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

Jacksonville Criminal Defense Blog

The dangers of mixing teens and drugs

There are many reasons parents in Florida should be concerned if their teenage children are using prohibited substances like marijuana or prescription drugs. Another worry to add to the list is that teens who share narcotics with each other can face drug dealing charges. This applies even when teens share drugs for free. Furthermore, homicide charges may be brought against a teen who shares drugs with someone who falls victim to an overdose.

The number of accidental overdose death cases doubled between 2015 and 2017. This includes more than 1,000 cases among 36 states. The charges for these incidents range from first-degree murder to manslaughter.

Man facing drug charges after unusual traffic stop

A man was arrested on Jan. 5 after a police traffic stop on Highway 29 led to Florida Highway Patrol officers discovering methamphetamine, cocaine, spice and other controlled substances in the man's car. The man's white Cadillac sedan began to attract attention when it remained stopped at a traffic light on the highway after the signal turned green. Cars began to move around the vehicle on all sides, and the car was beginning to obstruct traffic.

The officers claimed that they observed unspecified criminal activity when they saw the driver in the vehicle. However, when a police officer moved to speak to the 33-year-old man, they say that he began to move the vehicle into drive. Police then surrounded the vehicle and the man was arrested and taken into custody. Following this incident, police searched the car. There, they say they found 56.3 grams of methamphetamine, 5.2 grams of cocaine, 62.4 grams of spice, 60 pills of different types and other form of drug paraphernalia. Spice is a controlled substance that is often referred to as synthetic marijuana.

How people can appeal a criminal conviction

People in Florida who have been convicted of a crime may look toward the potential to appeal the conviction and obtain relief from their sentence. The U.S. justice system generally tends to uphold trial court decisions, so moving for an appeal can be an uphill battle. In order for a higher court to hear an appeal, the appealing party must be able to show that some form of material error was made at the trial level.

Courts distinguish between harmless and material errors. If an error by a trial court is considered unlikely to have a meaningful effect on the eventual result, it is not considered a reason to review or reverse the judgment. If a mistake cannot be shown to affect the substantial rights of a litigant, it can be difficult to obtain further review. However, if material error can be shown, there are four main grounds that people can use in order to seek relief from a criminal conviction.

Florida police seize drugs worth more than $1 million

A routine traffic stop in Florida led to the discovery of illegal drugs worth more than a million dollars according to a representative from the Gulf County Sheriff's Office. GCSO deputies allegedly discovered the drug haul after pulling over a Kia van on Florida State Road 71 for speeding on Dec. 12. A 29-year-old Callaway man was taken into custody at the scene and faces charges of cocaine possession with the intent to sell, oxycodone trafficking, heroin possession, possessing a firearm while a convicted felon and fleeing and eluding.

Deputies say that the man's van was pulled over after radar equipment indicated that it was traveling at 40 mph on a stretch of road with a 25 mph speed limit. However, the traffic stop escalated when deputies detected what they referred to as an overpowering odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The driver of the van attempted to flee the scene on foot but was captured after a brief pursuit.

Possible connection between dental work and opioid addiction

As anyone who has had their wisdom teeth pulled knows, it can be an excruciating procedure, leaving you in pain long after the dentist finishes. But, a new study suggests that prescription opioids following this procedure may lead to addiction in young patients.

That America is in the midst of an opioid crisis is recognized nationwide. Still, pain management demands often result in narcotics prescriptions following dental surgery. This opens the door to possible addiction, while some experts ask whether wisdom tooth extraction is even necessary.

Authorities to increase their numbers during holiday season

During the final weeks of 2018, Florida authorities will be taking part in a national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. In addition to officers on the road, helicopters will be used in an effort to detect signs of impaired driving. The goal is to make motorists think twice about getting behind the wheel if they are not safe to drive. Furthermore, the increased police presence aims to help those on the road who need assistance for any reason.

Authorities are encouraging those who are too impaired to drive to use public transportation or a ridesharing service to get home safely. Individuals are also encouraged to get a designated driver before going to a holiday event. Anyone who is planning on driving should be sure to get plenty of rest before doing so. In some cases, driving while tired can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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.

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