Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

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The state of Florida sees millions of tourists every year to have a relaxing vacation at the beach, a wild spring break trip for college students, or maybe even a fun bachelor/bachelorette party weekend. While having some fun in the sun is a great idea, things can turn sour quickly when travelers are arrested while vacationing. Whether you are facing a DUI, drug charges, solicitation, assault and battery, shoplifting, or any other criminal charges, our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to offer our help. 

Dealing with an Out of State Arrest 

vacation-2218989_1920-300x205So what do you do now if you have been arrested while vacationing in Florida, but live somewhere else?  Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you do not live in the state of Florida that if you leave and never come back that your arrest won’t follow you. If you ignore the charges against you then this could result in a warrant for your arrest in the state where you live. The best way to handle any criminal charges is to hire a local lawyer in the state where you were arrested who can assist with your legal matter. 

At Whittel & Melton, we know that dealing with an out of state arrest can be cumbersome. Traveling back and forth, spending money on gas or plane tickets and hotels, and missing time from work is not ideal, but it may be necessary depending on your situation. We may be able to keep you from having to come back and make an appearance in court or we can work with the prosecutors involved to only have you travel back for the most important dates. In most cases, we often find that we can make an appearance on your behalf so that you can save yourself a trip. 

In the event that you are facing more serious charges and will have to show up for trial, you need to make sure that you have the best legal defense possible so that you can benefit from a possible plea deal, which may result in more serious charges being reduced in exchange for your guilty plea on a lesser charge. While pleading guilty to any crime may not sound appealing to you, sometimes doing so can make your life easier and keep you from traveling back and forth. This can also spare you the consequences of a conviction if things don’t go as planned in trial. We will do everything we can to have the charges against you dropped whenever possible, but in cases where the evidence is overwhelming this just may not be an option. 

We will always review any evidence against you in order to determine what is in your best interests. If a plea deal is not something we think is of benefit to you, then we are trial lawyers that can fight for you in the courtroom in order to achieve the best possible results for your charges. 

The following are the common cases where our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can appear on your behalf: 

  • If you are facing misdemeanor charges – When you are charged with a misdemeanor in Florida, you may be issued a Promise to Appear (PTA). This can provide you with the option to waive your presence in court and allow an attorney who is representing you to appear on your behalf. This will also allow your lawyer to accept a plea deal on your behalf. 
  • If your charges qualify for Pretrial Diversion (PTD) – If you are facing felony charges, but the offense in question qualifies for PTD, then you may be able to waive your presence for certain court appearances. 

Keep in mind that if you are arrested for a DUI while vacationing in Florida, then you will need to appear in court under the Interstate Drivers License Compact. Failing to appear will result in your driver’s license privileges being suspended and a warrant for your arrest may be issued. Your attorney will advise you on how to proceed after a DUI arrest and what you must do to avoid further consequences.  Continue reading

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The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office says that the arrest of a 38-year-old man for drug trafficking resulted after they were able to allegedly link him to a storage unit near Royal Palm Beach as well as his Acreage home. 

Police believe the man kept methamphetamines, fentanyl, cocaine and oxycodone at the storage unit and his home. 

According to police, they seized almost 20 pounds of fentanyl from the storage unit that belonged to the man as well as thousands of oxycodone pills, bath salts, ecstasy, cocaine, around 28 pounds of methamphetamines, and plastic baggies.

The man is facing various drug charges, including trafficking fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamines, and oxycodone.

His bail was set at more than $2 million. If released, he will be placed on in-house arrest. 

Investigators apparently visited the storage unit on Monday where they also found a photo of the man, which is what led them to his home. 

They apparently obtained a search warrant for his house and found several other drugs and paraphernalia. 

Police claim they recovered a pistol, rubber gloves and a respirator mask that is often used when working with chemicals in the man’s kitchen. 

In the man’s garage they claim to have found a pill press mold where he is suspected of producing counterfeit oxycodone pills using fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a very powerful narcotic that is around 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. 

According to a Florida Medical Examiners’ report, fentanyl is responsible for killing 278 people in Palm Beach County in 2018, which is more than in any other county in the state. In the first half of 2019 (January to June), 155 people were killed from fentanyl overdoses in Palm Beach County, which is the third-highest total in any Florida county in that same time period.

