Here are some simple pointers that may help you in a defense
against cannabis charges.
Before you get busted
Know your rights:
For detailed information on searches and your rights see this
page (authored by a cop)
In Florida, Less than 20 grams is a misdemeanor possession, over
20 grams is a Felony
If a police officer tells you he/she "smells something"
the correct response is "I don't smell anything" any acknowledgment
of smell constitutes probable cause.
You are not required to answer questions beyond your name, address,
and proper paperwork (i.e. registration, insurance).
The less you say, the less they will
be able to use against you.
Police are trained to testify. Even before the Marianda Warning
is read, they are noting your responses.
When they say "it won't be used against you", that
is a lie, they can use any statement to force a plea or impeach
you during trial. The less
said the better.
Do not consent to a search:
The only statement to make if an officer asks to search your vehicle
or person is "no you may not search". They are then forced to bring
out dogs and supervisors and lots of paperwork. Most cops will write
the ticket and go at this point.
This tactic might fail, everything in the law is practice ( I am
sure you have heard that all lawyers are practicing). Keep in mind
that you do not have to wait for a dog to arrive, if the officer
has finished checking your background and has returned your license
you are free to leave.
Most cops don't know your rights.
If you do and you keep repeating them, a good lawyer will force
the police to impeach themselves on your words. Have your script
and stick to it, this is a war declared not by us but on us.
Name Rank and serial number. Always
remember to get these from any officer you speak to.
Have A Plan:
If you use, possess or sell drugs, you are a target,
if you are a black man, yellow man, punk rocker, hippie, have short
hair, or long hair... We are all targets in the insanity.
So make a plan, who would you call, who has bail, how much, collateral
available, Who calls your work, your Mom, your kids, your friends?
If you deal with pot, buy or sell, how will you warn your friends
without endangering them. A code word, candle in the window, smoke
Once you are arrested. Clam up!! Clam up!! Don't talk. (get it)
Cell mates are not your friends (we've all seen television shows
or movies where cellmates end up testifying to reduce their own
sentence), the telephone is being recorded. Make your one phone
call count and wait for your plan to take action.
Ask for a public defender unless you are filthy rich.
Being indigent allows you free council, free transcripts and free
witnesses (like the dog expert about that bad canine search). It
is also a drain of recourses on an already overburdened system.
Ask for a reduction in bond citing your overwhelming willingness
to face the false charges.
Remember family in community, job, church, apartment what ever ties
you locally, make you that much less of a flight risk.
If Bail Bondsman posts bond:
Immediately upon your release, write your story(statement)
and send it to three people, FL CAN, a trusted friend or attorney
and yourself. Don't open the one you send yourself, it is postmarked
and that is a sign the story remained the same.
Things to include: Date, time, place, conditions of road or location
Witnesses names and contact information Names of every officer you
saw or spoke to in the time since your first encounter, including
guards, nurses everyone.
Remember Law enforcement are trained to testify against you. Detail
everything you can remember about the encounter that led to the
arrest. Ask all witnesses to do the same. Don't coach them, they
are not expert witnesses and not expected to remember every detail
the same as you do. Originality is good under these circumstances.
Find an Attorney:
FL CAN and NORML
have legal referral services. FL CAN offers trial support at a local
level and works closely to help clients achieve better results.
When looking for your attorney if you do not qualify for a public
defender, shop around. Have a fourth copy of the statement and already
know what you want an attorney to do.
If you have spoken to a CAN intake person, you already know what
the best and worse case scenario is, hire someone qualified to do
the work You want done. When trusting your life to this attorney,
make sure you don't just hire the first one, no matter how well
recommended they are.
What is good for aunt Sallie's friend is not necessarily good for
you. Time is on your side. Taking time to choose an attorney, look
up the statutes and participate intelligently in your own defense;
it is always the way to go.
Have someone call FL CAN at 321-253-3673
and talk to an intake specialist, call before the bust to get
educated and after the bust to get help and understanding...
Remember "Just Say Know!"