West Palm Beach , 02/05/2016 /SubmitPressRelease123/
Arrests for drug possession, sale of drugs, manufacturing of drugs, or trafficking in illegal substances has always been at the forefront of those in the law enforcement communities throughout Palm Beach County, FL. The “drug epidemic” has been at the tip of the spear for local and state officials in Florida for decades. Palm Beach County, and little cities like Delray Beach, FL have become known as the “drug recovery” capital of America. Those same locations in Florida have always been synonymous with titles like “cocaine cowboy” and the “pill mill” capital of America. The driving factors for illegal drug use vary from economic pressures to peer pressures. But several things remain constant in Florida regarding arrest and prosecutions for illegal narcotics or substances and that is, law enforcement officers and Assistant State Attorneys prosecuting the drug cases will do whatever it takes to garner a conviction!
Drug agents, drug detectives and road patrol deputy sheriffs are notorious for manufacturing bad traffic stops of those suspected of possessing illegal substances. Law enforcement officials will usually cite in their probable cause affidavit that the driver of the vehicle “rolled” through a stop sign or that the driver of the vehicle made an “illegal lane change” without using their turn signal, as the motives for the traffic stop.
Many times, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies like to state in their probable cause affidavit that “the officer witnessed a hand to hand transaction” in a “high crime area” that gave the officer suspicion to follow the suspect, who then ran from the law enforcement official and “threw” something on the ground. The officer later will of course swear that what he or she discovered on the ground was field tested and tested positive for cocaine, heroin, flakka or marijuana! The prior example is the story being told by officers over and over again in the Palm Beach County courthouse, where the judges assigned to the drug cases there have gobbled up the officers stories hook, line and sinker. So, what do you need to know when facing a drug crime in Palm Beach County, FL.?
First, if the drug crime for which you are charged is your first offense and is a simple “possession of an illegal substance,” you will likely be offered several sentencing options; if you want to resolve the matter with a negotiated plea agreement. Depending on the choice you ultimately make when hiring a drug lawyer in Palm Beach County, FL will decide the success of your outcome! There are many options afforded to first time drug offenders. Drug court can always be an option to those who want to “get clean” or for those who have decided that the life they are living is making them sick. Palm Beach County drug court has a very extensive program that mixes “AA” “NA” principles, in-patient treatment, peer support programs, employment programs and other social programs to help the defendant stay clean and graduate from the program. The program usually ranges in time from 9-18 months. If the drug court participant successfully completes the program, then the case is Nolle Prossed or dismissed by the prosecutor.
Second, the accused may not want the rigors of drug court or may not qualify for drug court and may instead being looking to get a plea agreement of probation as opposed to going to trial. This process can be made much easier with an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side. The time one is on probation, the requirements of probation, the amount of money one has to pay while on probation, the possible loss of a driver’s license from a drug conviction and many other pitfalls can be avoided with the hiring of an experienced drug lawyer.
Third, the accused may want to go to trial! This is where the rubber meets the road. This is the area of law that only the best criminal defense lawyers with experience get pumped up about. The idea of trial raises an aura of excitement in a criminal trial lawyer’s life. While trials cost additional money, because of the added cost associated with the time spent by the lawyer on the file, in the courtroom, in additional client conferences, in depositions and in motion practice, this is the time when the Constitution comes alive! Remember, the Constitution is in place to preserve a citizen’s liberties and to restrain the Government! With that “restraint” in mind, hiring an experienced, zealous drug defense attorney can make the difference at trial.
In trial, the law enforcement officer will want to recite what is in his or her reports. This reading from their reports is done to give credibility to their “story” of how things went down in their attempt to persuade the jury in the State’s favor. But an officer may not read from their reports during their testimony. This is an error and must not be tolerated, as it is objectionable.
In trial, the drug agent will want to testify about what he heard the accused and others saying about the alleged criminal activity. This too is likely not allowed in trial and should be quickly objected to and not allowed to be heard by the jury. This prejudicial presentation of evidence by the officer is always asked for by the prosecutors, in an attempt to tell the story of another person not testifying. Such testimony is an attempt to “add” or “bootstrap” evidence onto the scale in favor of the State, which must not be tolerated and kept out through objection.
In trial, the prosecutor will try to elicit testimony from the arresting officer that the area in which the accused was arrested is known as a “high crime area.” This type of testimony by the officer, as to the “high crime area” is forbidden in all Florida courtrooms, and must be kept out.
In trial, the prosecutors will attempt to ask the drug agent what they saw, in an attempt to get in the testimony to the jury that the cop saw a “hand to hand” transaction. Oh, the hand to hand passing of something, in a high crime area, late at night stirs the ire of a jury. Exactly, that is why it’s not allowed to be brought into evidence by the testimony of the arresting officer, in any Florida courtroom.
Lastly, another area of concern is the prosecutor’s bad behaviors during trial. Prosecutors like to question the accused during cross examination about his or her story being “believable.” This type of questioning is grounds for an immediate objection and mistrial. Again, the Constitution protects the citizen’s right to a fair trial and one of those rights is to keep the burden of proof on the State and not the accused. Assistant State Attorneys also like to “shift the Constitutional burden of proof” to the accused, by asking them questions why they did not call a witness to the stand to explain their story or to corroborate their story of not being guilty. This type of behavior is also objectionable and immediate grounds for a mistrial; the Constitution protects the citizen and not the State. Another one that prosecutors like to pull off is commenting on an accused’s failure to produce evidence at his or her trial. This is objectionable and grounds for a mistrial as well. The prosecutor shall never comment on the accused right to exercise or forego exercising one of their Constitutional rights. The prior examples are just some of the many reasons why an experienced drug defense lawyer is needed to get a fair, effective and zealous criminal trial.