Detectives went on to share in their report that they uncovered nearly 20 pounds of fentanyl and 33 pounds of marijuana. They also said they found possible bath salts in a child’s bedroom, narcotic gummies, and more cocaine throughout their search of the rest of the home. 

wheelie-bin-2270582_1920-300x200The PBSO did not share how they were tipped off to the man’s storage unit for potential drug trafficking. They did disclose that they did a “trash pull” from the man’s home on Dec. 29. 

It is not exactly clear how long the man has been on PBSO’s radar. 

According to a report, the accused has served time in federal prison for the intent to distribute drugs in 2008. He was convicted of supplying a woman with ecstasy pills that she sold, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty in 2009 and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. He was released in 2015. 

This case is interesting because it brings up how police use trash pulls, which are perfectly legal, to try and figure out what is going inside someone’s home. There is really no secretive way that police carry out a trash pull. They just go to a home or business where trash has been put out for collection and rummage through the contents. What are they looking for? Usually they are rifling through trash to uncover any possible drug residue from cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, fentanyl, etc. These drug remnants are often referred to as “shake.” They are also looking for any large amounts of cleaner or other products that are often used in the manufacture of drugs. If they find any information on who is living at the home, that is also useful information to police. If they find any documents that could suggest drug sales have occurred or any other evidence that points to the possibility of illegal activity, this is also helpful information that could result in a search warrant for the home or business being looked at. 

Police will usually monitor trash for several weeks just to be sure that they uncover enough evidence or can rule out any illegal behavior. It should also be noted that trash is not considered private property as the Supreme Court of the United States as well as the state of Florida has ruled that trash that has been placed on the curb for collection is classified as “abandoned property,” so police do not need a search warrant to pilfer through the contents. They also do not have to tell you that they are conducting trash pulls of your garbage.  Continue reading

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In one of several criminal justice reforms being pushed for 2020, the Senate voted 39-1 to relax some drug-related mandatory minimums.

SB 346, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, would increase judicial discretion in sentencing non violent offenders in their first drug possession conviction.

Bradley noted that this was a “third rail” back in 2013, but now has support from the Florida Prosecutors Association.

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Offenders caught with small amounts of most drugs could be sent to jail but not prison under a bill approved by a Florida Senate committee.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee unanimously approved the bill on Tuesday. It would also give judges more leeway in sentencing drug dealers in some circumstances.

The legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. Rob Bradley would mean people possessing less than two grams of drugs other than fentanyl couldn’t be sentenced to more than 12 months in jail. Offenders would be held in county jails and not state prison.

Judges would also be able to depart from mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers if they are non-violent, didn’t possess a gun and haven’t been previously convicted of a felony.

Incarceration of individuals that are convicted of non-violent crimes, like drug crimes, comes at a great cost to society. When a person is found guilty of a drug-related offense, but would be best served by treatment for addiction, the criminal justice system can actually perpetuate the problem. But the Florida legislature is giving strong consideration to reducing sentences for those convicted of possessing small quantities of drugs. 

The state of Florida has many types of drug possession charges, most of which can be charged as a felony offense. Drug possession charges happen as a result of being arrested with drugs in your possession for personal use. However, depending on how much is found in your possession, you could be charged with possession with intent to sell, regardless of if you were actually selling drugs. 

There are certain requirements that must be met to charge someone with possession. In order to be found guilty of a drug possession charge, the prosecution must prove the following elements in court:

  1. An illegal or controlled substance or drug was found on the person
  2. The person had knowledge of the controlled substance
  3. The person was in control of the drug or its location

Current Florida law makes possession of marijuana (under 20 grams) a first degree misdemeanor. If you are convicted of a simple possession of marijuana offense, the court may impose penalties of up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,000 Your driver’s license could also be suspended for two years.

Under Florida law, possession of cocaine is a third degree felony, with penalties that include up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. A conviction for cocaine possession will also result in a two year Florida driver’s license revocation.

Possession of a controlled substance in the state of Florida is charged as a third degree felony, and comes with penalties of jail time, probation, and thousands of dollars in fines. A controlled substance is defined as “a drug or chemical whose manufacture, possession, or use is regulated by a government, such as illicitly used drugs or prescription medications that are designated by law.” The penalties for possessing a controlled substance vary based on the drugs involved, and the amounts in your possession at the time of your arrest.

