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.