An arrest for a drug crime is a serious matter. You need an experienced Orlando drug crimes lawyer on your side. At the law offices of John P. Guidry, we have represented thousands of clients on all types of criminal drug charges, including:
- Drug possession
- Drug trafficking
- Drug distribution
- Drug manufacture
- Possession with intent to distribute
If you have been arrested on drug charges relating to marijuana (pot), heroin, ecstasy (MDMA), cocaine (coke), crack, hydrocodone, LSD, methamphetamine (meth), or prescription drugs, contact our Orlando law firm for a free initial consultation.
What are the Penalties for a Drug Crime in Orlando?
If you are arrested for a drug crime in Florida, the consequences can be serious. A conviction for possessing half a joint can lead to an automatic 6 month suspension of your driver’s license (fyi, you can get your license back before the six months is up, but only if you take department recommended treatment). At the law offices of John P. Guidry II, we will assist you with your defense.
Criminal attorney John Guidry looks into every detail of your case, as he has been doing since defending his first drug charge all the way back in 1993. We challenge the circumstances of your arrest. If you were stopped in your vehicle, did the officer have grounds to make the stop? Was the search of your home, person, or car legal? Did others have access to where the drugs were found?
We also will challenge the criminal accusations themselves. The prosecution has a high burden of proof to meet. We thoroughly prepare for every case and provide an aggressive and skilled defense on your behalf to make the prosecution meet its burden.
Law Enforcement Tactics Used to Enforce Drug Laws
There are many tactics that the government can use to convict you of a crime. It is legal for police officers to buy and sell drugs in what are called “buy busts” or “take-downs.” Arresting officers commonly lie to suspects as a tactic to get them to confess or consent to a search. Don’t talk to the authorities or consent to a search before discussing your case with an experienced defense attorney at our law firm.
Back in 2002, our Florida legislature made Florida the only state in which a drug crime could be proved without a citizen ever knowing that the substance was an illegal drug (we call this element the “scienter requirement” or “mens rea”). This change to Florida law has resulted in a federal finding our state drug laws under section 893.13 unconstitutional. While this was good news, it’s important to note that Florida courts were not bound by this decision, and most Florida courts have rejected the Federal court’s reasoning. Nonetheless, it may interest you to read how this situation unfolded [check out my articles “Why Florida’s Drug Law is Unconstitutional“, “How Will Florida Courts Respond to Federal Court’s Ruling Striking Down Florida Drug Law?”, and “Florida Drug Law Declared Unconstitutional“]. Unfortunately, Florida’s Supreme Court has declared our drug law constitutional, but the United States Supreme Court may yet have the final say on this issue. For more details on the drug law’s legality, read “Florida Supreme Court Declares Drug Law Constitutional — Mens Rea R.I.P.” That being said, read on to discover how other “knowledge” issues come into play under Florida’s drug laws.
Knowledge can come in many forms. Some police officers mistakenly believe that if a person “knows” about the presence of a drug, then the person must also be guilty of criminal possession. That’s not always true. You may know that a drug is present, but if you do not have dominion and control of that drug–you cannot be found guilty of possessing it. In these instances, we’re talking about drugs that are present with several people around.
Examples of knowledge–but no control–are too numerous to list here, but one of my favorite examples is the Snyder case. 635 So.2d 1057 (Fla. 2nd DCA 1994) In State v. Snyder, the defendant accompanied his friend to the post office to pick up a package of drugs. The drugs belonged to Snyder’s friend, but the friend promised Snyder a line or two of the powder once they opened the package. What a bargain, all for just tagging along! Anyway, the two friends couldn’t even wait to get home, so they open the package inside of the car right there in the post office parking lot. The friend makes a line for Snyder to snort, but before Snyder could move his nose to the drugs, the cops close in and arrest both of them. Snyder’s conviction for possession of a controlled substance was overturned because, even though Snyder knew of the presence of the drugs, and even though Snyder was ready to possess the drugs, Snyder had no dominion and control. It was really Snyder’s friend who had dominion and control over the drugs. As such, Snyder’s knowledge was not enough to sustain the conviction. For more details on this case and possession concepts of knowledge/dominion/control, check out my article “Package Arrives Containing Drugs – Now What?“.
As you can see, admitting to the police that you know drugs are present may get you arrested, but the conviction should not stand (theoretically, of course). A recent example of a knowledge case–without dominion or control–is the case of Byers v. State of Florida. 17 So.3d 825 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2009). You can check out the details of this case in my article “Can Knowing About Drugs = Conviction for Possession?“, but here’s a brief summary. Byers drove his friend around, and his friend had lots of drugs in his backpack. After a search of Byers vehicle, Byers admitted to police several incriminating things: (1) he knew drugs were in his friend’s backpack, (2) he was driving his friend to sell the drugs, and (3) his friend was going to share some drugs with Byers after the sale. Enough to get a conviction, right? Wrong. The appeals court overturned the conviction, acknowledging Byers knowledge of the drugs, but noting the lack of evidence regarding “dominion and control”. Must have dominion and control, knowledge is not enough.
Sentencing Issues on Drug Cases
Drug possession charges are unique in that there are more sentencing options for a person accused of drug possession than there are for other crimes. The reason for this is obvious–many citizens arrested for possession crimes are drug addicts. Unfortunately, the criminal court system treats everyone as “criminals”, rather than treating the underlying drug addiction itself. But, there are some exceptions to this rule. One such exception is found in Florida Statute 948.20(1). The statute permits chronic drug users who score mandatory prison (basically, a score sheet totally more than 44 points) to get a non-prison sentence of drug offender probation instead of prison. Great deal, right? And the beauty is, use of this statute doesn’t require agreement from the prosecutor. For more details on how this statute works, take a look at my article entitled “How Do You Get Probation When Scoring Prison?“.
Retain the Services of an Orlando Drug Crimes Attorney
If you have been arrested on any drug charge including drug possession, drug trafficking, or drug manufacture, contact an Orlando drug crimes lawyer for a free initial consultation.