Articles Posted in Drug Crimes in Jacksonville

A corrections officer in Duval County has been arrested on three felony charges.  According to an article on News4Jax, the officer was arrested this past Sunday for Delivering or Distributing Methamphetamine, Delivering or Distributing Marijuana and Bringing Contraband into a County Detention Facility.  All three charges are felonies in Florida.  The meth charge is classified as a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and the other two are third degree felonies, punishable by up to five years in prison each.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office received a tip that the officer may be smuggling the drugs into the John E. Goode Pretrial Detention Facility.  The corrections officer has been with JSO for four years and resigned his position after the arrest.  He was given relatively low bonds for Jacksonville, which are $7503 for both of the drug charges and $5003 for the contraband charge.

In Florida, if you sell, manufacture, or deliver a controlled substance, it is considered a felony.  The degree of felony depends on what exactly the controlled substance is.  Because methamphetamine is considered more dangerous, delivery of that drug is considered a higher felony than delivery of marijuana.  According to authorities, the Sheriff’s Office does not believe that the officer was “selling” the drugs, just being paid the smuggle them into the facility.  JSO is continuing it’s investigation by conducting interviews of inmates and fellow officers to try to find out how pervasive this issue is.

The third charge is introducing contraband into a corrections facility.  It is against Florida law to introduce contraband items into or possess in a county detention facility or give or receive contraband items from an inmate.  These items include money, food, tobacco products, intoxicating drinks, narcotics, hypnotics, nasal inhalers, sleeping pills, marijuana, guns and cell phones.  Anyone can be charged with this crime, including civilians, lawyers and law enforcement officers.  Speaking from experience, lawyers and civilians are searched before they can enter the facility.  We go through metal detectors and are subject to further search.  It is not clear what search procedures, if any, corrections officers go through before they begin their shift.  Since this arrest, security at the jail will most certainly be elevated.

Sixty people have been arrested in Duval County as a result of four month drug sting operation.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, there are eleven others that have pending arrest warrants in Jacksonville.  Because of citizen complaints in the area, “Lockdown in O-Town” is a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office drug operation that started in October and ended in January of this year.

Most of the criminal charges stemming from this drug bust are sale of drug charges.  The people arrested for selling drugs in this sting are accused of selling cocaine, heroin, controlled substance (commonly pills), marijuana and methamphetamine.  In order to be convicted of sale of any illegal drug in Florida, the state of Florida must prove that the substance is a controlled substance and that the suspect either sold, bought or delivered the drug.  Selling a drug is defined as transferring or delivering something to another person in exchange for money or something of value.  Delivery of a drug is defined as transferring of a controlled substance from one person to another.  Under the “delivery” part of the statute, you can be prosecuted even if you are just the middle man.  Sale of drugs in Florida is a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.

The second most common crime people were arrested for is possession of the drugs mentioned above and possession of paraphernalia.  You can possess anything under Florida law in two ways.  Possession of drugs in Jacksonville means you have personal charge of a thing.  Actual possession is when you have the drug in your hand, on your person, in a container in your hand or so close it is in your ready reach and control.  Constructive possession of drugs is a bit more obscure.  Constructive possession means the drug is in a place over which the suspect has control.  When police search a car and find drugs with multiple people in the car, they will often arrest everyone for possessing the drug, even though under our law, they all cannot possess it.  Police threaten to arrest everyone or in fact arrest everyone to get someone to either take responsibility for the drug or point fingers.  If everyone in the car says nothing, it is very difficult to prove who had sole possession.

Nassau County Sheriff’s Office recently launched a campaign to bust people for selling and possessing drugs in Fernandina Beach, Yulee and Hilliard.  According to a report in The Florida Times Union, “Operation Liquidation” has been ongoing for several months as an undercover buy/bust operation.  The people busted were arrested for a myriad of drug charges including sale of cocaine, sale and possession of methamphetamine, sale of a controlled substance and sale of marijuana.

