Guilty Plea In Martin County Heroin Case
A 60-year-old tire shop owner pleaded no contest to multiple drug charges and is now awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors allege that the man used his East Stuart shop to distribute heroin. To avoid trial, the state’s lawyers agreed to reduce the most serious charge from trafficking in heroin over 28 grams, which carries a mandatory minimum twenty-five years in prison, to trafficking under 28 grams, which has a fifteen year mandatory minimum. Earlier in December 2017, another man charged in the drug selling conspiracy received a twelve year prison sentence. Authorities gathered most of the evidence from wiretaps. They recorded customers calling the owner’s personal cellphone and ordering a “tire” or “half a tire.”
Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said the drug bust was the largest one in the county in more than a decade.
What to Expect in a Florida Criminal Case
A criminal charge is one of the most disruptive events that can happen to a family. Making matters worse, many people are completely unfamiliar with the process. As in the above case, most criminal defense matters end with a negotiated plea. To get to that point, most cases follow the following outline:
- Pretrial Release: Bail is very important in criminal cases, which is why the U.S. Constitution prohibits “excessive” bail. People who are in custody cannot work to support their families or participate in their own defense in a meaningful way.
- Disclosure: Discovery is usually limited in criminal cases to the police report and the official documents in the case, like the indictment or information and any search or arrest warrants. However, this discovery is usually sufficient for an experienced attorney to recommend a course of action, which could be a plea bargain or could be a jury trial.
- Disposition: If an attorney negotiates a favorable plea agreement, most criminal cases are resolved within a matter of a few weeks, but the wait for a trial date could be several months or longer.
At trial, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Florida law defines reasonable doubt as “abiding conviction of guilt” as opposed to one “which wavers and vacillates.”
Defenses in Florida Drug Cases
Because of the high standard of proof, lack of evidence is one of the most effective defenses in Florida or any other state. Even if the defendant is morally guilty, sometimes the state simply lacks the evidence to establish legal guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There is a very big difference.
Most drug cases involve search warrants; for example, to obtain a wiretap in the above story, the law requires a search warrant. This warrant must be very specific as to time, place, and manner. Furthermore, the warrant must be based on probable cause, and an informer’s statements, which usually form the basis of this warrant, may or may not meet this standard.
The substance must also be illegal That may seem like a meaningless technicality, but many prosecutions involve a synthetic marijuana or other drug that was not illegal at the time. Typically in these cases, the prosecutor must start over with new charging instruments, and many government lawyers would rather approve a plea deal favorable to the defendant than to go through this exercise.
Count on Experienced Lawyers
Criminal cases are bad, but they usually aren’t as bad as they appear at first blush. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.