Understanding Drug Crimes in Tampa Bay
Drug crimes are taken seriously in Tampa Bay and can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment. These charges can range from possession and distribution to trafficking and manufacturing. In some cases, the severity of the charges can be influenced by the type of drug involved, the quantity, and the location of the offense.
Drug Crime Defense Strategies
As a seasoned drug crimes defense attorney, Casey the Lawyer has developed several strategies for defending his clients against drug-related charges. Some of the most effective defense strategies include:
- Challenging the evidence: In many cases, the prosecution’s case hinges on the evidence gathered by law enforcement. By challenging the admissibility of this evidence, a skilled attorney can weaken the prosecution’s case and potentially get the charges dismissed.
- Questioning the search and seizure: Law enforcement officers must follow specific procedures when conducting searches and seizures. If these procedures are not followed correctly, any evidence gathered may be inadmissible in court.
- Arguing entrapment: In some cases, law enforcement may use tactics to lure individuals into committing drug crimes that they would not have otherwise committed. An experienced attorney can argue that the individual was entrapped and should not be held accountable for their actions.
Why Choose Casey the Lawyer
Choosing the right attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. When it comes to drug crimes defense, Casey the Lawyer has a reputation for being one of the best in the Tampa Bay area. Some of the reasons why clients choose Casey include:
- Years of experience: Casey the Lawyer has been practicing law for over 30 years and has handled numerous drug crimes cases during that time. He understands the intricacies of these types of cases and knows how to build an effective defense strategy.
- Personalized attention: Casey the Lawyer understands that every case is unique, and he takes the time to get to know his clients and their specific circumstances. He works closely with clients to develop a strategy that best meets their needs and goals.
- Results-driven approach: Casey the Lawyer is committed to achieving the best possible outcome for his clients. Whether that means negotiating a plea deal or taking the case to trial, he is dedicated to protecting his clients’ rights and achieving a favorable outcome.
If you or someone you know is facing drug-related charges in Tampa Bay, don’t wait to seek out legal guidance. Casey the Lawyer is here to help. Contact his office today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how he can help defend you against these serious charges.
- Florida Statute §893.13 – Drug Abuse Prevention and Control
- Florida Bar Association – Criminal Law Section
- American Bar Association – Criminal Justice Section
Drug Crimes in Tampa Bay: Understanding the Consequences
Drug crimes in Tampa Bay can have serious consequences, ranging from steep fines and probation to lengthy prison sentences. The severity of the punishment depends on the specifics of the crime and the type of drug involved.
In Florida, drug crimes fall under the state’s Drug Abuse Prevention and Control statutes, specifically Chapter 893. These laws set out the various offenses related to drug crimes and the associated penalties.
Some of the most common drug crimes in Tampa Bay include:
- Possession of controlled substances: This offense involves possessing illegal drugs or prescription drugs without a valid prescription. Possession of controlled substances is a misdemeanor, but the severity of the charges depends on the quantity of drugs involved.
- Drug trafficking: Drug trafficking involves the sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, or possession of large quantities of illegal drugs. This offense carries a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in prison and up to life in prison, depending on the specifics of the case.
- Drug manufacturing: This offense involves the production of illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine or cocaine. Drug manufacturing is a serious offense and carries significant penalties.
- Prescription drug fraud: Prescription drug fraud involves obtaining prescription drugs through fraudulent means, such as by forging a prescription or using someone else’s prescription. This offense can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment.
Drug Crimes Defense Attorney in Tampa Bay: W.F. “Casey” Ebsary, Jr.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime in Tampa Bay, it’s essential to seek out the services of an experienced drug crimes defense attorney. W.F. “Casey” Ebsary, Jr. is a seasoned attorney who has represented countless individuals facing drug-related charges. His experience, knowledge, and dedication make him a top choice for those in need of legal guidance.
Casey the Lawyer understands that every case is unique and requires a personalized approach. He works closely with his clients to understand their specific circumstances and goals and develops a defense strategy that best meets their needs.
Some of the reasons why clients choose Casey the Lawyer include:
- Dedication to achieving the best possible outcome: Casey the Lawyer is committed to protecting his clients’ rights and achieving the best possible outcome for their case. He has a track record of success and has helped many clients get their charges reduced or dismissed.
- Extensive experience: Casey the Lawyer has been practicing law for over three decades and has a wealth of experience in drug crimes defense. He knows the ins and outs of these types of cases and understands how to build an effective defense strategy.
- Personalized attention: Casey the Lawyer understands that facing drug-related charges can be overwhelming and stressful. He provides his clients with personalized attention and support throughout the legal process.
Contact Casey the Lawyer Today
If you or someone you know is facing drug-related charges in Tampa Bay, don’t wait to seek out legal guidance. Contact W.F. “Casey” Ebsary, Jr. today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how he can help defend you against these serious charges.
- Florida Statute §893.13 – Drug Abuse Prevention and Control
- Florida Bar Association – Criminal Law Section
- American Bar Association – Criminal Justice Section
Prescription Drug Trafficking Case Dismissed: Valid Prescription
Are you or someone you know facing drug trafficking charges in Hillsborough County, Florida? The recent dismissal of drug trafficking charges against Prescription Drug Defense Trafficking Florida offers hope in a critical aspect of defense—valid prescription defense. This comprehensive guide explores the Withholding Information From Medical Practitioner Case, shedding light on the intricacies of Florida Statute 893.13.7A8, a felony charge for obtaining drugs from a physician by withholding information. Additionally, we delve into the broader implications of the court’s ruling and its impact on drug trafficking charges. Read on to understand the significance of this case and how it can shape legal strategies in defending against drug-related accusations.
Florida Statute: 893.13.7A8
Level: Fel (Felony)
Description: Obtaining Drugs From Physician By Withholding
DRUG9892 is often charged in Hillsborough County, Florida.
893.13 Prohibited acts; penalties.
8. To withhold information from a practitioner from whom the person seeks to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance that the person making the request has received a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use from another practitioner within the previous 30 days.
Drug Trafficking Charges
Drug trafficking charges are among the most serious offenses one can face in the realm of drug-related crimes. In Florida, these charges carry severe penalties, often including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. The Withholding Information From Medical Practitioner Case serves as an illustrative example of how legal intricacies, especially related to valid prescription defenses, can play a pivotal role in the dismissal of such charges.
In general terms, drug trafficking involves the illegal sale, transportation, import, or distribution of controlled substances. The severity of the charges typically depends on factors such as the type and quantity of the drugs involved. Florida law categorizes drug trafficking as a felony offense, with varying degrees of severity, each associated with different penalties.
“Whether an individual has actually withheld information in violation of the statute depends on whether s/he requested a controlled substance and failed to disclose the fact that s/he received a drug of like therapeutic use within the previous thirty days. In other words, the statute requires that an individual affirmatively requesting a substance provide information to the practitioner.”
Florida State Drug Trafficking Charges:
In the state of Florida, drug trafficking is a serious offense governed by stringent laws. The severity of the charges often depends on various factors, including the type and quantity of controlled substances involved. Florida Statute 893.135 outlines the state’s approach to drug trafficking, categorizing offenses based on the type of substance and the quantity in possession.
Florida classifies drug trafficking as a felony, with potential penalties ranging from substantial fines to mandatory minimum prison sentences. The exact consequences depend on the specific substance and the amount trafficked. For instance, trafficking in opioids such as heroin or fentanyl may lead to more severe penalties compared to other controlled substances.
One key element of drug trafficking charges in Florida is the presence of mandatory minimum sentences. Judges are bound by these minimums, meaning that if an individual is convicted of drug trafficking, the court must impose a sentence that meets or exceeds these statutory minimums. This rigidity underscores the seriousness with which Florida addresses drug trafficking offenses.
Federal Middle District of Florida Drug Trafficking Charges:
When drug trafficking charges escalate to the federal level, the legal landscape becomes even more complex. The Federal Middle District of Florida, encompassing cities like Tampa and Orlando, falls under the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Federal drug trafficking charges typically involve violations of the Controlled Substances Act. The federal government has substantial resources and authority to prosecute these cases, often leading to more severe penalties than those imposed at the state level.
The Federal Middle District of Florida handles a wide array of drug trafficking cases, ranging from cocaine and heroin to prescription medications and synthetic drugs. Federal prosecutors have broad discretion in pursuing charges based on factors such as the quantity of drugs involved, the presence of firearms, and whether the alleged trafficking occurred near schools or other protected areas.
Federal sentences for drug trafficking convictions can be harsh, with the potential for lengthy prison terms and substantial fines. Cooperation with federal agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), may also play a role in the outcome of these cases.
Defense Strategies for Drug Trafficking Charges:
Facing drug trafficking charges in either the state or federal jurisdiction necessitates a robust defense strategy. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney, like Casey the Lawyer, is crucial. Defense strategies may include challenging the legality of searches and seizures, questioning the admissibility of evidence, and exploring potential violations of constitutional rights.
Additionally, for federal cases, negotiation and cooperation with federal prosecutors may lead to reduced charges or more favorable plea deals. The expertise of a seasoned attorney becomes invaluable in navigating the complexities of both state and federal legal systems.
In conclusion, drug trafficking charges in Florida, whether at the state or federal level, demand a comprehensive understanding of the law and a strategic defense approach. Seeking immediate legal counsel is essential for individuals facing these serious allegations. Casey the Lawyer, with a focus on drug defense, provides the expertise needed to navigate the intricate legal terrain and build a robust defense tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. If you or someone you know is confronting drug trafficking charges, don’t hesitate to contact Casey the Lawyer at 813-222-2220 for a consultation.
Implications of Court’s Ruling on Drug Trafficking Charges
The Withholding Information From Medical Practitioner Case not only addressed the specifics of the statute but also had profound implications for drug trafficking charges. By emphasizing the necessity for individuals to affirmatively request a controlled substance and provide information to the practitioner about prior prescriptions, the court’s ruling highlighted the importance of a valid prescription defense.
In cases where individuals possess valid prescriptions issued by licensed practitioners, such as in the instance of Jeremy Knipp, the court’s decision strengthens the grounds for invoking a valid prescription defense against drug trafficking charges. This legal precedent reinforces the notion that individuals with legitimate medical needs should not face severe consequences if they have adhered to proper medical protocols and possess valid prescriptions for controlled substances.
