Articles Posted in Meth

In most criminal cases, whether a defendant is convicted or found innocent depends on the sufficiency of the evidence presented by both parties. If you are charged with a crime, it is important that any evidence that may be helpful to your defense be presented at your trial. Evidence is not always concrete but includes testimony from any eyewitnesses who have information regarding the alleged crime.

While it is not necessary to present duplicative testimony, as illustrated in a recent Florida Court of Appeals case, Martin v. Florida, if a defense attorney fails to call a beneficial witness due to the fact that some testimony may be cumulative, it can be fatal to a defendant’s case and may constitute ineffective assistance of counsel. If you face criminal charges, it is essential to retain a proficient Tampa criminal defense attorney who will gather any evidence that may help you to obtain a favorable result.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

Allegedly, the police responded to a call that methamphetamines were being sold out of the defendant’s house. There were five people in the house when the police arrived, including the defendant and two women. The first woman locked herself in the bathroom when the police arrived. The defendant permitted the police to begin searching the house while they obtained a warrant. After the police obtained the warrant, the woman left the bathroom and the police found a bag of methamphetamines in the trash can. Consequently, the defendant was charged with drug trafficking.

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It’s well-established that the quantity of a controlled substance affects the sentencing of a person accused of a Florida drug crime. For instance, Florida Statute Section 893.135(1)(f) establishes tiers of increasingly severe minimum sentences and fines for meth trafficking, based on the quantity of meth discovered. In a recent Florida court decision, the defendant was convicted under the felony meth trafficking statute; however, on appeal, the court was asked to consider whether a liquid by-product created in the manufacture of meth should be included in the total calculation of the quantity of meth manufactured by the defendant.

Four deputies with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrested the defendant after a shootout, which killed one of the deputies. In a search of the residence, the deputies found instruments indicative of a meth lab. The collected items included items with a total weight of approximately one gram of meth at various stages of the production process, in addition to a vase containing 26.2 grams of a liquid by-product left over from the manufacturing process. The liquid by-product was toxic, but it only contained a trace amount of meth (less than 1%). There was testimony at trial that the liquid could be reused to manufacture additional meth. Based on the weight of the meth, plus the liquid by-product, the defendant was convicted under the felony meth trafficking statute, along with other crimes. Specifically, the meth trafficking statute provides that quantities of meth of 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams, carry with them a minimum sentence of three years and a fine of $50,000.

On appeal, the defendant argued that the 26.2 grams of liquid by-product should not have been included in the total weight of the meth. The defendant conceded that the mixture contained trace amounts of meth, but it was not a consumable or marketable mixture. The defendant relied on an argument discussed in a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Chapman v. United States, 500 U.S. 453 (1991). The defendant argued that the weight of any unmarketable portion of a mixture should be excluded from the weight of the controlled substance. However, the Supreme Court did not adopt the defendant’s position in Chapman. Instead, the Court ultimately adopted the “market-oriented” approach, under which the total quantity of what is distributed, rather than the amount of the pure drug involved, is used to determine the length of the sentence.