Charles L. Truncale
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A Former Federal Prosecutor Who Now Fights For Defendants

Jacksonville Criminal Defense Blog

Florida drug sting leads to the arrest of 21 people

On Dec. 6, Florida authorities arrested 21 people for allegedly participating in a drug trafficking ring that distributed prescription painkillers over a large swathe of the state. The investigation into the ring was dubbed "Operation Crazy 8."

Local media reports indicate that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was tipped off to the ring while investigating another drug ring operating out of Okaloosa County. That ring was allegedly obtaining large shipments of illegal prescription drugs from a ring in South Florida and distributing those drugs in Okaloosa and Walton counties.

Study finds more U.S. veterans engaging in drunk driving

Drunk driving cases involving U.S. military veterans in Florida and across the U.S. have risen since 2014 according to a new study by the American Addiction Centers. In fact, they've spiked a shocking 60 percent.

For the study, researchers examined behavioral risk factor data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention involving U.S. military vets. They found that physical and emotional trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, could be causing more veterans to engage in binge drinking and drunk driving. For women, binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks within two hours. For men, it is defined as consuming five or more drinks in the same period of time. Between 2013 and 2017, veteran rates of binge drinking increased from 14 percent to just under 16 percent. Female veterans experienced the biggest spike in binge drinking. While the overall rate increased 1.6 percent, the rate among female vets climbed by nearly 3 percent.

Clause in DUI law allows people to drive after being detained

A recent increase in wrong-way auto accidents that involve drunk drivers in Florida has led reporters to the discovery of several loopholes in Florida law. One of these loopholes allows drivers who have been detained for driving under the influence to continue driving. Florida citizens are upset about the loophole, which they believe puts citizens at risk of being involved in an accident with a drunk driver.

According to investigators, when a person is detained for DUI, there is a clause in the documents that allows suspects to continue to drive until they have gone to trial if a Breathalyzer or blood alcohol test shows that they are below the .08 legal limit. The DUI citation serves as a temporary driving license for 10 days after the citation was issued. The Florida state attorney says that though it seems like it is a loophole, the clause is part of the system of due process.

What may happen with felons' voting rights in Florida

Starting on Jan. 8, 2019, many convicted felons in Florida may have the right to vote. However, what will happen in a practical sense is not yet clear.

First, there are no definite numbers on how many felons live in the state. According to the Cornell University Prison Education Program, 1.5 million convicted felons in Florida are not in jail or prison. However, some cannot vote until their period of probation or parole is up while others cannot because of the nature of the crimes they have been convicted on, such as rape or murder. This leaves around 1.1 million people who might become eligible. Estimates from other organizations have put the number at 1.4 million.

Florida school security guard facing drug charges

A 43-year-old Florida man who has worked as a high school security guard for 16 years has been charged with drug possession and drug trafficking. A Miami-Dade County Public Schools representative told reporters that the man was fired from his position at Felix Varela Senior High School when news of the Nov. 5 arrest was made public. However, police say that they have yet to uncover evidence suggesting that the man sold drugs to students.

The man was taken into custody after his vehicle was stopped and searched. Officers say that they had probable cause to search the car because they observed the man engaging in what appeared to be a drug transaction at a Hammocks District gas station. An anonymous tip is what is said to have sparked police interest in the man. The search of the man's vehicle allegedly led to the discovery of about 1 gram of cocaine and a THC vaporizer cartridge.

City commission candidate accused of cocaine trafficking

A 29-year-old Florida man who was running for the Sweetwater City Commission was taken into custody Nov. 2 on suspicion of cocaine trafficking. Two other individuals were also detained in connection with the investigation. The candidate had a previous criminal record and had been arrested twice previously for suspicion of marijuana trafficking.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents received confidential information from an unnamed source claiming the candidate's alleged involvement with the drugs. The agents then worked with Drug Enforcement Administration federal agents and officers from the Sweetwater Police Department. The officers raided the man's home where the drugs were found. Police allege that he was using a police two-way radio and his home to run the drug operation. Officers commented that the number of cocaine-related deaths in Florida has increased over the past several years. Removing the drugs from the streets to keep residents safe is a top concern of the police.

Lower blood alcohol limit coming soon

The legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers in Florida is .08 percent. Each state decides the legal limit under its own laws, and as of now, every state has the same .08 percent limit. However, at the end of the year, one state is going to lower that to .05 percent. Utah will be the first state to do this, and experts say other states might follow.

Statistics say that on an average day in the United States, 29 people die in car crashes that involve drunk driving. Americans agree that action is needed to cut down on drunk driving, but there is debate about the best ways to achieve this. Some advocates call for lowering the legal blood alcohol content while others advocate for sobriety checkpoints or ignition interlock devices that require a driver to pass a breath test before the car can be started.

Drug trafficking mandatory sentencing laws keep many in jail

Florida has some of the harshest drug laws throughout the nation. Even those who do not sell drugs could see over a decade in prison time if the court convicts them of any form of drug trafficking or distribution.

What makes matters worse is Florida’s laws towards minimum sentencing. Under current standards, those arrested prior to a law that would reduce their sentence still have to serve out their full conviction and cannot challenge the court to alter it. It is important for those facing potential drug trafficking charges to understand the severity of this law and how it could impact their potential charges.

Florida man busted after flushing cocaine down toilet

On Oct. 11, Florida authorities arrested a man for allegedly trying to flush cocaine down the toilet in his home. The incident occurred in Sarasota.

According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, detectives attempted to serve a search warrant at the defendant's property, which is located on the 3100 block of Claude Lane. However, upon seeing their arrival, the 39-year-old reportedly dashed from his bedroom to his bathroom. Once he was apprehended, detectives noticed that his left hand was wet and discovered that the bathroom floor was flooded with water. An empty bag was found near the toilet, and cocaine residue was allegedly detected on the toilet and on the bathroom floor.

Reversing a criminal conviction

Anyone who has been convicted of a crime in Florida may wonder if there is anything that they can do after the judgment has already been rendered and filed. Most courts of appeals will not overturn a guilty verdict after a jury or bench trial unless the appellant can demonstrate that a serious error occurred.

In post-conviction matters, a defendant is not guaranteed a new trial. Even if a judge or jury committed an error at the trial court level, if the court of appeals deems the error harmless, which means that it probably did not affect the outcome of the trial, the conviction will not be overturned on appeal.

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