Who are the real drug dealers?

Sarasota and Bradenton Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken

June 6 2017

When you hear the term drug dealer, you think of some sleazy guy in the ghetto pushing heroin or some other addictive drug.
The truth is that some of the drug companies are some of the biggest “dealers” in the world.

There is a company called INSYS that produced a Fentanyl spray allegedly for cancer patients that brought in $240,000,000 pushing a product called “Subsys”

Doctors were allegedly bribed to prescribe it. Some have been prosecuted. A thirty day supply cost between $3,000 to $30,000 a month. This was passed on to the insurance companies. Who ultimately foots the bill for this? We do, with increased insurance premiums on the rest of us. Why do you think we have such a horrific opiate problem in America? Go back ten to fifteen years and take a look at the marketing practices of the major drug companies. Doctors were kept in the dark about the dangers of addiction from products like Oxycontin and Oxycodone.
The drug representatives (salesmen) encouraged the prescription of the opiates and the drug companies made billions. They still do. Now, some people are making big bucks on Methadone and other substitute so called “pain killers” .
Pain is real, but so is addiction. Drug dependency can kill you, particularly when the supply gets short and you turn to heroin or fentanyl.

Addicts need help, not jail.

Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Sarasota……Fact or Fiction?

Sarasota and Bradenton Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken

May 3  2017

We live in the age of Internet advertising.

Just because you see something on the Internet does not mean it is true.

It is improper for any attorney to hold himself out as the “best”.

Unfortunately, the Florida Bar rules of professional conduct do not apply to Internet referral services and marketing companies. Many of these companies claim that their ratings are based on reviews and results. The truth is that these companies sell “advertising” to lawyers and many are referral services who are not bound or obligated to tell the truth. Are “Superlawyers” really super or do they pay for that advertisement? On “Findlaw” for example, lawyers pay to have their ads placed at the top of the listing. There is another company now called “Thumbtack.com” that is nothing more than an “Angies List” that advertises find the “best criminal lawyer”. This is actually real “fake news”. Sadly, you have to take “reviews” with a grain of salt. Is it a real “review” or a manufactured or created review? No reputable criminal defense lawyer will ever hold himself out as the “best” and those that do have a self inflated ego. The truth is that some lawyers have particular experience and particular expertise that gives them a better background to get good results in particular types of cases.

Some lawyers are “ticket” lawyers.

Some lawyers claim to be “DUI lawyers”.

The truth is that not all lawyers are created equal and their level of their expertise varies greatly.

Just because a lawyer is good at advertising does not mean he is necessarily good in the courtroom. Sadly some lawyers will tell you what you want to hear to get hired. They will promise results or claim to have an “in” with the prosecutor’s office. If you hear that type of phony claim, walk away.

The truth is that good lawyers get good results from hard work and knowledge of the law.

When your life and your future are is the line, do your homework. In a sex crime case for example, demand to see a list of the cases actually handled. Would you want a ticket lawyer handling a homicide? Would you want a DUI lawyer handling a tax evasion Federal case?

Experience does matter.

A command of the law does matter.

Being an effective communicator does matter.

A reputation as an aggressive hard working defense lawyer does in fact matter.

Most importantly, having a heart and being compassionate does matter.

An arrest and a pending criminal charge in Sarasota or Bradenton is a stressful situation. A bad decision probably got you into your present situation. Your next decision, the hiring of a lawyer, should not be based on advertisement alone or some phony placement on a Superlawyers, Findlaw, Justia, Avvo or Thumbtack.com list. Lawyers pay for placement on these services.

If you need to hire a good reputable lawyer look for experience.

How long has he been practicing?

Is he admitted to practice in State and Federal Court?

What types of cases does he handle?

Does he have experience as a former law enforcement agent or prosecutor?

How long has he been in private practice defending criminal cases?

There is a world of difference between prosecuting and defending cases and experience in one does not mean the lawyer has experience in the other. Go sit with the lawyer.

Is this the person I want standing beside me in the Courtroom?

Is he really going to handle to case or shuffle it off to someone else?

Some lawyers, some of the biggest advertisers, rarely handle the case themselves but rather are basically referral services. Do you homework when hiring a lawyer…Your life is at stake.