In many Florida drug bust cases, the narcotics officers posing as drug buyers approach a person and ask if they can buy drugs.  Often times, the detectives are led to the “seller” by a confidential informant.  This informant is usually working off a criminal case of their own hoping to make their situation better by setting up others.  Once the introduction is made, police give marked money in return for the drugs. The police can make a Nassau County drug sale arrest right after the transaction or wait to conduct future sales.  Police often use audio or video recording devices to chronicle the exchange.  After the arrest is made, police attempt to get the suspect to confess to the sale.

Sale of drugs, from cocaine to controlled pills, is a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  Under Florida law, the substance sold has to be a controlled substance, such as heroin, cocaine, hydrocodone, etc.  “Sale” is giving the drug to another person for money or something else of value agreed upon by both parties.  If the quantity of the drugs is more than a set threshold under Florida law, the sale can transform to trafficking.  When someone is charged with trafficking a substance, minimum mandatory sentences and immense fines come into play.  Some people under Operation Liquidation were arrested for possessing drugs.  “Possession” can be actual or constructive.  Actual possession means you actually have the drug in your hand or on your person.  Constructive possession means that you have control over the place where the drug is located.  Possession of cocaine and heroin is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  If you possess over twenty grams of marijuana, it is also a third degree felony.  If under twenty grams, the Florida marijuana possession charge is a first degree misdemeanor.

Jacksonville police have arrested a former NFL player from Jacksonville on a marijuana drug charge and on a warrant for violation of injunction.  Jabar Gaffney, according to an article in the Florida Times Union, was arrested for possession of less than twenty grams of marijuana after police claim he was smoking in a parking lot.  Police say an officer was approached by a citizen claiming a man was smoking pot in a car.  The officer then went up to the car and claimed he smelled marijuana emitting from the vehicle and from the man’s clothes, according to the report.  The police allege they saw a joint in the center console which led them to search his car.  Two other joints were found, according to the article.  Once Gaffney was under arrest, an outstanding warrant for violation of injunction in Duval County was found in the system.  He was arrested on the warrant and the two Jacksonville misdemeanors are pending.

Possession of less than twenty grams of marijuana is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.  If you are issued a notice to appear or are arrested for this misdemeanor drug charge, you are most likely not facing any jail time.  A person with no record is eligible for pretrial diversion programs and other options when facing this crime.  One big issue that is not widely known is that if convicted of a possession of marijuana, even a misdemeanor, you will lose your driver’s license for two years.  In Gaffney’s case, the police approached his car and claimed to smell the odor of burnt marijuana.  This observation allows police to search the car they believe the smell is coming from.  Even if no pot is found, the police will claim the person must have thrown the marijuana out before they got there.

A violation of injunction charge is also a first degree misdemeanor in Florida.  If an injunction is signed by a judge, whether temporary or permanent, and that injunction has been served on the respondent, each violation is considered a new charge.  Injunctions usually prevent a respondent from going within 500 feet of the petitioner’s person, home and place of work.  Injunctions also prevent the respondent from possessing any firearms and may require the respondent to take anger management or domestic battery classes.  In Gaffney’s case, the petitioner had a temporary injunction on him and a hearing on making it permanent has not yet occurred.

Misty Croslin, the babysitter on watch when Haleigh Cummings went missing, is trying to get a different sentence, according to an article in The Florida Times Union.  Misty was arrested on drug charges in St. Johns and Putnam counties, unrelated to the missing child.  Croslin entered a plea to the court to trafficking charges and was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison.  Croslin’s attorney filed a motion with the court to set aside her sentences and essentially start over.  She claims that her original St. Johns criminal attorney did not explain what the possible sentences could be and promised her she would receive six years in prison as a youthful offender.  Croslin’s original attorney denies this allegation and suggested that the twenty five year sentence was a win, considering that the judge could have sentenced her to twenty five years in prison consecutively on each charge.  This means that once one sentence is completed, the other would begin.  The trial judge now has to determine whether or not Croslin understood her options and possible punishments prior to entering her pleas to the Court.

