Marijuana Trafficking Laws still being enforced

Sean C. O’Halloran
Experienced State and Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
Main Office: Ft Myers, Florida

March 3 2017

The Lee County Sheriff is still vigorously enforcing the State laws when it comes to marijuana. In an arrest this week, a man was stopped for “illegal tint” and in his vehicle the cops found over 300 pounds of weed. Even though the laws are slowly changing here in Florida it is still against the law to possess marijuana. If you have a large quantity, you can get charged with trafficking and be looking at a prison sentence. It makes no sense and Florida is behind the times when it comes to pot. We have people taking up valuable prison space, space that could be used for violent offenders, simply for growing pot in grow houses or selling marijuana. What most of the public does not realize, is that there would be no Cartels, if our law makers years ago had decriminalized marijuana. It has been around for over a thousand years and will be here for thousands more. As a criminal defense lawyer here in Ft. Myers, I have never seen anyone commit a violent crime while high on pot. I agree that the laws with respect to DUI can be enforced if a person is driving while high to the point their faculties are impaired but for simple possession or smoking a joint, it is a tremendous waste of police and court resources.

What is a pretextual Stop?

If you are black or Hispanic and you live in Lee County, chances are you have been stopped by a policeman. They may claim your tag light is too dim, your tint too dark or claim you rolled a stop sign. The truth is that it is racial profiling. If you are a white woman riding in a car with a black man your chances of being stopped are dramatically increased. If you are in a “bad” neighborhood or are out after midnight, the chances of getting stopped increase. I have had clients who know they are being followed obey every single law, and still get stopped. If you are being followed by a policeman, and you come to a stop sign, record your driving on your cell phone. Take a video through the windshield of you stopping at the sign. Take a video through the windshield of your driving to prove later you were not swerving. Sadly, police sometimes lie about the reason they make a “stop”. Some will claim they smelled marijuana to justify an illegal detention and search of the vehicle. Sometimes they call a drug dog and delay writing a ticket long enough for the dog to get there and do what they call a “free air sniff” while walking around the car. You need to be able to bring out the truth and nothing beats a good video.

Were you illegally stopped, detained and searched?

If you live in Cape Coral, you know what I am talking about. If you live in Lehigh Acres and you drive after midnight you know what I am talking about. If you are in the wrong neighborhood in Ft. Myers and driving a Mercedes or BMW you know what I am talking about. As a criminal defense attorney, my job is to get to the truth. Was the stop legal? How long were you detained? Did they make you get out of the car? Did they search your pockets? Did they claim they smelled marijuana? Did they go through your console? Did they claim you rolled a stop sign? For over thirty years I have been challenging illegal police search and seizures. Do not plead guilty to drug possession and lose your driver’s license without talking to a really good experienced defense attorney. Do not take the easy way out and regret it later

Call for a free consultation in Ft. Myers at 239 334 8890

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Crimes against the elderly….and the consequences

Attorney Peter D Aiken
Sarasota 941-366-3506
Ft. Myers 239-334-8890

Here in Sarasota we have a large number of elderly residents. Consequently, there are a large percentage of arrests involving elderly victims.

One of the most commonly charged offenses is battery on a person over 65. If you hit or slap someone, it is a misdemeanor. In domestic violence cases, family members, spouses, brothers and sisters are often charged with domestic battery. If the person struck is over sixty five years old, the State has the option of charging it as a felony. If the elderly person is badly hurt, the aggressor will in all likelihood get a felony arrest. Sadly, many old people because of their attitude as they age, are the aggressors and provoke confrontation. Just because they are old does not mean they are nice. Many times you have elderly couples in their seventies or eighties that get in fights. My goal where possible is the end the ordeal for both parties. Early dementia can result in confrontations ending badly. Early diagnosis and counseling and treatment is a much better option than jail.

Another commonly charged crime involves family members taking advantage of the elderly financially. It is common for care providers to trick the elderly into writing checks or making payments that are unjustified. Over the years, I have defended professionals, such as lawyers or trustees who are alleged to have taken advantage of their fiduciary relationship. The problem that arises is that old people suffer memory lapses and often do not remember authorizing a transaction or making a payment. Jealous relatives come along later and accuse the caretaker of an impropriety when in fact it was legitimate. Money can motivate a false accusation by a relative seeking the money for themselves.
Here in Sarasota it is also common for people doing home improvements or repairs to over sell or overcharge and elderly person. These types of cases are tough for the State to prosecute and tough for the defense in that there is sympathy for any old person taken advantage of.