Feds Coming down on Heroin Dealers in Manatee

Peter D Aiken
Sarasota and Manatee Federal and State Criminal Defense Attorney
941 366 3506

April 15 2017

It was bound to happen.

Manatee County is one of the top three locations in the United States for drug overdoses from Fentanyl and Carfentanil.

About a week ago, there were four deaths in a week and numerous other people that were saved by police and paramedics. Carfentanil is incredibly dangerous and even touching it in some instances can result in an overdose. As a criminal defense attorney this reminds me of the Federal crackdown years ago on crack. When the Feds get involved, you can expect to see life sentences. There is little you can do in terms of plea bargaining when the Federal Prosecutor is determined to get a life sentence.

Many of these cases are going to have to be fought vigorously in the Federal Courts.

I have defended cases in United States District Court for over thirty years. It is the big league and many times other local defense lawyers are clueless as to the real power of the Feds. The Feds are coming with forfeitures and when and Indictment comes down, it also comes down with a forfeiture count. In Federal Court, in a heroin case, you are probably going to be denied bond. Your vehicles will have been seized and the Federal Prosecutors try and tie up all your money so you can’t hire a private lawyer and have to use the Federal Public Defender. Even if a money bond is set, they will require what they call a Nebia hearing where you have to prove that the money for bond comes from non criminally derived sources.

Manatee County (Bradenton) is going to become the epicenter of Federal prosecution of heroin dealers.

The other problem with overdoses is that pills are now being sold on the street in both Sarasota and Bradenton that look like pharmaceutical Oxycontin. They are not Oxycontin. They are Fentanyl pressed and numbered to look like Oxycontin. They are deadly. There is also bogus Mexican brown heroin that is not really heroin. Fentanyl is being mixed with sugar and sold as heroin. As a Manatee and Sarasota criminal defense lawyer I understand the significance of the Feds getting involved. Many years ago as a young man, I was a Federal Agent and a Federal Prosecutor in Miami. When the Feds start handing out life in Federal prison, the stakes go up.

If you need a lawyer that handles Federal cases and want to talk, you can give me a call at my Sarasota office at 941 366 3506.

The initial consultation is free

Feds getting involved in Bradenton Heroin Cases

State and Federal
Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken

April 13 2017

As I predicted a week ago in my blog, the Federal authorities are getting involved in prosecuting people who distribute drugs when the drugs lead to death.

In the Federal Courts dealers are looking at a mandatory 20 year sentence in Federal prison if they sell Fentanyl laced heroin and someone overdoses. You can expect to see more of the same in Sarasota County in the next few months. As a general rule people get longer sentences in Federal Court as a result of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Many years ago, as a Federal prosecutor I handled drug cases where the DEA charged people with running a criminal continuing enterprise. That enabled the DEA to get life sentences on the leaders of the drug rings.

The Feds also go after all of the assets and try and keep people from having the money to hire good lawyers.

Not all lawyers are experienced in handling cases in Federal Courts.

The rules are different.

Some lawyers claim to have extensive federal experience but few really do. Handling a federal case requires a knowledge of the Federal Rules of Evidence as well as the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Since there is no Federal Court in Bradenton or Sarasota, most of the lawyers here have handled only a handful of federal cases in their life.

I have been defending Federal charges for thirty years in the Middle and Southern District Federal Courts.

In Federal Court, for example, you get a twelve person jury instead of six. Many of the rules are different.

If you or a relative find yourself facing Federal prosecution, you really need a lawyer that knows the ropes in the Federal system. Many years ago, I started as a Federal Agent in Miami as was a Federal prosecutor there. After leaving the Government, I spent the rest of my legal career defending Federal smuggling and drug distribution charges all over Florida as well as Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia and as far north as New York and Ohio. The Federal Courts are the big league.

For the people involved in selling heroin, look out….The Feds are coming to town…and they are coming down heavy.

