| 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: 4 minutes | Domestic Violence

Is Domestic Violence a Felony in Florida?

If you are arrested for domestic violence in Florida, we understand that you face a range of fears and uncertainties. Along with all these challenges, by its nature and definition, facing a charge of domestic violence means personal relationship upheavals. You also have significant legal issues at hand, and your immediate question may be, Is domestic violence a felony? This situation is a lot to process, and the lawyers at Moses & Rooth are here to assist regarding your immediate and ongoing legal needs. When Do the Police Charge Someone with Domestic Violence? Florida general statutes address at length the laws related to domestic violence. Domestic violence charges are affected by three primary circumstances: the specific type of act involved, whether someone suffered an injury, and the relationship between the actor and the victim. In determining whether you will be charged with domestic violence, the police therefore have to put together several puzzle pieces.  Type of Act The first step for police is to determine what type of crime allegedly occurred. A number of different actions can be subject to domestic violence charges, including: Assault or battery,  Aggravated assault or battery, Sexual assault,  Sexual battery,  Stalking,  Aggravated stalking,  Kidnapping, or False imprisonment. Although this list includes most types of domestic violence, additional criminal offenses may fall into this category as well. Injury The next step for law enforcement is to determine whether the act resulted in physical injury or death. The police have a lot of discretion in determining whether something constitutes an injury. Relationship The final step is investigating the relationship of the parties involved. To support a domestic violence charge, the person charged must have committed the violent act against a family or household member. Suppose a person committed one of the acts in step one (assault, kidnapping, etc.) against another family or household member and there was a resulting injury to the victim. In that case, the police will likely issue a charge of domestic violence—the puzzle pieces (an act, an injury, and a familial relationship) are all present. How Does the Law Define Family Members? In Florida, our statutes define family or household members as any of the following: Persons related by blood or marriage; Current or former spouses; Persons who currently reside or formerly resided together as a family; or Parents (married or not) who have a child in common. Parents who have a child in common need not have ever lived together to be considered family or household members. However, for all other relationships, the parties involved must currently or previously have lived together for the domestic violence law to consider them a family or household member. What Is an Example of Domestic Violence? Domestic violence envelops a wide array of acts and situations. The most common charges include actions such as pushing, restraining, slapping/punching, kicking, and scratching. Here is an example. A parent and their 19-year-old adult child are residing in the same home. They get into a yelling argument. The parent punches the 19-year-old and breaks their jaw. This circumstance is domestic violence because: The parent committed the crime of battery when they punched the 19-year-old; The parent injured the 19-year-old when they broke their jaw; and The 19-year-old is a family member of the parent. This example is very basic. However, many domestic violence charges are complicated. If you have been charged with domestic violence or fear that the law may charge you, you need legal representation by Moses & Rooth. Our attorneys will hear your story, investigate the facts further, and then mount a vigorous defense. Domestic Violence Felony: Florida Law Each domestic violence case is different. Thus, answering the question, Is domestic violence a felony or a misdemeanor? in a given situation can be complicated. The judicial system will determine the level based on myriad factors, including: The injury to the victim; The type of contact the offender leveled against the victim; Whether the victim was a minor; Whether the law has charged the offender before; and The totality of the circumstances of the situation. Regardless of the final charge, domestic violence is severe, and a conviction can be life-altering. Let an attorney work with you to defend you and try and get your charges dismissed or reduced. Domestic Violence Punishment A person charged with domestic violence will face sentencing by a judge if they are convicted or plead guilty. The law provides that sentencing may include: A mandatory period of incarceration, An additional period of incarceration, Probation,  Placement in community control (house arrest, halfway house, etc.), Completing a batterers’ intervention program, and  Attending mandatory counseling. The bottom line is that if the court convicts you of domestic violence, you will face consequences and have a criminal record. The punishments can cost you your job, impact your ability to own a firearm, affect custody of your children, and require you to stay away from the victim and perhaps other family members. Moses & Rooth: Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys If law enforcement has charged or may charge you with domestic violence, contacting Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, in Orlando, Florida, should be your first act. Andrew Moses and Jay Rooth are owners and partner attorneys in the firm. Their clients speak of their dedication and legal excellence.  The criminal defense attorneys of Moses and Rooth have extensive trial experience and in-depth knowledge of the federal and state criminal justice systems. We will put you at ease and never judge those charged with domestic violence. Contact Moses & Rooth when you need legal assistance. We offer a free consultation as well as ongoing affordable service.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | DUI

How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost in Florida?

