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Florida Criminal Defense Law Blog

What the law says about selling drugs

Individuals who are found to be in possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute in Florida will likely be charged with a crime. The exact charge that a person may face depends on the substance, the amount that a person intended to sell, and his or her prior record. In many cases, drug possession on its own is a misdemeanor. However, possession with the intent to distribute is generally treated as a felony.

A defendant could be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines depending on the circumstances in a given case. For instance, if a person sold a controlled substance near a school, he or she could face enhanced penalties if convicted. Penalties may also be enhanced if an individual is found to be in possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled substance. Penalties could include a lifetime ban on owning a weapon or having to disclose the conviction when applying for a job.

Woman charged with heroin possession and child endangerment

Florida ranks 17th in the nation for drug overdose deaths. The extent of opiate addition in the state produces situations like the one encountered recently by a Volusia County sheriff's deputy. He wrote in his incident report that he watched a woman buy heroin with a toddler sitting behind her in a car.

He arrested the 43-year-old woman and warned her about exposing a child to narcotics, which might contain fentanyl. Even small exposures to this substance could harm a child. The child with the woman was only 2 years old.

Man charged with trafficking meth, heroin

On June 7, a Florida man was arrested on drug charges after authorities tracked him down for failing to appear in court on domestic violence charges. The incident took place in Ocala.

Media reports indicate that deputies from the Marion County Sheriff's Office received a tip that the 31-year-old defendant was staying at a home on the 6400 block of Northwest 11th Avenue. When they went to that location, they saw two men run inside the home and close the door. As they approached the house, they claimed that could detect the odor of marijuana and told everyone to exit the residence.

Former MillerCoors executive sentenced in fraud case

Some people in Florida who enjoy Miller or Coors beers may be aware that one of their top executives was convicted for defrauding the Chicago-based company. On May 16, the 60-year-old man received a sentence of 42 months in prison.

In 2016, the former vice president entered a guilty plea for wire fraud. A judge dealt with seven other people involved in the fraud before sentencing him. An assistant U.S. attorney on the case recommended a sentence of 64 months although she conceded that the man had originally informed federal prosecutors of his crime.

Guilty plea in United Way embezzlement

Florida residents might like to know about a former Milton mayor charged with tax evasion and wire fraud. The man was the director of the Santa Rosa County United Way, and he allegedly embezzled $650,000 from his employer. He pleaded guilty to the charges. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida, the events occurred over a period of several years. He reportedly took money for the organization's business expenses and used donations that others were not aware of to pay United Way bills instead.

To protect himself, Thompson reportedly tried to prevent audits and provided false information to those involved with the United Way. The former executive director gained several thousands of dollars per year in misappropriated funds and did not report this money to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS seized $221,000 from his bank accounts and intends to recover all the embezzled money.

You can fight back if you're accused of identity theft

Identity theft is a serious criminal action that can lead to time in prison and hefty fines. People who steal others' identities might do so intentionally, taking advantage of their accounts and attempting to seek financial benefits as a result.

There are times, though, when identity theft cases are based on misinformation. For example, someone purchasing items with a relative's credit card might be accused of identity theft and arrested, but it could turn out that the individual was given permission to make the purchase by the cardholder.

Woman, man arrested during Milton drug bust

On April 23, Florida authorities arrested two people during a drug raid at a Santa Clara County home. One of the defendants was arrested because he walked up to the scene of the raid with drugs in his pocket.

According to law enforcement records, deputies from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Unit served a search warrant at a Milton residence, which was occupied by a 36-year-old woman. During a search of the property, they allegedly found unspecified amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, oxycodone pills and marijuana. They additionally found digital scales, plastic baggies and a notebook that appeared to list drug prices. While the drug raid was underway, a 42-year-old man approached the home and told two deputies standing outside that he was there to see the woman who lived there. The deputies searched him and allegedly found methamphetamine in his pocket.

Citizen tip leads to drug charges for Florida couple

Police in southwest Florida reported that a 26-year-old man and 22-year-old woman were taken into custody on April 10 after the discovery of illegal drugs and a handgun. The North Fort Myers residents are being held at the Lee County Jail on charges including drug possession, drug paraphernalia possession, narcotics trafficking, attempting to elude law enforcement and driving while under the influence.

The chain of events that led to the couple's legal problems began when a bystander called the Cape Coral Police Department to report suspicious behavior in the parking lot of a big-box retailer on Southwest Pine Island Road. The caller told emergency dispatchers that a woman had exited a Toyota Corolla sedan to retrieve a spoon from the vehicle's trunk. When an officer arrived at the scene, the man behind the wheel of the Toyota allegedly attempted to flee the scene.

People arrested in Florida in drug crimes probe

Two people were arrested in Flagler County and accused of drug charges. The two people were taken into custody behind the county's public library where they were said to be living in a makeshift homeless encampment. According to police, they are suspected of being drug dealers. Police said that the camp became an "open air drug market" and it is a point of attention in an ongoing drug roundup campaign by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office called Operation Spring Mix.

On March 27, the sheriff's office arrested a 38-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman at the camp. Authorities said that they made multiple undercover drug purchases of MDMA and "bath salts" from the man while they reportedly bought heroin with fentanyl from the woman. However, the drug arrests were not limited to those at the camp. After a lengthy undercover investigation, police obtained arrest warrants for 18 people accused of drug distribution; they arrested seven of these people during raids throughout the area. The sheriff also said that the agency had seized $15,000 in drugs over the past year, including heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, cocaine, methamphetamine, THC oil and cannabis.

Florida man facing drug charges after vehicle search

A 28-year-old Florida man is facing a raft of drug possession and trafficking charges in connection with quantities of heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and prescription medications allegedly discovered in his vehicle on March 15. The man was taken into custody by a Marion County Sheriff's Office deputy outside a Dunnellon residence without incident.

The chain of events began when the deputy observed the man traveling in a gold Ford Explorer SUV on Southwest Beach Boulevard. The deputy says that he became suspicious because he knew that the man's driver's license had been suspended. However, the traffic stop never took place as the SUV increased speed sharply on Kingfish Boulevard in what police describe as an attempt to flee the scene. The brief pursuit ended when the SUV pulled up at a Rainbow Lakes Boulevard home.

Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
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