Jacksonville drug charges can range from misdemeanor Jacksonville possession of marijuana to felony Jacksonville possession of a controlled substance or cocaine. If you are arrested for a certain amount of drugs in Jacksonville, you will be charged with Florida drug trafficking. As a Jacksonville drug defense lawyer, I have represented people charged with different types of Florida drug possession charges, including possession of marijuana, sale of cocaine, possession of hydrocodone, and sale of ecstasy. In many Jacksonville drug possession cases, there is some sort of search of the Florida criminal defendant. That is usually how the drugs are found on the Jacksonville criminal defendant. Searches and seizures in Florida must be legal. If a Jacksonville police officer searches you for drugs, guns, or weapons, he or she needs to follow Florida’s laws and the Constitution.
In a recent Florida Supreme Court case, the Florida police officers did not follow the law when searching a home in Florida. This caused a person’s conviction for Florida possession of MDMA or ecstasy to be thrown out. Ward v. State (Florida Supreme Court ruling on May 16, 2012 but legal citation not yet assigned).
Jasheene Ward was charged with Florida MDMA trafficking and a Florida gun charge (Florida possession of a firearm by a convicted felon). He filed a motion to suppress drugs that Florida police found when they searched his room. The Florida trial court denied his motion, and he pleaded no contest to Florida trafficking in MDMA (ecstacy) and Florida possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He reserved the right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress the drugs that formed the basis for the Florida drug trafficking charge.
Ward was 31-years-old and staying in a room at his mother’s house in Florida. He was arrested in Florida for other drug charges. Then, the Florida police wanted to search his house for more drugs. When the Florida police officers came to his house to search it, Ward’s mother told the Florida police officers that she owned the house, and police search her house in Florida for drugs. His mother consented and allowed the Florida police officers to search his room after they told her that her son had drugs in the house that looked like candy. When the Florida police officers searched his bedroom, they found drugs (ecstasy pills) in a box in the bedroom closet.
The Florida Supreme Court stated, “in the Fourth Amendment, prohibition against warrantless searches of an individual’s property does not apply to when officers obtain consent either from the individual whose property is to be searched or from a third party who possesses ‘common authority’ over the premises.” This does not mean that Florida police officers looking for drugs can search any personal property contained within the house. Under Florida’s laws for searches without a warrant, a third party can not validly consent to a search of personal property belonging to another, unless there is evidence of both common authority over a mutual usage of property.
In Ward’s Florida trafficking in ecstasy case, even assuming his mothers regular access to his bedroom for purposes of laundry and making the bed were sufficient to allow her to consent to police searching his bedroom in Florida, that does not mean that she can search the box that contained ecstasy pills. The box was hidden away and there was nothing in the information known to the police to suggest any mutual usage of, or common control over the box. Ward’s Florida drug trafficking charge was reversed because of illegal search by Florida police officers.
When you are facing Jacksonville drug charges, talk to a Jacksonville criminal lawyer about your Florida drug arrest. You may have been the victim of a illegal search without a warrant. A lawyer in Jacksonville can investigation your case and the Florida laws that apply to your case. You need a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney that will fight for your rights. Call a Jacksonville criminal attorney at 20 Miles Law.