Possession with Intent to Sell MDMA– State v. B.M. – Recently, Mr. Shafer became the attorney for a young man charged with several felonies, including a charge of Possession with Intent to Sell MDMA.
After a canine alert, a Fed Ex package from the Netherlands with client’s address was intercepted at the airport in New York by Federal authorities.
Thereafter, local law enforcement was contacted. After receiving the package from Federal law enforcement, it was opened, and the contents tested. Detectives prepared an affidavit and obtained an “anticipatory” search warrant (allowing a search “anticipating’ that contraband will be found therein).
A local detective, dressed in Fed Ex garb and driving a Fed Ex truck, delivered the package to the front door of the listed address. Other units were waiting nearby. The brother of the client came to the door only after the “delivery man” left, retrieving the package and returning inside the residence.
After waiting to see if there were any calls about a suspicious package being left at the residence, a search warrant team executed the warrant. The package was in an area the client’s brother said was the client’s sleeping area. Of course, the brother claimed no knowledge of the package.
The client, who was not at home when the package was delivered nor when the warrant was executed, was called and returned home. He refused to answer any questions.
Thereafter, he was charged with several criminal charges.
After several different attorneys, Mr. Shafer began representation of the client. Immediately, he pointed out a deficiency in the search warrant application: the warrant application stated that the item was intercepted by Homeland Security; however, the application did not detail that Federal authorities had themselves sought a search warrant before opening the package and examining its contents. Thus, by opening a package without sufficient prior legal authority permitting such an action, local law enforcement was performing an illegal search, and the items seen and examined constituted “fruits of the poisonous tree” subjecting them to suppression from evidence in the case.
Additionally, Mr. Shafer pointed out that the home had other contraband found therein, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, etc. If the client’s brother, who has a criminal history for drug use and sale, had wanted to escape arrest, what better way than to store items in his brother’s room?
Ultimately, the State determined the deficiencies in the case were legitimate.
On January 14, 2021, a nolle prosequi dismissing all charges was entered.
Possession of Marijuana– State v. J.B. – Attorney Shafer represented J.B., a young man charged with possessing marijuana. J.B. had been driving his car one night with his friend as passenger, when he was stopped for not coming to a complete stop prior to making a lawful right turn.
During the traffic stop, a deputy sheriff spoke with the Accused while another Deputy Sheriff spoke with the passenger. The deputy smelled the odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. At that point, the deputies ordered both J.B. and his passenger from the vehicle. A deputy asked the passenger if any marijuana was inside of the car; the passenger replied yes, it could be found in the trunk.
Both J.B. and his passenger were ordered to take a seat on a nearby curb while the vehicle was searched.
Upon searching the trunk, a deputy discovered a clear plastic bag containing marijuana. The deputy then confronted J.B. with the baggie and interrogated him as to whether or not he, J.B., owned the marijuana. J.B. admitted that both he and his passenger had their own personal marijuana mixed together in the same baggie.
Next, the deputy confronted the passenger with the same marijuana, who also admitted that some was his and some was Accused’s cannabis.
The questioning of both J.B. and his passenger was undertaken by the deputy without proper legal Miranda warnings first being given, advising both men they had a right to remain silent and the right to an attorney before answering questions.
Once J.B. retained Attorney Shafer, all the documents and other evidence created in the case were gathered. Then Attorney Shafer filed a motion to suppress, since his client was questioned without the benefit of proper legal warnings first being provided. Attorney Shafer set the motion to be heard before trial.
Two days before the motion was to be heard, the State Attorney filed a Nolle Prosqui, dismissing the charge.
(A sad note: Although the passenger was identically charged, and although he also could have had the benefit of dismissal of his case based upon law enforcement’s illegal questioning by filing the same motion as J.B., he chose not to be represented by attorney. Instead, he went to court unrepresented. Ultimately, he ended up entering a guilty plea and being placed on reporting probation, with conditions.)