Valid Prescription Defense
Valid prescriptions are typically issued by licensed medical practitioners, such as physicians or other authorized healthcare professionals. These documents outline the type, dosage, and duration of the prescribed medication.
The possession of a valid prescription is particularly relevant in scenarios where individuals are accused of unlawfully possessing or obtaining controlled substances. It establishes a lawful basis for the individual’s access to certain medications and provides a legitimate reason for their presence.
Prescription Defense in Drug Possession Cases:
In drug possession cases, having a valid prescription can serve as a potent defense strategy. When individuals can demonstrate that they are in lawful possession of a controlled substance due to a valid prescription, it challenges the prosecution’s assertion of illegal possession. This defense strategy is especially effective when the prosecution cannot contest the authenticity of the prescription or when the prescription is for the same substance allegedly possessed.
For example, if an individual is charged with unlawfully possessing a prescription painkiller, presenting a valid prescription for that specific medication can be a compelling defense. It shifts the burden to the prosecution to prove that the possession was, indeed, unlawful.
Valid Prescription Defense in Drug Trafficking Cases:
In more serious cases, such as drug trafficking charges, the possession of valid prescriptions can be equally impactful. While drug trafficking often involves the illegal distribution or transportation of controlled substances, the existence of valid prescriptions can challenge the prosecution’s argument that the accused individuals were engaged in illicit activities.
In jurisdictions where statutes require individuals to disclose previous prescriptions when seeking similar medications, possessing valid prescriptions becomes not only a defense but a proactive legal practice. It aligns with legal obligations to inform healthcare providers about existing prescriptions and can be crucial in defending against charges related to withholding information from medical practitioners.
Collaborating with Legal Counsel:
Navigating the complexities of drug-related charges and presenting a robust prescription defense requires the expertise of a seasoned attorney. Legal professionals, such as Casey the Lawyer, understand the intricacies of drug laws and can strategically leverage valid prescriptions to build a compelling defense.
Whether at the state or federal level, consulting with an attorney early in the legal process is essential. Legal professionals can assess the specifics of the case, scrutinize the validity of prescriptions, and craft a defense strategy tailored to the unique circumstances of each client.
In conclusion, possessing valid prescriptions is a powerful legal tool that can significantly impact the outcome of drug-related cases. It not only serves as a defense against allegations of unlawful possession but also plays a vital role in challenging more severe charges like drug trafficking. If you or someone you know is facing drug-related charges, contact Casey the Lawyer at 813-222-2220 for expert legal guidance and a thorough evaluation of your case.
Navigating Drug Trafficking Charges
Navigating drug trafficking charges demands strategic legal expertise, especially in jurisdictions with stringent drug laws like Florida. Casey the Lawyer, based at Drug2go.com, brings a wealth of experience in handling complex drug-related cases, including those involving drug trafficking allegations. Understanding the nuances of statutes such as Florida Statute 893.13.7A8 and the implications of recent court rulings is essential for building a robust defense strategy.
Casey the Lawyer’s approach involves a meticulous examination of the details surrounding the charges. This includes assessing the type and quantity of the alleged controlled substances, the circumstances of the arrest, and, crucially, whether the accused individuals possess valid prescriptions for the substances in question. Leveraging legal precedents, including the Withholding Information From Medical Practitioner Case, Casey aims to secure favorable outcomes for clients facing drug trafficking charges.
Florida Drug Trafficking Minimum Mandatory Sentences
When it comes to drug trafficking charges in Florida, the state imposes minimum mandatory sentences that judges must adhere to when determining the penalties for convicted individuals. These mandatory minimums are often stringent, reflecting the severity with which the state treats drug trafficking offenses. The minimum mandatory sentences vary based on factors such as the type and quantity of the controlled substances involved in the trafficking.
For example, in Florida, trafficking in opioids like heroin may result in minimum mandatory sentences ranging from three years to life imprisonment, depending on the quantity. The minimum mandatory sentences escalate significantly for larger quantities, and individuals convicted of drug trafficking may also face substantial fines.
Dismissal of Drug Trafficking Charges
The dismissal of drug trafficking charges is a rare but impactful outcome that underscores the importance of a robust defense strategy. In cases like the Withholding Information From Medical Practitioner Case, the court’s careful examination of the statute and the defendant’s circumstances led to the dismissal of charges. This outcome is often achieved when the defense successfully presents evidence supporting a valid prescription defense or highlights procedural errors in the prosecution’s case.
To secure a dismissal of drug trafficking charges, it’s crucial to collaborate with an experienced attorney who can navigate the complexities of drug-related cases. Casey the Lawyer, with a proven track record in drug defense, understands the nuances of Florida drug laws and leverages legal precedents to build a compelling defense. Whether challenging the admissibility of evidence, questioning the legality of the arrest, or presenting a solid prescription defense, strategic legal maneuvers are essential to achieving favorable outcomes.
The dismissal of drug trafficking charges in the Withholding Information From Medical Practitioner Case underscores the paramount importance of a valid prescription defense. If you or someone you know is grappling with drug-related charges, especially drug trafficking allegations, it’s crucial to seek legal counsel promptly. Contact Casey, the experienced Hillsborough Drug Attorney, at 813-222-2220 for a consultation. Don’t let drug charges jeopardize your future—take action today to secure a robust defense.
Understanding Your Rights: A Recent Traffic Stop Legal Victory
Case Highlight: ORDER ON DEFENDANT’S TRAFFIC STOP MOTION TO SUPPRESS
Meet LP, who found himself in a legal battle after being stopped for a traffic infraction. The passenger in a car subjected to a seatbelt violation stop, LP faced charges related to firearm and crack cocaine possession. The Lawyer took on the case, challenging the constitutionality of the search.\\
Unveiling the Unlawful Search
The legal battle centered on the Fourth Amendment, a traffic stop, and the defense arguing that LP’s removal from the car and subsequent search were unconstitutional. The lead officer, Detective Hernandez, claimed the search was for “officer safety.” However, the court disagreed, pointing out incongruities between testimonial and demonstrative evidence.
The protection of individual rights stands as a fundamental pillar. This case of serves as a poignant example of the delicate balance between law enforcement’s duty and citizens’ constitutional rights. LP, a passenger in a routine traffic stop, found himself at the center of a controversy that echoes through the corridors of the Fourth Amendment.
The Traffic Stop Turned Unconstitutional Search
The saga begins with Detective Angel Hernandez, a member of the Tactical Robbery Unit in the City of Miami Police Department. LP was in a Maserati, and Hernandez, intrigued by the absence of a seatbelt, initiated a traffic stop. The subsequent events, however, raise questions about the legality of LP’s search.
During a hearing on LP’s motion to suppress evidence, Hernandez admitted that the sole reason for the traffic stop was the absence of a seatbelt. No other traffic violations or suspicions of criminal activity preceded the stop. Det. Hernandez’s focus, both during and after the stop, was primarily on the driver, leaving LP in the hands of Detective Labrador (DL).
Unraveling Contradictions: Testimonies vs. Video Evidence
As the legal proceedings unfolded, contradictions emerged between the testimonies and the video evidence. The second Detective DL, concerned for his safety, testified that LP’s removal from the car and subsequent pat-down were justified. However, the body-worn camera footage painted a starkly different picture.
The video revealed a disproportionate use of force. DL, a strapping figure, handled LP with an unnecessary level of aggression. LP, who posed no threat, was subjected to an intrusive search that went beyond the bounds of a standard pat-down. The court, recognizing the disparities between testimonial and demonstrative evidence, cast doubt on the legitimacy of DL’s claims.
Legal Analysis: Violation of Fourth Amendment Rights
The court’s findings declared LP’s search unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. The Terry frisk, a lawful pat-down, necessitates reasonable suspicion that the person is armed and dangerous. In LP’s case, the court questioned the legitimacy of the “officer safety” concern, ultimately determining the lack of justification for the search.
Inevitable Discovery Doctrine: A Failed Defense
In a last-ditch effort to rescue the admissibility of the obtained evidence, the prosecution turned to the Inevitable Discovery Doctrine. This legal doctrine, when successfully argued, permits evidence acquired through unlawful means to be considered admissible if it can be demonstrated that the same evidence would have inevitably been discovered through lawful means.
Despite the prosecution’s efforts, the court remained unpersuaded. The prosecution encountered significant hurdles in proving that law enforcement had a well-defined and articulable plan to search the car independently of the initial unconstitutional search. The court emphasized that the lack of probable cause further weakened the prosecution’s position, highlighting a critical point – the drugs and firearm would not have come to light had the initial, constitutionally questionable search not taken place.
The Inadequacy of the Prosecution’s Argument
The prosecution bore the burden of establishing that the discovery of the evidence was truly “inevitable.” However, the court found that the prosecution fell short of meeting this heavy burden. The absence of a specific and articulable plan for searching the car, apart from the unconstitutional search, became a glaring weakness in the prosecution’s argument.
The court scrutinized the testimony of Detective Hernandez, the lead officer in the case. Det. Hernandez’s admission that the car would not have been subjected to a search if the drugs and firearm were not found on the passenger, LP, underscored the lack of a predetermined plan. This admission became a pivotal factor, as it indicated that the subsequent search of the car was a direct consequence of the unconstitutional search, rather than an independent and inevitable course of action.
The Probable Cause Conundrum
A significant blow to the prosecution’s case came from the acknowledgment that there was no probable cause to search the car or detain LP beyond the initial unconstitutional search. The court highlighted that Det. Hernandez explicitly stated that the only grounds for LP’s arrest were the drugs and firearm found on his person. This admission underscored a critical flaw in the prosecution’s argument – without the evidence obtained through the unconstitutional search, there was no legal basis for the subsequent actions taken by law enforcement.
Explaining The Inevitable Discovery Doctrine in a Traffic Stop
The court’s decision to reject the inevitable discovery doctrine was grounded in the failure of the prosecution to demonstrate that, even in the absence of the unconstitutional search, the evidence would have surfaced through lawful means. The doctrine hinges on the concept that law enforcement must have a specific and independent plan to discover the evidence. In this case, the lack of such a plan, coupled with the absence of probable cause, led the court to dismiss the prosecution’s argument.