A conviction for any drug possession crime can follow you around for the rest of your life. This could be brought back up when you want to apply for a job, a student loan, or a lease. Even if it is your first offense, a possession charge of any kind is a serious charge that could result in a criminal record that will affect your future in some way.

Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton will do everything we can to get the charges against you dismissed or seek alternative sentencing, such as Pretrial Diversion or Drug Court. In certain cases, if you can pass through either of these programs successfully, the state will dismiss your possession charges. If trial is the only option for you, we can represent you in court and fight for the best possible outcome on your behalf. 

Our Florida Drug Possession Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are committed to helping those with a drug addiction problem get the treatment they need. If you are personally struggling with addiction problems or you are concerned family member trying to help a loved one with the underlying issues of their drug charge, we can help you explore your legal options for your criminal case as well as locate any addiction and recovery programs that could benefit you.

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Jerod Sechrist, who previously appeared on Deadliest Catch as a deckhand, was arrested earlier this month on drug charges in Tampa, according to reports.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office inmate database, Sechrist, 33, was arrested on Oct. 5 by the Tampa Police Department in Tampa, Florida.

He was charged with one felony count of possession of heroin and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to a criminal report affidavit, Sechrist was taken into custody on an open warrant for a previous reckless driving case. When he was searched, officers found a small clear bag in his pocket with a white powder substance inside, which tested positive for heroin, the affidavit states.

Sechrist appeared in three episodes of the Discovery Channel series in 2016, according to IMDB. 

If you or a loved one is charged with drug possession anywhere in the state of Florida, there are likely numerous questions running through your brain. What will happen to me next? What if the drugs weren’t actually mine? Does it make a difference that it was just a small amount? Am I going to spend time in jail? Do I need to hire a drug possession lawyer?

Ultimately, when you or someone you love is facing accusations of felony drug possession, you need to be informed and ready to handle the charges right away. You must have a seasoned drug crime lawyer fighting in your corner – that is an absolute must. From there, you can learn more about establishing a defense to the charges against you and what you can expect from the entire criminal process. 

Heroin is considered a Schedule I drug, having both a high potential for abuse, and no accepted medical use. Heroin can have terrible consequences for the user, both from a legal standpoint as well as a health standpoint, which is why Florida has a very low tolerance for these charges. Simple possession of less than 4 grams of heroin is considered a third-degree felony. Possession of 4 grams or more is considered drug trafficking, and is a first-degree felony. Selling more than 10 grams of heroin is a second-degree felony, unless the heroin is sold near a school, then the penalties are enhanced.

If you are convicted of possession of heroin less than ten grams, you could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison, a maximum of five years of supervised probation, a driver’s license suspension of two years, a maximum fine of $5,000, a substance abuse evaluation/screening/treatment, and you could even lose your vehicle and/or any property used during the commission of this felony. If you are convicted of possession of heroin more than ten grams, you could be facing up to 30 years behind bars. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor criminal offense, punishable by one year of incarceration and up to $1,000 in fines.

Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the experience needed to know that each drug case presents its own challenges, but we have a solid groundwork for handling cases just like yours. We can conduct a thorough investigation into your charges and answer the following questions: 

Did law enforcement violate your constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures?

  • Did law enforcement or the prosecution violate your constitutional right to the assistance of an attorney?
  • Did the police ignore or destroy exculpatory evidence?
  • Did police mishandle evidence or make any other common mistakes during their investigation?
  • Were the drugs in question actually found in your “possession”?

Our Tampa Bay Drug Possession Attorneys have the necessary experience to work through these questions. The answers we find can ultimately be the difference between a guilty verdict with a lengthy prison sentence and the charges being dismissed so that you have the opportunity to get the rehabilitation help you need.

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The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office claims it has been on the offense against drug trafficking for the past two months through a covert operation they call “Operation Coin Toss.”

“Coin Toss” resulted in four search warrants and 24 arrests. Fifteen of those people were previously convicted felons, according to reports. 

The Sheriff said two of the homes searched, one on Fern Place in Homosassa and another on Arter Street in Crystal River, were in deplorable conditions and they’re working with code enforcement to get them torn down. 

