Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

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A Minnesota State Court of Appeals recently ruled that a two wheeled motorized transit machine called a “Segway” was more like a pedestrian than a “vehicle” for purposes of Minnesota’s DUI law, thereby throwing out a DUI charge against Mark Greenman, a two time contestant of the Segway DUI challenge. The Minnesota court ruled that a Segway, having a top speed of only 15 miles per hour, makes it much more like a human being and their movement than that of a car or other device considered to be a vehicle under Minnesota law. A common misconception just about anywhere you go is that one cannot get a DUI on a “device” that isn’t propelled by some type of motor, be it gas or electric. Because DUI is most often prosecuted in a State court, laws vary by state and some probably do adopt this notion. Florida may be a bit vague on this issue. Our Tampa criminal attorneys have long felt that Florida is very much a “Police State,” enacting and enforcing laws that reap a financial benefit for the State more so than those laws aim to punish. In Florida one can get a DUI on a bicycle, State v. Howard, 510 So.2d 612 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987), a lawnmower, while simply sitting in your car with keys nearby, on an ATV, or any other “device” considered a vehicle. Rest assured the definition is a broad one so as to encompass as many objects into the “vehicle” umbrella as possible. So what about a Segway? Electric Personal Assistance Mobility Devices are described in Florida Statute 316.003(83) as essentially being segways. Further, this section explicitly excludes them from being a “vehicle,” an issue very relevant for purposes of DUI in Florida. From the look of it, if the segway fits the description under this Statute, you likely are excluded from a DUI charge. Where this could get sticky is if there is a tandem wheel segway produced or ridden and the thing goes over 20 miles per hour.

In Florida in order to prove that one was driving under the influence contrary to Florida Statute 316.193, it must proven that the following two elements existed beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. Someone drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle.

2. While driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle, the individual was either;

a. under the influence of alcoholic beverages and/or a chemical substance and/or a controlled substance to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired.

or
b. had a blood/breath-alcohol level of .08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood/210 liters of breath.
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28 year old former Tampa Bay Rays player Elijah Dukes was arrested again Monday night on several outstanding warrants for failing to appear in court for past criminal charges. Dukes, a former major league baseball player with incredible talent but an inability to stay out of a criminal courtroom was also arrested on a driving while license suspended, cancelled, or revoked charge. Dukes is a native of Tampa and last played in the big leagues in 2009 for the Washington Nationals. This arrest is one in a long line dating from 2003 and ranging from domestic violence and obstructing a police officer to contempt of court arising from an alleged failure to pay child support.

Because Dukes is facing a new charge for driving while license suspended, cancelled, or revoked any relatively experienced Tampa criminal lawyer could safely presume that Dukes was pulled over for a routine civil traffic violation or officers ran his license plates revealing the registered owner, Dukes, had a suspended license and recognizing that the driver fit Dukes’ description. Either is a valid way for police to detain a Florida driver. Under Florida Statute 322.34(2), any person who is driving in Florida and knows that their driver’s license is cancelled, suspended, or revoked is guilty of a second degree misdemeanor on their first offense and first degree misdemeanor on their second offense. A third of subsequent conviction under 322.34(2) is a third degree felony.
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16 year old Steubenville, Ohio students and football players Ma’Lik Richmond and Trent Mays will be tried as juveniles next month for the rape of a 16 year old girl who passed out due to what is thought to be administration of a date rape drug at a house party last August. It is alleged that Richmond and Mays were part of a group of high school boys who gang raped the unwilling victim. This case has taken social media and the Internet by storm partly due to the posting of a video depicting a recent Steubenville High School graduate making jokes about the victim and the interaction of the “Rape Crew” with her as she lay unconscious. Adding to the interest of a Nation is the idea that Steubenville is a town, much like the fictional town of West Canaan, Texas in the movie Varsity Blues, where high school football rules. There is the notion that in Steubenville winning high school football games is such a priority that their own local prosecutors and Judges shouldn’t be trusted to try Richmond and Mays’ case. For these reasons the town of Steubenville is on a quest to debunk these ideas and show that these actions won’t be tolerated. In spite of all the back and forth, justice must be served and that must be done via a fair trial system.

Under Florida law I believe Richmond and Mays, because they are 16, would be charged as adults pursuant to a State Attorney’s discretionary Information under Florida Statute 985.557(1)(b). In charging a juvenile as an adult the State Attorney, upon a conviction, gives the Court jurisdiction to sentence a 16 year old juvenile to an adult sentence. As it stands this opinion runs contrary to the election in Ohio to try them as juveniles. I won’t speculate as to the reasoning behind the Ohio Prosecutor’s decision to leave these young men in the juvenile system. I, like the rest of us, only have access to what I read online and in the newspapers.
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A mother of two young boys and their grandmother are facing serious charges for making a 1 year old and a 5 year old little boy pose for pictures with marijuana. Leslie County, Kentucky deputies allege that grandmother Beth Hensley and mother Tracey Hensley took pictures of the two boys with marijuana joints and a large marijuana bud near their faces. The picture of each boy with the joint shows the joint in the boys’ mouth while someone appears to be trying to light it. Grandmother, Beth Hensley, was reported to authorities after attempting to have the pictures developed at her local Rite-Aid.

Beth Hensley is currently facing trafficking marijuana, possession of marijuana, and cultivating marijuana charges. Tracey Hensley is currently facing similar charges in addition to endangering the welfare of a minor and unlawful transaction with a minor. As to be expected, the children were removed from the home by social services and placed in the care of a relative. When questioned by police, the sagely mother-daughter duo explained that the joint was not filled with marijuana from the gigantic bud in other pictures, but rather they were going John Wayne style and smoking a large cigarette full of Prince Albert tobacco. Yes, totally believable. When ultimately questioned as to their motive for this exotic photo shoot, mother of the year Tracey Hensley responded that “it was just something to show them later on in a picture album how crazy their grandma was.” Crazy indeed.

Ladies, ladies, ladies. Not the best idea you’ve ever had. Not only are you facing ridiculously serious charges, it may be tough to get those kids back in your care. As Floridians we’re used to “weird news” so things like this should come as no surprise. In fact, our Tampa criminal lawyers represented an individual with similar facts who accidentally sent his kid to school with marijuana and scales in the kid’s backpack. If one were to reenact Miss Kentucky and Miss Kentucky runner up’s tomfoolery in Florida, they could face similar charges.
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