The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine
The court also delved into the legal principle known as the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” This doctrine holds that evidence obtained as a result of an unconstitutional search is tainted and, therefore, inadmissible in court. The court drew parallels to this doctrine, emphasizing that if the initial search was deemed unconstitutional, the subsequent discovery of drugs and the firearm would be considered as the “fruit” of that unconstitutional search.
Incorporating the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine further fortified the court’s decision to suppress the evidence. The court underscored the interconnected nature of the evidence, highlighting that the unconstitutional search set in motion a chain of events leading to the discovery of the drugs and firearm.
A Victory for Constitutional Rights
In conclusion, the court’s meticulous analysis and rejection of the inevitable discovery doctrine dealt a severe blow to the prosecution’s case. The inability to establish a concrete and independent plan for discovering the evidence, coupled with the absence of probable cause, led the court to suppress the evidence. The application of the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine further solidified the court’s decision, emphasizing the importance of upholding constitutional rights even in the pursuit of justice. This ruling stands as a testament to the court’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of the legal process and safeguarding individual rights against unlawful searches and seizures.
Implications for Future Cases
LP’s case reverberates beyond its immediate legal context. The court’s decision to suppress evidence sets a precedent, reinforcing the importance of upholding Fourth Amendment rights. The impact of this case extends to future encounters between law enforcement and individuals, serving as a reminder of the boundaries that protect citizens from unlawful searches and seizures.
Know Your Rights: Traffic Stop Guide for Individuals
The broader implications of LP’s case necessitate a deeper understanding of Fourth Amendment rights among the general public. Knowing one’s rights is a powerful tool in the face of potential legal overreach.
Understanding Fourth Amendment Rights
The Fourth Amendment guarantees protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Understanding what constitutes a legal search and seizure is crucial. Law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to initiate a search.
Legal Consequences of Unlawful Searches
The consequences of unconstitutional searches are severe. The exclusionary rule, established by the courts, prohibits the use of evidence obtained illegally. This extends to the concept of the “fruit of the poisonous tree,” emphasizing that evidence derived from an unconstitutional search is tainted and inadmissible.
Casey, the Lawyer: Defender of Rights
In the pursuit of justice, legal representation plays a pivotal role. The defense attorney emerged as a key figure in LP’s fight against unconstitutional searches. This successful motion to suppress evidence stands as a victory not only for him but for the broader fight against unjust searches. The court’s decision reinforces the role of legal professionals in safeguarding individual rights.
How Casey Can Help You
Individuals facing similar situations can benefit from Casey’s legal services. Consultations and representation are offered to those seeking defense against unlawful searches and seizures. As citizens, understanding our rights and holding law enforcement accountable is crucial. A victory in suppressing evidence echoes through the corridors of justice, reaffirming the importance of the Fourth Amendment in preserving the fabric of a just and fair society.
Defend Your Rights in a Traffic Stop
If you find yourself in a traffic stop situation involving an unlawful search, seek legal assistance immediately. Casey, the Lawyer, stands ready to defend your rights and ensure that justice prevails.
Odor of Cannabis in Florida
The Odor of Cannabis in Florida: A Legal Perspective
In recent years, the odor of cannabis has become more common and the debate surrounding the legality and implications of marijuana and hemp in Florida has taken center stage. With the legalization of hemp and, under certain circumstances, marijuana, it has sparked discussions about the role of the odor of marijuana in law enforcement. The Second District Court of Appeal in Florida recently tackled this issue in the case of the Defendant and his defense attorney, challenging a guilty plea for possession of methamphetamine. This article delves into the court’s decision and the implications it has on the odor of cannabis in Florida.
The Defendant argued that the search of the vehicle was solely based on the odor of marijuana, contending that due to the legalization of marijuana and hemp in Florida, the odor of marijuana could no longer serve as probable cause for a vehicle search. The Defendant raised a compelling argument, pointing to the difficulty of distinguishing the scent of marijuana from that of hemp, which is legal. The Court’s decision and reasoning provide insight into the legal landscape surrounding this issue.
The Court, in its decision, rejected the Defendant’s argument and upheld their judgment and sentence. They disagreed with the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court’s decision in State v. Nord, which held that the odor of marijuana alone couldn’t establish probable cause for a search during a traffic stop. Instead, they adopted the Ninth Judicial Circuit’s opinion in State v. Ruise, which concluded that an officer smelling the odor of marijuana during a traffic stop could justify a warrantless search of the vehicle, even if the odor was indistinguishable from that of legal hemp.
The Court emphasized that the odor of marijuana provided an officer with probable cause to believe that it indicated the illegal use of marijuana. They argued that the circumstances of the case, involving reckless driving and erratic behavior, further supported the officer’s decision to detain the Defendant and search the vehicle.
The Court’s decision signifies that, even if marijuana is legalized for recreational use, using it while driving could still lead to charges of driving while intoxicated. The smell of burning marijuana remains valid probable cause for a vehicle search, which aligns with a “practical and common sensical standard” of probable cause.
While recognizing that there might be legitimate explanations for the presence of the odor of fresh marijuana in a vehicle, such as a lawful prescription or the use of hemp, the Court asserted that such explanations would serve as an affirmative defense rather than a deterrent for a search.
In conclusion, the recent decision by the Second District Court of Appeal in Florida reaffirms that the odor of marijuana continues to be a valid basis for probable cause to search a vehicle, regardless of the legalization of hemp and certain circumstances surrounding marijuana. This decision provides clarity on an issue that has been at the forefront of legal discussions in Florida and maintains the balance between personal freedom and public safety.
Complete Odor of Cannabis Opinion of the Florida Court
NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL
EVANS JOSHUA OWENS, ) ) Appellant, ) )
v. ) Case No. 2D20-537 ) STATE OF FLORIDA, ) )
Appellee. ) )
Opinion filed March 31, 2021.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County; Kimberly K. Fernandez, Judge.
Howard L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Richard P. Albertine, Jr., Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.
Ashley Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Elba Caridad Martin, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.
Evans Joshua Owens challenges his judgment and sentence following his guilty plea to the offense of possession of methamphetamine. He argues that the trial court erred in denying his preserved, dispositive motion to suppress. Owens argues, in
pertinent part, that the search of his vehicle was based solely on the odor of marijuana and that because possession of marijuana in some instances, and hemp in all instances, has been legalized in Florida, the odor of marijuana can no longer serve as the basis for probable cause to search a vehicle because the odor of marijuana cannot be distinguished from that of hemp. We reject this argument and affirm Owens’ judgment and sentence.
We are aware of the decision of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida that held that the smell of marijuana in connection with a traffic stop cannot constitute the sole basis supporting probable cause for a search. See State v. Nord, 28 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 511 (Fla. 20th Cir. Ct. Aug. 8, 2020). With all due respect to the capable and experienced circuit judge who authored that opinion, we cannot agree. Instead, we hold that an officer smelling the odor of marijuana has probable cause to believe that the odor indicates the illegal use of marijuana. Accordingly, to the extent that it conflicts with this decision, we disapprove of Nord and adopt the opinion of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida in State v. Ruise, 28 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 122 (Fla. 9th Cir. Ct. Mar. 20, 2020) (holding that an officer who smelled the odor of marijuana during a traffic stop had probable cause for a warrantless search of the vehicle, even though the odor of cannabis was found to be indistinguishable from the odor of now legal hemp).
We also note that, in this case, the officer was responding to a complaint of reckless and erratic driving; and Owens’ odd and erratic responses to the officer’s attempts to communicate with him, coupled with the smell, caused the officer to reasonably conclude that Owens should not be “behind the wheel of a vehicle.” Thus, the circumstances supported the officer’s conclusion that he had probable cause to
detain Owens and to search his vehicle.1 Finally, we note that even if marijuana was legalized for recreational use, such use while driving would still support the offense of driving while intoxicated; thus, regardless of whether marijuana becomes decriminalized for recreational use, the smell of the burning substance will continue to provide probable cause for a search of a vehicle. See Johnson v. State, 275 So. 3d 800, 802 (Fla. 1st DCA 2019) (“[E]ven if smoking marijuana were legal altogether, the officers would have probable cause based on the fact that Johnson was operating a car.” (citing § 316.193(1)(a), Fla. Stat. (2018))).2 “The probable cause standard, after all, is a ‘practical and common sensical standard.’ It is enough if there is the ‘the kind of fair probability’ on which ‘reasonable and prudent people, not legal technicians, act.’ ” Id. (quoting Florida v. Harris, 568 U.S. 237, 244 (2013)).
We recognize that there may be a circumstance where an occupant of a vehicle may have a legitimate explanation for the presence of the smell of fresh (not burning or burnt) marijuana in the vehicle, such as where the individual has a lawful prescription for it, or that the substance is, in fact, hemp. But even the current version of section 381.986, which permits qualified physicians to prescribe the smoking of marijuana as “an appropriate route of administration for a qualified patient,” see § 381.986(4)(c),3 continues to prohibit the use of smoked marijuana in vehicles, see 1 As Owens exited the vehicle, the officer saw a plastic bag in plain sight containing a crystal-like substance that was later proven to be methamphetamine. 2
We are confident that in the event marijuana becomes legal for recreational use in Florida, the legislature will amend the statutes pertaining to driving while intoxicated accordingly.
3As amended by ch. 2019-1, Laws of Florida.
§ 381.986(1)(j)5 (providing that “medical use” of marijuana does not include use of marijuana on any form of public transportation; in any public place; or on a school bus, vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat “except for low-THC cannabis not in a form for smoking” (emphasis added)). Cf. Johnson, 275 So. 3d at 802 (holding that even if the driver was a medical marijuana user, this would not defeat probable cause).
We concede, without affirmatively holding, that such a circumstance (such as where the individual has a lawful prescription or that the substance is hemp) might provide an affirmative defense to a charge of a criminal offense, but it would not prevent the search. Nevertheless, we can think of no circumstance where an affirmative defense might lie where the impetus for the search arose from the smell of burnt marijuana in a vehicle.