Possession of Cocaine — State v. A.T. – The Accused retained Attorney Shafer to represent him on a charge of possession of cocaine. Videotape from the local J’ai A’lai poker room captured a small baggie of cocaine falling to the floor from the Accused’s back pocket as the Accused, a card player, pulled money from his jeans. Subsequently, he was arrested and prosecuted for possession. Because the Accused had a previous felony criminal record, the State Attorney made a plea offer of 3 1/2 years in prison.
The drugs did not belong to the Accused. Earlier that evening, the cocaine had made its way into the client’s pocket when he took repayment of a gambling debt. The Accused had been handed folded currency, which he stuck into his back pocket without looking at it. It was not until standing in the line waiting to get chips that he pulled out the money, first to count it and then exchange it for chips. The cocaine baggie mistakenly had been mixed in with the money.
Immediately, Attorney Shafer went to work. Although it took some time and challenges, his investigator, Jerry Lyons, located the individual who had repaid the loan. After discussion, this individual gave Mr. Lyons a sworn audio taped statement admitting to a drug habit, and further admitting that he owned the cocaine and that it had gotten mixed with the money when he repaid the Accused. Later that evening, after having repaid the Accused for the loan, the true owner, thinking that had dropped the cocaine, retraced his steps, looking for his drugs. It was not until a week later, while talking to the Accused’s brother, that the true owner of the cocaine learned that the Accused had been arrested for possessing his cocaine.
After the taped statement was received, Attorney Shafer had it transcribed. He also personally questioned the organizer of a card game held several weeks prior to the Accused’s arrest at the organizer’s home. This witness told of the real owner of the cocaine borrowing money from The Accused to stay in a poker game. Attorney Shafer subpoenaed both the home owner and the real owner of the cocaine for trial. Both were prepared to testify in the client’s case.
Finally, Attorney Shafer took the deposition of the arresting deputy, who testified that the client seemed surprised when he was arrested. The deputy further testified that when the Accused ultimately was informed of the charge while being taken outside, the Accused had mentioned something about how the cocaine must have come from money from a debt. However, the deputy could not remember the exact words spoken, as he had not bothered to mention it in the arrest affidavit.
With the foregoing evidence collected and witnesses on hand, Attorney Shafer announced that he was ready to proceed to trial.
The Friday before Monday jury selection was to begin, the State filed a Nolle Prosequi, dismissing the charge. Obviously, the Accused, who for months had been bearing the weight of the prosecution, was ecstatic.
Burglary of a Dwelling with Assault or Battery — State v. K.L. – Accused, while out on bond for possession of cannabis and resisting arrest, was arrested and charged with burglary of a dwelling with assault or battery, a first degree felony punishable by up to thirty years, and aggravated battery, a second degree felony punishable up to fifteen years. Allegedly, he and two others had a dispute with a woman in an apartment complex about money. They chased the woman’s male roommate to his second floor apartment, where they began beating and kicking the man, then burst into the apartment, where the male victim was eventually pistol whipped in the face and had the barrel held at the back of the his head, while threats were made to kill him. The male victim had positively identified Accused as one of his assailants from a police photographic line-up.
Upon being retained, Attorney Shafer learned that the woman who owed the money, a listed victim in the case, had been present and viewed what had happened to her roommate. Attorney Shafer immediately advised the Accused’s mother to obtain the services of private investigator Jerry Lyons. She did so, and after Attorney Shafer conferred with investigator Lyons, the investigator went into the field, eventually finding and speaking to the female victim. Lyons was able to conduct a recorded interview of this victim at length about what happened. She informed investigator Lyons that the Accused initially was present when the male victim was approached and subsequently chased up the stairwell. However, by the time the male victim was attacked the Accused had left. In fact, the Accused had never even made the building’s second floor, stopping on the stairwell between floors. The female victim related there was no way the male victim could have identified who struck him, because when he was attacked he curled into a fetal position with his arms over his eyes. The female victim positively stated that Accused had not been one of the men who struck her roommate and entered her apartment.
Investigator Lyons turned over the recorded statement to Attorney Shafer who, in turn, presented it to the assigned prosecutor. The state entered a No Information, dismissing the charges.
