Drug Court Program in Florida

In the counties of Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, there is a drug court treatment program which can provide an alternative from prison or jail for people with conditions related to substance abuse.
There is an original program which is the Pre-Trial Intervention Program which was put in place as an alternative to jail and prison for first-time offenders, non-violent people whose charges included purchase of possession of a controlled substance, or substance abuse. The second program is the Diversionary Treatment Program which diverts those felons who were adjudicated from going back to prison. The pre-trial Intervention Program and the Diversionary Treatment Program have a minimum treatment of one year.
In South Florida's jurisdictions such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, Hollywood, and Aventura, in order to be eligible to have their felony charges dismissed, defendants need to be of age 18 or older, they must not have any prior conviction, and their charges need to be related to substance abuse.
The criteria to be eligible for the Diversionary Treatment Program are:
-Age 18 or older
-Offenders with sentencing scores of 52 points or less
-Offenders with sentencing scores of 52 points of less who have violated community control or probation due to a failed or suspected drug test.

If you or someone you know have been charged with a substance abuse related offense, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call our offices today to speak with attorney Ralph Behr. Call 954-761-3444.

New Marijuana Bill Introduced in Florida

Cathy Jordan, who is the president of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, was surprised by cops in her home where they seized the marijuana plants she had.
What the cops who raided her house didn’t know is that Cathy Jordan has Lou Gehrig’s disease, and she needs to use marijuana as part of her treatment. Innocent people all over the country has been introduced into the criminal system and are being treated as such, only because they are carrying marijuana to relief them from pain and suffering of certain diseases. Different states have being arguing and debating over the use of medical marijuana and State Sen. Jeff Clemens decided to change things for the “Sunshine State”.
Jeff Clemens passed the bill S.B. 1250, also called “the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act”. The Cathy Jordan’s bill now permits certain people to possess marijuana for medical use. It is of course limited to patients with certain medical conditions and there are limited amounts that are allowed. A patient can posses up to four ounces and grow up to eight marijuana plants. 70% of Florida voters agreed with the new marijuana law.
If you or someone you know has been charged and arrested for possession of illegal substances you need to call an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney who will handle your case. Call Attorney Ralph Behr at 954-761-3444.

Armed Drug Trafficking Offenses in Florida

Drug trafficking's most serious offense, and one that can include a possible death sentence in Florida, is Armed drug trafficking. The statute appears as Florida statute 893.135 (for punishments it refers the reader to the Florida sentencing and punishment sections). You can also look for it in the basic parts of F.S. 893 which, although quite long and confusing, is Florida’s drug abuse prevention and control statute. If you want to obtain a basic understanding of drug trafficking criminal offenses in Florida, start with a read of the criminal jury instructions, Section 25. Reading the Jury instructions for drug offenses and crimes in Florida, (such as purchase, sale, and cocaine delivery, and trafficking in cocaine and heroin), is the best place to get a good understanding of what these crimes are in Florida. Once you have read the jury instructions for possession of cocaine, delivery of cocaine or trafficking in cocaine, you can see and understand Florida's statutory scheme for drug possession and trafficking offenses. Basically, Florida's criminal laws on possession of drugs and selling of drugs fall into three categories. Simple possession, the drug possession statute that has the least exposure to prison (five years) is for arrests of "personal use” amounts of controlled substances. Drug "users" and "abusers" are charged with possession when they have enough for one dose or "high"....possession of personal-use amounts. Possession charges are for those who are users, but not dealers, sellers, or aren't in the “business” of buying or selling cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone and other mind altering drugs. Possession of more than enough for one dose, or being caught either giving away drugs or buying or selling a "small" amount is Delivery. Delivery of any controlled substance such as cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, or any "salt" or derivative of the many listed controlled substances in Florida can land you in prison for fifteen years.

The drug offense laws in Florida are for people who use, buy or sell any lesser or greater amounts of controlled substances. Most common drugs offenses are for cocaine, oxycodone, marijuana, and the many manufactured cocaine distillates and heroin substitutes in their many and various synthetic forms.

