fence. The appellate court also rejected the government’s argument that McKire had possession of the objects simply because he was in close physical proximity to the marijuana. Indeed, the court noted that the defendant was not found anywhere near the marijuana and was not making any moves toward it. In fact, he was found across town, emerging from a vehicle while bleeding. For all of these reasons, the court overturned the conviction and acquitted him of the marijuana possession charge. His conviction for possession of the cocaine, however, still stands. Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney As this case shows, the state is very aggressive prosecuting drug crimes and often brings charges with very little evidentiary support. If you have been arrested, you need an aggressive drug possession attorney who can fight back against these charges. At Moses & Rooth, we have represented many defendants in drug cases, and we know how to win. For more information about whether we can help you, please reach out to us today. We offer a free consultation. All you need to do is call 407-377-0150.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

What is Synthetic Marijuana?

Synthetic marijuana is made up of dry leaves or herbs, which are then impregnated with synthetic cannabinoids. In theory, synthetic marijuana should produce the same high as real marijuana by working on the same receptors in the brain. However, synthetic marijuana tends to produce different effects—anger, aggression, seizures, heart attacks, and hallucinations. There are currently around 400 varieties of synthetic marijuana. The cannabinoids are usually in powder form, which the manufacturer mixes with water to spray on leaves and herbs. And this deadly drug is killing people left and right in Florida. A Huge Problem An eye-opening report in the Miami Herald this August highlighted the prevalence of synthetic marijuana in Florida’s prisons. The total number of deaths in the state’s prisons exceeded 500 for the year, a number that would be unimaginable only a few years before. Most deaths are caused by drug overdoses, with the top killer being synthetic marijuana, also called Spice or K2. One reason synthetic marijuana is so popular in prisons is that it is not detected by current urine tests. This means that inmates who use it will avoid any discipline that they might suffer if they smoked real marijuana. Prison officials also explain that the unstructured nature of prison leaves prisoners bored and turning to drug use to fill up the day. But synthetic marijuana is a definite problem even outside jails. For example, in mid-August, over 70 people in New Haven Connecticut overdosed on synthetic marijuana in a downtown park near Yale University. No one died, though six people were near death. No Cure in Sight Synthetic marijuana is incredibly addictive, and the withdrawal symptoms for an addict are often worse than the high itself. According to the government, about 70% of inmates in prison have a substance abuse problem, but there are insufficient funds to offer treatment. In fact, the treatment programs have been slashed in Florida to help offset the state’s budget deficits, and prisoners generally garner no sympathy from the public. Currently, the federal government and states have tried to fight synthetic marijuana by banning many of the synthetic cannabinoids. New York City, for example, has recently passed laws targeting cannabinoids. Unfortunately, the target market for K2 is usually young people, who have been raised to believe that marijuana is harmless. Many people do not understand the unique dangers of the synthetic version and will use it because it is a cheap and available substitute. Dealing with Addiction If you or a loved one has used synthetic marijuana, then it is vital that you receive proper treatment. About 10% of the population will become addicted to synthetic marijuana, and the first step is to identify that you have a problem and detoxify. Young people who use the drug will have their mental development impaired, so concerned family members should not try to detoxify their children on their own. Instead, seek out a drug treatment facility for help and information. Legal Experience You Can Trust Moses & Rooth is one of the leading criminal defense law firms in Florida. We handle a variety of state and federal crimes, including drug crimes. If you have a legal question, please contact us today. One of our Orlando criminal defense attorneys can meet with you to discuss your issue. Please call 407-377-0150 for more information.  