If you, a friend or a loved one is under indictment, under investigation or have been arrested for dealing heroin or possessing heroin, don’t wait call and make an appointment convenient to you and speak to me personally. There is no charge for the initial consultation. Call today and speak with me personally, Peter D Aiken . Click the link below to see my credentials

Attorney Peter D Aiken credentials

Sarasota Operation Smackdown, a Crackdown on Opiates

Aiken O’Halloran and Banyai Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Sarasota
Punta Gorda
Ft Myers

The Sarasota Sheriff’s office announced on April 7th 2017 the arrest of 28 people on heroin and pill charges.

This is in response to the 300% increase in overdoses and deaths here in Sarasota County. Most of those arrested were white and half were young women.

There is a misconception that heroin and opiate addiction is only a problem in the black community. That is simply not true.

The arrests, mostly of addicts, is an attempt by law enforcement to deal with an epidemic or overdoses and deaths.

Four addicts died here in the last week from the heroin and pills laced with Fentanyl.

As a criminal defense lawyer, for over thirty years, I have handled thousands of drug cases. Prosecution and incarceration is not the answer. Prevention and treatment, combined with law enforcement is. What most of the addicts need is treatment for their drug addiction. The Florida legislature needs to consider a law requiring mandatory confinement in a rehabilitation facility for anyone who overdoses for ten days. If first responders are called out to treat someone who has overdosed, and if drugs or paraphernalia are found, the person should be confined in a treatment facility for no less than ten days of forced detoxification. What law enforcement is not addressing is the fact that heroin addicts most of the time lack the ability to stop voluntarily. Most addicts arrested for possession of heroin or possession of Oxycontin or Oxycodone simply bond out on the third degree felony and many shoot up within days of release. You have to have treatment combined with enforcement.

Jail is not the answer.

Drug Court here is Sarasota as run by Judge Owens has a spectacular success rate. He is a dedicated man genuinely trying to help people with their addiction. The new Veteran’s Court here in Sarasota has the same mission and deals with Vets who most of the time have issues from both alcohol and drugs. You can have a friend or relative who is a heroin addict and not know it. Many are “closet” addicts concealing the addiction from employers and relatives. Jailing an addict is treating the symptom of a problem, not the cause. It is like putting a “bandaid” on a boil. It covers it up but it does not treat the infection. As a drug lawyer, I understand that probation without treatment is a recipe for disaster and a prison sentence. Compassion for those afflicted with this terrible medical problem is an integral part of representation. We all need to do what we can to save lives.

Addicts lives Matter

Addict’s Lives Matter….Four dead in a week in Sarasota

Sarasota and Bradenton Criminal Defense Attorney
Peter D Aiken

April 7 2017

If in a week four people were shot or there were four hit and run deaths, there would be a public outcry.

The simple fact is that as of April 7th 2017, there have been nine overdoses and four deaths here in Sarasota.

There is a bad batch of heroin in town killing addicts.

Even with the administration of “Narcan”, an antidote, by EMS responders, people are still dying. Chief of Police DiPino has asked for public help on identifying the suppliers. The problem is that dead men tell no tales and the people who overdosed and died are not alive to testify as to where the drugs were purchased. As a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer I see both sides of the problem. I was blogging constantly trying to alert law enforcement that unless the pill addicts were treated, all the prescription drug database would do is push addicts into heroin use as a substitute for Oxycontin and Oxycodone. My predictions came true.

Drug addiction is a medical problem that causes crime. Addicts steal, break into houses, break into businesses and steal from employers to support a habit. This is what I call collateral crime. The underlying problem is addiction. Sadly, most of these individuals were normal functional people prior to addiction. Why do you think there is a prostitution problem on the North Trail? Why do you think we have the enormous homeless problem? Why is it that the general public is not outraged at the number of deaths this year? The heroin is cut with Fentanyl and people are dropping like flies. This is not just a problem in the poor neighborhoods. This is a problem that cuts across society. Law enforcement alone cannot solve this problem. We need education, prevention and treatment. Jailing an addict does not solve anything in the long run. Methadone clinics simply replace illegal heroin with legal methadone. That does not treat but rather only perpetuates the addiction.