The Cost of a DUI Cannot Be Measured in Dollars Alone. Florida’s DUI law permits a sentencing judge to send a person to jail for a first-time DUI, even if you have no other criminal record. Notwithstanding, most people convicted of a first-offense DUI do not go to jail unless they were sentenced for DUI manslaughter or causing a severe injury. However, a conviction for a DUI charge in Florida will have serious consequences that will follow you forever. Despite the severe implications DUI convictions carry, people still question whether hiring a qualified DUI defense attorney is worth the expense. Everyone wants to know, How much does a DUI cost? The costs of a conviction far exceed the initial expense of hiring an experienced and dedicated Florida DUI defense lawyer to help you avoid the long-lasting consequences of a DUI conviction. The Cost of a DUI Depends on What Type of Case You Have DUI lawyer fees usually depend on the complexity of your case. A high-quality Florida DUI lawyer will not answer the question, How much does a DUI cost? without going over your case in detail first. A skilled DUI defense attorney understands that each case turns on its details. Before answering any questions about DUI lawyer fees, a seasoned attorney will spend some time with you going through your case moment by moment. A successful DUI lawyer knows that the smallest detail could mean the difference between an acquittal and conviction. Topics a Top DUI Lawyer Will Discuss  A winning DUI defense attorney will want to discuss several topics before answering how much does a DUI lawyer cost, like: Your previous criminal record, if any; If there was an accident that led to your DUI arrest and, if so, whether someone was injured or killed; Whether you took a chemical test, and if you asked for an independent test; Why a law enforcement officer pulled you over; If you made any statements to the police; Whether you took any field sobriety tests; If you have any relevant medical history that might affect how you perform on a field sobriety test or chemical test; Whether the officers involved informed you of your Miranda rights before asking you any questions other than the standard booking questions; The names and addresses of witnesses who were with you in the car or who were with you before you started driving; and How you want to handle the case. These are just some examples of the topics a trained Florida DUI attorney may discuss with you. Your lawyer should also discuss with you the applicable laws, the potential punishments you face if convicted, and possible defenses. All these issues figure into answering the question, How much is a DUI lawyer? Self-Representation Is Not Cost-Effective Understandably, most people who ask us, How much does a DUI lawyer cost? are concerned about the financial expense of hiring a lawyer. Taking the prosecution on without representation can cost you more than DUI lawyer fees. Taking a quick plea deal does not save you money either. DUI convictions are costly. Even if you do not go to jail, you may face financial penalties such as: $500 court costs; $300 for DUI classes; Community service hours valued at $500; $200 or more for alcohol evaluation and treatment; Up to $1,900 to install and maintain an ignition interlock device; $400 for vehicle impound and storage charge; and At least $350 license reinstatement fee for a work permit. These costs are simply associated with a conviction for a first-offense DUI. The fines you face depend on the type of offense brought against you. DUI fines in Florida can range from $500 to $1,000 for a first offense with a BAC under 0.15%. However, the minimum fine increases from $1,000 to a maximum of $2,000 for a first offense DUI if your BAC exceeds 0.15%. The fines also increase as the severity of the crimes alleged increases. Hidden Costs of a DUI Conviction in Florida The foremost concern for the majority of folks arrested for DUI is whether they will go to jail and what other punishments they face. The focus is on the penalties the criminal justice system imposes. Many folks often forget about a DUI conviction’s hidden costs when they ask us, How much does a DUI lawyer cost? The law enforcement officer who arrested you probably suspended your license administratively. You also face additional license suspension if a court convicts you of a DUI charge. Another revocation period could severely hamper your ability to work. Additionally, you will impose a greater burden on your family to drive you around until your suspension is over. Significantly, your auto insurance rates will soar by up to 50%.  You must also be aware that DUI convictions remain with you forever. You will face enhanced penalties if you are arrested again for DUI. A Florida DUI conviction also follows you around the country. Strict DUI laws in most states allow the prosecution to use out-of-state convictions to bring more serious charges against you. By engaging a savvy DUI lawyer to evaluate your case, you may be able to avoid these harsh and unforeseen consequences of a DUI conviction in Florida. Talk With an Experienced Florida DUI Lawyer to Learn More About How Much Does a DUI Cost The Florida DUI defense attorneys with Moses & Rooth have the experience you need to defend your DUI successfully. We understand that you face an uncertain future.We also know that money is a big concern. That is why we offer free consultations and flexible payment plans. We want you to receive the justice you deserve. Call Moses & Rooth today at 407-337-0150 or visit our website to learn more about how much does a DUI lawyer cost.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Probation Violation