Whenever someone enters a plea to a felony charge in Duval, Clay, Nassau or St. Johns Counties, the judge recites a plea colloquy.  This conversation/question and answer session is designed to make sure a defendant fully understands the consequences of their plea.  The judge advises the defendant of the nature of the charges, the minimum and maximum possible punishments, all the possible defenses to the charge and mitigation in each case.  Judges also make sure to ask whether or not the plea is voluntarily made and ask if defendant has been promised anything, other than a negotiated disposition, to enter the plea.  In addition to making sure the plea is freely made, judges also have to advise a defendant the rights they are giving up.  Every arrested person has the right to a trial, the right to be represented by a criminal defense lawyer, the right to present witnesses on their behalf, the right to require the prosecutor’s office to prove the case against them beyond all reasonable doubt and the right against self-incrimination.  Judges also remind defendants of the consequences of their plea, such as deportation.

If Duval county and others, there are forms that a defendant must read and sign prior to entering a plea to a felony charge.  It is important to consult with an experienced St. Johns County criminal attorney prior to entering plea to the judge or negotiating with the the state attorney’s office.

The use of the drug heroin is up in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties, according to an article in the Washington Times.  There are new statistics showing the increase.  Heroin related overdoses have doubled from 2014 to 2015 and arrests where heroin is involved have increased recently.  Law enforcement attributes the uptick in heroin use to the shutting down of so many “pill mills” in our area. When people cannot get prescriptions for pills such as hydrocodone or Oxycontin, they may turn to the cheaper heroin for a similar high.

In Duval County and all over the state of Florida, possession of heroine, a controlled substance, is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.  Possession can be in one of two ways, either actual or constructive.  Actual possession is when a person has the drug in their hand, in a container on the person, or so close to the person only they can readily reach it. Constructive possession means that the drug is in a place and only the suspect can control.  For example, if the driver of a car is the only person in the car, they constructively possess a drug found in the backseat of the car.

Sale of heroin is considered more serious than simply possessing the drug.  If convicted of selling heroin in Jacksonville, a suspect is facing up to fifteen years in prison.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office typically runs “buy bust” operations to catch alleged drug sellers.  It is usually two undercover narcotic detectives posing as drug users/abusers.  They make contact with a potential seller through a tip or confidential informant to purchase some drugs.  When they meet, these drug detectives have recording devices on their clothes.  The recordings are usually audio, but sometimes contain video evidence.  Once the buy is made, the police will do a predetermined take-down signal and the suspect is arrested.

While investigating a misdemeanor theft case at a Clay County motel, police ended up finding an active methamphetamine lab.  That will mean serious felony charges for the two men involved, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. When police stopped the first man on the theft charge, they say they found methamphetamines on him, the newspaper reported. When police learned he was staying at the motel, they then found a second man and an active meth lab in the room, the newspaper reported.

The first man was charged with two misdemeanor counts – the initial theft charge police were investigating and a marijuana possession charge – and a felony possession of a controlled substance charge for the methamphetamines. The felony is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. The second man in this Clay County Drug Crimes Case was charged with manufacturing methamphetamines and possession of methamphetamines with intent to sell. Each of those charges is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison.

Charges and potential sentences in Clay County Drug Cases are based primarily on two main factors: the type of drug the person is a accused of possessing, and the amount of said drug. The difference is clear in the charges against the first man in this Clay County Drug Crimes Case. Police find marijuana and meth on him when they go to talk to him about the theft. He is facing no more than a year in the county jail for the marijuana charge, but up to five years for having methamphetamines. For the second man in this Clay County Drug Crimes Case, he likely had a larger amount of the drug, but not enough to constitute drug trafficking. Drug trafficking charges are based solely on the amount of the drug a person is accused of having – not on the physical selling of narcotics. Trafficking thresholds start low in Clay County Drug Crimes Cases involving methamphetamines and trafficking charges are first-degree felonies with maximum penalties of 30 years in prison a minimum mandatory sentences kicking in with as little as 14 grams of the drug.

A Jacksonville man was arrested on drug charges after police say detectives bought drugs from him twice and police found more drugs when they came to arrest him.  The 36-year-old man is facing several felony drug charges after being arrested this month, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police bought marijuana in December and January from the man at the auto repair business where he worked, the newspaper reported. When police went to make the arrest, they then found powder and crack cocaine, along with other narcotics and several thousand dollars in cash, the newspaper reported.

