November 24, 2017

Florida Man is Awarded Thousands After Mistaken Arrest

Posted in Blog |

An Okaloosa County drug lawyer can provide representation in cases where you are accused of violating laws regarding the possession or distribution of controlled substances. Drug crimes are taken seriously in the state of Florida, but there are many circumstances in which defendants are wrongfully accused of drug offenses and many circumstances in which there is insufficient evidence to prove a drug crime was committed.

One recent case shows just how wrong things can go when it comes to the collection of evidence and the arrest of defendants who allegedly broke the law. The case was reported on by NRP and it involves a man who was booked for possession of methamphetamine — but the only problem was, he had never touched a drug in his life.

Mistake Leads to Arrest for Methamphetamine

According to NPR, the man’s troubles began when he was pulled over after dropping a friend off at chemotherapy and picking up another friend from church and driving her home from her job.  When he handed the officer who pulled him over his driver’s license, the officer found that he had a concealed-weapons permit and asked him to stop out of the car so she would be safe.

He agreed, stepped out of the vehicle and then voluntarily consented to a search of his car, which he indicated he was fine with if it meant he wouldn’t be ticketed. Four officers subsequently conducted a detailed inspection of his vehicle, and, after finding white crystals on the car’s floorboards, they arrested and booked the driver for possession of methamphetamine while armed with a weapon. 

The only problem: the methamphetamine residue that the officers claimed to have found on the floorboards of the car was actually revenue from a Krispy Kreme donut, which the driver enjoyed every other Wednesday.  The officers didn’t believe his story and they claimed that a field testing kit showed that the crystals were positive for methamphetamine. 

The man was taken to jail and spent more than 10 hours locked up prior to being released on bail.  A subsequent test of the mysterious white substance revealed it was not, in fact, a controlled substance and the charges ended up being dropped.  The man sued and was awarded $37,500.

While the anecdote seems amusing, the man was kept in jail for a long time — and this was not the only incident in which a driver was arrested for a “controlled substance” which a field testing kit revealed to be an unlawful drug, even though the substance was actually nothing of the sort. A different Florida driver had been pulled over for white dust which the field test had found to be cocaine but which was actually drywall dust. In that case, the handyman whose car the drywall dust was found in spent 90 days in jail.

These cases are just some of many examples in which an innocent person was arrested for a drug crime that there was scant evidence was actually committed. An investigation conducted by ProPublica and the New York Times revealed in 2016 that tens of thousands are jailed annually based on results of field testing kits, even though there is a high rate of false positive test results. This is a troubling trend.

In any circumstances where you are accused of violating drug laws, you should reach out to an Okaloosa County drug lawyer to find out what your options are for defending against the charges or fighting the accusations by introducing reasonable doubt as to your guilt. It’s best to call a lawyer as soon as possible so your attorney can begin putting together a case and so you can get your issues with the criminal justice system resolved in a timely and effective manner. 

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