My First Probation Violation—What Am I Facing?

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people in the United States receive probation sentences.  A failure to comply with the conditions of your probation will result in a probation violation.  The consequences of violating probation depends on several factors.  If you have been charged with a probation violation, you may be wondering what to do from here. Speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Moses & Rooth to challenge your probation violation today.  What Is Probation? Florida law defines probation as a form of community supervision requiring specified meetings or contacts with probation officers and other terms and conditions. In Florida, there are five types of probation. Straight Supervised Probation Straight supervised probation is traditional probation. Under this type of probation, a defendant must obey the terms and conditions of their probation and meet with their probation officer on a regular basis. Administrative Probation As with traditional probation, a defendant under administrative probation must obey the terms and conditions of their probation. However, the defendant need not meet with a probation officer regularly. Community Control Community control refers to supervised custody. This often includes wearing an ankle monitor and being subject to a curfew.  Community control probation severely restricts a defendant’s movement. Thus, the defendant must follow a strict schedule and can have his or her probation revoked for a failure to do so.  Drug Offender Probation Drug offender probation requires the defendant to follow a drug treatment plan with strict supervision. While on drug offender probation, the defendant must also submit to random drug tests.  Common Probation Violations Many are familiar with the concept of probation. However, many people are unaware of the consequences if you violate probation.  Probationary sentences include numerous rules and regulations, all of which the defendant must follow to comply with the court’s order. What constitutes a violation varies among each individual sentence.  Generally, a failure to comply with probation guidelines in any way amounts to a violation. Some of the most common probation violations include: Failure to pay probations fines; Failure to appear for court dates; Committing additional crimes; Possession of illegal drugs; Leaving the state without authorization; Failure to meet with your probation officer as required; Failure to complete required community services; and Violation of curfew. Failure to comply with your probation requirements can result in severe repercussions. If you are in violation of your probation, contact Moses & Rooth today to discuss your options. First Violation of Probation: Penalty Overview A probation violation is a serious matter. The violation can result in prison time, additional charges, or even an extended probationary sentence.  A probation officer that suspects a violation of probation has occurred will file a Violation of Probation Affidavit with the court. This document explains to the judge what information the probation officer has that made him or her believe the probation conditions were violated. The probation officer will also provide the judge with a recommendation for a sentence. If the judge finds reasonable grounds to believe the probation sentence has been violated, he or she can issue a warrant for the probationer’s arrest. Unlike in a normal arrest, a person accused of violating probation is not entitled to a bond. This means you will be held in custody until you can appear in front of the judge. Being Held Without Bond Even if the judge does not set a bond, an attorney can file a motion to request a bond hearing and argue that in your situation, a bond should be set.  We can provide the court with any required documentation to illustrate why you should be released. This may include proof of completed community service hours, letters of recommendation, or in-person testimony from your community members.  Sentencing for Your Probation Violation Eventually you will have to go in front of the judge for sentencing on your probation violation. the judge will typically consider the reason for the alleged probation violation, the recommendation of the probation officer, the original charges, and the criminal history of the defendant.  This is your opportunity to explain the reason for your probation violation. A criminal defense attorney can assist in preparing and presenting this testimony in the manner most helpful to your case.  How Will I Be Sentenced After My Probation Violation? Judges have very wide discretion in sentencing defendants who violate probation. After you give your side of the story to the court, the judge will make a determination as to the consequences, if any, you will face.  For minor violations, the court may determine that your probationary sentence will proceed as initially planned. This is especially likely if it is your first probation violation. However, the judge has the power to enhance your sentence. The judge may also modify the terms of your probation or even revoke your probation entirely. This could mean prison time.  Remember, the judge has full authority for this decision. Decisions on probation violations can range widely due to the discretionary nature of the sentencing.  Talk to An Orlando Probation Violation Attorney Today If you were arrested for a probation violation, do not hesitate to reach out to Moses & Rooth. Whether or not it’s your first probation violation, we understand how devastating this can be. Our team of attorneys has over 20 years of combined experience in criminal defense law. Thus, we have handled almost every situation you can imagine. We will defend your rights every step of the way. As former prosecutors, we know how the other side handles probation violations. This expertise will be invaluable in defending your probation violation. Having an attorney in your corner to challenge your probation violation and prepare evidence in your defense is critical to a favorable resolution in your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation, and see how we can help.