Drug Court here is Sarasota is a fantastic start and Judge Owens has done more for this community than anyone. He is retiring and will stay on for a while but his compassionate approach will be missed. We have to treat the cause, not the symptom. Jail or prison is not the answer. I predict that the State attorney’s office is going to start filing homicide charges against heroin dealers when they can show the drug leads to a death. Attacking the suppliers is one approach but attacking demand is a better approach. We need to keep people from ever becoming addicted and for the ones that are addicted we need long-term rehab facilities.

All addicts lives matter and this is a problem that must be addressed

Selling Drugs….A tough way to make a living

Sarasota and Bradenton Criminal Defense Lawyer
Peter D Aiken

Television glamorizes drug dealing and makes the life of a dealer seem exciting. Rap music glamorizes selling heroin or pot and elevates the dealer to some kind of folk hero. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a tough life and almost always results in either death or a long prison sentence. Even the most experienced dealer eventually gets busted. If he is lucky, and it is a State charge he may get a break and do short time.

If he is charged in Federal Court with trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in heroin or other opiates he can do serious federal time.

Over the years,as a criminal defense lawyer, I have defended hundreds, if not thousands of drug charges in both Federal and State court.

Eventually, “watcha gonna do when they come for you”? Having a good lawyer helps, but that takes money. Many times, when the bust comes down, a person’s money is seized. Cars may be the subject of forfeitures and often everything a person has is tied up in a seizure. It is then that the person finds out who his or her true friends are. If a dealer has money owed to him, and finds himself in jail pending a trial, fat chance of anyone who owes him paying the debt. Usually relatives and loved ones come forward to hire a lawyer and provide a defense. A good lawyer can make a huge difference. If the person is totally broke or everything has been taken by the cops, they have no choice other than to use the public defender. Public defenders handle hundreds of cases at one time and you for sure don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.

Private defense attorneys generally don’t have the enormous case load and a good experienced criminal defense lawyer many times will get a better result.

If a loved one is sitting in jail and you are looking for the best lawyer for the money, do your homework.
Talk to more than one lawyer before you make a decision.
Don’t hire a lawyer that tells you what you want to hear, just to get hired. You need to look at experience.
You need to look for court room performance and demeanor.
You want an experienced professional that has done it year after year.

Many defense lawyers claim to be experienced as a result of being former prosecutors. They claim to have tried cases for years. There is a world of difference between defending cases and prosecuting cases. What you need to look for is experience in actually defending tough felony cases, not tickets or misdemeanors. When your life is on the line and your future at stake, you need the best lawyer money can buy. Many defendants “shop for lawyers” and look for the cheapest price. You generally get what you pay for in life and as I say, would you want to jump out of a plane with the cheapest parachute you could buy? Hiring a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based on advertising.
Click HERE to view Sarasota Attorney Peter D Aiken’s Credentials

Another North Trail Prostitution Sting in Sarasota

Peter D Aiken
Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney
941 366 3506

April 3 2017

The police simply do not understand that the stings do not even remotely stop prostitution in Sarasota. Arresting the men accomplishes nothing. The same women work the North Trail year after year. The women, some homeless, are desperate. Many have drug issue and none have real employment. The police theory is that if they arrest the “johns”, it will somehow stop prostitution. Many of the men are from out of town and simply driving down the trail when they are waived over by a female undercover officer who gives them the eye.

Arresting the out of town “johns” accomplishes nothing.

They are not from here and will probably never be back. The police need to address the underlying cause. These women are so desperate that they are selling their bodies. Until that issue is addressed, the prostitution will continue.
Prostitution has been around since the beginning of time and it will never be stopped. The more progressive countries and more progressive States have realized that fact and legalized and regulated sex for money. There would not be human trafficking if prostitution was legalized and regulated. Here in Sarasota, men are arrested, publically humiliated and jailed for simply being lonely and wanting a casual encounter with another consenting adult.

What few people know is that there is a $5000 civil fine that comes along with a conviction.

That is financially a death blow to some poor working guy just trying to make a living.

As an experienced Sarasota criminal lawyer, I have handled sex cases for over thirty years. Unlike other sex crimes, prostitution involves consenting adults. At the high end hotels here in Sarasota prostitution is tolerated and working girls, expensive ones, regularly target wealthy lonely men. On the trail, it is another matter. I seriously question whether these sex stings accomplish anything other than generating revenue for the City and County. It ties up officers whose presence is needed elsewhere. We need to target burglaries, car break ins, aggravated assaults and other violent crimes where there is a real victim. Most importantly, we need to legalize prostitution.


