I was recently pulled over by law enforcement, and during the traffic stop marijuana was found in my vehicle. I wasn’t planning on selling the marijuana and only had it for personal use, so why was I charged with trafficking and not possession?

Under Florida Statute, it is possible to be charged with trafficking without ever selling any marijuana if someone is in possession of a large amount. Florida Statute 893.135 defines trafficking as any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of, in excess of 25 pounds of cannabis, or 300 or more cannabis plants. Trafficking marijuana is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and fines, with minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines based on the amount of marijuana involved. 

If the amount of marijuana involved in over 25 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds, or between 300 and 2,000 marijuana plants there is a minimum mandatory sentence of three years and a $25,000 fine. For amounts between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds, or 2,000 to 10,000 plants, the minimum mandatory sentence is seven years and a $50,000 fine. If the amount involved is over 10,000 pounds or 10,000 plants the mandatory minimum sentence is fifteen years and a $200,000 fine. 

I am currently on probation and have been struggling to meet all of the requirements. I am concerned my probation officer is going to violate me. What can I do, and what will happen to me if I receive a violation?

Most individuals on probation struggle to comply with all the requirements the court imposes on them, which results in violations being a common occurrence. Violating probation can result in a revocation of probation and the court imposing a sentence up to the maximum possible sentence for the original charge. Violations can occur for many reasons. Some of the more common situations resulting in a violation are being arrested on new criminal charges, failing to complete court-ordered programs, missing appointments with a probation officer, positive drug screens, or failing to pay imposed costs or restitution.

Once a probation officer has decided to violate someone, they will complete an Affidavit of Violation and submit it to the court. The court will then review the affidavit and issue a warrant for arrest if it is determined reasonable grounds for a violation exist. Often defendants are not eligible for bond on a violation once they are arrested. The defendant will be arraigned, and an evidentiary hearing will be set to determine if a violation occurred and probation will be revoked.

There has been a recent increase in arrests and prosecutions for health care fraud in Florida as a result of increased law enforcement efforts in investigating these crimes. Healthcare fraud largely involves medical providers committing fraudulent billing practices to increase their profits, including submitting charges for reimbursement to insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid for services that weren’t provided. Additional investigations include accepting illegal kickbacks for patient referrals and billing insurance companies under incorrect billing codes to increase the payments received.

On July 31, 2017, seventy-seven people were arrested in Florida for their involvement in various health care fraud schemes that totaled over $141 million dollars in fraudulent billing. These arrests were part of a larger investigation by the Medicare Fraud Strike Taskforce that resulted in 412 individuals facing charges for over $1.3 billion in false billings. These investigations involved a multi-agency effort, involving local law enforcement, the FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Continue reading

Law enforcement agencies across the country are now implementing body cameras to be worn by officers while on duty to record their entire interactions with the public. This has left many people with questions on what to expect if an arresting officer was wearing and recording from a body camera.body camera

The video obtained from those cameras is having an impact in courtrooms as the additional evidence available to both the prosecution and defendants. If the video is available from a police body camera in your case, it could potentially strengthen or weaken your defense. The video footage could document any improper actions taken by law enforcement during any searches, questioning, or traffic stops.  If the video records evidence that an officer failed to establish probable cause, or used coercion to obtain consent, then any evidence uncovered during the search or stop would be suppressed. On the other hand, if the video shows the officer properly conducted the search or stop the defendant would likely not be able to have the evidence suppressed.    Continue reading

I was pulled over by the police, and they found medication in the car. I got the pills from a friend who has a prescription, but the prescription is not in my name. I’m taking the medication to treat a health condition I have. Can I face criminal liability for this?

prescription drugs

Yes. As most people are aware, under Florida Statute 893.13 it is illegal to have a controlled substance in your possession unless that controlled substance is prescribed to you by a licensed practitioner providing you with medical treatment.  Common controlled substances include but are not limited to amphetamines such as Adderall, benzodiazepines such a Xanax, and narcotics, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and morphine. Possession of a controlled substance without a prescription is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine.  Continue reading

I want to get a prescription for this medication that I am taking illegally…

illegal prescription drugs

I have been using a narcotic medication that I’ve gotten from friends, but I do not have a prescription myself. I realize that being in possession of this medication without a prescription is illegal and I could face criminal charges, so I want to try to get a prescription from my doctor. If I tell my doctor the right things that they need to hear, whether or not it’s true, to get a prescription, will I be safe from criminal charges?