Possession of Cannabis–State v. T.L. – On the morning of September 17, 2014, a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over the client’s truck for weaving. The client consented to a search of his vehicle, but not his person. The deputy ordered the client from his vehicle. Although the client was cooperative and gave no indication of being armed, when the client exited his truck the deputy began a pat-down search of the client “for my safety.” Rolling papers fell from the client’s pocket. The deputy then asked client if the client had cannabis on his person. The client admitted that he did. Ultimately, the client was arrested for possession of cannabis.
Upon being retained, attorney Shafer went to work immediately. He researched the issue of the pat-down search, and then filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained as being violated of his client’s constitutional rights.
On the day of the scheduled hearing, the State announced a dismissal of the case in open court.
False Imprisonment – State v. Y.M. – During an initial conference held in July, Attorney Shafer met with an emotionally distraught client. She had just been released for jail after being arrested for false imprisonment. She allegedly had beaten and imprisoned another woman while riding around in a car in Port St. Lucie. The incident supposedly had occurred five months before, on an afternoon in early February.
A motorist had discovered a woman lying on the side of the road, beaten and bloodied, and had taken her to a hospital. When law enforcement officers arrived, this “victim” told the officers that the client, together with a man the “victim” did not know named “Black” had picked her up in a black Chevrolet Malibu to go “partying.” When the victim refused to cash her check for money to buy marijuana, both the man and the client had imprisoned the victim against her will in the car, repeatedly beating and scratching her until she was able to open the passenger door and hurl herself from the moving vehicle.
Luckily, the client came to see Attorney Shafer before the State Attorney had made a determination to bring a formal prosecution against the client. Immediately, Attorney Shafer went to work. Investigator Jeremiah Lyons was retained. The client has two school age children that in February had attended different schools. Both schools required a parent’s signature to retrieve a child from the school. Investigator Lyons obtained the school pick-up records for both children. These documents showed the client signing her name at each school during the time when she was supposedly terrorizing the “victim.”
Attorney Shafer also learned a surprising fact: his client had been a victim at the hands of the same woman now claiming false imprisonment. The prior August, when both women lived in the same apartment complex, this woman had been prosecuted for aggravated battery for attempting to run over his client with her car. During the time of the alleged attack in February, the “victim” was herself a defendant, being prosecuted for a violent felony offense committed against the client, and facing a potential prison sentence for aggravated battery. However, this information, easily and readily available, never had been obtained by the investigating detective. Nor had the detective ever bothered to locate and speak to the client, residing in Vero Beach since September, where she had moved for her family’s safety shortly after being attacked by the “victim.”
After her aggravated battery arrest, this “victim” had filed civil violence injunctions against the client and an eyewitness to the aggravated battery. In her affidavit, the “victim” claimed that the client continually had threatened to kill her with a machete. After an evidentiary hearing, the court dismissed the both injunctions.
Attorney Shafer had investigator Lyons gather all prior criminal and civil injunctions involving the “victim.” There were a number of both. Investigator Lyons obtained the original police report of a crime the “victim” had committed a year and a half earlier, when she had hurled a brick through an apartment window of another apartment dweller. After the window shattered, the complainant had looked to see the “victim” flee the area by getting into the passenger side of an awaiting black Chevy Malibu, which then sped away. This is the same kind of vehicle claimed to have been involved in the February incident.
After pursuing leads and amassing documents, Attorney Shafer sent a letter to the assistant state attorney handling the prosecution decision, detailing the numerous lies and inconsistencies, and forwarded all the records that he had obtained. Attorney Shafer also pointed out how preposterous was the idea that this “victim” would get into a car to go “partying” with a person—the client–who purportedly had threatened to kill the “victim” by hacking her to death with a machete.
Subsequently, the State Attorney chose not to prosecute the client. A “No Information” document was filed that dismissed the charge.