Search and Seizure in South Florida Criminal Courts: The Future Is Here?

“Virtual Searches” are not searches under current search and seizure law: South Florida criminal judges are entering a brave new world. What becomes of someone arrested in Fort Lauderdale for possession of cocaine when the search that leads to evidence is not physical but “virtual”? When an officer enters a house, or a car, or pats someone down is it in the physical world, or the “virtual world”? When is a device that increases the scope of a search a search? When a south Florida police agent uses an enhancement device to see through walls or hear conversations that cannot be overheard without amplification…when is that is a search. The Fourth amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, but what is unreasonable? In a forthcoming study on this issue the Brookings Institute will explore what we are already seeing in South Florida criminal courts. When you pass through an airport body scan is that reasonable? When you consent to a body scan is there a limited permissive search for weapons, what if they find cocaine? If you have been arrested by a police agency in Fort Lauderdale, Pompano, West Palm or Miami seek out advice from a seasoned South Florida criminal defense attorney. Ask about the search that uncovered the contraband. The constitution is alive in our courts and you are all part of the question…when is a search reasonable? When can evidence of a crime committed in South Florida subject to a suppression motion? Ask and know.

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!

A Drug Arrest in Florida Doesn’t Have to Give You A Felony Record

Since the Florida Legislature created the Drug Court Diversion program, many South Florida criminal courts have created “Drug Courts”. Here is how it works: If you have been arrested and charged with possession of cocaine, or possession of marijuana (Cannabis) or oxycodone, or other drugs (controlled substances) you can avoid a conviction by requesting Drug Court. Admission in Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Miami criminal courts is only by request, so make sure your South Florida Criminal Lawyer knows how to get you into Drug Court. Fort example, some lawyers file Discovery Demands immediately: this blocks you from Drug Court. Have you Florida criminal lawyer file the motion to transfer your drug arrest from felony court to drug court. If you have no prior felony convictions, and no gun or weapons convictions, you can get into drug court. After the one year program your case is nolle prossed. That means you will have no felony record. In Florida a felony conviction means you cannot vote, cannot own a gun, and have to report to the Sherriff when you move. Drug court is a once-in-a-lifetime option and a true gift. Ask your Florida criminal defense lawyer to explain the drug court option.

New Drug Court Rules in Fort Lauderdale

On January 22, 2010 the chief administrative judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) issued a new administrative rule which allows Drug Court to accept criminal defendants in Florida with substance abuse problems, even if their drug charges are more than mere possession. Prior to the new rule the only defendants charged with drug possession, such as possession of cocaine, or possession of oxycodone could be admitted to drug court. The expanded rule does not permit those charged with trafficking in cocaine or trafficking in cannabis (marijuana) to enter drug court, but it does permit Florida criminal defendants with drug delivery or drug paraphernalia charges to be admitted. Call your local Florida criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale for an update on the new rule. Florida criminal defense lawyer Ralph Behr filed the first legal motion to admit one of his drug arrest clients into the drug court program. This will be the first test case to admit a cocaine delivery criminal defendant in Florida into drug court. Stay tuned for an update in March of 2010.

Florida Cocaine Traffickers Busted in Sarasota

Eleven individuals were arrested in a major drug trafficking investigation undertaken by the Department of Justice's Organized Crime Drug enforcement Task Forces programs. Most of the individuals were felons found to be in possession of various types of firearms, as well as crack cocaine or cocaine derivatives. A major kingpin, "Antonio Marroquin", was indicted during the operation. He was one of the biggest distributors in the Manatee area. Total seizures obtained about four kilos of cocaine, $250K in cash and nearly $1 million in property and various assets.

Under Federal law, penalties for drug crimes can be more severe than if a person were found guilty of a drug crime under state law. A person found guilty of a drug crime under Federal law can face life imprison and be required to pay a fine of up to $8 million.

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