Most people realize that being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription is illegal. What people often do not realize is that there are also laws in Florida that make it illegal to obtain or attempt to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance by making false statements or misrepresentations, committing fraud or forgery, or through deception. This makes it illegal to lie to a doctor to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance. It is also illegal in Florida to withhold information from a practitioner who is prescribing you a controlled substance that you have already received a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use from another practitioner within the previous thirty (30) days. This is intended to prevent “doctor shopping,” or the practice of obtaining multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors within the same timeframe. Continue reading

Yes. There are several ways under current Florida law for a physician to face criminal liability for illegally prescribing Pill Mills with OxyContinor trafficking controlled substances. Physicians can be held criminally liable for prescribing controlled substances without conducting proper medical examinations, writing a prescription for a controlled substance if the sole purpose is to provide a monetary benefit to the physician, possessing a building or structure (the clinic  or office) for the purposes of trafficking a controlled substance, writing a prescription for a fictitious person,  and assisting someone in obtaining a prescription for a controlled substance through deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations, or through employing a trick or scheme. All of these charges are felonies, and a physician will often be charged with several of the above-mentioned criminal offenses if they’re engaged in illegally prescribing controlled substances. Continue reading

I just got into a car accident and struck a person. I’m nervous and I don’t know what to do. What can happen to hit and run with bicycleme if I just drive away? What will happen if I stop? This scenario can have serious consequences if you make the wrong decision. Under Florida Statute 316.027, a driver involved in an accident must stop their vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close to the scene of the crash as safely possible. When stopping, you should avoid obstructing the flow of traffic and stay off the roadway as much as possible to avoid any further accidents or injuries caused by moving traffic near the scene. If the accident resulted in bodily injury or property damage, you are required by Florida law to provide your name, address, and the registration number of your vehicle to the other party involved. You are also required to contact 911 for emergency medical services if someone is injured and unable to call for themselves. Continue reading

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Image from orlandosentinel.com

Officer Cecil Garrett was arrested on July 26, 2017, on five counts of perjury committed by false written declaration following a criminal investigation conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that was initiated after the Clermont Police Chief Chuck Broadway notified them of numerous citizen complaints about Officer Garrett dating back to June of 2016. Officer Garrett is accused of writing in his arresting reports that he initiated traffic stops after running the vehicle’s tag and confirming the driver had a suspended license; however, computer logs showed he had already initiated the traffic stops before he actually ran the tag. Officer Garrett is currently on administrative leave without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case. Perjury is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Continue reading

I was just involved in an argument with my significant other. Things got out of control, and she is accusing me of hitting her.clenching fist

What can I expect to happen next?

The term domestic violence encompasses many things, including any assault, battery, battery by strangulation, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or other criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.

Once law enforcement has been contacted, a police report will be filed. The decision as to whether criminal charges will be filed against you is made by a state attorney. The victim of the crime cannot decide whether to file or drop criminal charges against someone, although a victim may make a report with the state attorney to request that charges be filed. If criminal charges are filed, a no contact order will most likely be put into place, restricting or prohibiting contact between the alleged offender and victim. Victims of domestic violence may also file a petition for a protective injunction, which can include provisions requiring the abuser refrain from further acts of abuse, requiring the abuser to leave the household, preventing the abuser from entering the victim’s residence, school, business, or place of employment, award custody of minor children, and direct the abuser to pay support to the victim and minor children if the abuser has a legal obligation to do so. It is important to always comply with court orders, including no contact orders and protective injunctions. Continue reading