Cocaine Possession Charge Leads to Florida Congressman’s Resignation

A Florida drug charge can certainly damage your career.  If you are arrested for possession of marijuana in Jacksonville, this will go on your Florida criminal record.  Unless you seal or expunge your criminal record, it will show up on a Florida criminal background check.  As you can imagine, this is could hurt your chances of getting a job.  It could also have a negative impact on your career.

I read an article today that reminded me how one wrong can undo a lifetime of achievements.  The Chicago Tribune ran an article about Florida Republican U.S. Representative, Trey Radel.  He “was charged in November with buying cocaine.”  He was accused of “buying 3.5 grams of cocaine in Washington on October 29, in the presence of an undercover agent.”  The article stated, “The case against Radel stemmed from an investigation by FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration agents into cocaine trafficking in the Washington area, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nihar Mohanty said.”

Radel’s office stated that he “plans to resign from Congress.”  Radel is 37-years-old.  He was “elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.”  He “returned to Congress in January, six weeks after he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and checked into a rehabilitation clinic” in Florida.

The NY Daily News stated that Randel “pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of possession of cocaine on Nov. 20 and was sentenced to one year of supervised probation.”  This was for purchasing “3.5 grams of cocaine for $250.”  Florida law is different from Washington.  In Florida possession of cocaine is not a misdemeanor.  It is a felony crime.  The law that governs possession of cocaine is Florida Statute Section 893.13(6)(A).  This FL law states:

“It is unlawful for any person to be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance unless such controlled substance was lawfully obtained from a practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his or her professional practice or to be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance except as otherwise authorized by this chapter. Any person who violates this provision commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.”

Had Radel been arrested in Florida, he would have been arrested under this drug law.  It would have been a felony arrest.  However, the outcome may have been different.  As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I believe that Radel has mitigating circumstances.  I am assuming that he has never been arrested before.  He has a job and a family.  It appears that he may have a drug problem.  Every case is different, so I cannot say exactly what would happen, but he is a good candidate for a program.

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