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"Current news and information concerning criminal law"
As a criminal defense attorney for more than 25 years in a college town (Gainesville, Florida), I’ve represented hundreds of individuals charged with the crime of possession of drug paraphernalia. Most of these individuals have been college students or otherwise law abiding citizens. Many are stunned to learn that the maximum penalty for mere possession of drug paraphernalia in the State of Florida is one year in jail and a $1000 dollar fine, a first degree misdemeanor. See Florida Statute 893.147. Even more surprising for many is how vague and broad the statute is. The purpose of this blog is to educate the reader about the definitions and applicability of Florida’s drug paraphernalia statute.Continue reading
In a sharply worded dissent in the case of State v. Luke Jarrod Adkins, Florida Supreme Court Justice James E.C. Perry criticizes the majority of the Court and refers to their opinion as being built on a foundation of flawed “common sense” which shatters bedrock constitutional principles.Continue reading
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled, in an opinion dated July 12, 2012, that Florida drug laws are constitutional, rejecting arguments that the drug statute’s failure to require proof of knowing possession violates due process of law. In the case of State of Florida v Luke Jarrod Adkins, a five justice majority concluded that, “Given the broad authority of the legislative branch to define elements of crimes, the requirements of due process ordinarily do not preclude the creation of offenses which lack a guilty knowledge element.”Continue reading
December 13, 1971 - John Sinclair Freed From 10 Year Sentence For Possessing Two Joints - Today In Crime History
On this day, December 13, in the year 1971, the Michigan Supreme Court, on its own motion, ordered 1960's activist John Sinclair released from the ten year prison sentence he was serving for possession of two marijuana joints. The Court would later overturn his conviction, upholding Sinclair’s contention that Michigan’s marijuana statute, as then written, was unconstitutional.
The Florida Supreme Court heard oral argument on Tuesday, December 6, 2011, regarding the constitutionality of Florida’s drug laws as raised in the criminal case of Luke Jarrod Adkins et al v. Florida. An assistant public defendant and assistant attorney general were questioned by the Florida Supreme Court Justice’s about their legal positions. The Florida Supreme Court has not issued a ruling on the issue raised in the appeal and does not have a specific timetable for issuing a written order in the case.Continue reading
The Alachua County Drug Court program is a supervision and treatment program serving nonviolent felony offenders whose criminal allegations are related to drug or alcohol addiction. Alachua County’s Drug Court Program has been operating since 1993 and was one of the first fully functional programs in the State of Florida. It’s offices are located at 249 W. University Ave. (Rear Entrance) Gainesville, Florida.Continue reading
November 7, 2000 - California Passes Prop 36 Requiring Drug Treatment Instead Of Jail - Today In Crime History
On this day, November 7, in the year 2000, California voters approved Proposition 36 which required that certain non-violent drug possession offenders be sentenced to drug rehabilitation and probation instead of jail or prison. It is also provided for a type of “drug diversion” which meant that successful completion of the program allowed the defendant to have their conviction dismissed and their case sealed.Continue reading
The Florida Supreme Court has accepted jurisdiction to decide the constitutionality of Florida’s drug statutes pursuant to the request of Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal. Meanwhile, in another case, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of Florida’s drug law.Continue reading
On this day, October 19, in the year 1982, auto executive John DeLorean was arrested in a Los Angeles, California, airport motel with a briefcase containing pounds of cocaine. According to law enforcement officials, DeLorean was trying to organize a huge drug deal in order to save his bankrupt automobile business, the DeLorean Motor Company.Continue reading
District Court of Appeal Requests Florida Supreme Court Decide Constitutionality Of Drug Law Quickly
In an opinion dated September 28, 2011, a Florida District Court of Appeal has certified that an appeal from a recent ruling finding Florida’s primary drug prossession statute unconstitutional involves an issue of great public importance that requires immediate resolution by the Florida Supreme Court. The appellate court’s certification is essentially a request that Florida’s highest court resolve issues recently raised about the constitutionality of Florida's drug statute as quickly as possible. The appellate court’s certification was entered as prosecutors in Manatee County Florida appealed Circuit Court Judge Scott Brownell’s dismissal of drug charges against forty-two defendants to the Second District Court of Appeal. Judge Brownell’s recent order finding Florida’s drug statute unconstitutional, as well as other similar recent court rulings, have been discussed previously in this blog and can be found here.Continue reading
Following the lead of U.S. District Court Judge Mary Scriven, who found on July 27, 2011 that the provisions of Florida Statute 893.13 violated fundamental rights of due process (read the Shelton order here), two State of Florida Circuit Court Judges have now also ruled that Florida’s primary drug prohibition statute is unconstitutional. On August 17, 2011, Judge Milton Hirsch of the State of Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit dismissed thirty-nine felony drug cases finding Florida Statute 893.13 violates due process and is unconstitutional. Read the Hirsch order here. Similarly, on September 14, 2011, Judge Scott Brownell of the State of Florida’s Twelfth Judicial Circuit, dismissed forty-two felony drug cases, finding that Florida Statute 893.13 is unconstitutional. Read the Brownell order here.Continue reading
The fear of terrorism and the rise of new police powers in the wake of 9/11 has resulted in the increasing militarization of local law enforcement, and the application of terrorism powers in the domestic "War on Drugs". The New York magazine and the Huffington Post examine this trend in current articles, finding a disturbing change in our domestic police culture from protect and serve to officer safety.
To read the full Huffington Post article click here.Continue reading