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Florida sheriff sets free 11 people jailed on false drug charges

The sheriff in Martin County has chosen to release 11 people from custody after the discovery that a deputy was falsifying drug evidence. Strange lab results alerted the sheriff to the situation. According to his internal investigation, he could not identify anything credible in the reports filed by a rookie deputy. The sheriff fired the deputy who had only been with the department for 11 months.

Although the sheriff acknowledged that he could not completely reverse the harm caused to the people held on false evidence, he committed the department to paying their fees and helping with expungement. The sheriff said that he might charge the dismissed deputy with official misconduct.

The deputy had been arresting people for drug crimes when they were not in possession of narcotics. One of the men exonerated by the investigation spent 41 days in jail. The deputy had accused the 29-year-old of possessing 92 grams of heroin. Upon his release, the man described his interaction with deputy as surreal. After approaching his van where he was sleeping, the deputy searched the vehicle and removed a powdery material. The man said that it was Tide laundry detergent, but the deputy claimed that his field drug test identified the substance as heroin.

A person taken to jail on drug charges may gain an independent view of the case by contacting a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may seek confirmation of the evidence's validity and challenge mistakes by law enforcement. Any irregularities might enable an attorney to get a case dismissed or charges reduced. With legal representation, a person might gain fair treatment within a system focused solely on prosecution.

Source: NBC News, "11 people freed from jail after Florida deputy allegedly falsified narcotics arrests", Janelle Griffith, Jan. 30, 2019

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