Posted On: May 30, 2010

Can the Police Search Me for Any Reason or No Reason At All?

No. A police officer can only make a search or your person (your body, your clothes, your personal space) under one of the following three circumstances:
1. You agree to the search. Your consent cannot be forced or the product of a submission to a show of force. It must be freely given, and not the product of police bullying.
2. Officer safety. But that means a real and provable reason. It can be said that police work is always dangerous and that police officer safety is always a top and legitimate concern. True enough. But a sleeping grandma or a three month old baby are not a reasonable threat and cannot be searched. Likewise, even a fully grown adult male can’t be searched for office safety unless he does something that would create a reasonable (attach a reason) to be a threat. Officer safety must be proven before a judge will allow the things found during a non-consensual search to be used to convict you.
3. Lastly (thirdly?) After a lawful arrest.
Florida criminal lawyers live and breathe by the hundreds of cases that clarify and are fact specific to the above three paragraphs. Don’t think by understanding the basic rules you can be correct in your evaluation of a fact pattern surrounding a search. Speak with a local criminal defense lawyer before you stick your foot in your mouth, or worse, get in trouble with the law. There is no substitute for knowledge and experience and there is no end to woe from ignorance and stupidity. Ask and know. Or, better still; buy a copy of my book “CAN THE POLICE LIE TO ME?” you can buy it on amazon.com for $18.95.

Posted On: May 29, 2010

What is Florida Criminal Law on “Fake” ID?

In Florida you must be 21 years of age to purchase alcoholic beverages. Once 18 it has long been 21. Of course you can serve in the Army at 18 but you can’t drink until you are 21. Some young people in Florida run afoul of the criminal laws by obtaining “fake” ID. Don’t. It is an arrest able offense; it can even be a felony!
In South Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Pompano, Miami, Davie, West Palm Beach) you can be charged with a misdemeanor if you have a fake set of identification. If you have someone’s driver’s license it is felony. A felony carries a five year prison sentence and a lifetime of grief. If you use someone else’s identification you can both face criminal charges: You can be arrested for possession of a false or fraudulent drivers’ license and your friend (brother? Sister?) can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. What to do? DO NOT display fake ID. Cool down with an ice tea, not Long Island ice tea. Life is too short and cops are too mean, thinks first and then don’t do it!

Posted On: May 28, 2010

Drug Possession and Trace Amounts of Cocaine

Possession of cocaine and trafficking in cocaine criminal charges begin with the government finding and proving possession of measurable amounts of cocaine. Often Florida criminal defense attorneys must defend cases where a small or trace amount of cocaine is found, and often found not ON someone but in close proximity. What is a provable amount of cocaine for Florida criminal statutes to be invoked?
It varies from state to state, but our concern here is Florida criminal law. In Florida if the state can prove even a trace amount of cocaine, or cocaine residue, then they have met their burden. Outrageous yes? Yes. A trace amount of cocaine can be the cocaine dust that remains in a baggie that once contained cocaine, or the burnt residue of consumed cocaine in a pipe. It is enough. Possession of cocaine cases in Florida can be made if the State can find and prove you had a baggie that once contained cocaine, or a pipe (paraphernalia) that once burned crack or cocaine. In the waning months of 2009 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Florida criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale and Miami could demand a chemist appear in court to make the case, but the law remains: possession of cocaine can be proven with a charred pipe or an empty plastic bag.
Possession is a subject of another blog entry…so stay tuned! Or, if you have a question, contact a Florida criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, or Miami. Start with Ralph Behr; he’s been at it for over 34 years!

Posted On: May 6, 2010

UNDERAGE ALCOHOL CRIMES IN FLORIDA

It is against Florida criminal laws for an underage person (21) to sell, serve, possess or consume alcoholic beverages. Serving alcohol to a minor can be a felony: child abuse. If alcohol is present in the same space as a minor the law permits a presumption, albeit rebuttable, but a presumption nonetheless, which means an arrest and a trip to the courthouse. The proving of actual possession is the trick, but the trump is the arrest and the charge. A minor (under 21) can work in an establishment that serves alcohol, he/she can serve it, but cannot consume. If you are underage and in a car that is stopped you will be arrested. The arrest leads to a criminal charge, a South Florida criminal defense lawyer to defend you and an anxious South Florida jury to examine the evidence. All in all the best route is to say no when invited into a car or a party where underage people are holding, drinking, offering and or consuming alcohol. A criminal arrest can derail life plans, so wait until you are 21.