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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 | Orlando News

Local Criminal Defense Attorneys Representing Capital Rioter

Local Man Identified in Images from Scene at Capitol Adam Johnson, aka “Lectern Guy”, has quickly become internet infamous.  For those not familiar, Mr. Johnson, was not only one of the people who took part in last weeks riots, but he is also the one who posed with Speaker Pelosi’s lectern.             According to the Statement of Facts Mr. Johnson was identified in the picture as being in the rotunda of the Capital building.  According to the Speaker’s staff, the lectern was stored in the Speaker’s Suite before the riots began.  Fortunately, the lectern was found on the Senate side of the capital and was not being sold on eBay as some places had reported.             On January 6, 2021, Mr. Johnson may have made the worst decision of his life, however, he seems to have been making wiser decisions since then by hiring two high-powered local criminal defense attorneys, David Bigney and Dan Eckhart.             While Mr. Johnson’s case is being prosecuted in the DC Circuit, he will appear today in the Middle District of Florida in Tampa and will be in front of Judge Christopher P. Tuite.  Johnson is currently incarcerated and in the custody of the US Marshals, but he will be transported to court for the hearing.  Mr. Johnson will be told the charges he is currently facing and perhaps most importantly his continued incarceration will be discussed.             The US government may seek detention in which case the Federal Magistrate will determine if they feel that pretrial release is appropriate or if Mr. Johnson will continue to be detained.  Alternatively, the Magistrate could rule that Mr. Johnson will remain in custody until the Judge in DC make a ruling on continued detention.             The Court may consider detention if they consider Mr. Johnson to be a flight risk, if they feel that he is a danger to the community, or if the Judge determines that no condition of release will reasonably assure the appearance of Mr. Johnson.               Should the Judge determine that release is appropriate, they have a number of conditions that could be imposed as a condition of release.  They include: Electronic monitoring Travel restrictions Curfew A prohibition on possession of a firearm or other weapon A prohibition on the use of drugs or alcohol A monetary bond A restriction on communication with certain people A restriction on accessing Social Media or Internet Forums Updates Coming Soon Today will be interesting for Mr. Johnson and a number of questions will need to be answered.  Will the Government agree to release or seek detention?  Will the Judge go along with the request for release or continued incarceration?  Will the government give us some insight into what Mr. Johnson’s role was on January 6?  Was he present when the Capital was initially breached or did enter later on?  Is he alleged to have caused any destruction?  Was he the one who took the Speaker’s lectern? We will follow up on the case after the 2pm initial appearance