The Sheriff said it’s the largest operation of its kind since he took over in 2017, and they’re just getting started. 

The Sheriff also added that one of the people arrested through this operation has already agreed to serve eight years behind bars, according to reports.

When facing drug charges in Citrus County, and elsewhere in Florida, you need a criminal defense lawyer you can rely on to handle your case with expert consideration. Our Citrus County Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know the anxiety that comes with being charged with a drug crime and how hard this can all be on you and your family. Our experienced attorneys stand ready to tackle the drug charges against you, whatever they may be, and will work with you every step of the way to get the best possible outcome for your case.

Our experienced drug possession and drug trafficking lawyers at Whittel & Melton, handle most types of drug cases. As former prosecutors, we have unique insight into the case against you and an intimate understanding of how law enforcement investigates these cases. With that said, we also know what mistakes police commonly make, and we can apply that insight into helping with your case. 

We also have an in depth knowledge of the problem prosecutors face with proving their case and what information is generally needed to move forward with a drug crimes case. We will conduct our own thorough investigation into your criminal matter to look for any potential flaws and weaknesses in the charges against you, such as:

  • Was any evidence obtained illegally?
  • Does the prosecution have sufficient evidence? 
  • Can the prosecution prove all elements of the drug crime?

From the start, we will begin mounting a strong defense on your behalf. We will not wait to see what moves the prosecution will make. We will make sure your side of the story is heard and that your interests are protected. 

If you are facing a drug possession charge, the penalties you may be facing will vary depending on the type of drug and the amount of the drug in your possession. Possessing larger quantities of a drug can lead to charges of possession with intent to distribute. It is important to also note that drugs that have a high potential for abuse have harsher penalties should you be convicted.

The best thing to do is face drug crimes charges head on. We will make sure you know what you are up against and the severe consequences if you are convicted, which can include:

  • Felony conviction on your criminal record
  • Being excluded from certain types of employment in the future
  • Being fired from your current job
  • Hefty fines
  • Jail time

If you are facing drug crimes charges involving drug trafficking, manufacturing, distribution, and cultivation, then you are in for a fight as prosecutors tend to pursue these cases quite aggressively. Law enforcement will be looking to shut down  the illegal drug operation and make sure that anyone involved is punished.

While these charges intend to target drug crimes associated with an organized operation, sometimes people get charged with distribution simply because of the amount of drugs they had on them at the time of their arrest. Our Citrus County Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton handle a wide array of serious drug charges, including:

  • Transportation and trafficking
  • Possession and possession for sale
  • Manufacturing, cultivation, and importation
  • Marijuana grow houses
  • Juvenile drug crimes

We know how criminal drug charges are brought and prosecuted. We will challenge all of the evidence against you and look at the following key factors to see if they can help with your defense: 

  • Illegal search and seizure: If the police searched your car, home or person when they found the alleged drugs in question, we can determine whether or not your constitutional rights were violated. 
  • Improper police conduct and procedures: We can challenge improper police conduct, such as the use of informants, undercover officers, and illegal procedures involved in your arrest. 

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A former U.S. postal worker was sentenced to 120 days in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

The 45-year-old was also ordered to serve a three-year term of supervised release following his imprisonment, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

According to court documents, the former U.S. Postal carrier provided addresses along his delivery route to co-conspirators who arranged to have packages containing marijuana shipped from Oregon to those addresses.

When the packages arrived and were placed in the man’s control, he would scan the packages as delivered to the addresses, and then turn them over to his co-conspirators for further distribution of the marijuana.

He pleaded guilty to the charge on January 11.

Drug conspiracy and distribution charges are quite serious criminal matters that could lead to jail or prison time in addition to other life-changing consequences. If you or someone you love has been charged or is being investigated for conspiracy or distribution of drugs, it is essential to obtain strong legal representation as soon as possible. Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton also urge those accused to refrain from speaking to law enforcement officers about the case until you have secured legal counsel.

Generally speaking, a conspiracy charge means that the prosecution is trying to hold you responsible for the criminal actions of someone else. These charges can erupt from allegedly planning or agreeing to sell an illegal substance. Because no actual crime has to occur to be charged, these cases can be built with very weak evidence.

Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are former prosecutors who are very familiar with the State’s tricks when pursuing drug conspiracy cases. While every situation is different, we can evaluate your case and develop the best defense with the greatest chance of success.

