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

Jacksonville Criminal Defense Blog

How to cast doubt on a Breathalyzer test

In Florida , a driver is said to be too impaired to drive if his or her blood alcohol content is at .08 percent or higher. One way that a person's BAC is measured is by using a Breathlyzer test. This test involves a person blowing into a machine to get an estimate as to how much alcohol that person has had to drink.

These machines are considered to be highly accurate, but it is possible to contest a test's accuracy in a given case. Generally speaking, these machines are expected to be tested and calibrated at regular intervals. Failing to do so could cast doubt on the results it provides, and those results could be challenged in court. It is important to note that the person administering the test must be trained and certified to use the device.

More Florida nurses diagnosed and charged with substance abuse

Working in a hospital environment proves both rewarding and exciting. However, countless hours on your feet, grueling shifts and lifting heavy patients or hospital equipment may cause pain among nurses throughout the United States.

An increase in opioid addiction by U.S. citizens includes the use by hundreds of nurses. With direct access and chronic pain, many nurses choose to consume various hospital-grade substances. While addicted nurses pose a threat to their own safety, the dangers inflicted on children and adult patients may be life-threatening.

Florida woman busted for drugs while on jury duty

On June 25, a 39-year-old Florida woman was arrested after she was caught with cocaine while reporting for jury duty. The incident took place in Pasco County.

According to media reports, the woman had to go through a security screening to enter the West Pasco Judicial Center for jury duty. However, during the screening, an alarm went off. Officers performed a search of her clothing and allegedly discovered packets of a white powdered substance in her cargo pants. Testing later confirmed the substance was cocaine. A straw found in her possession also tested positive for trace amounts of methamphetamine.

The right to counsel during post-conviction proceedings

Although many Florida residents who are convicted on criminal charges feel that they have reached the end of their cases, there are several post-conviction proceedings that could result in a shortened sentence. In rare cases, a person's sentence may be eliminated altogether.

After a person is convicted, he or she must be sentenced. During sentencing, the court will decide what consequences the person should have. A person is entitled to have a defense attorney represent him or her in court while being sentenced. A defendant also has the right to an appeal if he or she was ruled against on certain motions. A lawyer may be present and work with the defendant when it comes to defending his or her rights while providing advice. Finally, people have the right to a lawyer under the Sixth Amendment. If someone believes his or her attorney was not competent or effective, another lawyer may be appointed to review the case.

Florida woman facing drug trafficking charges

A woman was arrested on June 23 and accused of drug trafficking after her car was pulled over by police as she drove in the Wildwood area of Sumter County. Sheriff's deputies say that they found methamphetamine, heroin and thousands of dollars in cash in the 2018 Cadillac XTS. The woman was stopped as she drove near an on-ramp to southbound Interstate 95.

During the stop, the Sumter County Sheriff's Office brought a drug-sniffing dog which alerted to a scent of narcotics. The deputies then took the dog's alert as probable cause to search the woman's car, where they say that they found 2.21 pounds of methamphetamine and 170 grams of heroin. They also found $5,098 in cash. The woman was taken to the Sumter County Jail, where she was arraigned on various drug charges, including trafficking methamphetamine, trafficking heroin and maintaining a drug shop or vehicle. The woman was released from custody on bond on Monday.

Appeals court overturns drug conviction under Good Samaritan law

On June 8, it was reported that a Florida man who was convicted on drug possession charges had the conviction overturned under the state's "Good Samaritan" law. This law, which was passed in 2012, protects individuals from prosecution for drug-related charges if they seek medical assistance for others who overdose as long as they are acting in "good faith."

The man and two of his friends were using heroin in December 2016 when one of the friends suffered an overdose and suddenly stopped breathing. The man called emergency services and used the instructions provided by the 911 operator to offer aid until help arrived. However, the appeals court argued that the man had initially refused to allow entry for the first responders and that he had left the overdosed woman briefly unattended. While the woman did survive, the man was eventually charged with the possession of both heroin and marijuana that were seized from the home.

Florida man facing federal fentanyl charges

Prosecutors in Florida reported on June 11 that a 22-year-old man has been charged with distributing fentanyl resulting in death. Records indicate that the man is the first Hillsborough County resident to face a federal indictment for this crime. He was taken into custody in May after an investigation by detectives assigned to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office's Heroin Working Group found evidence allegedly linking him to the overdose death of a Tampa area man in November 2017. The man faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

Media reports reveal that paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive the overdose victim with Narcan, but they do not reveal what led detectives to conclude that the drugs that killed him had been supplied by the suspect. The man allegedly told the overdose victim that he was selling him heroin, but an autopsy is said to have revealed that the cause of death was a fentanyl overdose. Even small doses of fentanyl can be deadly to those who have not developed a tolerance for the drug.

Anonymous complaint leads to drug charges in Florida

Two people were charged with drug crimes after Florida police received an anonymous tip concerning a possible unlicensed driver on May 26. According to news sources, the 40-year-old woman and 41-year-old man were taken into custody by St. Augustine police and transported to St. Johns County Jail. The man's bond was set at $5,500 while the woman was held on a $5,000 bond.

The friends were initially detained in a parking lot at 69 Dixie Highway. When police responded to the area near a one-story office complex, they found the man, the woman and an unidentified third party sitting in a parked vehicle. Preliminary reports indicate that the three people consented to a search, which revealed drug paraphernalia as well as suspected crystal meth. The substance tested positive for crystal methamphetamine at the scene.

Can medical conditions lead to a failed field sobriety test?

You’ve been pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence. The cop asks you to submit to a field sobriety test and, although the law does not require you to consent to such a test, you oblige knowing you are completely sober. You take the field sobriety test (FST) as requested. Following the test, however, the cop arrests you for DUI. You haven’t had a drop of alcohol, so how can that be?

Authorities take 5 people into custody on drug charges

On May 22, Florida law enforcement took five people into custody after they were accused of being in possession of marijuana and cocaine. Deputies with the Hendry Sheriff's Office claimed that the five individuals, aged between 18 and 26, were also found to be in possession of firearms and drug money in addition to the drugs.

The residence where the five individuals were found was located on Bridle Way in LaBelle. Authorities reported that drugs were found inside three vehicles that were on the property. One of the handguns that individuals were in possession of was reportedly determined to be stolen from Palm Bay. The authorities said that they were investigating whether certain electronics found in the home, which included laptops and TVs, were also stolen.

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