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Florida Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Drug Law

A controversial Florida drug possession law placing the burden of proof on defendants was recently upheld – despite the fact that 48 other states disagree.

In most criminal cases, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor. Not so when it comes to cases involving a controversial 2002 drug possession law.

Upheld by the Florida Supreme Court, the recent Florida v. Adkins decision holds that defendants must prove that they did not know they were carrying an illicit substance. It’s a ruling that flies in the face of the laws of 48 other states that place the onus on the state, say drug arrest and criminal defense attorneys in Gainesville.

The 5-2 decision comes just a year after an Orlando-based federal judge ruled the entire Florida law unconstitutional under the due process clause. Calling the law “draconian and unreasonable,” the judge noted that it’s a blatant departure from the concept that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. It also goes against the concept of “mens rea,” which states that to be convicted on a criminal charge, a person must have a criminal or wrongful purpose to commit a crime.

Prosecutors still must prove that a suspect knew that the drug in question was in their possession. So, if you are charged with possessing a controlled substance that you held unintentionally – which is not at all uncommon – you may be able to establish the affirmative defense available under the law.

Because federal district court rulings are not binding in Florida, a comprehensive ruling still awaits review by the U.S. Supreme Court. In any case, if you are arrested or charged with drug possession, you need an experienced drug arrest attorney. Criminal defense lawyers with the Law Offices of Edwards & Jones Criminal Defense can help. Contact us at 352.377.7800 or via our online Quick Form.

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