Accordingly, we conclude that the recent legalization of hemp, and under certain circumstances marijuana, does not serve as a sea change undoing existing precedent, and we hold that regardless of whether the smell of marijuana is indistinguishable from that of hemp, the smell of marijuana emanating from a vehicle continues to provide probable cause for a warrantless search of the vehicle. See, e.g., State v. Brookins, 290 So. 3d 1100, 1104 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020) (“Our supreme court has observed that the odor of burnt marijuana emanating from a vehicle—like we have here—provides probable cause to search each of the vehicle’s occupants.” (citing State v. Betz, 815 So. 2d 627, 633 (Fla. 2002))); accord Johnson, 275 So. 3d at 802.
SLEET and SMITH, JJ., Concur.
Fighting for you or a friend. Law Office of W.F. ”Casey” Ebsary Jr 2102 W Cleveland St Tampa, Florida 33606 (813) 222-2220
Tampa Cannabis Ordinance
The ordinance proposes the creation of Tampa Code Section 14-62, making the possession of twenty grams or less of cannabis and drug paraphernalia unlawful within the City of Tampa, Florida. It introduces civil penalties as an alternative to criminal charges for these offenses, aiming to address cases where the possession of a small amount of cannabis is the only chargeable offense. The ordinance defines cannabis and paraphernalia, establishes violations, and outlines civil penalties. It also amends existing code sections related to code enforcement procedures and penalties for violations, with an emphasis on providing a graduated fine structure for repeated offenses. The ordinance seeks to balance the severity of the offense with more proportionate civil penalties.
“Many of the citations issued are on or near major highways,leading us to believe they may be associated
with traffic stops and searches.”
Decriminalization of Cannabis in Tampa has generated some data on where the citations are being issued. We just obtained a map showing the locations of the first batch of citations issued in the new City of Tampa Marijuana Citation law. Many of the citations issued are on or near major highways, leading us to believe they may be associated with traffic stops and searches. The information about each detention for alleged marijuana ordinance violations can be found by clicking on the red pins on the cannabis ordinance violation map.
Decriminalization for University of Tampa Students
Attention University of Tampa Students! Understanding Florida’s marijuana laws is crucial. State statutes vary, and it’s essential to note that marijuana-related convictions unrelated to driving can lead to the suspension of your Florida driver’s license. Driving under the influence of marijuana carries penalties similar to those for alcohol or other impairing substances (Florida Statute 316.193).
While medical marijuana is legal in Florida under Amendment 2, its use is still prohibited on the University of Tampa campus. The City of Tampa, where the university is located, has a civil citation ordinance (TAMPA CODE SECTION 14-62) for simple possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana. However, this applies only within the city limits, not elsewhere in Hillsborough County.
Starting July 1, 2023, certain hemp extract products are restricted for individuals under 21 (Florida Statutes 381.986). Familiarize yourself with these regulations to stay informed and avoid legal complications.
For more information, refer to:
- Florida Statutes 381.986 Medical Use of Marijuana
- Florida Statutes 581.217 State Hemp Program
- Florida Statutes 893.13 Drug Abuse Prevention and Control
“arrests and prosecutions for cannabis will continue”
Quick Facts About the Tampa Marijuana Laws
The City of Tampa Florida, has passed an ordinance decriminalizing possession of cannabis (less than 20 grams). Hash oil and derivatives are still felonies. The complete text of the new cannabis ordinance is below. The short version: Fines; For a first offense $75.00; For a second offense $150.00; For a third offense $300.00; For a fourth or subsequent offense $450.00.
Tampa Bay area law enforcement and the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office have notified at least one media source that arrests and prosecutions for cannabis will continue for those arrested by anyone other than the Tampa Police Department. So, for example a fan arrested at Tampa Stadium by a Hillsborough County Sheriff or a Florida Highway Patrol State Trooper will still be prosecuted, even though the stadium is inside the Tampa City Limits. Beyond that, cops still have the power to forfeit a vehicle used during the commission of cannabis offenses.
Tampa Police Department Attorney Kirby Rainsberger says that civil citations will be issued ONLY when the suspect is not a minor; there are no other criminal charges; suspect can be released on own recognizance; and the suspect has no unpaid fines. Check out The Tampa Tribune Marijuana story here. The Mayor of Tampa’s comments and a History of the Marijuana Ordinance is here.“doesn’t make us any less anti-drug, but it’s a realizationthat the penalties that have been imposed have donemore damage to the trajectories of young peoples’lives than the offenses have warranted.”
Mayor Bob Buckhorn
Why Didn’t Tampa Repeal Its Marijuana Forfeiture Law?Tampa did not change its forfeiture ordinance, so expect police to be financially motivated to continue misdemeanor marijuana busts. The City council did not repeal Tampa City Ordinance 14-30. The Tampa law provides that it is a violation of this section and a motor vehicle shall be subject to impoundment whenever the vehicle was used, intended, or attempted to be used to facilitate the commission or attempted commission of any misdemeanor violation of F.S. Ch. 893 (Florida’s Drug Law). See Video at the bottom of this article.
Tampa Remains the King of Marijuana ForfeituresOne media source has reported “No law enforcement agency in West/Central Florida seizes more vehicles under Florida’s Contraband Forfeiture Act than the Tampa Police Department. And half of the 1,500 vehicles it seizes annually are either kept for agency use or turned into cash, either through settlements with the original owner or through sale at auction.” The source reported “Tampa city ordinance 14-30 sets a flat $500 fee to get a vehicle back after a misdemeanor arrest, regardless of what happens to the charges. The city reports collecting the fee more than 500 times last year.”
ORDINANCE NO. 2016-__AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF TAMPA, FLORIDA, CREATING TAMPA CODE SECTION 14-62 MAKING POSSESSION OF TWENTY GRAMS OR LESS OF CANNABIS UNLAWFUL, MAKING POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA AS DEFINED HEREIN UNLAWFUL, PROVIDING FOR CIVIL PENALTIES, AMENDING TAMPA CODE SECTION 23.5-5 TO SPECIFY THE AMOUNT OF CIVIL FINE FOR VIOLATION, AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.WHEREAS, Florida Statute Subsection 893.13(6)(b) provides that the possession of twenty (20) grams or less of cannabis (marijuana), intended only for consumption of the possessor, is a misdemeanor criminal offense; andWHEREAS. Florida Statute Subsection 893.147(1) provides that the possession ofdrug paraphernalia as defined in Florida Statute Section 893.145 is a misdemeanor criminal offense; andWHEREAS, the Tampa City Council finds that particularly where the citizen’s onlyknown offense at the time of arrest is possession for personal use of a small amount of cannabis, or paraphernalia for administration thereof, criminal penalties and potentially lifelong criminal record are disproportionate to the severity of the offense; andWHEREAS, the Tampa City Council finds that established civil penalties andprocedures are more commensurate with the offense of possession of twenty grams or less of cannabis or paraphernalia when that is the only chargeable offense.NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF TAMPA, FLORIDA:Section 1. That Tampa Code Section 14-62 is hereby created to read in its entirety as follows:
Sec. 14-62. Possession of cannabis or paraphernalia.
(1) Cannabis means all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not and the seeds thereof. The tern does not include the resin or oil extracted from any part of the plant or “‘low-THC cannabis” as defined in Florida Statute § 381.986 if manufactured, possessed. sold, purchased, delivered, distributed, and dispensed in conformance with § 381.986.
(2) Paraphernalia means any object used, intended for use, or designed for use, in ingesting, inhaling, smoking, or otherwise introducing cannabis into the human body.
(b) Any person who possesses twenty (20) grams or less of cannabis as defined herein except as otherwise authorized by law commits a violation of this subsection.
(c) Any person who possesses paraphernalia as defined herein except as otherwise authorized by law commits a violation of this subsection.
(d) A person charged with possession of cannabis under subsection (b) may not be charged with possession of paraphernalia under subsection (e) arising out of the same incident.
(e) Penalties and Procedure
(1) The provisions of Tampa Code Chapter 23.5 shall apply to all violations charged pursuant to this section.
(2) Violation of this section is deemed to be an irreparable or irreversible violation punishable by civil penalty as a Class I offense.
(3) If the applicable civil penalty is not paid within 30 days from the citation date, in addition to the procedure provided in Tampa Code Chapter 23.5 in the event of such nonpayment, the defendant will no longer be eligible for the alternative enforcement procedures provided by this section.
Section 2. That Tampa Code subsection 23.5-4(e) is hereby amended as follows:
(f) After issuing a citation to an alleged violator, a code enforcement officer shall deposit the original and one (1) copy of the citation with the City Attorney’s Office. If the citation is not paid within thirty (30) days of the date of issuance. the City Attorney’s Office shall forward the original and one (1) copy of the citation to the county court.
Section 3. That Tampa Code Subsection 23.5-5(a) is hereby amended by adding the underlined part as follows:
(a) Violations of the following sections of the Tampa City Code are considered Class I violations and will carry a fine of:
For a first offense $75.00
For a second offense $150.00
For a third offense $300.00
For a fourth or subsequent offense $450.00
Tampa, Florida Marijuana Cannabis Ordinance
http://www.tampagov.net/sites/default/files/planning/files/supp_81/supp_81_ch14_9_10_13.pdfbr /> http://www.tampagov.net/
Federal forfeitures are used in prosecutions of federal law violations. Florida frequently uses this tool in state statutes. Here is a list of a few of the provisions under Florida law 932.701.