Road Rage on the Rise

Sarasota and Manatee Criminal Defense Lawyer
Peter D Aiken

March 28 2017

It seems that everyday you hear of another road rage case involving a violent crime.

The latest shooting involving resulting in the arrest of a USF football player is directly the result of a road rage incident.

In this case, the man who allegedly pulled and pointed a gun first was shot by the alleged victim. You have to realize that in Florida, there are over two million people with concealed weapons permits carrying guns. You do not have to have a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun in a vehicle, as long as it is securely encased. This means in a container with a lid, like a console or glove compartment or, in a holster with a snap. It can be carried loaded, as long as it is “securely encased”. Road rage is a senseless crime that results from impatience. The fact that the car in front of you cut you off or is going to slow is no reason for you to lose your cool. I would be willing to bet that not a day goes by the we as drivers do not see someone losing it in traffic, honking their horn, making obscene gestures or riding someone’s tail. The next time you decide pull up and give someone the finger, think twice. They may think you are pointing a gun at them and blow you away.

If you make the mistake of pointing a gun, you can be charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and be looking at a stiff prison sentence.

If you fire the gun you can be charged with attempted homicide, aggravated battery or a firearms charge that results in a long minimum mandatory sentence.

Never lose your temper.
Nothing good comes of that.

If you are being tailgated, pull over and change lanes and let the wacko behind you go past. Nothing good comes of a confrontation. Remember, just because you have a gun or legally can use it does not mean you should. Deadly force should only be used to protect life. There is never a good reason to pull a gun just to scare someone. A gun should only be used in last resort when all else fails. You could end up getting arrested and have to stand trial when it all could have been avoided. The best weapon is common sense. If you use common sense, you can go a lifetime without ever reaching for a gun. As a criminal defense lawyer here in Sarasota and Bradenton I have defended men who lost their temper and did something stupid. It costs thousands to defend a serious felony charge. Weigh that against getting to work a few minutes late because someone in poking along in front of you. Do not be provoked by some hot head into pulling a gun.

If you or a relative have been arrested in Sarasota or Manatee and want to talk to a lawyer who understands self-defense and the stand your ground law call Peter Aiken at 941 366 3506 for a free consultation

Tasered….to Death by the police

Sarasota Criminal Defense Lawyer
Peter D Aiken

March 23 2017

Almost every week you read or see a media report about someone dying from and encounter with the police where a Taser is used.

Many times the police are called by a relative concerning a family member who is off his or her medication and acting strangly. Sadly, the police do not receive a lot of training in dealing with mentally ill people. Sadly, some police only know , or claim to know, how to use “force”, when often, there is a better way to deal with the situation. What we need is more police training when it comes to the mentally ill. That is a particular problem when it comes to the homeless here in Sarasota. Many are truly mentally ill and helpless. They simply do not understand.

Taser death statistics are alarming.

If a person has a heart condition or is on drugs, being Tasered can result in cardiac arrest (a heart attack) and often death. The police will always claim that the use of force (the taser) was justified but often, it was not. The police justify using a taser claiming that it is better than some other form of force like a billy club or a gun. The problem may have been solved however without any form of force. If you are curious, go on Google and do some homework on taser deaths.

You can form your own opinion.

What you do not hear about are the deaths in jail or prison where a taser has been used. As a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer, I often come into contact with people who have been the victim of police excessive force. A dead giveaway is when you look at their booking picture. I you see the face bloodied or black and blue, chances are that person will have been charged with battery on a law enforcement officer. The police make that charge to justify the beating. I have had clients who were allegedly “taken down” with a leg sweep and slammed head first into the concrete. There are some great dedicated cops that with experience have learned to properly use force. There are some others that took the job because they are bullies or were themselves bullied early in life, and have copped an attitude. A badge and a gun in the hands of a policeman with “little man syndrome” is a dangerous thing.

If you or a close relative have been charged with battery on a law enforcement officer or were the victim of excessive force and want to talk, call me at 941 366 3506