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Florida Criminal Defense Law Blog

What is price gouging?

There's a lot to take in about the effect that the COVID-19 virus is having on the country, but one issue that seems to have caught everyone's attention is the issue of hoarding and price gouging. Those are twin problems that often crop up during any major disaster.

Essentially, when someone hoards products that are in crucial demand during any kind of major crisis, then offers to sell part of their hoard at an outrageously high markup, that's price gouging. It's done with the full intent to take advantage of a situation that will encourage people to buy things they may not normally need at a price they would never normally pay. Some examples include charging $10 for a bottle of water after a hurricane or snapping up 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer to resell for $70 each when there's a viral outbreak in the area.

Man acquitted in Airbnb drug trafficking case

One man was acquitted of cocaine trafficking charges in Florida after he was arrested in an expensive Airbnb vacation rental in Fort Lauderdale. The 36-year-old man was one of the less than 1% of people facing federal criminal charges who win acquittal at trial. He faced four drug charges that could have led to a life sentence if he had been convicted. The man, from the Dominican Republic, was arrested in a federal raid on July 3, 2019, where agents from the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement found 900 pounds of cocaine. He was found trying to jump off a large 54-foot boat docked at the property.

Federal authorities accused the man of attempting to use the boat to import a controlled substance to the United States, but his defense attorneys argued that they had no evidence as to why the man was there. They said that the federal government based its case on the simple fact of the man's presence, rather than any other indication that he was there for drug trafficking. Some of the other people arrested at the property have been cooperating with federal agents, while others have been convicted.

Ex-tribal casino employees plead guilty

On Feb. 4, 2020, four former employees of a tribal casino located in Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty to charges that they conspired to steal money from Miccosukee Resort & Gaming. They additionally entered guilty pleas to conspiracy charges related to money laundering and computer fraud, and their spouses also pleaded guilty on money laundering conspiracy charges. All of the defendants will be sentenced at some point in the early spring, and the penalties could include having to spend up to 20 years in a federal prison.

The former employees were workers in the casino's video game area, and they had been accused of tampering with the computer components in slot machines and other electronic games that paid out cash. They would pretend to be repairing the machines, but instead they were allegedly able to make the devices record false coin deposits. They were then able to obtain fake vouchers which were subsequently turned in for cash at the casino cashier or or at its voucher machines located on the floor.

Defend yourself against drug possession charges now

Receiving drug charges can change a person's life for the worse in an instant. While many states continue to reconsider drug criminalization, drug charges still draw down some of the harshest sentencing for any non-violent crime. If you recently received drug charges and have not yet begun building your defense, now is the time to begin.

Even if you believe that the evidence against you is relatively strong, you need a sturdy defense to protect your rights. If you don't build your defense using all of the available legal tools, you may receive a completely unjust sentence, because of the harshness of drug crime laws, both at the state and federal level. A sturdy defense helps ensure that your rights remain secure while you fight for your future.

Men busted with package labeled "Bag Full of Drugs"

Florida authorities recently arrested two men on drug trafficking charges after a package labeled "Bag Full of Drugs" was found in their vehicle during a traffic stop. The incident took place on Interstate 10 in the state's Panhandle area.

According to media reports, a trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol clocked a vehicle traveling at approximately 95 mph and executed a traffic stop. Once the vehicle pulled over, the trooper discovered that one of its two occupants was wanted for a probation violation in Orange County. He called for backup, and a deputy and K-9 from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene.

Florida narcotics investigation leads to 7 arrests

Police in Florida took seven people into custody on Jan. 15 during an operation dubbed "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." One of the suspects is a 51-year-old man whom police have accused of distributing drugs in Marion County. He faces a raft of charges including narcotics trafficking, possession and possession with the intent to distribute. Law enforcement agencies that took part in the investigation into the man's alleged activities include the Ocala and Dunnellon Police Departments, the Marion and Citrus County Sheriff's Offices, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

A representative from the MCSO's Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team said the operation was launched to combat drug manufacturing, trafficking and distribution in the Ocala area. During an investigation that lasted for several months and involved more than 100 officers, deputies and federal agents, seven locations used by the man to make or store illegal drugs were allegedly identified.

Attempt to pass counterfeit bills lands heroin user in jail

The clerk manager at a Florida motel alerted local deputies to a man who attempted to pay for his room with counterfeit $100 bills. The employee at the motel located on Pine Forest Road near Interstate 10 said he refused to accept the bills that a man brought into the office and contacted the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.

When deputies went to the man's motel room, he confessed to possessing the counterfeit money. The bills had Chinese characters on them and identical serial numbers. As he was placed under arrest, the 33-year-old man warned deputies that he had a needle containing heroin in his pocket. Deputies field tested the substance in the needle and made a preliminary determination that it was heroin.

Florida man pleads no contest on drug charges

A Florida man has been sentenced to 25 years in a state prison for possessing a controlled substance, trafficking heroin and resisting arrest. The sentence was handed down during a Dec. 18 hearing in Escambia County. A spokesperson from the Office of the State Attorney said that the 46-year-old Pensacola resident was sentenced to the mandatory minimum for his offenses, which means that he will serve the entire 25 years.

The sequence of events that led to the sentence began on April 24 when the Pensacola Police Department received a 911 call from an individual who was worried about the man driving while impaired. PPD officers claim to have found the man passed out behind the wheel of his vehicle at about 11:30 a.m. A search of the man's car allegedly led to the discovery of a set of digital scales, two bags containing the opioid Tramadol and approximately 74 grams of heroin. Officers say that the man resisted when they attempted to place him in handcuffs.

Claiming testing inaccuracies are a great DUI defense

Being accused of a DUI can lead to criminal charges, the inability to use your vehicle and even jail time. That said, so many people are accused of driving under the influence when they were not, in fact, over the limit.

If you believe that how your breath test was conducted was faulty or inaccurate, you can use this to form your defense and potentially have your case dismissed. Exploring the full range of defense options can help you make the right decision. The following are some of the most common DUI defenses relating to inaccurate testing procedures and technologies.

Sheriff's office announces record heroin seizure

Police in Florida have reported that a multi-state narcotics investigation has resulted in the apprehension of seven suspects on drug possession and drug trafficking charges and the seizure of illegal drugs worth more than $9 million. Three of the individuals taken into custody were in the United States illegally according to a Polk County Sheriff's Office representative.

The investigation was launched when PCSO deputies were informed that large quantities of methamphetamine were being smuggled into California from Mexico and then mailed to Florida. An undercover drug buy was arranged in Bloomington, California, that is said to have led to the arrest of two men and the seizure of approximately 137 pounds of methamphetamine worth about $4.6 million. This operation also allegedly uncovered information about additional drug traffickers.

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