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Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

Generally, a person charged with a drug crime will realize the severity of the consequences of a potential conviction and will seek representation from a competent attorney. Additionally, criminal defendants have a right to representation by counsel under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. In some instances, though, a person accused of committing a drug offense will waive that right and choose to proceed to trial without an attorney. A court must engage in certain inquiries to ensure a waiver of Sixth Amendment rights is knowing and willing; however, otherwise, it may be unconstitutional.

The standards for reviewing a criminal defendant’s request to proceed without an attorney were explained in a recent Florida opinion, in which the defendant was charged with drug conspiracy crimes. If you are faced with charges of drug offenses, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney to evaluate your options.

The Defendant’s Trial

It is reported that the defendant was charged with conspiracy to possess narcotics with the intent to distribute them, possessing narcotics with the intent to distribute, and other drug offenses. He stated he would proceed without the representation of counsel at trial and was subsequently convicted as charged. He then appealed on several grounds, including the argument that his waiver of the right to counsel was not voluntary or knowing. Upon review, the court rejected his argument and affirmed his conviction. Continue reading ›

Convictions for drug crimes often result in significant penalties. Additionally, if a person is convicted of multiple drug-related offenses, it may result in a sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), which imposes a minimum sentence of fifteen years. In order for the ACCA to apply, a defendant must have at least three prior convictions for serious drug offenses. The question of whether the purchase of a trafficking quantity of cocaine constitutes a serious drug crime as defined by the ACCA was recently discussed in an opinion issued by a Florida court. If you are charged with a drug crime, it is vital to retain an assertive Florida criminal defense attorney to help you seek a just outcome.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was convicted of a weapons crime and was subsequently sentenced under the ACCA. Specifically, the trial court held that the defendant had three prior qualifying drug-related convictions, one of which was trafficking cocaine in violation of Florida law. The defendant appealed his sentence, arguing that his drug trafficking conviction did not satisfy the ACCA’s definition of a serious drug crime. The district court was ultimately unable to resolve the issue and certified the question to the Florida Supreme Court.

Serious Drug Crimes as Defined by the ACCA

Under the ACCA, a serious drug offense is defined as an offense that involves the distribution, manufacturing, or possession with the intent to distribute or manufacture of a controlled substance. Thus, the court assessed whether trafficking cocaine in violation of Florida law satisfied the ACCA’s definition of a serious drug offense. The criminal statute in question listed six methods of trafficking, and the court noted that a violation of the statute would only be considered a serious offense if each of the alternatives met the definition.

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