Cultivation of Cannabis — State v. D.S.– While investigating a noise complaint, Port St. Lucie police entered the client’s home while she was away visiting friends. Client had left on a radio on her enclosed pool patio in the rear of her residence. The police arrived, knocked on client’s front door, and after not receiving a response entered client’s gated backyard and then her pool enclosure. While on client’s porch, they smelled cannabis through an open slider. After spotting marijuana resting on a cookie sheet atop a kitchen counter, the officers entered the client’s residence. Ultimately, inside a bedroom closet they discovered a grow lamp illuminating a 4-foot marijuana plant. Shortly thereafter, the client, a retired governmental employee, returned to find police on her driveway and inside her home. Subsequently, she was arrested and charged with felony cultivation of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Attorney Shafer filed a motion to suppress, arguing that no exigent circumstances existed, and the police violated his client’s right to privacy when they invaded her home. A week before the scheduled hearing on the motion, the State Attorney filed a nolle prosequi dismissing both charges.
Trafficking in Cocaine — State v. J.P. – Law enforcement officers arrested client in a rooming house during the execution of a search warrant by the local street enforcement unit. Client was charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Law enforcement claimed that client lived in the residence, as he kept his dogs in kennel runs in the backyard. Officers claimed that they had seen client run into a bathroom at the rear of the residence and could hear the client flushing items into the toilet.
Mr. Shafer, with help from investigator, Jeremiah Lyons, was able to locate the home’s owner, who was prepared to testify that client did not reside at the rooming house. All utility records obtained showed other person’s names. The client’s dogs boarded at the rooming house, since insurance restrictions did not permit them to be housed at the client’s residence. Investigator Lyons also was able to show that it was not possible to see the hallway from the window where officers claimed to have seen the client entering the bathroom, nor hear the toilet being flushed through the closed front door of the residence. Records obtained from a number of other search warrant incidents involving the same lead enforcement officer showed that this officer many times claimed to hear a toilet flushing, thereby allowing his men to break through a door.
Others present in the house when it was raided were located and questioned. They testified that the client had been at the residence feeding his dogs only minutes before the officers arrived. While the client was discovered in the rear bathroom when the officers broke through the front door, he had not gone there to hide anything, but was simply washing up after feeding and petting his animals.
On the eve of trial, the State entered a nolle prosequi, completely dismissing all charges.
First Degree Murder Case – State v. T.T.– Client charged with First Degree Murder in state court for allegedly shooting to death a drug dealer who was to be the star witness in a major federal cocaine trafficking trial. Initially, the State was considering seeking the death penalty; however, after Mr. Shafer filed numerous early motions attacking the investigation, particularly the collection and destruction of evidence, the State backed away from the death penalty. At trial, Mr. Shafer discredited the key State eyewitnesses and the quality of the police investigation; found another eyewitness never spoken to by the police, who testified that the client had not been the shooter; and presented evidence that another man—arrested that night after having been with the client earlier in the evening—also had gunshot residue on his hands. The client was found NOT GUILTY.
Several weeks later, based upon the testimony adduced at the murder trial, the State sought to have the client found in violation of his probation from a previous drug charge. The judge, who had also presided over the murder trial, dismissed the violation, ruling that the key state witnesses had been so discredited on cross-examination by Mr. Shafer that their testimony could not be relied upon to meet even the much lesser level of proof needed to find a violation of probation.
DUI Case – State v. Q.F. – Fourth Offense DUI. Client charged with a felony and facing a lifetime driver’s license revocation. He was on parole from Alabama, who ordered him detained for transfer to that state upon completion of the DUI prosecution. Through painstaking efforts, Mr. Shafer demanded production of a videotape of the client while the client was being detained at the Port St. Lucie Police Department. The Port St. Lucie Police destroyed the tape. Mr. Shafer won a motion to dismiss the charge. Ultimately, Alabama released the client, thus saving him many future years in prison.
DUI Case – State V. E.B.– Client, a professional bus driver, was charged with DUI. The case made national news, since the incident occurred while the client was transporting middle school students to Epcot Center. Mr. Shafer showed that any “alcohol” smell from the client was actually the result of an undiagnosed diabetic condition. The client’s failure to perform the roadside exercises resulted from his being involved in a head-on collision several years before, leaving him with a metal plate in his hip. On the eve of trial, the State entered a nolle prosequi, dismissing charges against the client. He later returned to court with Mr. Shafer and had his records expunged.
