So you thought you were going to have a great day on the water
Pine Island Sound is one of the greatest fishing estuaries in the country.
We are headed into prime fishing season and a day on the boat with a few brews is a great thing.
Did I say a “few brews”?
You have to be careful that a routine stop by the fish cops doesn’t result in an arrest for boating under the influence. They may be looking for an undersized snook and in the process find a dozen empty beer bottles or cans. That can trigger the marine patrol to request that you go to shore and perform “voluntary” sobriety exercises. If they have taken you to shore, they are going to arrest you anyway so do not perform these exercises. They will claim that the empty bottles give them a reasonable suspicion to suspect you are under the influence. Sadly, if three guys are on the water all day, it is easy to end up with a dozen empties and no one even remotely be impaired. That equates to four beers each over an entire day. We all know that no one ever finishes a hot beer anyway, so chances are, no one is close to drunk.
Often boating stops are allegedly for a “safety inspection” or the check the size of your catch. When it comes to fish, as in life, every inch matters. If you have an undersized grouper or snapper, or an out of season snook, you can find yourself under arrest or may be given a citation. If you are spear fishing in a prohibited area, you can get your gear seized and possibly your boat. We once defended a man in Federal Court who was actually indicted and prosecuted for illegally harvesting Florida lobsters. If you are in a National park and do something relatively minor, the Feds will make a “Federal case” out of the tiniest thing. I was once on a boat way up the river and got stopped by Sheriff’s deputies for exceeding the speed limit in a so called manatee area. I was boating right behind the Sheriff’s boat and when they increased their speed, I simply matched it. They turned around and stopped us and took information. Two months later, my son got a Federal violation notice. I later learned that the Sheriff’s department got Federal funds and had to produce ticket information to the Feds. They had to justify getting Federal money.
Each year college students flock to Ft. Myers beach for a little fun.
That fun sometimes involves alcohol.
That can result in an arrest for underage drinking or worse yet a DUI or drug possession charge.
If you are a parent and get a call from your son or daughter on Spring break here in Florida it will naturally cause you some anxiety. No one wants their college student to start life with a criminal record. A conviction for possession of marijuana will haunt them later in life when they file an application for a job or try to continue their higher education. It will haunt them later when they seek a professional license or try and get a security clearance.
Taking the easy way out, pleading guilty, may in the long run not be the wisest decision.
Kids often do not look at the long term consequences and make a hasty decision that can and will cause them problems in the future.
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