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Orlando Criminal Defense Blog

Will Florida expand drug laws to increase punishment?

Florida law already makes a concession for cocaine and heroin suppliers to be charged for murder if their drugs are involved in a drug overdose death. This law does not expand to drug peddlers or low-level drug dealers currently. But with a new legislative session upon us in the state of Florida, that rule may be expanded to include such lower-level individuals.

Apparently lawmakers don't just want to expand the existing law as is -- they also want to add drug dealers that distribute substances other than heroin or cocaine. Fentanyl and other opioids, which are currently a major issue in the United States, may be considered as a part of the law's expansion.

US DOJ: Sex offenders have low recidivism rates

There is a misconception out there that people who are registered sex offenders are extremely likely to commit a crime again. This recidivism rate has been touted to be as high as 80 percent. In fact, the Supreme Court of the United States cited this statistic in a 2002 case that involved the many restrictions placed on sex offenders.

And yet, this statistic is staggeringly incorrect. The United States Department of Justice followed every released sex offender in 15 states for three years following a 1994 release. They found that the recidivism rate was only 3.5 percent. The most restricted and watched individuals with a criminal past in our system have an extremely low recidivism rate. And yet, this misconception haunts the sex offender jurisprudence, continuing to oppress these people who are just trying to get their lives back on track.

Officers alter crime scene, arrested for tampering with evidence

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote a post about an evidence vault exploding in a freak incident that is now under investigation. The explosion ruined evidence in a number of cases which are no being reviewed. The cases may not be able to proceed without the evidence.

We bring up that post today because a recent example of evidence tampering highlights how the legal processes in place and the adherence to ethics in criminal investigations are incredibly important. Without them, we would live in a lawless land where no one could trust anything that the police or the judiciary did. Because we have ethical norms and laws, the rights people are granted protect them from nefarious or otherwise illegal behavior.

Analyzing solicitation charges in a criminal context

Solicitation in a criminal context means that you declare your intent to do something. You may encourage or demand that a certain criminal act is done. This constitutes solicitation, and you often hear it used in the context of a prostitution charge. Solicitation is also used in the context of online solicitation.

So what does this charge mean in terms of legal procedures? Well, in order to prove that an accused person is guilty of solicitation, the prosecution has to establish that you asked someone to engage in or perform the criminal act and that you had the intent to follow through on the criminal act. The second point is an important one, because it means an additional two things:

Approach to federal drug prosecution may change

Whenever administrations change, may they be presidential or otherwise, it is very likely that the new administration will have a different approach or strategy than the previous one. That's a not-so-veiled comment about the current political climate in our country, but politics aside, the sentiment does hold true. Now, why do we bring this up on criminal defense blog?

Well, the head of the Department of Justice sets the tone for the entire department, and under the Obama administration there was an inclination to refrain from filing federal drug charges in relation to marijuana. We're not saying they were never pursued -- but they were certainly de-emphasized. Given public sentiment and the growing number of states legalizing marijuana, it seemed logical.

Crime rates are down, but the accused are still in a bad spot

One of the facts that may get lost in a lot of the spectacle of the last year in U.S. politics is that crime rates have actually declined over the last quarter-century. And actually, that doesn't quite get the sentiment across. Crime rates have been plummeting since 1993. According to FBI data, from 1993 to 2015 the number of violent crimes per 100,000 residents in the U.S. has fallen from 747.1 to 372.6.

Similarly, property crimes have fallen by nearly 50 percent during that same time frame, with the number of 4,740 such incidents per 100,000 residents in 1993 falling to just 2,487 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2015. Crime continues to fall, and that is certainly a good thing.

Evidence vault hit by explosion, cases hang in the balance

An interesting story from up the coast has caught the eye of many in the criminal defense world. An evidence vault at a Washington D.C. police station was the site of an explosion that "significantly" damaged 150 packets of evidence out of the 52,000 that were there. Officials still aren't sure at this time what caused the explosion, but an investigation has been launched. One person was injured in the explosion. Officials are coordinating with prosecutors to determine if cases have been undermined as a result of the lost evidence.

This story brings up a lot of questions. The first is what constitutes "significant" damage? Does it mean the evidence was completely ruined beyond recognition or analysis? If so, will the cases tied to that evidence be thrown out?

A world without internet is impossible to imagine now

The internet has become a fundamental element of everyday life, so much so that it is hard to remember life without it. How did you meet up with friends before you had cellphones and texting connected on a 4G or WiFi network? Where did you get your information before there was Wikipedia and Google? How did you stay in touch with your friends and family that lived so far away?

Obviously there are legitimate answers to those questions -- but what we're saying here is that the internet has made things much easier, to the point that it is impossible to separate the internet from the real world.

The details of drug cases are crucial

One of the stereotypes about drug charges is that "they're all the same." Every drug offender is "the same." The cases proceed in "the same" way. The people who read about these cases think "the same" way about the alleged perpetrators: more poignantly that they are probably guilty even though the person alleged to have committed the crime has his or her presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

While we won't necessarily get into every point we mentioned above, we do want to target one part of the "sameness" that some people feel about drug cases: the details in each drug case matter. They are not ubiquitous elements of a criminal case. They are, in fact, incredibly important and defining traits of an elaborate event in time.

Largest heroin bust in Hernando County has a unique twist

On January 27, a total of 5,000 individual packets containing heroin were seized by the Hernando County Sheriff's Department. A related package of 550 packets was intercepted in May 2016 through the U.S. Postal Service.  With a combined weight of 3.3 lbs, this has been called the largest bust in Hernando County history.

That wasn't the only thing unique about this particular drug bust. It is that many of these individually-wrapped doses of heroin had the name "Donald Trump" printed on them - along with an image of the president.

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