Florida Now Enforcing “Doctor Shopping” Law

“Doctor shopping” refers to a patient requesting controlled substances from multiple physicians, often simultaneously, without making efforts to inform the other physicians of the multiple prescriptions. According to a 2013 study published in the journal PLoS One, one of every 50 prescriptions for addictive prescription painkillers in the United States is filled for so-called “doctor shoppers” who obtain the drugs for recreational use or resale on the street.

During the early 2000s, Florida was the nation’s center of the illegal sale of prescription drugs. In 2010 doctors here bought 89 percent of all the Oxycodone sold in the country last year. Thousands migrated to Florida to buy drugs at more 1,000 pain clinics that the state earned the nickname “Oxy Express.” During 2003–2009, the number of deaths caused by drug overdose in Florida increased 61 percent.

In 2011 Florida strengthened its prescribing laws and stepped-up enforcement of existing laws. In an effort to limit the number of people who go to multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for the same type of pain medication, Florida law enforcement has begun enforcing a 2003 statute, Florida Statute § 893.13(7)(a)8, that makes it a felony for a person to go to more than one doctor to obtain identical medication before a refill is allowed for the first prescription. The strategy seems to be working. Prescription drug overdose deaths from 2010-2012 fell 23 percent.

Arrest for either “doctor shopping” or any drug offense is a very serious in Florida with severe legal and personal consequences. If you have been charged, it is imperative that you hire legal representation that will aggressively and effectively handle every aspect of your criminal defense. The attorneys at Bauer, Crider, and Parry, have provided residents of the Tampa area with over 30 years of strong criminal defense, stronger results.

Can the Police Search My Cell Phone Without a Warrant?

Last June, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that law enforcement may not search the cell phones of criminal suspects upon arrest without a warrant. This landmark decision, the first by the Court to address computer searches, brings the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures” into the modern digital age.

Criminal suspects in California and Massachusetts were separately convicted, in part, after phone numbers, texts, and photos obtained from personal electronic devices linked them to drug and gang activity. The justices’ decision, while not addressing the NSA’s sweeping collection of phone metadata, is an extensive endorsement of personal privacy rights.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.” What must the police do when they want to search a cellphone in connection with an arrest? “Get a warrant,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

It is reasonable to conclude that the ruling also protects warrantless searches of tablets and laptops. Police searches, however, can include other closed containers, such as wallets, purses, and address books.

It is important to remember that if you are questioned or arrested for an alleged crime, law enforcement officers cannot search your phone without a warrant. The criminal defense attorneys at Bauer, Crider and Parry are dedicated to protecting all of your rights – including your right to privacy.

What are My Miranda Rights After Arrest?

Anyone who has watched a police drama on TV or film has heard the ubiquitous phrase, “You have the right to remain silent…” But, what does it really mean? What are my rights after arrest? Should I speak to the police? Can my attorney speak for me? Can the police lie to me during interrogation?

Every time a law officer executes an arrest, he must carefully follow certain procedures in order to prevent the violation of the suspect’s right to protection against self-incrimination. Specifically, the law officer must give Miranda warnings to the following: any one he places under arrest, any one submitted to interrogation, or any one considered the suspect of a crime. After that warning, as you are probably aware, any voluntary statement may be used against the arrestee if the case progresses to trial.

There are very significant legal rights within the Miranda warning. They include: the right to remain silent, the right for an attorney to be present during any questioning, and the right to an appointed attorney. Typically, the Miranda warning is read from a pre-printed card and the arrestee signs or initials it to indicate an understanding of the warning.

The act of voluntarily conversing with or answering questions from the law officer may significant consequences. The interrogation process is not in favor of the arrestee. It is often lengthy, uncomfortable, and confusing. The officer may confront the arrestee with evidence linking him to the crime, look for inconsistencies in his answers, or even lie to arrestee. It is imperative that, after arrest, you remain silent, cooperative, polite, and contact legal representation as soon as possible.