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Scholarship

Announcing the 2020 Legal Scholarship Winner

We’d like to say thank you to all those who took the time to submit applications for our legal scholarship. After carefully reviewing all of them, we are pleased to announce the winner of our 2020 scholarship. Glenn Korman Congratulations! Glenn graduated from Boston University, Summa Cum Laude, majoring in International Relations and minoring in Political Science. He’s now attending New York University School of Law with an interest in environmental and energy law. Glenn tells more of his story in his scholarship essay, which he has agreed to have published below. We invite you to read it. “On paper, I am a suburban guy from the Northeast, but this role is too confining for me. As a kid, weekends were spent listening to my grandmother tell tales of 1950s Toronto. Summers were spent in the cornfields of Iowa with my extended family. For college, I moved to Boston to experience a city rich with history. Since then, I have added Stevensville, Michigan and Dresden, Germany to the list of places I have called home.   Growing up in Buffalo, I witnessed an uneven economic revival that benefited only those that fit a certain mold. My time in the Midwest drove home the importance of crossing the political aisle. In Dresden, I was in the epicenter of the social friction that has been rocking Germany. Empathetic conversations with students from Syria opened my eyes to the heavy emotional toll that being stripped to the identity of “refugee” can have on someone. My experience at Boston University reinforced the value of intellectual diversity, and due to my interdisciplinary education, my fear that specializing in one area comes at the cost of ignorance of other fields was never realized.   The widespread geographical distribution of each place I have called home has given me a myriad of diverse perspectives that I can draw upon when confronting political, economic, and social issues in my chosen area: environmental and energy law. Each of these distinctive communities has highlighted the importance of engaging with the local population to fully understand the unique complexities of their situation and their willingness to accept change. My exposure to a variety of environmental problems in these areas, such as fluctuating lake levels and flooding in the Great Lakes Basin, solidified my interest in environmental and energy law. Issues stemming from climate change, pollution, and environmental degradation often disproportionally impact lower-income and minority segments of our population. It is next to impossible to address the legal and policy questions that arise out of humanity’s use, and oftentimes abuse, of the environment without maintaining a strong sense of empathy for at-risk individuals, endangered species, and those that rely on the industry whose practices are being scrutinized.   Specifically, I envision myself working to improve the state of energy governance in the United States. We lack a coordinated and comprehensive framework that reduces the overall environmental impact of these systems. Currently, environmental consequences are primarily considered during the siting process of new energy projects, forcing local and regional ecosystems to adapt after a cost-benefit analysis on the project’s potential impact is performed. Rather than working aggressively to minimize the environmental disruptiveness of these technologies from their inception, we address the majority of these issues at a stage where few substantive adaptations can be performed. While functional, this cost-benefit approach reduces the value of the environment by not properly considering monetary damages likely to result, such as a reduction in tourism or property values due to an increase in pollution, as well as benefits that are nearly impossible to monetize like personal enjoyment resulting from the use of pristine natural spaces. Furthermore, by using a discount factor that limits the future outlook on how harmful our current actions are, these analyses prevent us from doing justice for future generations. Advocating for and eventually shaping an updated legal framework regulating and incentivizing more environmentally friendly developments in this area is how I intend to use my Juris Doctor. Although a cost-benefit analysis will still have a place within this framework, considering the more abstract value of the environment must be incorporated as well. For this reason, I feel compelled to pursue a legal career where I can meaningfully impact this field while also practicing in a manner that emphasizes empathy and humanity.” – by Glenn Korman

