AV Preeminent
The Florida Bar

Possession or Sale of Controlled Substance: Fort Lauderdale Criminal Case Update

Fort Lauderdale criminal attorneys deal with drug cases on a regular basis. Alleged possession of a prohibited substance or of contraband must be supported by proof that the accused had the substance in his or her possession and knew of its illicit nature; and such possession may be constructive as well as actual.1 Moreover, a determination of delinquency status may be made based upon possession of a controlled substance without the need to conduct a chemical test to verify the nature of the substance. On the other hand, the trial court’s admission in a delinquency proceeding of declarant’s out-of-court statement to a police officer, indicating that the drug which the officer found on the ground belonged to the juvenile, was not harmless error where there was no other direct evidence showing that the juvenile possessed the drug. And the trial court erred in allowing a police officer to give a lay opinion that the defendant was a seller of cocaine, where the officer testified that, based on his experience, the amount of crack cocaine in a paper bag dropped by a juvenile, plus the lack of paraphernalia in his possession, indicated that the juvenile was a seller of cocaine.

Evidence of marijuana found in a juvenile’s wallet while at school was admissible as a school official had reasonable suspicion to search the juvenile, where other students informed the official that the juvenile and others were smoking marijuana in a restroom, the official and a school resource officer entered the restroom where heavy smoke was evidenced, the resource officer stood at the door and the school official searched the boys who were in the room and discovered marijuana, and the resource officer neither initiated the search nor participated in it. However a juvenile charged with possession of marijuana within 1000 feet of a school with intent to sell was not subject to detention prior to an adjudicatory hearing where he had no record of failure to appear at court hearings, no record of law violations prior to court hearings, no other pending charges, no record of violent conduct, and did not possess a firearm.

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