Orlando Federal Narcotics Defense Lawyer
The War on Drugs probably peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After the sudden 1986 death of basketball phenom Len Bias, Congress passed harsh mandatory minimum drug sentences and law enforcement became very aggressive. Although the peak has passed, the war continues, especially regarding drug possession cases. Federal laws are still tougher than state laws in this area. For example, marijuana is semi-legal under Florida law, but always illegal under U.S. law. Procedural and substantive defenses are available in these cases.
The experienced Orlando federal narcotics defense lawyers from the O’Mara Law Group routinely handle drug cases in federal courts throughout the Sunshine State. We are fully aware of all the rules in these situations, including the controversial Federal Sentencing Act and the limits it imposes on plea negotiations. So, we are always fully prepared when we go to battle for you. This insight is often the key to our success in this area.
Officers hardly ever have search warrants in drug possession cases. So, unless a narrow search warrant exception applies, any drugs or other contraband they seize are usually inadmissible in court. Common search warrant exceptions include:
- Consent: Owners and apparent owners may consent to property searches. An apparent owner is a person like a driver who doesn’t own the car. Officers cannot ask multiple people for consent until they find someone who allows it. Furthermore, consent is a voluntary act. Officer threats affect voluntariness.
- Plain View: This exception often comes up in automobile searches. Officers may seize any drugs or other contraband they see in plain view. This right only applies if the officers were lawfully in that place to begin with. So, plain view automobile seizures often hinge on the legality of the stop.
- Exigent Circumstances: This exception often comes up in property searches. If police officers reasonably believe someone in a building is in trouble, perhaps because they are responding to a disturbance call, they may perform a quick security sweep. While inside, they may seize any illegal substances they see in plain view.
Failure to Mirandize the defendant is another common procedural defense. Officers must read defendants their rights (you have the right to remain silent, etc.) before custodial interrogation begins. This phase of a detention usually begins when officers focus their attention on defendants and say anything to them.
One reason police officers file so many drug possession cases is that they believe they are easy to prove in court. But that’s usually not true. An Orlando federal narcotics defense lawyer can usually create reasonable doubt on at least one element of “possession.” In addition to proximity, which is broadly defined in federal law, prosecutors must also prove knowledge and control. These two elements are much more narrowly defined.
Assume Joe is riding in the back seat of Enrique’s car. A Homeland Security officer gets suspicious, Enrique gives her permission to search the car, and she finds a baggie of marijuana in the glove compartment. Prosecutors would be hard-pressed to prove that Joe knew about and controlled the marijuana. That’s especially true if the two people didn’t know each other well and/or the glove compartment was locked.
Substantive defenses also apply to drug trafficking cases. Often, prosecutors use circumstantial evidence, like guns or money seized at the scene, to elevate possession charges to trafficking charges. But there’s often little connection between drugs in the garage and guns in the shed.
Reach Out to a Thorough Orange County Lawyer
Criminal accusations do not necessarily lead to criminal convictions. For a confidential consultation with an experienced federal narcotics defense attorney in Orlando, contact the O’Mara Law Group, Attorneys at Law. Convenient payment plans are available.