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Fort Myers Criminal Defense Blog

How a Terry stop affects drug charges

Florida drivers who are pulled over by a law enforcement officer for a traffic violation, but also are charged with drug possession because the officer found drugs in the car when searching it, should be aware that searching their car may not be allowed during a traffic stop. As explained by the Legal Information Institute, a stop and frisk by a law enforcement officer is often called a Terry stop based on the landmark 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Terry v. Ohio.

In that case, the Court held that a law enforcement officer may briefly stop and detain a driver only for as long as it takes to conduct an inquiry into the traffic violation for which the officer pulled the car over. (S)he does not need to believe that anyone in the vehicle is involved in a criminal activity, as (s)he would in a nonvehicular Terry stop and frisk.

How long is a license suspension for a DUI?

If you have been pulled over for a DUI, your first thought may be about your driver's license. If you are convicted of a DUI in Florida, you will lose your license. How long the suspension is depends on whether you have prior DUIs on your record. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles notes the length of a driver's license suspension is longer for subsequent convictions and situations involving serious injuries or death.

For your first conviction, you will lose your license for a minimum of 180 days up to a maximum of one year. However, if you caused serious injury to someone as a result of your DUI, then your license is revoked for three years. You may apply for a hardship license, which means you have a limited license while under suspension. To be granted, you have to meet certain requirements, which may include completing treatment and DUI school.

Are you confused as to why you face drug possession charges?

Anytime a Florida resident faces criminal charges, he or she retains the right to challenge them. This goes for drug possession charges as well. If police placed you under arrest because they believe you were in possession of an illegal substance, it will be up to them and prosecutors to prove that was the case.

Whether you knew about the drugs that police allegedly found, simply facing charges does not mean you are guilty. Several defenses to this crime exist, and one or more may apply to your circumstances. 

Florida's medical marijuana law

Florida is just one of many states across the nation to pass medical marijuana laws. While recreational use is still in the air in most states, medical use of the plant has seen great support from voters and those in government. In June 2017, an amendment was signed into law by the governor making medical marijuana more widely available to citizens, as reported by U.S. News & World Report.

The new law increased the legality of medical marijuana use to include more patients with chronic health conditions. Previously, those with cancer, epilepsy, chronic muscle spasms and terminal conditions could legally buy and use medical marijuana that was low in THC. With the signing of the amendment, those with glaucoma, HIV, PTSD, AIDS, Crohn's disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease may now be legal users. Other similar medical conditions were also included in the amendment. Patients must get a prescription from their doctors, but the order can be valid for three 70-day orders. The amendment also allows for 10 additional medical marijuana treatment centers.

Consequences of a DUI conviction with minors in the vehicle

Drunk driving is bad enough by itself, but when a drunk driver is foung to have children in the vehicle, things get worse. Florida does not take such a violation lightly. Drivers who get behind the wheel with children in the care take repsonsiblity for those children, but when the driver is drunk, those children are put in immediate danger. According to Guardian Interlock, drunk drivers caught with children in the car are charged with aggravated DUI. This is a more severe charge than a DUI.

While circumstances may vary, such drivers may also be charged with child neglect, which is a felony and charged in addition to the aggrevated DUI. Basically, drinking too much and getting behind the wheel to drive kids around is a serious failure and something the law takes very seriously.

Know what qualifies as domestic violence

While many Florida residents are only familiar with the physical form of domestic violence, the truth is that there many different actions that can be considered a type of this kind of abuse. If you have been accused of this crime, you may be wondering whether what you did is actually domestic violence. We at Ian F. Mann can fight for your rights and ensure that you are treated fairly in a court of law.

According to Findlaw, abuse can come in many different forms. You may be accused of psychologically injuring another person by isolating them, destroying property or using intimidation. In some cases, even injuring yourself can be considered a form of psychological abuse. Emotional abuse is similar, although it can also include actions like name-calling, criticism and other methods of destroying a person's self-esteem.

When medicine, federal law and drug crimes collide

Many Florida residents are glad to know that medical use of marijuana is now allowed in this state. However, a lot of people are confused because they've been told that all possession, sale and use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. It's a complicated situation that has led to people beings accused of drug crimes on more than one occasion.

There's ample evidence that cannabis and THC have many potentially medically beneficial side effects when used for such purposes. For instance, many studies show that cancer chemotherapy patients experience relief from nausea and vomiting when they use cannabis during treatments. Since THC apparently stimulates appetite, it is now thought to be of benefit to those suffering from anorexia, a serious eating disorder.

How tough are Florida’s DUI license suspension laws?

Florida drivers who are pulled over by a law enforcement officer on suspicion of driving under the influence face serious consequences. This is particularly true for drivers under 21 years of age. As explained by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the first consequence is suspension  of your driver’s license.

Under Section 322.2616 of the Florida Statutes, if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence, he or she can detain you and require that you submit to a test to determine your blood alcohol concentration. If your BAC is 0.02 percent or higher, the officer can immediately suspend your license and issue a 10-day temporary driving permit that becomes effective 12 hours after it is issued.

You could fail this field sobriety test even when you're sober

Many Florida residents tend to joke that they couldn't walk a straight line when they are sober, let alone when they have been drinking. If you have any kind of balance issues or are getting up there in years, you probably won't be able to stand on one leg either.

Essentially, you could fail a field sobriety test without a drop of alcohol or drugs in your system. In fact, research indicates that no less than 33 percent of all sober drivers who take these tests fail them. A police officer may place you under arrest for DUI at this point. Later at the police station or jail, if you take a breath test that indicates that you are not intoxicated, police retain the record of your arrest.

Recent news on marijuana charges

Any offense with the word crime involved can seem distressing, even when it involves a minor drug charge such as the possession of marijuana. Florida is one of 30 states that have legalized cannabis either recreationally or medically, but the laws and penalties that are still attached can come with immense consequences.

NORML, an organization that works to reform marijuana laws, describes the laws and penalties that currently apply to marijuana possession, distribution, paraphernalia and other types of marijuana-related charges. The penalties range from misdemeanor to felony charges, and incarceration time can be anywhere from 1 to 30 years. For possession of 20 grams or less, an individual may face a misdemeanor charge, which demands up to $1,000 in fines. While possession of marijuana can have repercussions ranging from mild to severe in degree, those caught with hash and concentrates are charged with a felony and may have to pay up to $5,000 in fines. Hash or concentrates are considered schedule 1 narcotics in the state of Florida.

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Ian F. Mann PA

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Fort Myers, FL 33901

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