List of Florida Forfeiture Items
- Vessels and Boats
- Real Estate
- Personal Property
List of Crimes For Florida Forfeiture
- Felonies in Conjunction with Use of Property
- Real Property used in a felony
- Motor vehicle used in a felony
- Vessel used in a felony
Complete Text of Florida Forfeiture Laws
CHAPTER 2016-179Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for Senate Bill No. 1044An act relating to contraband forfeiture; amending s. 932.701, F.S.; conforming provisions to changes made by the act; amending s. 932.703, F.S.; specifying that property may be seized only under certain circumstances; defining the term “monetary instrument”; requiring that specified persons approve a settlement; providing circumstances when property may be deemed contraband; allocating responsibility for damage to seized property and payment of storage and maintenance expenses; requiring the seizing agency to apply for an order, within a certain timeframe, making a probable cause determination after the agency seizes property; providing application requirements; requiring a court to make specified determinations; providing procedures upon certain court findings; authorizing the court to seal any portion of the application and of specified proceedings under certain circumstances; amending s. 932.704, F.S.; providing requirements for a filing fee and a bond to be paid to the clerk of court; requiring that the bond be made payable to the claimant under certain circumstances unless otherwise expressly agreed to in writing; increasing the evidentiary standard from clear and convincing evidence to proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a contraband article was being used in violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act for a court to order the forfeiture of the seized property; increasing the attorney fees and costs awarded to claimant under certain circumstances; requiring a seizing agency to annually review seizures, settlements, and forfeiture proceedings to determine compliance with the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act; providing requirements for seizing law enforcement agencies; requiring seizing law enforcement agencies to adopt and implement specified written policies, procedures, and training; requiring law enforcement agency personnel to receive basic training and continuing education; requiring the maintenance of training records; amending s. 932.7055, F.S.; conforming provisions to changes made by the act; creating s. 932.7061, F.S.; providing reporting requirements for seized property for forfeiture; creating s. 932.7062, F.S.; providing penalties for noncompliance with reporting requirements; amending s. 322.34, F.S.; providing for payment of court costs, fines, and fees from proceeds of certain forfeitures; conforming provisions to changes made by the act; amending ss. 323.001, 328.07, and 817.625, F.S.; conforming provisions to changes made by the act; providing an effective date.Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: Section 1. Subsection (1) of section 932.701, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:932.701 Short title; definitions.—(1) Sections 932.701-932.7062 932.706 shall be known and may be cited as the “Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.”Section 2. Subsection (1) of section 932.703, Florida Statutes, is amended, a new subsection (2) is added, and present subsections (2) through(8) are redesignated as subsections (3) through (9), respectively, to read:932.703 Forfeiture of contraband article; exceptions.—(1)(a) A Any contraband article, vessel, motor vehicle, aircraft, other personal property, or real property used in violation of any provision of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, or in, upon, or by means of which any violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act has taken or is taking place, may be seized and shall be forfeited subject to the provisions of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. A seizure may occur only if the owner of the property is arrested for a criminal offense that forms the basis for determining that the property is a contraband article under s. 932.701, or one or more of the following circumstances apply:1. The owner of the property cannot be identified after a diligent search, or the person in possession of the property denies ownership and the owner of the property cannot be identified by means that are available to the employee or agent of the seizing agency at the time of the seizure;2. The owner of the property is a fugitive from justice or is deceased;3. An individual who does not own the property is arrested for a criminal offense that forms the basis for determining that the property is a contraband article under s. 932.701 and the owner of the property had actual knowledge of the criminal activity. Evidence that an owner received written notification from a law enforcement agency and acknowledged receipt of the notification in writing, that the seized asset had been used in violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act on a prior occasion by the arrested person, may be used to establish actual knowledge;4. The owner of the property agrees to be a confidential informant as defined in s. 914.28. The seizing agency may not use the threat of property seizure or forfeiture to coerce the owner of the property to enter into a confidential informant agreement. The seizing agency shall return the property to the owner if criminal charges are not filed against the owner and the active criminal investigation ends or if the owner ceases being a confidential informant, unless the agency includes the final forfeiture of the property as a component of the confidential informant agreement; or5. The property is a monetary instrument. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “monetary instrument” means coin or currency of the United States or any other country; a traveler’s check; a personal check; a bank check; a cashier’s check; a money order; a bank draft of any country; an investment security or negotiable instrument in bearer form or in other form such that title passes upon delivery; a prepaid or stored value card or other device that is the equivalent of money and can be used to obtain cash, property, or services; or gold, silver, or platinum bullion or coins.(b) After property is seized pursuant to the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, regardless of whether the civil complaint has been filed, all settlements must be personally approved by the head of the law enforcement agency that seized the property. If the agency head is unavailable and a delay would adversely affect the settlement, approval may be given by a subordinate of the agency head who is designated to grant such approval Notwithstanding any other provision of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, except the provisions of paragraph (a), contraband articles set forth in s. 932.701(2)(a)7. used in violation of any provision of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, or in, upon, or by means of which any violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act has taken or is taking place, shall be seized and shall be forfeited subject to the provisions of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.(c) If at least 90 days have elapsed since the initial seizure of the property and the seizing agency has failed to locate the owner after making a diligent effort, the seized property is deemed a contraband article that is subject to forfeiture under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act All rights to, interest in, and title to contraband articles used in violation of s. 932.702 shall immediately vest in the seizing law enforcement agency upon seizure.(d)1. The seizing agency may not use the seized property for any purpose until the rights to, interest in, and title to the seized property are perfected in accordance with the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. This section does not prohibit use or operation necessary for reasonable maintenance of seized property. Reasonable efforts shall be made to maintain seized property in such a manner as to minimize loss of value.2. Unless otherwise expressly agreed to in writing by the parties, the agency seeking forfeiture of the seized property is responsible for any damage to the property and any storage fees or maintenance costs applicable to the property. If more than one agency seeks forfeiture of the property, the division of liability under this subparagraph may be governed by the terms of an agreement between the agencies.(2)(a) When a seizure of property is made under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, the seizing agency shall apply, within 10 business days after the date of the seizure, to a court of competent jurisdiction for an order determining whether probable cause exists for the seizure of the property. The application for the probable cause determination must be accompanied by a sworn affidavit and may be filed electronically by reliable electronic means.(b) The court must determine whether:The owner was arrested under paragraph (1)(a), and if not, whether an exception to the arrest requirement specified in paragraph (1)(a) applies; andProbable cause exists for the property seizure under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.(c) If the court finds that the requirements specified in paragraph (1)(a) were satisfied and that probable cause exists for the seizure, the forfeiture may proceed as set forth in the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, and no additional probable cause determination is required unless the claimant requests an adversarial preliminary hearing as set forth in the act. Upon such a finding, the court shall issue a written order finding probable cause for the seizure and order the property held until the issue of a determination of title is resolved pursuant to the procedures defined in the act.(d) If the court finds that the requirements in paragraph (1)(a) were not satisfied or that probable cause does not exist for the seizure, any forfeiture hold, lien, lis pendens, or other civil encumbrance must be released within 5 days.(e) The court may seal any portion of the application and the record of any proceeding under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act which is exempt or confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution or may otherwise be sealed pursuant to Rule 2.420, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration.Section 3. Subsection (4), paragraph (b) of subsection (5), paragraph (b) of subsection (6), subsections (8), (10), and (11) of section 932.704, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:932.704 Forfeiture proceedings.—(4) The seizing agency shall promptly proceed against the contraband article by filing a complaint in the circuit court within the jurisdiction where the seizure or the offense occurred, paying a filing fee of at least $1,000 and depositing a bond of $1,500 to the clerk of the court. Unless otherwise expressly agreed to in writing by the parties, the bond shall be payable to the claimant if the claimant prevails in the forfeiture proceeding and in any appeal.(5)(b) If no person entitled to notice requests an adversarial preliminary hearing, as provided in s. 932.703(3)(a) 932.703(2)(a), the court, upon receipt of the complaint, shall review the complaint and the verified supporting affidavit to determine whether there was probable cause for the seizure. Upon a finding of probable cause, the court shall enter an order showing the probable cause finding.(6)(b) The complaint must, in addition to stating that which is required by s. 932.703(3)(a) and (b) 932.703(2)(a) and (b), as appropriate, describe the property; state the county, place, and date of seizure; state the name of the law enforcement agency holding the seized property; and state the name of the court in which the complaint will be filed.(8) Upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt clear and convincing evidence that the contraband article was being used in violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, the court shall order the seized property forfeited to the seizing law enforcement agency. The final order of forfeiture by the court shall perfect in the law enforcement agency right, title, and interest in and to such property, subject only to the rights and interests of bona fide lienholders, and shall relate back to the date of seizure.(10) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, up to a limit of $2,000 $1,000, to the claimant at the close of the adversarial preliminary hearing if the court makes a finding of no probable cause. When the claimant prevails, at the close of forfeiture proceedings and any appeal, the court shall award reasonable trial attorney’s fees and costs to the claimant if the court finds that the seizing agency has not proceeded at any stage of the proceedings in good faith or that the seizing agency’s action which precipitated the forfeiture proceedings was a gross abuse of the agency’s discretion. The court may order the seizing agency to pay the awarded attorney’s fees and costs from the appropriate contraband forfeiture trust fund. Nothing in this subsection precludes any party from electing to seek attorney’s fees and costs under chapter 57 or other applicable law.