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Criminal Defense Blog

Ongoing updates and advice for those researching criminal defense.

Destin-Fort Walton Beach Drug Possession (Actual Possession v. Constructive Possession)

Possession of a controlled substance (i.e. marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, hydrocodone, oxycodone) is a criminal offense in the State of Florida.  However, residents and visitors of Okaloosa or Walton County are often not aware that under the laws of this state, there are two types of possession:  actual v. constructive. 

Actual Possession most often occurs where the drugs are found on the individual.  For example, actual possession occurs when a person has a marijuana cigarette in his pocket.  When a person is in actual possession of a controlled substance or a drug, knowledge of the illegal nature of that drug can be inferred (or presumed).

This is not the case where a person is arrested under a constructive possession theory.  Common examples of constructive possession occur when (1) law enforcement stop a vehicle in Destin with multiple occupants and drugs are located in a common area of the vehicle (the center console); or (2) when law enforcement enter a Fort Walton Beach hotel or residence occupied by multiple people and drugs are located inside the common area of the residence.  In Florida, when a person is charged under the constructive possession theory the prosecutor has the burden to prove that the individual had knowledge of the illegal (or illicit) nature  of the substance. 

Further, to prove a constructive possession theory the prosecutor must convince the judge or jury that the person charged exercised dominion and control over the drug or controlled substance and a person’s mere proximity to the drug or controlled substance in legally insufficient to prove this element of the crime.

Regardless of whether you  were passenger in a traffic stop in Destin, Florida, a college student on spring break in a hotel or residence in Destin or an occupant of a home in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, if you have been arrested and charged with a drug crime, you should consider speaking with a Destin criminal defense lawyer to better understand your rights and options.

Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin criminal defense attorney with offices in Destin(Okaloosa County) and DeFuniak Springs(Walton County).  As a Destin criminal defense lawyer, I have helped clients resolve these spring break offenses and alcohol related offenses. 

If you have been charged with minor in possession, driving under the influence or any other criminal offense while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or anywhere in Northwest Florida  during spring break, feel free to contact this Destin Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlaw.com for  mor information.

WARNING: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor should it be construed as an attorney-client relationship.

 

Destin/Fort Walton Beach Spring Break and Minor’s in Possession of Alcohol

Well, we are about three weeks away from the official start of the 2012 College Spring Break period.  With the start of spring break, we will see an increased presence of law enforcement officers patrolling the sugar white sands of our Destin/Fort walton Beaches looking for unlawful, criminal activity..

Spring Break sees a spike in criminal charges of driving under the influence and other alcohol related crimes.  One of the most common criminal offenses in Okaloosa County and Walton County for the college spring break population is “Possession of Alcoholic Beverages by Persons under the age 21″  (Minor in Possession) – Florida Statute 562.111.

The law reads in pertinent part: ” It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 years…to have in his or her possession alcoholic beverages.”

Law enforcement travel on foot and on ATV looking for unsuspecting college students who may be in possession of a beer can, bottle , or mixed drink and whom they believe to be underage

A first violation of this law is punishable as a second degree misdemeanor and could result in the suspension or revocation of the individual’s driver’s license.In some counties, subsequent convictions may result in jail time.

If an individual receives a Notice to Appear for Minor in Possession or is Arrested for Minor in Possession while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Santa Rosa Beach or anywhere in Okaloosa or Walton County, Florida, I recommend that person consult with a Destin criminal defense lawyer.

Jeremy S. Keich is a Destin criminal defense attorney with offices in Destin(Okaloosa County) and DeFuniak Springs(Walton County).  As a Destin criminal defense lawyer, I have helped clients resolve these spring break offenses and alcohol related offenses.

If you have been charged with minor in possession, driving under the influence or any other criminal offense while in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or anywhere in Northwest Florida  during spring break, feel free to contact this Destin Criminal Defense Lawyer at (850) 460-2989 or visit http://www.keichlaw.com for  more information.

WARNING: Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice nor should it be construed as an attorney-client relationship.

Technology and the 4th Amendment: SCOTUS speaks to an unlawful search and seizure

Well, I may be a couple of days late to the party on this issue, but it appears that after a UNANIMOUS 9-0 decision by The United States Supreme Court(SCOTUS) our Fourth Amendment Right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government may not be dead after all. (However, many will agree that it may be on life support.)  SCOTUS recently ruled [in United States v. Jones] that an unlawful search occurred when law enforcement physically attached a GPS tracking monitor to an individual’s car without a warrant.

From a local viewpoint here in Northwest Florida, the criminal defense bar had begun to encounter these antics anywhere from Panama City (Bay County) to Pensacola (Escambia County).  Now, based on the Jones Decision, our local law enforcement will be required to validate these actions with a probable cause affidavit rather than being permitted simply to embark on a”fishing expedition” for illegal activities.

More intriguing to the criminal defense bar  may be the future ramifications of the Jones decision.  Keep in mind that the traditional notion of an illegal search or seizure entailed a physical aspect of intrusion(i.e. a search of a home and its contents, a search of a vehicle, or a search of an individual).  However, the Jones decision may open up the non-invasive searches (RFID’s, Cell Phones, E-mails)to attack under the Fourth Amendment.  The future of the Fourth Amendment and the expectation of privacy appear to be in flux.  Nonetheless, one thing we can bank on  is that as technology evolves so shall the Fourth Amendment.

If you have been arrested and charged with criminal offense or feel that you may have been the victim of an unlawful search or seizure  you may want to consider contacting a criminal defense lawyer.  For those individuals who reside in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, DeFuniak Springs, Santa Rosa Beach, Okaloosa County or Walton County feel free to contact my office at (850)460-2989 or visit my website http://www.keichlaw.com for more information.

Tis Season to be Merry (and for DUI arrests)

The holiday season not only brings joy to those who are visited by Santa, but it also brings an increased presence of traffic patrol officers on our streets and highways.  The latter part of December through early January historically shows an increase in traffic related arrests, most noticeably, DUI’s. 

First and foremost, anyone who has consumed too much alcohol, should think twice before placing the keys in the ignition and operating a motor vehicle.  The costs of a taxi pales in comparison to the costs of a DUI conviction.

For those of you who may be unfortunate and do in fact encounter a law enforcement officer, remember that a DUI conviction potentially carries serious collateral consequences to your life outside of a blemish on your criminal record.  For some, it could mean loss of employment. 

In the event you are being investigated for Driving Under the Influence, remember:

1. The Field Sobriety Exercises are voluntary you are not required to perform these exercises.  Did you know that according to the NHTSA manual even when instructions for these exercises are given to perfection to an ideal candidate(one without health issues and of the ideal age), nearly one in four subjects will show false indications of impairment as a result of their results.

2. Submitting to a breath, blood, or urine test is also voluntary.  If you are at the point in the investigation where you are being asked to submit to one of these tests, odds are that the law enforcement officer has already placed you under arrest or arrest is imminent.   After all, there is a reason why the administrative waiting period for a hardship license is longer for a refusal rather than someone who submitted to one of these tests.  Think about it.

Should you be arrested for driving under the influence in Florida, you typically have ten days from the date of your arrest to request an administrative hearing to contest the suspension of your license.  This is commonly known as the “Ten Day Rule”.

Let me reiterate that first and foremost anyone who consumes too much alcohol should think twice before driving a motor vehicle.  However should you be arrested for DUI I would recommend that you consult with an attorney who handles DUI cases so you can understand your rights and the potential Consequences. 

Happy New Year

 

 

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