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sex Crimes

Title IX Updates

  Guilty until proven innocent.  Forget due process, it barely exists.  Cross-examination of your accuser, forget about it.  Am I speaking about the criminal justice system in Russia?  No, I am speaking about the Title IX hearing held on college campuses around the country for allegations of sexual misconduct.  Let me repeat that last part, “allegations of sexual misconduct”. The first time I assisted someone with a university hearing for allegations of sexual misconduct I was blown away.  Notice I said “assisted someone”.  You see, at these hearings they did not allow an attorney to speak or present evidence or be present in an advisory capacity.  The accused had to defend him or herself.  Certainly, it makes sense that an 18 year old kid would be expected to conduct a hearing that had ramifications for the future of their education much less the rest of their life.  Additionally, the accused could not ask the accuser questions.  The person who is making accusations, very serious accusations was free from having to answer any questions from the accused.  And the standard of proof?  Preponderance of evidence, which means that they were more likely than not to have committed the infraction. Thankfully, some of these rules have been amended and will be going into effect in August of 2020.  The U.S. Department of Education has issued the final version on how schools handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault.  The new rules allow for the accused and the accuser to submit evidence and participate in cross-examination in live proceedings.  The provision allowing for cross-examination of the accuser is already drawing criticism from victim’s rights groups.  They fear that allowing the accuser to be questioned will have a chilling effect on a victim willing to come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct.  While victim’s rights are important, a more balanced approach to these proceedings were needed.  In a statement released by the Department of Education Secretary Devos said “This new regulation requires schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct, without sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process.”  I think that is all anyone could really ever ask for, support the victim, but make sure that the accused is treated fairly.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Politics

Top Ten Thoughts on Coronavirus (Legal Edition)

10.  Lawyers don’t seem to understand that the quarantine doesn’t mean the dress code goes out the door.  I know working from home is new for us attorneys and appearing via video conference is foreign, but did it really take a judge to write a letter regarding appropriate work attire.  For some reason there were lawyers appearing on video conference who were wearing casual shirts (ok, not really ideal but not crazy), a beach cover-up (unless you’re hoping to distract the judge from your poor legal argument this seems to be a bad idea), and finally the guy who appears shirtless (he either has the confidence of a super hero or has zero fucks left to give). 9.  I love that Judges are now making available virtual pre-trial conferences.  I know 9Th Judicial Circuit Judge Harris has been doing this for a while.  Makes you wonder why it took a worldwide pandemic to make this procedure nearly universal. 8.  Indecent exposure is still a crime.  COVID-19≠No Laws.  Apparently, a person in Taneytown needed that reminder.  The local police department posted in Facebook “Please remember to put pants on before leaving the house to check your mailbox.  You know who you are. This is your final warning.” On a side note, when I first heard this story, I assumed like everyone else did, must have happened in Florida.  So on behalf of all Floridians, thank you Maryland. 7.  Harvey Weinstein thought he was getting out of jail because of coronavirus. 6.  Michael Avenatti IS actually getting out of jail because of coronavirus. 5.  On a more serious note, Florida needs to amend statute 947.149, Conditional Medical Release.  A person sentenced to prison in a federal case who is at higher risk of complication from COVID-19 has a vehicle to allow a judge to amend their sentence to terminate incarceration or place on house arrest.  It is part of the recently passed First Steps Act in a section on Compassionate Release.  The Florida statute doesn’t allow for this and places many vulnerable people at risk of severe illness or death.  Our prisons were not built to handle or treat a pandemic and our judiciary should have the ability to address certain inmates with preexisting medical or age-related conditions.  4.  Are law students around the country just faking internet issues if their professor calls on them to explain the Rule in Shelley’s Case? 3.  President Donald Trump is looking into a pardon for Joe Exotic. 2.  Stay at home orders were implemented to enforce social distancing.  People are getting arrested and sent to jails. You know, places where people are crammed into small cells and can’t stay six feet apart much less self-isolate.  Issue a fine, ok. Issue a criminal notice to appear, maybe. Take to jail, dumb and counterproductive. 1.  Under Governor Desantis’s Stay at Home Order, lawyers are essential.   However, my wife can’t say lawyers are “essential” without putting air quotes around the term.

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