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Criminal Defense

Exploring the Link Between Opioid Use and Criminal History

The opioid crisis continues to draw attention of the national media. The crisis has been used to explain everything from the increased mortality rates for some Americans to President Trump’s popularity in rural America. One aspect that has not drawn nearly enough attention is the link between opioid use and criminal history. According to recent research, however, the link between the two is strong. “More Common Than We Expected” As reported by MedPage Today, researchers who have examined the link between opioid use and crime have been impressed by the connection. At least 50% of those with a prescription opioid disorder had contact with the criminal justice system–contact that was more common than researchers expected. Researchers from various universities looked at data for nearly 79,000 respondents and classified people based on their highest use of opioids: 63.2% reported no opioid use 31.3% reported using opioids with a prescription 4.3% reported misusing opioids in ways their doctor had not prescribed 0.8% reported opioid dependence or abuse 0.4% reported using heroin As researchers found, the more a person used opioids, the more likely they had of criminal justice involvement: Only 15.9% of those with no opioid use had contact with the criminal justice system 22.4% of those who used opioids with a prescription had contact 33.2% of those who misused opioids had contact 51.7% of those with an opioid use disorder had contact 76.8% of those who used heroin had contact This recent study contradicts a study nearly 30 years ago from Scotland that found that moderate opioid use did not increase one’s likelihood of committing a crime. Instead, the most recent study has found a substantial difference in crime rates between those who do not use opioids and those who misuse or abuse them. More Treatment in Jail is Needed Given the higher rates of contact with the criminal justice system, opioid users and abusers are ending up in jail. Unfortunately, jails and prisons have not kept up with the times. Although they treat a variety of health conditions—such as diabetes and hypertension—they currently do not have the capacity to offer treatment for opioid abuse. Unfortunately, public pressure does not seem to be building, perhaps because people assume that being in jail is a good chance for someone to detox. However, as experts have explained, cutting off opioids from an addict does not cure them. Instead, it puts them at greater risk of death from an overdose later because their tolerance will be lower. What abusers and addicts need is medication-assisted treatment, which is the most effective means of treating opioid addiction. Based on one analysis, addicts who leave a medication-assisted treatment program experienced a 60% drop in overdose deaths. Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys in Your Corner After an arrest, our clients are in fear of the future and many are also struggling with an opioid addiction. You need caring legal guidance. At Moses & Rooth, our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys has your best interests at heart. We can work diligently toward a favorable outcome, whether a plea deal, dismissed charges, or an acquittal at trial. For more information about how we can help, please schedule a free consultation by calling 407-377-0150.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Drug Charges

Is America Seeing the “War on Drugs” Differently?

The United States has waged a “War on Drugs” for more than five decades. By most measures, it isn’t going very well. In states like Florida, the sale and use of illegal drugs remain prevalent. And now there is a new crisis in the form of prescription opioid abuse. Given the increasing financial, political, and human cost of treating drug addiction as a law enforcement problem, many prominent figures have started publicly pushing for at least partial legalization of certain drugs. The Push to Legalize (Some) Drugs Gains Political Support In April 2016, a group of more than 1,000 international dignitaries signed a letter to then-United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking him to use his position to call for “reform of global drug control policies.” The authors included former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Mexican presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, and U.S. Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The authors noted that the current war on drugs has “created a vast illicit market that has enriched criminal organizations, corrupted governments, triggered explosive violence, distorted economic markets and undermined basic moral values.” The authors went on to emphasize the racially discriminatory nature of the drug war, noting that “[t]ens of millions of people, mostly poor and racial and ethnic minorities, were incarcerated, mostly for low-level and non-violent drug law violations, with little if any benefit to public security.” More recently, on June 28, 2018, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill to remove marijuana as a federally prohibited “controlled substance.” Schumer’s proposal would also provide funds to assist states in expunging and sealing the criminal records of individuals previously convicted of illegal marijuana possession. A similar marijuana legalization bills has also been introduced by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. A number of states have already moved on their own to decriminalize and even permit the sale of marijuana for personal use within their borders. This has created understandable conflict with the federal government, which still considers any use of marijuana–even for medicinal purposes–a crime. But the U.S. will soon face external pressure on its northern border to loosen its marijuana restrictions. On October 17, 2018, Canada’s Cannabis Act takes effect. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government secured approval for legislation that “legalizes and regulates” marijuana. Individual Canadian provinces will still have the authority to set specific rules for cannabis use, including the legal minimum age, how much someone can possess, and where drugs may be purchased. The Drug War Remains in Full Effect in Florida Meanwhile, here in Florida the state is still taking small steps towards legalizing cannabis products for purely medicinal use. It may be sometime before state officials will consider following Canada’s lead and moving towards a legalize-and-regulate system. So you still need to be conscious of the drug war and its potential impacts on your liberties. If you are charged with a drug crime in Florida and need assistance from a qualified Orlando criminal defense attorney, contact Moses & Rooth at (407) 377-0150 today.

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