An arrest is an emotional and serious event for anyone. The attorneys at Bauer, Crider, Parry, are here for you during this difficult process and will aggressively and effectively handle every aspect of your criminal defense. The attorneys at Bauer, Crider, and Parry, have provided Floridians with over 30 years of strong criminal defense, stronger results, and over 130 combined years of legal experience

Can Drug Possession Ever Constitute Drug Trafficking?

Under Florida law, “drug possession” is an offense committed by someone who did not manufacture, distribute, or sell the controlled substance. Instead, the person probably held the controlled substance for personal use. State laws mandate a varying range of punishments for “drug possession” offenses. The potential penalty for a “drug possession” charge depends on the type of controlled substance, the type of charge, and the degree of the misdemeanor or felony.

The more serious crime of “drug trafficking” is similar to “drug dealing”, but also includes additional activities such as the manufacture or distribution of illegal drugs. The weight of the illegal drug the defendant possessed is crucial, and often determines the penalties for “trafficking”. It is important to note that in Florida, if the defendant possessed an amount of illegal drugs for strictly for personal use that exceeded the statutory limits for “possession”, but never intended to sell or distribute, that defendant may be convicted of “drug trafficking”.

Under Florida law, a person who is convicted of “trafficking” over 25 pounds of marijuana or 28 grams of cocaine is guilty of a first-degree felony, punishable by a mandatory minimum of 3 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Arrest for either “drug possession” or “drug trafficking” is a very serious offense in Florida with severe legal and personal consequences. If you have been charged with either offense, it is imperative that you hire legal representation that will aggressively and effectively handle every aspect of your criminal defense. The attorneys at Bauer, Crider, and Parry, have provided Floridians with over 30 years of strong criminal defense, stronger results, and over 130 combined years of legal experience.

Understanding Florida’s Gun Laws

Although it’s usually illegal to openly carry a weapon in the state of Florida, there are some exceptions to this law. In fact, for self-defense, it is legal to openly carry weapons like dart-firing stun guns, nonlethal stun guns and electric weapons, and chemical sprays.

Also, in certain places and situations, citizens may legally possess firearms, even without a Concealed Weapon Firearm License (CWFL), including in private residences, places of business and private motor vehicles, provided the firearm is properly and safely encased. A weapon may also be carried in places designated for fishing, hunting or camping and on public travel systems, as long as the firearm is properly and safely encased and not manually engaged by an individual.

Florida’s concealed weapons law

Unlike most states, Florida allows the licensed carrying of concealed weapons, including handguns, billy clubs, knives, tear gas guns and electronic weapons. However, these items must be produced, along with the valid CWFL, upon a police officer’s request.

On the other hand, there are some places where concealed weapons are not allowed, even with a CWFL. These include:

  • “A place of nuisance,” or places that annoy or injure the health, manners or morals of the community or the people, such as sites of prostitution, illegal gambling and gang activity
  • Establishments licensed to distribute alcohol for onsite consumption
  • Public or private schools, including K-12 institutions, colleges and universities
  • Polling places or meeting places for any governing bodies
  • Professional athletic events that are not gun-related
  • Jails, prisons and police stations
  • Courthouses and courtrooms, unless allowed by the designated judge, who may also carry
  • Inside and outside the secured areas of any airport

If you’re accused of violating a Florida weapons law, you may face a third-degree felony conviction. It is vital to work with a skilled Clearwater criminal defense attorney to protect your constitutional rights.

Could Marijuana Decriminalization Be on Its Way to Florida?

Florida recently became the only southern state to put legalizing marijuana for medical use on the 2014 ballot. The state legislature’s decision to include it comes on the heels of recent changes in the legal status of marijuana possession in states across the country. In 2012, Colorado and Washington passed measures allowing, regulating and taxing marijuana for recreational use. In addition, Alaska already has an initiative on the 2014 ballot, and Oregon appears poised to do the same.

