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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.