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17 people have been arrested in connection to a seven-month-long drug investigation, which resulted in the bust of an alleged major drug trafficking organization.

The investigation, which began in September of 2018, allegedly found a significant drug trafficking hub operating out of 1804 South Forbes Road in Plant City.

Over the past several years, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has responded to more than 100 calls of service to that location, the report stated.

According to the sheriff’s office, the investigation involved numerous undercover purchases of methamphetamines, totaling 1,840.1 grams and $27,700 in cash seizures.

The charges range from conspiracy to traffic amphetamine to possession of methamphetamine.

When you are facing federal drug trafficking charges, you may be coming up against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the FBI, or another federal agency that will absolutely be a fierce opponent when it comes to drug charges. Drug trafficking is one of the most serious types of drug crimes. A conviction for a federal drug crime will result in harsher penalties, which can possibly include years in prison or even life in prison. Whether you are charged with transporting, distributing, or selling large amounts of drugs, our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are ready to fight for you.

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At least 13 people were arrested Friday by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office during a roundup of six men with outstanding warrants for sale of cocaine.

The warrants roundup, which focused on the Putnam Hall area in west Putnam County, led deputies allegedly to pills, drug paraphernalia and more cocaine, and resulted in charges for seven others in addition to the suspected drug dealers. Those seven were arrested for a variety of reasons, including possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of cocaine or prescription drugs, and an outstanding warrant from Clay County.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, these six had warrants for selling cocaine:

  • A 63-year-old man was charged with three counts of selling crack cocaine. He was arrested on a warrant and later released on a $10,000 bond.
  • A 57-year-old man was charged with two counts of selling cocaine, one count of cocaine possession with intent to sell and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • A 57-year-old man was arrested on a warrant for sale of cocaine. During a search of the man, deputies reported finding cocaine. He was charged additionally with possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested and held on $13,000 bond.
  • A 59-year-old man was arrested on a warrant for two counts of selling cocaine. He is being held on a $20,000 bond.
  • A 51-year-old man was arrested on a warrant for selling cocaine. He’s being held on a $10,000 bond.
  • A 41-year-old man was arrested on a warrant for two counts of selling cocaine. He is held on a $20,000 bond.

Selling cocaine is a second-degree felony in Florida, which could result in up to 15 years in prison. Selling cocaine can be escalated to a first-degree felony if sold within 1,000 feet of a church or school, and carries a mandatory minimum of 3 years in prison.

Many drug bust cases are based upon questionable evidence. Prosecutors often rely on evidence that was obtained as a result of an illegal search or seizure. Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have successfully suppressed evidence in cases where it was obtained illegally. We provide aggressive legal representation to those accused of possessing or selling drugs.

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A 75-year-old Citrus County man has been arrested and charged with selling significant amounts of marijuana.

According to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, a search warrant served at a Floral City residence Tuesday morning resulted in this arrest.

During the execution of the search warrant, detectives allegedly located 464 grams of cannabis, 20-gauge shotgun ammunition, and over $25,500 in cash inside of the man’s bedroom. Detectives apparently searched a large wooden barn located on the property and discovered 711 grams of cannabis and various pieces of distribution equipment – to include a vacuum seal machine, a large digital scale, and various sized plastic baggies used to package drugs.

Detectives claim they learned that the cash located in the man’s room was obtained from the illicit sale of cannabis, so they seized the currency for forfeiture.

Due to the large sum of cash and various evidence collected, detectives estimated that the man was selling pounds of illegal marijuana on a daily basis.

He was arrested and charged with Possession of Cannabis with the Intent to Distribute, Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon, and Possession of Paraphernalia.

The state of Florida has some of the toughest penalties on drug use and possession, including marijuana. Even though marijuana penalties are certainly less severe than many other types of drugs, you can still face hefty fines and serious jail time for the possession, use and sale of marijuana.

Possessing 20g to 25 lbs of marijuana carries a felony charge with penalties of a maximum fine of $5000 and 5 years in jail. Possessing between 25-2000 lbs is also a felony, with penalties of a maximum fine of $25,000 and 3-15 years in jail. If you are charged with selling and distributing marijuana, your penalty will also depend on the amounts being sold.

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