Proponents of marijuana legalization point to a number of benefits, including the drug’s ability to help people deal with chronic pain and illness, lessening the burden on the criminal justice system and boosting tax revenue to state and local governments. Although Florida’s ballot measure focuses on medical use, passage could be the first step toward broad decriminalization statewide in the years to come.

Aside from the two U.S. states that currently allow, regulate and tax recreational marijuana use, 18 states make it legal to use the drug in a medical capacity. Not one of these states is in the south, an area of the country with historically more conservative views on marijuana. However, according to a CNN/ORC International poll conducted in January, about 55 percent of those surveyed were in favor of some form of marijuana legalization.

Depending on how citizens vote in November, medical marijuana may be much more available and affordable for people approved to use it. However, possession of marijuana for recreational use would still be illegal, and Florida has some fairly strict consequences for those convicted of drug offenses. A skilled attorney at Bauer, Crider &  Parry will be able to help if you’ve been arrested on drug charges for marijuana or any type of illegal substance.

Florida Offers Alternatives to Incarceration for Juveniles

The state of Florida has been actively working to reduce the incarceration rate for juveniles, who often end up in the penitentiary system because of abuse or negligence. They’re also far more likely to reintegrate with society as productive members if officials focus on rehabilitation instead of incarceration.

Florida has developed some alternatives to incarceration in the form of programs that identify and treat the abandonment, abuse and neglect issues that typically lead to youth delinquency. These programs also offer the support, guidance, nurturing and distraction necessary to divert these young people from preventable lives of crime. These programs may also help families address the problematic behaviors.

Part of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), the programs were first launched in 1992, and the goals, strategies and methods continue to be improved. One of the most successful programs is Healthy Families Florida, a diversion effort that provides home visitations to identify and prevent child neglect and abuse, a goal that has reportedly been achieved in 98 percent of the families served to date.

JDAI offers alternatives to incarceration, uses data to identify the problems and benefits of the current systems and expedites processing to ensure that no cases fall through the cracks or get mishandled. It also sets standards and protocols to improve conditions in youth detention centers and collaborates with judiciary systems and organizations to address youth needs more effectively.

The benefits of such programs are endless. They enhance public safety, reduce overcrowding in jails and prisons and save money. The cost to serve a family through Healthy Families Florida, for example, is just 2 percent of what it costs taxpayers to deal with individuals who have habitual contact with the criminal justice system later in life.

If your child has been arrested for a crime, speak with a Clearwater criminal defense attorney to learn more about alternatives to incarceration available for youth in Florida.

Florida Judge Reprimanded After Drunk Driving Conviction

A Hillsborough circuit judge received a year of probation, 50 hours of community service and a public reprimand after being charged with driving under the influence last summer.

According to the Tampa Tribune, Judge Tracy Sheehan was pulled over at about 11 p.m. on July 5 by a Tampa police officer. The officer noticed her car weaving across lanes of traffic after leaving a parking garage and reportedly smelled alcohol after pulling her over. The officer also noted that Sheehan spoke with slurred speech and appeared to have bloodshot eyes. Sheehan was administered two blood alcohol tests at the Hillsborough County Jail, which showed levels of 0.17 percent and 0.16 percent, both more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

Sheehan, a judge of general family and civil law cases, was tried in Pinellas County. The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission found that Sheehan’s behavior was a heinous violation of Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct, and the state Supreme Court agreed unanimously.

It’s worth noting that Sheehan, who pleaded guilty to the charges, says that she accepts complete blame and responsibility for her misconduct. However, the commission stated that the judge’s disregard for her state’s law and the public’s safety could shake confidence in both her and the judicial system she represents.

Alcohol can impair the judgment of even those who are normally rational, civic-minded individuals. And while Sheehan’s blood alcohol content level was just over twice the legal limit, it’s also important to remember that alcohol affects everyone differently. For some, it doesn’t take very many drinks to reach such a high BAC level.

If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving in Florida, it is crucial to speak with an experienced Clearwater DUI attorney as soon as possible.

Bauer Crider & Parry - Criminal Defense

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