Sarasota Cocaine Arrests on increase

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

February 11 2020

Here in Sarasota and Manatee County arrests for possession and sale of cocaine seem to be on the rise.  That could be because there is more cocaine in town or because of increased law enforcement efforts.  When the quantity exceeds certain amounts, the State will file trafficking in cocaine which jacks up the penalties.  Another technique the police use is to try and get someone to sell cocaine within a thousand feet of a school also to increase the sentence.  If they are successful in making a “buy”, they will also go back to the seller over and over to run up the charges and increase the sentencing guidelines.  If they can make a cocaine bust and get cocaine and guns to together, sometimes they file armed trafficking, again to run up the penalties

With the new technology, police can install surveillance cameras in high crime areas that can go un-noticed for months to watch for “street dealers” and unusual activity between cars and people walking up to cars.  The most common cocaine arrest is for possession and this generally occurs when the police find cocaine on a person they are arresting for something else.  A person may get arrested for DUI or arrested for driving on a suspended license, and when they go to tow the vehicle and inventory the car, they often find drugs.  As a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer, I have had cases where a woman gets arrested for a small quantity of cocaine found in her purse she has totally forgotten about.  It may have been there from partying weeks or months before.  You know how cluttered women’s purse can be.  The same goes for men.  It may be in a jacket or pants pocket, totally forgotten from months before.  As a Sarasota defense lawyer, I have had cases where a relative or friend borrows a car, a coat or piece of clothing only to get arrested for something they had no idea was in their possession.

What is “Possession’?  You can have actual possession where the drug is on you, and you can get charged with “constructive possession”, when the police find cocaine, pot, or some other drug in an area under your control, such as a car or bedroom.

Do not assume that because you have been arrested you will be found guilty.  The car stop may have been illegal.  The search may have been illegal.  If there was more than one person in the car you may have a good defense.  Before you take drug court or some diversion program of probation, you really need to talk to a good criminal defense lawyer.

It may be weeks before a public defender actually has an office visit with you to discuss the specific facts of your case.  Sometimes “Diversion” or “Probation” can be a trap.  This is particularly true if you are a regular “user”.   Talking to a good criminal defense attorney may keep you from making a terrible mistake.

Suncoast news related article

Drug Dealers can face murder charges and stiff minimum sentences

Peter D Aiken – Aiken and O’Halloran – Experienced Criminal Defense Sarasota – 941-366-3506 –

Drug Dealers can face murder charges and stiff minimum sentences

Here in Sarasota and Manatee County the State is out to reduce the drug overdose rate by cracking down on anyone who sells fentanyl.   No legislator, and few prosecutors, understand how the fentanyl epidemic came about.  This all goes back to the pharmaceutical companies and the opiates their drug reps pushed for years and the doctors that prescribed Oxycontin and Oxycodone in excess.  Thousand of normal people got hooked on opiates.  When the legislature tried to stop that problem with the drug database law, no one anticipated the result. 

The implementation of the law cracking down on doctor shopping, and cutting off the supply of prescription opiates, left the people addicted nowhere to go but to the street level drug dealers to get a substitute, heroin.  As the police cracked down on the heroin supply, the dealers turned to Fentanyl, readily available from China and other Asian countries.

Fentanyl kills people and is much deadlier than heroin and there was a spike in deaths in Bradenton and Sarasota.  The underlying problem is addiction and the true answer is to treat drug addiction as a medical issue.  If you take the money out of it, there would be no drug dealers.  In the meantime, society continues to deal with this in the wrong way.

There are stiff minimum mandatory sentences for trafficking in Heroin and Fentanyl. But for every drug dealer sentenced to twenty years another one will take his place.  Over the years, as a Drug Offense criminal defense lawyer in Sarasota and Manatee, I have represented hundreds of people charged with trafficking, dealing and possession of Opiates like heroin, Fentanyl and other designer drugs.  Drug addiction is a medical issue and the Florida prison system is full of addicts who were selling and dealing to simply support their own habit. The laws need to change, but in the meantime, as a Sarasota and Manatee Criminal Defense Attorney handling Felony drug charges, I will continue to try and help people accused of dealing drugs.  For many, it is the only way they can support their habit.  The answer is a better intervention program where addicts get help not jail.  If you or a friend or relative find yourself in a bad legal situation as a result of drug dependency and what to talk, a free confidential consultation may help you find answers to your problem.  Jail is not the answer for addiction

How much of a prison sentence to you actually serve?

Aiken and O’Halloran of Sarasota Peter D. Aiken 941-366-3506

February 6 2020

How much of a prison sentence to you actually serve?

Currently, if you are sentenced to State prison, you will server 85 per cent of the sentence, less any time you spent in jail on the charges before conviction.  There is a move to reduce the amount of time to 65%, instead of the current 85%.  Sheriff Wells of Manatee County is leading the opposition to this proposed change involving what they call the “Truth in Sentencing” law.

As a State and Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida, In Florida, it is sometimes difficult to know what you are facing in actual prison time under the Florida sentencing guidelines.  In some instances the State can manipulate the guidelines and run your sentence up just by the way they word the charge.  For example, here in Sarasota, in child pornography cases, the State always charges 40 second degree felonies in an attempt to force the courts to impose what in actuality is a life sentence for just looking at pictures or videos.  In other cases, there is a minimum mandatory sentence that leaves the Court no choice in imposing sentence.  It takes a really good experienced criminal lawyer to give you a projection of how much time you will actually serve. As a Sarasota and Manatee criminal defense lawyer, I try and give clients a good estimate of the actual time…but it is just a projection that can change as the law changes.  Sometimes it is more and sometimes it is less.

It is also difficult to know how much time you will actually serve in County jail.  The most you can get in County jail is one year.  How much of that your actually serve varies from County to County.  It depends on the various “programs” in each individual county.  For example, you will serve more of your sentence in Manatee County than you will in Sarasota County.  It also makes a difference if you are sentenced in Federal Court.  As a former Federal prosecutor, I can tell you, generally the Federal time is “softer” than State prison.  The conditions are more civilized.  For example, if you end up in a Federal “Camp” you may do 85% of your sentence but be eligible for half way house as you get closer to the end of your sentence.  In the Federal system, if you get a “camp”, it is a lot like being in the military.  Most of the Federal “camps” are converted military bases and the conditions are way better than State prison.

As a State and Federal defense lawyer, I would rather have a client serve the sentence in Federal prison than in State prison.  Many of the criminal defense lawyers have little experience in Federal matters and not all criminal defense lawyers practice in both State and Federal Courts.  I recently had a client who was facing 8 years in State prison end up with 15 months in Federal “prison camp”.  That is a huge difference for the exact same conduct.  It makes a huge difference as to whether or not you are in the State or Federal system.

If you are under investigation and have not been charged yet, now, not later, is the time to hire a defense lawyer.  The lawyer may be able to get you prosecuted in a Court where you will do less time under better conditions.  This is particularly true when it comes to sex crimes like child pornography or Internet solicitation of a minor.  If a search warrant for kiddie porn has been executed on your house and you have not yet been arrested, you need to get the best lawyer who really knows the system immediately.  It may make a huge difference down the road.  If you are under investigation and want to have a confidential conversation about what your future may hold, give us a call