A Brief Timeline Of A Drug Related Case In Florida
If it is a misdemeanor, the courts are going to move much quicker. A couple of months in the case, they are either going to try the case or they are going to enter a plea of some sort. They move much quicker than circuit court and it all depends, but honestly, what is the seriousness of the charge if it is a possession of cocaine versus a trafficking in cocaine. I will put in the same effort for both, but when it goes to trafficking, it becomes one of those mandatory minimum prison sentence penalties and then you are dealing with what the drugs are going to be, independently analyze it for weight or for content. Typically when you move into trafficking or a sale case, you have more witnesses involved.
In Florida, we are able to, in criminal court, take depositions of state witnesses prior to trial. Then it is a question of gathering up the discovery which means talking to these witnesses, gathering evidence. So you are looking at minimum of three months to a year and even then, it depends on other things. I have a client that is currently charged with a conspiracy and the co-conspirator is the one that the government really wants and they are prosecuting him real hard. My client is a first time defender that did a stupid thing and so we are waiting to see what transpires with the co-defendant who has been psychologically evaluated to see if he is competent to stay in trial.
That case has been pending for eighteen months, so we do not know. Ultimately, each case has really its own shelf life, but it is a stage of demanding the state’s file and then gathering up the discovery and going through all of that. It takes less than six months to do it the right way. It could be longer. I had a gentleman in Pennsylvania who got stopped on interstate, the trooper said, “I smelled marijuana”, my client, “That’s because I’ve been smoking marijuana half an hour before in the car on the ride home”, we worked that out a little quickly because he had items in the car and there was no question that what he had told the officer and that he had been smoking it.
We worked that out in the matter of two and a half months. Drugs have created such a cottage industry of law enforcement; I went up not too long ago with a client of mine into his neighborhood because he wanted to show me this particular tree. He lives in a predominantly African-American area part of the time. While we were there, this especially outfitted commando looking hummer type vehicle came up and four officers got out and they all began just marching through the neighborhood like in a commando style. I said, “What is that?” The client said, “That happens every day”. They are all here to kind of find the stuff going on. It was startling to me, but for my client, it was an everyday occurrence. I think it would be absolutely crazy if somebody came out here like that and they pulled into my subdivision now, but it depends on the neighborhood.
There are many abuses in the name of law enforcement. I am taking nothing away, but law enforcement is doing the job that they have been posted to do. Getting back to the whole idea that with the war on drugs and trillions of dollars spent, we lost that drastically. We are losing generations of young people too. I say that looking back with the benefit of age.
Can A Passenger Receive Drug Related Charges If Drugs Are Found In The Vehicle?
Yes. If drugs are found in the interior of the vehicle, in the trunk, everyone in the car is subjected to an arrest. The better question is can the person be convicted? Is there probable cause to arrest everyone in the front and backseats if drugs are found underneath the seat? Yes. Whether or not the prosecutor would go forward, whether or not there would be a conviction for any of the individuals or all of the individuals rather in the car that would be up to the fact pattern that is established, any statements that were made by the individual or the occupants of the car and that type of thing.
If I am sitting in the rear behind the driver side and drugs are ultimately recovered in the closed glove compartment, unless I am stupid enough to tell you that I knew that they were there and we were all going through a party and I bought them for that person, the likelihood of my being convicted of a criminal offense for drug possession is much lower than the person that owns the vehicle, that might be the driver. If you are in a car all by yourself, the laws allow to infer that you knew the drugs were there and you had the ability to control that. When you have more than one person in the car, then those various scenarios produce different results for the individuals in the car.
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