The man was charged with four separate charges of possession with intent to sell – one each for cocaine, opiates, marijuana and steroids. The charges involving cocaine and opiates are both second degree felonies with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. The charges involving marijuana are third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in state prison. In fact, the charge for actually selling marijuana to an undercover officer is also only a third-degree felony. So, having cocaine and planning to sell it can lead to 10 more years in prison than actually selling marijuana. This case exemplifies the fact that the charges in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases are based primarily on two main factors: the type of drug the person is accused of possession or selling, and the amount of the drug police allege the person possesses. The court system does not look at all drugs equally, and places much stricter penalties on crimes involving cocaine than it does on crimes involving marijuana.

In this Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case, though, the initial contact was around the sale of marijuana. In most Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases involving the sale of drugs to undercover officers, detectives will have some sort of recording of the transaction, most likely an audio recording. That evidence will be critical to the case and there are several important policies and procedures police must follow in order for the recordings to be admissible in court. Our experienced Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney represents people accused of all types of Jacksonville Drug Crimes and can review the evidence the state plans to present and determine if it meets the strict standards of the court.

A Clay County fire/rescue officer has been arrested in Clay County on allegations he sold heroin.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the officer sold the drug to an undercover detective at a meeting site in Clay County.  The officer allegedly sold the detective the heroin for $40.00.  The incident was videotaped by a hidden recording device, according to police.  Even though the sale took place, the officer was not arrested until an arrest warrant was signed and issued.

Clay County arrest warrants are not uncommon in drug deals, buying or selling.  The police will make contact with a supposed drug seller and form a “relationship”.  The police will make one buy and go on about their way. They then proceed to rack up more sales over the next week or so and then ultimately make all of the drug sale arrests at the same time.  Police use this tactic to increase the penalties one is facing to increase the chance of a plea to the charges.  It seems irresponsible to leave a drug seller on the streets for weeks if the police really wanted to protect the community. Even so, this tactic is not only used by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, but is also used by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The officer in this case is facing a second degree drug sale felony.  The sale of heroin is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  In many cases, police receive a tip from a confidential informant, likely working off a case of their own, that someone is selling a drug.  The informant is usually the middleman between police and the suspect.  The informant can conduct the “buy” on their own or simply make an introduction.  Often times, the informant or drug detective is wearing an audio or video recording device.

Once facing multiple felonies and decades behind bars in a St. Johns County Drug Case, a couple accused of growing massive amounts of marijuana in their home agreed to a deal that puts them on probation but keeps them out of prison.  Police initially charged the couple with trafficking in marijuana and several other felonies, saying the couple produced more than 40 pounds of marijuana in their rented home, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The couple was also charged with serious felonies including manufacturing marijuana and possession of a place or structure for trafficking or manufacturing a controlled substance, the newspaper reported. Instead, both of the people involved pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Possession of marijuana with the intent to sell is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison, while the drug paraphernalia charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail. Still, the defendants in this St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case were sentenced only to three years of probation.

As the case turned out, it appears that detectives and the state may have significantly overplayed their hand. Trafficking in marijuana is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison that also has a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in state prison. The state dropped that charge, as well as the possessing a place for manufacturing or trafficking a controlled (a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison) and the manufacturing marijuana charge (a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison). So that’s a potential 60 years in state prison on charges the state just dropped. That is rare to find in St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases. The couple initially told police they were growing the drug for medicinal use and did nothing wrong

Now while pleading guilty is technically an admission of guilt, it can also be a procedural move to get the case resolved and receive a sentence that is manageable, rather than push the case to trial and risk a stiffer punishment – particularly when there is a minimum mandatory sentence involved.  Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney represents people arrested on all types of drug charges, from misdemeanor marijuana possession on up to felony trafficking charges that have a minimum mandatory sentence. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney will investigate the case against you and provide information so you or your loved one can make the best decision moving forward.

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