In the last ten years I have seen an increase in sex crimes involving the elderly. I have defended many grandfathers charged with a lewd and lascivious touching of a grandchild. Age sometimes does strange things to men. They may have led a perfect life and then in their seventies, something “snaps”. Some elderly men end up on the Internet and get charged with traveling to meet a minor as a result of a sex sting operation. These cases are particularly sad.
If you have a relative or friend charge with a crime involving the elderly and want to talk, call my office in Sarasota for a free consultation at 941 366 3506

Florida’s “Move Over” Law prevents Deaths

Sean C. O'Halloran 239-334-8890
Sean C. O’Halloran

I am sure you have seen the signs on the expressway telling you to move over for emergency vehicles parked on the side of the road. On I-75, the police will often park on the shoulder with lights flashing waiting for someone to zoom by without pulling over one lane. Down the road a number of highway patrol cars are waiting to issue a ticket. At first glance, this looks like just another reason to write tickets and meet quotas. Sadly, there are a lot of accidents where police and tow truck drivers are injured needlessly while doing their job. Just two weeks ago a tow truck driver was killed when a man (allegedly drunk), plowed into the stopped vehicles. This is true when it comes to the “road rangers” who pull over to assist people whose cars have broken down or are disabled. If you see flashing lights up ahead and you are in the right lane, move over before you pass the stopped vehicles. The same goes for the left lane, particularly if it is a three or four lane road. Just today a rescue helicopter was hit in such an accident.

A lot of these accidents are hit and run cases where the driver hits a person who is rendering assistance to a broken down vehicle. This is particularly true if the driver is impaired from alcohol or drugs. If a death results, the Florida sentencing guidelines are harsh, and a person could be looking at a long prison sentence if convicted of DUI homicide. I guess that is why so many people leave the scene of the accident. You can get a prison sentence for leaving the scene but generally it is less than if you are convicted of DUI death. Of course, the better solution is to simply not drink and drive but in reality, many people do. I encourage people to find another way to get home. With services like Uber, it is so easy to avoid a DUI arrest. We have defended DUI homicide cases for decades. The cases are sad for both sides. On the one side, a family has lost a loved one. On the other side, someone is looking at ten years in prison. You cannot bring back a life, but good lawyering may be able to lessen the impact for the family of the person accused of the DUI death.

If a loved one has been arrested for leaving the scene of a death, or worse yet been arrested for a DUI homicide, hiring a good experienced lawyer is a must. Do not trust ten years of a person’s life to the Public Defender if you have a choice. We will try and work with you on the fees and for sure work as hard as possible to get a good result. A lot of lawyers make promises just to get hired. At our firm, our promise is to put a 100% effort at getting the best possible result. We have offices in Ft. Myers, Punta Gorda and Sarasota and it costs nothing to call and talk. Call 239 334 8890 in Ft. Myers, or in Sarasota call 941 366 3506 or in Punta Gorda, call 941-639-6009

I got arrested for “battery”……I was the one who got “battered”

Sean C. O'Halloran Experienced State and Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Main Office: Ft Myers, Florida  239-334-8890
Sean C. O’Halloran
Experienced State and Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
Main Office: Ft Myers, Florida

Years ago, if there was a heated argument in the house, you could call 911 and the police would come and calm everyone down. Nowadays, if 911 is called, someone is going to jail. Even a 911 hang up will result in police showing up at your door. They will insist on coming in for a safety check. They will generally talk first to the person who made the recorded call. Sadly, many police form their opinion after talking to only one party, generally, the woman. They get her side of things, particularly if the responding officer is female and turn a blind eye to your version of what happened or the evidence. Someone is going to jail, no matter what. The police are afraid of being sued if they leave both parties together so most of the time, one or the other is taken away in cuffs. Ninety per cent of the time alcohol is involved.

Alcohol fuels a lot of nasty emotions. A wife or girlfriend may have been your best drinking buddy earlier in the evening but may have turned on you in a jealous rage over something trivial. I have seen 100 pound women jump on 300 pound men like a wildcat scratching and kicking and screaming. Many times the man may try and restrain her by holding her arms, only to later be arrested for assaulting her. Alcohol fuels jealousy and resentment. Many times hard financial times lead to drinking and money problems are the trigger that ignites a fight. Sometimes one party or the other may be taking prescription medication that triggers an outburst. If you are a Vet, there may be a PTSD issue at the core of your marital dispute.

As criminal defense lawyers here in Ft. Myers and the Cape we have handled hundreds of domestic violence cases. We regularly get “no contact orders” set aside or modified. Jumping on these cases early is important. Do not wait until your first court date, the arraignment. By then, the case will have already been filed. We may be able to convince the State Attorney to drop the case before it gets filed. There are lots of immediate consequences to a domestic battery arrest. Your concealed weapons license is in jeopardy. Your employer may fire you. Your picture may end up on on the Internet. Sometimes a phony accusation may be just the beginning of a divorce proceeding and designed to get you out of the house. Sadly some civil lawyers jump at the opportunity to use it as a mechanism to get control of the home. The DCF can also get involved is kids witnessed the argument.We have been doing this for years….Call 239 334 8890 for a free Consultation