Drug Offense Case – State v. M. A.- Client was charged with possession of 8 pounds of marijuana. After diligent efforts by Mr. Shafer, client had his adjudication withheld so he would not have a conviction, and was sentenced to two years of probation. Later, the probation was modified to allow client to serve the remaining one year of probation administratively, meaning no reporting or probation fees. The client is currently seeking to have his records sealed.
Aggravated Assault Case – State v. R.B.– Client was charged with aggravated assault with a firearm. At trial, Mr. Shafer established that client and his wife, who had earlier rented a moving van to transfer their antiques out of state, believed that a repo man was stealing their possessions. Client discharged his rifle in an attempt to stop the theft and draw attention to the crime. Client, who faced TWENTY YEARS pursuant to the 10-20-Life law, was found NOT GUILTY. They have since filed a civil lawsuit against the rental company and the repo company.
Narcotics Offense Case – State v. T.K.– Client arrested for possession of cocaine and paraphernalia. When the police officer searched client’s car at 1:00 a.m. and found cocaine and a pipe in his car, client admitted they belonged to him. Due to client’s prior prison record, the State offered the maximum prison sentence of 5 years. The defendant’s first attorney tried the client’s case. After that jury returned a guilty verdict, the judge ordered a new trial. Client then retained Mr. Shafer. Mr. Shafer showed that the only reason the client, a married man, claimed ownership of the drugs and pipe were due to his having another woman in the car with him. It took the jury a mere 27 minutes to return a NOT GUILTY verdict.
Sexual Battery Case – State v. R.F.– Client arrested for sexual battery for allegedly having sex with a woman in the parking lot of a bar who, after the incident, entered the bar naked claiming she had been raped. After sending the results of an extensive investigation by the defense to the State, including client’s polygraph results—which he passed with flying colors—the State decided not to file formal charges.
Narcotics Offense Case – State v. J.P.– Client faced a three year mandatory minimum prison sentence for charges of trafficking in cocaine, possession of cocaine, and possession of drug paraphernalia after a home search pursuant to a warrant uncovered drugs in an abandoned car in the backyard. The informant who had purchased drugs from the residence had told law enforcement the seller went by the initials “J.P. “ Mr. Shafer was able to show at a motion to suppress that a number of individuals with connections to the residence—not the least of which was the client’s sister, who looked and dressed like the client—either lived or spent time at the home. The State subsequently dismissed all charges.
Indecent Exposure Case – State v. T.K.– Client, incarcerated, faced charges of exposure of sexual organs and resisting arrest without violence, for which he faced two year’s incarceration. At trial, Mr. Shafer showed that the alleged victim’s story was not credible. The jury hung 5-1 to acquit. The State, knowing the first trial’s decision, agreed to dismiss the resisting charge, and offered to have the client plead to a lesser offense. The client agreed, and was released from jail on a time-served 60 day sentence.
Criminal Law Case – State v. M.W.– A case of classic mistaken identity. The Internal Revenue Service accused the client of attempting to burglarize its Port St. Lucie office, based on a video showing a culprit, who looked amazingly like the defendant, attempting to break in the door. Through production of Department of Transportation logs, credit card receipts, and restaurant bills, Mr. Shafer was able to show that the client, a long-distance truck driver, was not in the area when the attempted break-in occurred. The State dismissed the case.
Retail Theft Case – State v. J.M.– Client charged in Orlando with retail theft, which violated her probation as a violent felony offender. Mr. Shafer announced ready for trial on the retail theft, only to see the State dismiss the case. However, client was still in jail on the violation of probation, for which, if convicted, she faced from 4 to 15 years if convicted. At trial, Mr. Shafer proved that the client was not attempting to steal, but rather breaking up a fight between the store manager and one of the client’s friends. The judge agreed with Mr. Shafer’s points on closing argument, and dismissed the violation of probation charge, allowing the client to go home to her family.