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Federal and state law enforcement agencies are known to give out some of the harshest penalties when it comes to the sale and possession of controlled substances. One of the more serious charges is drug trafficking across state lines or national borders. Drug trafficking is defined as the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, possession or transporting a specific amount of a controlled substance. Most movies and shows make people think that you need to be a mastermind traveling across national borders with large, obscene amounts of a controlled substance similar to the movie “Scarface” to be considered a drug trafficker. However, according to Florida Statutes Section 891.13, any person who sells or delivers controlled substances can face drug trafficking charges in the state of Florida.

The most commonly trafficked drugs in Florida are:

Cocaine

Although not what anyone wants, it happens. You hire a criminal defense attorney that checks off everything you’re looking for then after working together on the case, you realize you are not too happy with your choice anymore. So are you able to change criminal defense lawyers? The short answer is yes. However, there is a process for this.

You must file a motion with the court to substitute counsel and the details will vary from state to state. There are genuine reasons to change lawyers. For one, if your lawyer insists on you accepting a plea but you want to move forward with a trial, then that can be enough for you to want to switch lawyers. Most experienced attorneys will know better how a case will generally go, but ultimately you have a right in choosing what you think is best for you. However, not every disagreement with your defense attorney should be grounds for you to change.

In most cases, your motion will be approved, unless the court believes that you’re doing it to unnecessarily delay the proceedings against you. There is not a set limit to the number of times a person can change attorneys. The deciding factor, in most cases, is whether the judge overseeing the case will allow the current attorney to withdraw from the case. In some instances, if the case has been pending too long, the judge will simply set the case for trial, which can impede the defendant’s ability to change counsel and somewhat set an end-date for the case. The best way to hire an attorney is to interview a number of them and get a deeper understanding of the cases they’ve represented and how their personal style blends with yours. There is no one-size-fits-all defense attorney for every case.

Most do not go about their life thinking that they may be under watch and investigation by law enforcement. However, it can happen. If you or someone you know is involved in white collar criminal activity, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) may be collecting evidence on you.

Investigations like this are never launched without much thought. By the time you even remotely suspect that you may be the subject of an investigation, law enforcement may have already obtained a great deal of evidence and has already looked into other potential suspects. So what are some signs that you are being looked into?

A coworker tells you that they have been interviewed and that your name was brought up.

There is a saying that goes, “You don’t always get it right the first time.” That can be said for trials. Being charged as guilty does not mean it is your last opportunity to see justice served. A defendant can file an appeal and if that is not successful, post-conviction relief is an option. You may get a reduced sentence, a new trial or even a vacated sentence and your freedom.

The federal court will only accept the petition if all other avenues of post-conviction relief have been exhausted at the state level. Under federal law, there is a deadline on when you can file. The statute of limitations is a year from the day you received the court judgement.

An attorney may raise issues such as an illegal search, jury bias and tampering or even not being fully advised of the rights you were waiving when you entered a guilty plea.The issue could have occurred at any phase of the criminal proceeding against you, including during the investigation, arrest, pre-trial, plea hearing, trial or sentencing.

Child endangerment charges are taken very seriously in Florida. From long prison sentences to losing custody of your children, these crimes can affect you negatively in several different ways. Unfortunately, it is possible to be wrongly accused of these crimes. This may occur during divorces or custody battles. The complaints may take months and even years to investigate. That is why it is best to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to make sure you know your rights and options.

Some examples of child endangerment are:

Having your children in the car while driving under the influence

We have heard many times from clients that police did not read them their Miranda rights. And trust us when we say we believe you. However, you might be shocked to hear that law enforcement does not have to read you your rights. “Miranda Rights” comes from a Supreme Court case in the 1960s called Miranda v. Arizona. The court stated that if police want to question a person in police custody, they must make them aware of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incriminating statements and their right to an attorney.

Miranda Rights are as follows:

You have the right to remain silent

The devastating Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass-shooting in Parkland, Florida is a day that will live on in our minds and hearts forever. 17 people were killed and several more, including staff, were injured. Scot Peterson was an armed officer at the school. On that day, he retreated into safety instead of confronting the gunman. Due to this, he found himself being criminally charged with eleven counts of second- and third-degree felony neglect of a child and a second-degree misdemeanor of culpable negligence. Additionally, Peterson’s name was dragged through the mud and he was even nicknamed “The coward of Broward”. The charges filed against him are not the norm. Police officers are not usually held criminally liable for not protecting the public. In fact, child neglect is typically a charge given to parents, teachers, kidnappers, babysitters, etc., not law enforcement. However, prosecutors argue that Peterson is a school resource officer and is essentially considered a caregiver. In court, he told the judge that he did the best he could at the time.

“I didn’t do anything there to try to hurt any child there on the scene,” Peterson pleaded. “I did the best that I could with the information.”

Earlier this year, a Florida judge ruled that a case may proceed against Peterson. This case could have a rippling effect on whether school officers and other officers in general have a constitutional duty to protect children in similar situations.

Nowadays, it is rare to meet someone who does not own a smartphone. It is normal to wonder if Florida police can search your phone for evidence. Can police officers scroll through the information contained on your phone without a warrant?

If you are arrested, officers are able to search you, and any “containers” that are in your immediate control. A “container” can be a wallet, bags, boxes or anything a person might use to store other items. Even a pack of candy could classify as a container.

However, the Supreme Court stated that a phone is not a normal container that is able to be searched with reasonable suspicion. This is because cell phones don’t contain physical evidence such as drugs, weapons or other things officers look for during a search. Our cell phones contain digital evidence—something that is treated differently by the law.

The U.S. Constitution protects you against unreasonable search and seizure. However, law enforcement gets around the need for a warrant by showing reasonable cause for a search. Usually, police need to show that they had reason to believe you were breaking the law. This generally happens during traffic stops. Before, officers in Florida could search your vehicle if they smelled marijuana. However, due to a change in Florida law, the odor of cannabis or hemp is no longer legal grounds for a police search.

This imposed a problem on police officers because figuring out the difference between marijuana and hemp is now vital. Due to this, any found substance has to go through testing to determine the THC content. Only substances above .3 THC content are illegal. Anything else is legal under the new law. Police have always relied on the distinct smell of marijuana to detect criminal drug use. However, there are now hemp-based lotions and textile products. The “smell of marijuana” does not mean anything illegal is taking place. An experienced lawyer can help you argue that evidence uncovered in a search under the basis that an officer smelled marijuana in your car can be suppressed.

Everyone is entitled to legal representation when facing charges. At Michael B Cohen Law, our priority is making sure that you receive the best legal representation for your federal crime cases. You can schedule a free consultation with us today and learn about your options and ways in which we can help you and your future.

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