(11)(a) The Department of Law Enforcement, in consultation with the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association, shall develop guidelines and training procedures to be used by state and local law enforcement agencies and state attorneys in implementing the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. At least annually, each state or local law enforcement agency that seizes property for the purpose of forfeiture shall periodically review such seizures of assets made by the agency’s law enforcement officers, any settlements, and any forfeiture proceedings initiated by the law enforcement agency, to determine whether they such seizures, settlements, and forfeitures comply with the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act and the guidelines adopted under this subsection. If the review suggests deficiencies, the state or local law enforcement agency shall promptly take action to comply with the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.(b) The determination as to of whether an agency will file a civil forfeiture action is must be the sole responsibility of the head of the agency or his or her designee.(c)(b) The determination as to of whether to seize currency must be made by supervisory personnel. The agency’s legal counsel must be notified as soon as possible after a determination is made.(d) The employment, salary, promotion, or other compensation of any law enforcement officer may not be dependent on the ability of the officer to meet a quota for seizures.(e) A seizing agency shall adopt and implement written policies, procedures, and training to ensure compliance with all applicable legal requirements regarding seizing, maintaining, and the forfeiture of property under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.(f) When property is seized for forfeiture, the probable cause supporting the seizure must be promptly reviewed by supervisory personnel. The seizing agency’s legal counsel must be notified as soon as possible of all seizures and shall conduct a review to determine whether there is legal sufficiency to proceed with a forfeiture action.(g) Each seizing agency shall adopt and implement written policies and procedures promoting the prompt release of seized property as may be required by the act or by agency determination when there is no legitimate basis for holding seized property. To help ensure that property is not wrongfully held after seizure, each law enforcement agency must adopt written policies and procedures ensuring that all asserted claims of interest in seized property are promptly reviewed for potential validity.(h) The settlement of any forfeiture action must be consistent with the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act and the policy of the seizing agency.(i) Law enforcement agency personnel involved in the seizure of property for forfeiture shall receive basic training and continuing education as required by the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. Each agency shall maintain records demonstrating each law enforcement officer’s compliance with this requirement. Among other things, the training must address the legal aspects of forfeiture, including, but not limited to, search and seizure and other constitutional considerations.Section 4. Subsection (3) and paragraph (c) of subsection (5) of section 932.7055, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:932.7055 Disposition of liens and forfeited property.—(3) If the forfeited property is subject to a lien preserved by the court as provided in s. 932.703(7)(b) 932.703(6)(b), the agency shall:(a) Sell the property with the proceeds being used towards satisfaction of any liens; or(b) Have the lien satisfied prior to taking any action authorized by subsection (1).(5)(c) An agency or organization, other than the seizing agency, that wishes to receive such funds shall apply to the sheriff or chief of police for an appropriation and its application shall be accompanied by a written certification that the moneys will be used for an authorized purpose. Such requests for expenditures shall include a statement describing anticipated recurring costs for the agency for subsequent fiscal years. An agency or organization that receives money pursuant to this subsection shall provide an accounting for such moneys and shall furnish the same reports as an agency of the county or municipality that receives public funds. Such funds may be expended in accordance with the following procedures:Such funds may be used only for school resource officer, crime prevention, safe neighborhood, drug abuse education, or drug prevention programs or such other law enforcement purposes as the board of county commissioners or governing body of the municipality deems appropriate.Such funds shall not be a source of revenue to meet normal operating needs of the law enforcement agency.After July 1, 1992, and during every fiscal year thereafter, Any local law enforcement agency that acquires at least $15,000 pursuant to the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act within a fiscal year must expend or donate no less than 25 15 percent of such proceeds for the support or operation of any drug treatment, drug abuse education, drug prevention, crime prevention, safe neighborhood, or school resource officer program or programs program(s). The local law enforcement agency has the discretion to determine which program or programs program(s) will receive the designated proceeds.Notwithstanding the drug abuse education, drug treatment, drug prevention, crime prevention, safe neighborhood, or school resource officer minimum expenditures or donations, the sheriff and the board of county commissioners or the chief of police and the governing body of the municipality may agree to expend or donate such funds over a period of years if the expenditure or donation of such minimum amount in any given fiscal year would exceed the needs of the county or municipality for such program or programs program(s). Nothing in this section precludes The minimum requirement for expenditure or donation of forfeiture proceeds in excess of the minimum amounts established in this subparagraph does not preclude expenditures or donations in excess of that amount herein.Section 5. Section 932.7061, Florida Statutes, is created to read:932.7061 Reporting seized property for forfeiture.—(1) Every law enforcement agency shall submit an annual report to the Department of Law Enforcement indicating whether the agency has seized or forfeited property under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act. A law enforcement agency receiving or expending forfeited property or proceeds from the sale of forfeited property in accordance with the FloridaContraband Forfeiture Act shall submit a completed annual report by October 10 documenting the receipts and expenditures. The report shall be submitted in an electronic form, maintained by the Department of Law Enforcement in consultation with the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, to the entity that has budgetary authority over such agency and to the Department of Law Enforcement. The annual report must, at a minimum, specify the type, approximate value, court case number, type of offense, disposition of property received, and amount of any proceeds received or expended.(2) The Department of Law Enforcement shall submit an annual report to the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability compiling the information and data in the annual reports submitted by the law enforcement agencies. The annual report shall also contain a list of law enforcement agencies that have failed to meet the reporting requirements and a summary of any action taken against the noncomplying agency by the office of Chief Financial Officer.(3) The law enforcement agency and the entity having budgetary control over the law enforcement agency may not anticipate future forfeitures or proceeds therefrom in the adoption and approval of the budget for the law enforcement agency.Section 6. Section 932.7062, Florida Statutes, is created to read:932.7062 Penalty for noncompliance with reporting requirements.—A seizing agency that fails to comply with the reporting requirements in s. 932.7061 is subject to a civil fine of $5,000, to be determined by the Chief Financial Officer and payable to the General Revenue Fund. However, such agency is not subject to the fine if, within 60 days after receipt of written notification from the Department of Law Enforcement of noncompliance with the reporting requirements of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, the agency substantially complies with those requirements. The Department of Law Enforcement shall submit any substantial noncompliance to the office of Chief Financial Officer, which shall be responsible for the enforcement of this section.Section 7. Paragraphs (a) and (c) of subsection (9) of section 322.34, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:322.34 Driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified.—(9)(a) A motor vehicle that is driven by a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs in violation of s. 316.193 is subject to seizure and forfeiture under ss. 932.701-932.7062 932.706 and is subject to liens for recovering, towing, or storing vehicles under s. 713.78 if, at the time of the offense, the person’s driver license is suspended, revoked, or canceled as a result of a prior conviction for driving under the influence.(c) Notwithstanding s. 932.703(1)(c) or s. 932.7055, when the seizing agency obtains a final judgment granting forfeiture of the motor vehicle under this section, 30 percent of the net proceeds from the sale of the motor vehicle shall be retained by the seizing law enforcement agency. The remaining 70 percent of the proceeds shall first be applied to payment of court costs, fines, and fees remaining due, and any remaining balance of proceeds and 70 percent shall be deposited in the General Revenue Fund for use by regional workforce boards in providing transportation services for participants of the welfare transition program. In a forfeiture proceeding under this section, the court may consider the extent that the family of the owner has other public or private means of transportation.Section 8. Paragraph (a) of subsection (4) of section 323.001, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:323.001 Wrecker operator storage facilities; vehicle holds.—(4) The requirements for a written hold apply when the following conditions are present:(a) The officer has probable cause to believe the vehicle should be seized and forfeited under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, ss. 932.701932.7062 932.706;Section 9. Paragraph (b) of subsection (3) of section 328.07, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:328.07 Hull identification number required.—(3)(b) If any of the hull identification numbers required by the United States Coast Guard for a vessel manufactured after October 31, 1972, do not exist or have been altered, removed, destroyed, covered, or defaced or the real identity of the vessel cannot be determined, the vessel may be seized as contraband property by a law enforcement agency or the division, and shall be subject to forfeiture pursuant to ss. 932.701-932.7062 932.706. Such vessel may not be sold or operated on the waters of the state unless the division receives a request from a law enforcement agency providing adequate documentation or is directed by written order of a court of competent jurisdiction to issue to the vessel a replacement hull identification number which shall thereafter be used for identification purposes. No vessel shall be forfeited under the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act when the owner unknowingly, inadvertently, or neglectfully altered, removed, destroyed, covered, or defaced the vessel hull identification number.817.625 Use of scanning device or reencoder to defraud; penalties.—(2)Section 10. Paragraph (c) of subsection (2) of section 817.625, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:(c) Any person who violates subparagraph (a)1. or subparagraph (a)2. shall also be subject to the provisions of ss. 932.701-932.7062 932.706. Section 11. This act shall take effect July 1, 2016.Approved by the Governor April 1, 2016. Filed in Office Secretary of State April 1, 2016.
During the past several years the cannabis issue has been highly politicized. This new policy by the Hillsborough County State attorney’s office is based on science. #Refreshing
At least one Tampa, Florida cannabis prosecutor has developed an imminently reasonable and science-based process for determining whether or not cannabis prosecutions will proceed in Hillsborough County, Florida.“The traditional testimony of officer’s training and experience is of no use. These legal products will test positive for THC with the current presumptive test kits in use.”
Apparently the roadside, presumptive, field reagent test used by law enforcement cannot accurately detect illegal marijuana. Until such a test is developed, the Tampa Florida based prosecutor will not proceed with many cannabis prosecutions.
During the past several years the cannabis issue has been highly politicized. This new policy by the Hillsborough County State attorney’s office is based on science. #Refreshing“Current field tests are insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt”
TO: All Assistant State Attorneys
Date: September 4, 2019
From: State Attorney Andrew Warren
Re: Prosecution of Marijuana Cases following the enactment of the Hemp law.
