Overview of Drug Crime Defenses in Florida
Experienced Florida Drug Defense Law Firm
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime — possession, possession of paraphernalia, intent to sell, trafficking — then you could be facing life-changing penalties that include a significant term of imprisonment. Conviction could also lead to systemic social and career problems down the line.
Here at Fowler Law Group, we pride ourselves on serving the needs of our clients through every step of the criminal defense process, helping to secure a bright future despite the charges that have been brought against them. Contact our experienced drug defense law firm for guidance.
Understanding Search and Seizure
In Florida — and throughout the United States — the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects individuals against unreasonable search and seizure. Essentially, the Fourth Amendment allows law enforcement officers to search your “person, house, papers, and effects” only if they first obtain a warrant.
Securing a search warrant requires that the officers get one issued by a judge, who will determine whether they have the “probable cause” necessary to justify the warrant.
It is worth pointing out: if your Fourth Amendment rights are violated and an illegal search and seizure is conducted, then any evidence procured can be suppressed. This is a powerful defense to drug charges — any drug evidence found (on your person, or in your home, or in your car) can be thrown away, completely undermining the prosecution’s case.
Sadly, Fourth Amendment rights have been slowly chipped away over the years. In many real-world scenarios, exceptions to the search warrant requirement apply.
Specifically, a law enforcement officer may detain you if they have a “reasonable suspicion” (a hunch) that you are committing a crime or involved in criminal activity. During this stop, they can pat you down and “feel” for drugs, thus giving them the probable cause necessary to seize the drugs as evidence.
Unlike a home, vehicles do not receive the same protections under the Fourth Amendment. As such, officers may search the vehicle if they see drugs in plain view or smell the drugs in your vehicle.
These requirements are critical, however. If the officer has stretched the truth to establish probable cause, and you can prove it (i.e., video evidence, eyewitness testimony), then you can suppress the evidence gained through that illegal search and seizure.
Preserving One’s Rights
Consent to a search operates as a waiver of one’s Fourth Amendment rights.
For example, if a law enforcement officer asks you if they can come into your house and take a quick look around (without a search warrant), and you agree, then that will constitute a waiver of your Fourth Amendment rights. The officer might then discover drugs or related paraphernalia, and it would be legally obtained evidence for the purpose of prosecution.
Do not consent to a search. Seek the assistance of a qualified attorney immediately.
Disclosures made to law enforcement officers (and third-parties) could be used against you in court. It is important not to make any potentially incriminating statements without first obtaining legal representation. Your Florida drug defense attorney will give you guidance on how to proceed through questioning and will be able to serve as a communication middleman on your behalf in many scenarios.
Contact Fowler Law Group for Help in Sarasota, Bradenton and More
Fowler Law Group is a Florida-based drug defense law firm with a long and successful track record litigating such claims to a favorable outcome, whether by navigating the complexities of search and seizure law, or by introducing evidence proving a client’s lack of knowledge and control.
We are relentless advocates who are thorough in evaluating potential strategic avenues in litigation. Where possible, we seek to resolve cases early by seeking a dismissal of the charges at-issue (or by entering into a favorable plea bargain). If a positive outcome is not possible at an early stage, we are willing and able to take the case to trial — in fact, it is this willingness that ensures we have significant leverage during initial negotiations.
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Fowler Law Group proudly represents the citizens of Sarasota and Manatee Counties as well as the surrounding Tampa Bay area. Our experienced team will help guide you through the judicial process and answer all of your questions with honesty and integrity. We understand the important nature of your call, and we will strive to return all calls within 24 hours. Contact us today by completing our online form or calling us at 941-404-8909.