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Albert M. Quirantes | Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Office

When Sugar and Mints Get Confused With Cocaine

Possession of cocaine is treated very seriously in Florida, as a University of Miami student found out in August of 2015. Perhaps in hindsight rather naively, he decided to play a joke on the university’s administration just before one of their routine searches for drugs in student dorms.

The young man, Harrington, spread rails of sugar, some aspirin and a dollar bill rolled up throughout his room.

The administration did not see this as a joke when they made the discovery. They contacted the police department at the University of Miami, who immediately arrested the young man for felony cocaine possession. He was also threatened with expulsion. The police report regarding the incident stated that the young man remarked that they had come to see him about his powdered sugar joke.

That was wishful thinking for young Harrington, as when the police allegedly tested the various substances the results were alleged to be positive for the presence of cocaine, even though the officers noted that one of the substances was marked as aspirin. Harrington was subsequently arrested and was left in a cell over night and throughout the next day with nothing but baloney sandwiches to eat.

It took from August until October to solve the true identification of the sugary substance. The conclusion is that it was nothing other than grocery store sugar! Fortunately for Harrington, the felony charges have now been dropped. He is now considering taking up law as a career.

Innocent people are charged and jailed all the time.

Records show that this is not the only time this has happened in Florida. In 2009, a driver was arrested when his fresh breath mints when tested in the field were identified as crackcocaine. Obviously, the chemical testing procedure for cocaine is not always foolproof. The worrying thing is that innocent people can end up being charged for having nothing more than sugar or mints in their possession.

The presence of cocaine in Florida has been significant for several decades and some suggest that money received from the drug has shaped Miami’s skyline. This doesn’t mean its presence is officially supported. If someone is found in possession of 28 grams of cocaine or more this is classified as trafficking, which is a 1stdegree felony. Anything less is considered to be a 3rd degree felony.

Under Florida drug statutes, high fines and prison terms are the price for possessing 28 grams or more of the substance. The fines start at $50,000 and can reach $250,000 for up to 150 kg. The prison terms range from 3 years minimum mandatory prison time for possessing 28g up to less than 200g, over 200g but less than 400g will let you seven years minimum mandatory, 400g but less than 150 kg calls for a 15 year minimum prison term, and life imprisonment for 150 kg or more. It is not too difficult to see what could have happened to Harrington due to his practical joke.

Fortunately, in all drug arrest cases in Florida, defendants are entitled to hire an experienced Miami drug defense attorney who will take the case seriously and ensure that if the person has been wrongfully charged, the evidence unlawfully obtained can be thrown out and the case can be dismissed. All defendants enjoy the presumption of innocence unless and until proven guilty and the burden of proof rests squarely on the State.

Experienced Florida drug defense lawyer Albert Quirantes can negotiate a plea bargain in many cases, especially if the accused is an addict and needs treatment to cure the habit. Other cases can be attacked by way of motions to exclude improperly obtained evidence or by trial by jury.

Florida law enforcers are really after the big guys. After all, they also got to seize their large assets such as cars, boats, houses & even airplanes. These cases also bring law-enforcement lots of hours in overtime pay, testifying in depositions, pretrial hearings and trials. But big guys too often get wrongfully accused and need defending by Florida drug defense attorney Albert Quirantes, so that any penalty they receive is not more than they deserve.

Increase your knowledge! If you want to know more about how to resolve the problems you face when charged with a criminal offense in Florida, then you can follow Miami Criminal Attorney Albert M. Quirantes on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.

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