Summary:Effective immediately, our office will not file charges nor prosecute any cannabis case with an offense date on or after July 1, 2019 without a scientifically reliable, admissible test that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance contains a THC level above the 0.3 % threshold that distinguishes illegal cannabis from legal hemp. Among cannabis-related offenses, our office will continue to prioritize felonies: trafficking, manufacturing, delivery, sale, possession with intent, and felony-amount possession cases, while continuing to deprioritize the prosecution of misdemeanor cannabis cases in favor of established diversion and civil citation programs. Also, we will continue to prioritize the prosecution of cannabis-related felonies in which other felonies are part of the same transaction or occurrence, such as felon in possession of a firearm or offenses involving other controlled substances.Florida’s new hemp law took effect on July 1, 2019. Since that time, our office has been discussing the prosecutorial impact of the law with elected representatives, other State Attorney’s Offices, and our law enforcement partners. Over the past two months, we have provided guidance consistent with this memorandum within our office while waiting to see what, if any, policy changes our law enforcement partners would make with respect to investigating and arresting cannabis offenses. This memorandum formalizes the guidance ASAs have already been given.New LawSenate Bill 1020, known as the “Hemp Law,” went into effect on July 1, 2019. This law legalizes the possession and use of hemp. The bill defines hemp as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof, and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, 2 isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers thereof, whether growing or not, that has a total delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dry-weight basis.” See Florida Statute §581.217(3)(d). The new law changes the definition of cannabis such that the term excludes hemp as defined in section 581.217. Cannabis and hemp both come from the same plant, Cannabis sativa L. Cannabis and hemp look, feel and smell the same, and both can be smoked. The main difference between hemp and cannabis is that hemp has a total delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration that does not exceed 0.3%. If the THC concentration of the plant is less than or equal to 0.3%, then the plant is hemp, and is legal in Florida. If the THC concentration of the plant exceeds 0.3%, then the plant is cannabis and is illegal in Florida (subject to medicinal exceptions).Impact on ProsecutionThe Hemp Law will impact prosecutors and law enforcement. Specifically, the new law affects our ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a substance is illegal cannabis as opposed to legal hemp. Given the inability to distinguish between hemp and cannabis visually or through smell, the only current reliable method is quantitative testing. In order to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a substance is cannabis, we need quantitative testing to establish that the THC level exceeds 0.3% on a dry weight basis.Prosecutorial ethics preclude us from charging an offense without a good faith belief that we can prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, for any cannabis-related offense occurring on or after July 1, 2019, our office needs a reliable, admissible laboratory test result establishing the suspected substance is illegal cannabis rather than hemp before filing charges. Because, pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.191, the speedy trial period starts at the time of arrest, probable cause arrests for cannabis offenses made before law enforcement has obtained a reliable, admissible positive (≥ 0.3% THC) lab test result may jeopardize the successful prosecution of such offenses, absent other circumstances.Current field tests are insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a substance exceeds the 0.3% THC concentration. Law enforcement agencies locally and statewide are working diligently to develop best practices and procedures to meet this challenge. In the meantime, law enforcement is working with private labs to provide reliable and admissible quantitative testing. A law enforcement agency must submit the suspected substance to a DEAlicensed facility for quantitative testing and ensure that proper chain of custody is preserved. To ensure that the results of any such testing are not excluded by the Court, the particular lab testing methodology utilized must be capable of meeting the Daubert standard. See Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S. Ct. 2786, 125 L. Ed. 2d 469 (1993). ACS Laboratory, located in Hillsborough County, is the largest cannabis and hemp testing laboratory in the southeastern United States. ACS Laboratory has advised that it can produce results that will give a quantitative amount of THC in 2-5 business days. More information about ACS Laboratory is available at http://www.acslabcannabis.com. ASAs should familiarize themselves with the information on the lab practices and procedures necessary to submit evidence of a cannabis offense.The Hemp Law does not affect our current prioritization of cannabis cases. Among cannabis-related offenses, our office will continue to prioritize felonies: trafficking, manufacturing, delivery, sale, possession with intent, and felony-amount possession cases. We will likewise continue to deprioritize the prosecution of misdemeanor cannabis cases in favor of established diversion and civil citation programs. Also, we will continue to prioritize the prosecution of cannabis-related felonies in which other felonies are part of the same transaction or occurrence, such as felon in possession of a firearm or offenses involving other controlled substances. Although we anticipate that law enforcement will direct file charges after obtaining a positive lab result in lieu of making an arrest, whether a defendant is arrested or direct filed will not affect the priority of the prosecution.These changes will increase the cost of prosecuting cannabis related offenses. Law enforcement will pay the increased expenses for the necessary quantitative testing prior to our office filing charges. Our office will pay for expert witness testimony to prosecute cannabis cases, subject to the volume of cases and budgetary constraints.Impact on Probable Cause Investigations and Admissible EvidenceAs in any prosecution, ASAs must evaluate cannabis cases to ensure the admissibility of evidence. Probable cause to search in cannabis investigations has often been based on odor or plain view from a vehicle or person. As noted above, however, hemp and illegal cannabis look and smell the same. As a result, the Hemp Law creates additional Fourth Amendment challenges related to cannabis-based searches.We continue to work with law enforcement to establish best practices to protect people’s Fourth Amendment rights while ensuring successful prosecutions based upon lawful searches and seizures. Under the new Hemp law, the visual observation of suspected cannabis or its odor alone is likely no longer sufficient to establish probable cause to believe a crime is being committed or that evidence of a crime is present. The probable cause standard requires merely a reasonable basis to believe that a crime was committed or that evidence of the crime exists. Accordingly, in most instances, an “odor plus” standard likely demonstrates probable cause to conduct a warrantless cannabis-based search. Many local and statewide law enforcement agencies are adopting this standard.Below is a non-exhaustive list of “odor plus” factors. This list provides a starting point for ASAs working through these issues in cases involving warrantless cannabis-based searches.1. Information or intelligence regarding illicit activity prior to the stop2. Knowledge of the subject’s prior recent criminal history for narcotics violations3. Observation of a hand-to-hand transaction prior to the stop4. Admission that the substance is illegal cannabis5. Conflicting or implausible statements6. Nervousness, such as:a. Sweating when it is not hotb. Shaking or trembling handsc. Avoiding eye contact7. Furtive movements8. Discarding, destroying, or trying to hide a substance9. A large amount of currency10. Currency in rubber-banded “quick count bundles”11. Masking agents such as fabric softener, air fresheners, or coffee grinds12. Firearms or other weapons13. Drug paraphernalia, such as baggies, pipes, heat sealers, or scales (although legal hemp may be stored in a baggie and smoked in a pipe as well)14. Signs of impairment on a driver (such as bloodshot, watery eyes or slurred speech)ASAs must assess the documentation of these “odor plus” factors when making evaluations related to charging determinations and admissible evidence. ASAs must always keep in mind that probable cause is assessed under the totality of the circumstances standard, and thus looking for documentation and evidence of circumstances in addition to the sight or odor of cannabis is fundamental to our evaluation of a case.Our office will continue to provide guidance as to the latest legal developments related to these Fourth Amendment issues.ConclusionAs these issues work through our court system, we will continue to monitor new court decisions and law enforcement procedures. We intend for this information to help guide your decision-making as you evaluate your cases rather than dictate specific prosecution decisions. Please consult with your supervisors should you have questions or additional thoughts. The recent legal changes make this an evolving area of law, and it is therefore imperative that we continue to communicate effectively to ensure the appropriate and consistent handling of cannabis offenses to advance our mission of public safety, fairness, and justice.
Leon County Cannabis Update September 21, 2019JACK CAMPBELLSTATE ATTORNEY301 S. MONROE STREETTALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA 32399-255oTELEPHONE: 8506066000OFFICE OFSTATE ATTORNEYSECOND JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF FLORIDA
July 30, 2019
Dear Law Enforcement Partners
I have just returned from our annual Florida Prosecuting Attorney’s Summer Conference where our board discussed many significant issues. One of the most pressing is that of Florida’s new hemp law and how it impacts other prosecutions. This letter does NOT address medical marijuana. I agree that the issues often interrelate, but for the sake of clarity I only address the hemp issue here.
Both Congress and the Florida Legislature have now passed laws making hemp, CBD, and other derivatives with 3 percent or less of THC, lawful. The specific definition is: “Hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof, and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers thereof, whether growing or not, that has a total delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dry-weight basis.” Florida Statute 581.217 2019.
Previously, I was present at a meeting and demonstration at the Florida Department of Agriculture on July 8, 2019 where a vendor, a Navy Seal, showed a possible presumptive test that would be able to differentiate these items. They stated they were working with AVO labs and the Broward State Attorney’s Office to validate the test. I mentioned that the tests were of no use unless they were validated and that we would need expert testimony to be able to establish their scientific reliability in court.
At the conference, I met with the Broward State Attorney’s team and am sorry to report that that they were hoping that AVO was going to be able to both validate and provide the expert testimony necessary. However, they have withdrawn after it was discovered they did not have a DEA License allowing them to even possess marijuana, let alone test it. Hence, I would not recommend you invest in those tests. The current status is that we are hoping to get a presumptive test that will work in Florida, but we don’t have it yet. We recommend keeping your current presumptive tests though as they will likely be needed even when the new additional presumptive test is retained.
In addition to presumptive or roadside tests, we also will need full testing for trial. The Attorney General’s Chief of Staff and General Counsel have explained the FDLE is currently looking at two possible courses to allow quantification testing of samples. Previously, we would need only qualitative testing as all forms of the cannabis plants were illegal. Now, cannabis and its extracts or derivatives are legal if it has THC concentrations below 3 %
The current posture is that no public or private lab in Florida can do this dispositive testing. The Florida Department of Agriculture is unable to do so, and while there are some private labs that may want to get this business, they are not online as of now. The traditional testimony of officer’s training and experience is of no use. These legal products will test positive for THC with the current presumptive test kits in use. The drug sniffing K9s that have been trained on marijuana will likely alert to these products, as they are trained to detect any amount of THC. Hemp products look and smell exactly like marijuana products.
Some municipal labs in larger jurisdictions are also trying to invest in technology that will either allow full or partial quantification. If FDLE does so, or your agency is willing to have the samples privately tested, we will consider filing these cases. I would suggest that if you are contemplating using a non-governmental lab to do your testing, please consult with us. The cost of testing may be far less than what it will cost for us to secure the expert testimony necessary to comply with Florida evidence rules. Furthermore, the lab you are using may not be capable of meeting the Daubert predicate, and if so, the evidence will be excluded. Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm Inc.. 509 U.S. 579585113 S. Ct. 27862792125 L. Ed. 20469 1993.
My current hope is that the Florida Legislature, Florida Department of Agriculture, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will work to resolve this problem. It is clear that cannabis is still illegal, and I intend to enforce the laws as written. While this has created a practical frustration, it does not appear to be insurmountable.
Of greater concerns, are the associated issues we will face due to this status. Much of the search and seizure law hinges on either the officer’s or K-9’s ability to smell. This seems to now be in significant doubt. I would suggest that your officers and deputies no longer rely purely on their identification of believed cannabis. While it used to allow further detentions and seizures, case law from other jurisdictions suggest it will not be sufficient in the coming months and years.
Finally, perhaps the most egregious oversite is that of juvenile law. At present, there is no additional restriction on children possessing CBD or Hemp. It is my understanding that some shops are now making pre-rolled hemp cigarettes and are selling hemp gummies. The irony that children cannot lawfully possess tobacco but can now have hemp candies and cigarettes is astounding. I again hope that the Florida Legislature will address this problem.
To conclude, this Office will no longer be charging people with possession of cannabis absent a confession to what the substance is or testing by a lab that can meet the evidentiary standards I have laid out. We will also not be approving search warrants or other legal process based on traditional predicates where officers, or their dogs and presumptive tests, feel a substance is cannabis. I know this is a significant change in the law and would caution you in making arrests when these issues are present.
I am confident we can work through these challenges together as we have in the past. We will be lobbying the legislature to fund presumptive testing and final analytical testing, and to regulate possession by minors. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
2nd Judicial Circuit
Is the odor of burnt marijuana probable cause to search a vehicle?
Odor of Cannabis Shenanigans Case – Motion to suppress evidence denied where weed discovered in defendant’s vehicle during a traffic stop after law enforcement detected the odor of burnt marijuana. Court calls shenanigans on argument that because the state has medical marijuana, the smell of weed coming from a vehicle no longer provides law enforcement with probable cause to conduct search without warrant. Was reasonable for an officer to conclude that defendant smelling of marijuana, was acting unlawfully says Florida DCA.
Map of Florida Cities With Cannabis Civil Citation Programs
FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL
STATE OF FLORIDA
STATE OF FLORIDA,
On appeal from the Circuit Court for Leon County.
Robert E. Long, Judge.
July 9, 2019
Jordan Johnson appeals his conviction for carrying a
concealed weapon. His only argument on appeal is that the trial
court should have granted his motion to suppress. We reject this
argument and affirm.
Officers initiated a 2:00 a.m. traffic stop after noticing a
headlight out on Johnson’s car. Officers then smelled burnt
marijuana, detained Johnson, and searched the car. Inside the car,
they found the gun that led to the charge.
On appeal, Johnson acknowledges “the long line of cases that
hold that the smell of burnt marijuana coming from a vehicle
provides an officer with probable cause to detain the defendant and
conduct a warrantless search.” Init. Br. at 8 (citing State v. T.P.,
835 So. 2d 1277 (Fla 4th DCA 2003); State v. Williams, 967 So. 2d
941 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007); State v. Jennings, 968 So. 2d 694 (Fla.
4th DCA 2007)); see also State v. Betz, 815 So. 2d 627, 633 (Fla.
2002) (“As the odor of previously burnt marijuana certainly
warranted a belief that an offense had been committed, this
unquestionably provided the police officers on the scene probable
cause to search the passenger compartment of the respondent’s
vehicle.”). But, he contends, those cases became irrelevant after
Florida authorized medical marijuana. In other words, he argues,
while the officer’s “search based on the odor of marijuana was
constitutional prior to the enactment of [§ 381.986, Fla. Stat.], now
that medical marijuana is legal, it is no longer a sufficient basis for
probable cause.” Init. Br. at 7. He does not argue that he is a
medical-marijuana user; his argument is that the smell alone is no
longer enough since someone might be a medical-marijuana user.
There are several problems with this argument. First, as the
State notes, at the time of the stop, Florida’s medical-marijuana
laws did not authorize smokable marijuana, see § 381.986(1)(j)(2),
Fla. Stat. (2017) (excluding from “medical use” the “use, or
administration of marijuana in a form for smoking”), and the
officers smelled burnt marijuana. Second, Florida law did not
allow use in “a vehicle” other than “for low-THC cannabis.” Id.
§ 381.986(1)(j)(5)(b). Third, although Florida law does not
criminalize all use of medical marijuana, possession of marijuana
remains a crime under federal law. See 21 U.S.C. § 812(c); see also
Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 27 (2005) (noting that federal
controlled substance act “designates marijuana as contraband for
any purpose; in fact, by characterizing marijuana as a Schedule I
drug, Congress expressly found that the drug has no acceptable
medical uses”). Fourth, even if smoking marijuana were legal
altogether, the officers would have had probable cause based on
the fact that Johnson was operating a car. See § 316.193(1)(a), Fla.
Stat. (criminalizing driving under the influence of drugs).
Finally, even putting all of this aside, the possibility that a
driver might be a medical-marijuana user would not automatically
defeat probable cause. The probable cause standard, after all, is a
“practical and common-sensical standard.” Florida v. Harris, 568
U.S. 237, 244 (2013). It is enough if there is “the kind of ‘fair
probability’ on which ‘reasonable and prudent people, not legal
technicians, act.” Id. (some marks omitted). Here, we cannot say
that it would be unreasonable for an officer to conclude there is a
fair probability that someone driving around at 2:00 a.m., smelling
of marijuana, is acting unlawfully. And this is true whether or not
Florida law allows the medical use of marijuana in some
In short, Johnson has not shown that the trial court’s order
denying suppression—an order that comes to us “clothed with a
presumption of correctness,” Terry v. State, 668 So. 2d 954, 958
WETHERELL, WINOKUR, and M.K. THOMAS, JJ., concur.
Not final until disposition of any timely and
authorized motion under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or
Andy Thomas, Public Defender, and Megan Long, Assistant Public
Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Ashley Moody, Attorney General, and Damaris E. Reynolds and
Jennifer J. Moore, Assistant Attorneys General, Tallahassee, for
Florida Grow House Defense Attorney presents this rather unusual underground growhouse. We recall there was an underground grow house bust in Tampa, Florida, but this video is from Levy County, Florida near Gainesville, Florida.
Grow House Busted? Call a Board Certified Criminal Defense Expert Toll Free 1-877-793-9290 .
Florida Medical Marijuana Growhouse Video[googlemaps https://www.tallahassee.com/videos/embed/86720140/?fullsite=true” title=”Video From Inside a Legal Florida Medical Marijuana Growhouse” width=”100%”>
Video From Inside a Legal Florida Medical Marijuana GrowhouseWe have just obtained Video From Inside a Legal Florida Medical Marijuana Growhouse near Tallahassee, Florida.
Map of Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Tampa, FloridaWe have also uncovered the location of one of Florida’a first retail locations for dispensing Medical marijuana. They will dispense Calming CBD Oil with natural almond and mint extracts, Calming CBD Spray with natural Florida orange extract, and Calming Topical Lotion with natural lavender & eucalyptus extract. It is operated by Surterra. The video above was shot at a Surterra growhouse. Here is the location of the Surterra Wellness Center homeopathic pharmacy we found at 2558 E Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33612.2558 E Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33612
Previous Growhouse Videos
Here are links to our previous growhouse videos. Here is a page that has more maps and videos of marijuana growing operations.Rating: 5 – Review by Google+ User
Here is some video from inside the otherwise unremarkable suburban home, a map of 124 Elliott Ln, Winter Haven, FL 33884 and here is the …http://www.drug2go.com/2011/02/grow-house-video-of-day-underground.htmlRating: 5 – Review by Google+ User
Feb 22, 2011 – We recall there was an underground grow house bust in Tampa, Florida, but this video is from Levy County, Florida near Gainesville, Florida.
Drug Crimes Possession and Distribution Drugs / Marijuana in State or Federal Court
Stories of Typical Drug BustsFrequently, we see drug busts for drug crimes when police conduct a simple traffic stop. Sometimes narcotics squads obtain a search warrant based upon someone tattling to the police. Sometimes they are using a confidential informant. However it happens the results are terrifyingly similar. A suspect is nabbed and taken to jail. Their photo is posted all over the internet and tons of junk mail arrives claiming an attorney can help. If a vehicle or real estate was involved, the county may seek forfeiture of the property. That must be addressed immediately, as the property can be taken, even though you have not been convicted!“Sometimes we find misconduct by the police, theirinformants, or the technicians at the drug crime lab”Within a month or so there will be a court appearance required. Florida has open court rooms. The media or an employer or friends may learn about the case. A discrete defense is needed early. Florida is unique in that although there has been an arrest, an Assistant State Attorney reviews each case before the actual charges are filed. Here is where an early intervention be your cannabis lawyer / representative can help. Prosecutors often do not know all the facts and circumstances surrounding an arrest. Your lawyer can reach out to them and explain the situation in a way that will be far more favorable than the cold reading of a report written by the police who want to see the suspect end up with a criminal record for possession of cannabis.If formal charges are filed anyway, a competent drug defense attorney will file a notice to the court and the prosecutor that the suspect is represented. Our office files a three page request demanding all witness identities, police reports, laboratory tests, video recordings, and audio recordings. we will send those reports to the client and carefully review them for signs of a defense. Sometimes we find misconduct by the police, their informants, or the technicians at the drug crime lab.
No Prior Drug Charges?Many people have no prior record or are busted for small quantities. In those cases we can convince the State Attorney to consider dismissal of the charges. We take an active approach to show that those under arrest for drug charges are not always the criminal that police have suggested they are.W.F. ”Casey” Ebsary often helps those charged with Drug Crimes including possession and distribution of drugs in both State and Federal Court. Casey has also defended importation and international conspiracy charges involving literally tons of cocaine smuggled in an unmanned submarine, that case concluded at the United States Supreme Court. As a former drug crime prosecutor in Tampa, Florida, I have experience from both sides of the courtroom.
Casey knows the tactics and training of the police and prosecutors. He was also a prosecutor in the then newly-formed Drug Court System. Casey knows how to help in Motions to Suppress illegally-obtained evidence, in jury trials of these types of charges, and if appropriate can help avoid conviction through diversion programs like the Drug Court.
Marijuana Attorney | NORML Legal Committee
We Can Help with Drug Crimes
Your arrest and prosecution for possession of marijuana is serious. You need a Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney experienced in defending cannabis cases, contact WF Ebsary, Jr at 1-877-793-9290 today for FREE to discuss fighting your marijuana charges throughout the greater Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Florida. A marijuana conviction (or any drug offense) can result in an immediate two (2) year suspension of your driver’s license. Even when the crime was not driving related.When drug charges are made in State or Federal Courts, we can provide a solution. Call us today at 1-877-793-9290 for a free initial consultation. If it is more convenient for you, we respond quickly to your call for help via our Call For Help web submission. They are sent to us wirelessly. We are constantly checking and responding, and will quickly get back to you via telephone or email. Drug charges can be disastrous to have on your record.A drug crimes defense lawyer in Hillsborough County, Florida and Board Certified Criminal Trial Attorney in Florida can defend you against drug charges. Casey is experienced and available to defend against these charges: Marijuana, cocaine, prescription, and other drug charges that can be dropped. Tampa Bay area drug defense lawyer W. F. ”Casey” Ebsary has experience and training as both a Hillsborough Drug Crimes Assistant State Attorney, who is now on the defense side helping people navigate treacherous waters when drug charges are at hand.
More Information on Marijuana and Cannabis Drug Crimes in Floridahttp://www.drug2go.com/p/marijuana-defense.html
In Florida, Marijuana charges can be a disastrous charge to have on your record. A Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer in Hillsborough Tampa Florida , can be …
Marijuana Grow Conviction Overturned – Knock and Talk. Motion To Suppress … defendant’s actions in answering questions and producing bag of marijuana for officers were not voluntary.
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Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Review
Best and fair attorney period. Casey had helped me during and after the case. Even years later he still recall every detail. If you are looking for a hardworker, someone that knows the in and outs of the system Casey is your man.