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Spring Break Ordinances for 2024

March 6, 2024 • Dana Morris • Quote

Panama City Beach, Florida, is a spring break destination like no other, offering sun-drenched beaches, thrilling water sports, vibrant nightlife, and family-friendly fun. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, you’ll find it all on the shores of this thriving Gulf Coast beach town. So pack your sunscreen, grab your friends or family, and get ready for an unforgettable spring break experience on Panama City Beach.

However, with all the fun that is surely to be had during spring break, there are many things you need to know about the spring break ordinances in effect on Panama City Beach. For clarification, the ordinances in effect during spring break are local laws passed by Panama City Beach City Council.

  • The consumption or possession of alcohol is not allowed on the sandy beach during the month of March. According to Panama City Beach Ordinance 1353, “Sandy Gulf Beach” means all loose or uncompacted sandy areas, including sand dunes and vegetated areas, lying between the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the seaward boundary of the seaward most public vehicular right of way.
  • Alcohol sales are not permitted after 2 a.m. and until 7 a.m. According to Panama City Beach Ordinance 1347, this is another of the beach alcohol laws during Panama City Beach spring break.
  • Loitering in parking lots or the shoulder of the roadway is strictly prohibited. The consumption of alcohol in parking lots and vehicles is not allowed. Panama City Beach spring break rules as they relate to parking lots, roadways, loitering and alcohol are found in Panama City Beach Ordinance 1348 and Panama City Beach Ordinance 1345-E.

In addition to the Panama City Beach Ordinances that are designed to be enforced during spring break on Panama City Beach, all laws are strictly enforced by our local law enforcement. Some of those include:

    • Must be 21 years or older to drink or possess alcohol.

    • Illegal drugs are prohibited.

    • Loud music which disturbs the peace is prohibited. Music which can be heard by someone more than 25 feet away is illegal.

    • Violence and fighting is strictly prohibited.

    • Climbing, jumping from, or throwing things from balconies is not allowed.

    • No metal shovels are allowed on the sandy beach, and digging holes deeper than two feet is prohibited. Any holes dug should be properly filled in for the safety of all.

As you plan your spring break getaway, it’s essential to prioritize safety and responsibility. Panama City Beach officials work tirelessly to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors! They have put ordinances in place to promote responsible behavior and prevent underage drinking.

Talk to a Defense Lawyer Who’s Helped Students Just Like You

If you or your child faces charges related to underage drinking, alcohol on the sandy beaches, drugs, theft, fighting or any other offense in Panama City, the best thing to do is contact a Panama City criminal defense attorney.  Do not hesitate to contact one of our attorneys at The Morris Law Firm.  We will be happy to offer a free initial consultation over the phone or in person. We have helped many college students avoid the serious consequences of a criminal record.  If you need a lawyer in Panama City or the surrounding areas, call our attorneys now, (850) 257-5680.  Once hired we will be there for you throughout the entire process including filing the paperwork that will allow us to appear on your behalf at all your court dates.  This will prevent the added trouble and expense of having to return to Panama City for each court date. 

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Navigating through the Panama City Pretrial Diversion and Intervention (PTI) Process

May 31, 2018 • Dana Morris

Dana Morris is a criminal defense attorney in Panama City, Florida.  Many of the criminal cases that he has represented have resulted in Pretrial Diversion.

What are the benefits of a Pretrial Diversion Program?

  • Individuals who successfully complete a Pretrial Diversion Program will avoid a potential criminal conviction by having their criminal charges dismissed.  If they’re a candidate for expungement, they could also have the case removed from their criminal history.
  • They will also avoid the stress, hassle and expense of a criminal trial.

We recommend that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney in Panama City, Florida, to review your charges and see if you qualify for the Pretrial Diversion or Pretrial Intervention programs.  Dana Morris, at The Morris Law Firm, offers free legal consultations and would be happy to meet with your to discuss your charges and your options.  Give him a call at (850) 257-5680.

Pretrial Diversion

To participate in the Pretrial Diversion Program in Bay County, the defendant must not have a prior criminal record. Alternatively, the Defendant may be recommended by an Assistant State Attorney to the program during pre-trial proceedings.

Once you are accepted into pretrial diversion, you will need to complete an online test, serve or pay for eight community service hours, and pay the assessed fees (see below).  Once you complete all terms of the program, the charges are dropped.

Click here for a list of misdemeanor crimes  that are eligible to be diverted by the Bay County State Attorney’s office.

If you and your criminal defense attorney determine that you are eligible for the Pretrial Diversion Program and you enter into the agreement, you will have 90 days to complete an online test and complete it with a score of 70% or better.  Keep in mind, the test is “open book” and you may use the internet or other sources for information.

Take the Pretrial Diversion test here.

During the 90 days after entering into the Pretrial Diversion Program, you will also need to pay the assessed fees

  • Pay $280.00 – Online or with Money Order/Cashier’s Check
  • Pay $200.00 and perform 8 hours of Community Service at a non-profit organization
  • Perform 28 hours of Community Service at a non-profit organization

Pay Pretrial Diversion fees online here.

Pretrial Intervention

For first time offenders with more serious charges, Florida law offers pretrial intervention, which typically involves more conditions than would be associated with a Pretrial Diversion Program and takes a longer period of time to complete.

Give one of our attorneys at The Morris Law Firm a call if you need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Bay County, Florida or the surrounding counties.  They offer free legal consultations with an attorney. Criminal defense attorneys at The Morris Law Firm can be reached at (850) 257-5680.

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A message from DUI attorney Dana Morris: “Everyone has rights.”

April 4, 2017 • Dana Morris

Dana Morris, a DUI defense lawyer at the Morris Law Firm, has handled hundreds of DUI arrests for his clients.

Dana Morris, a DUI defense lawyer at the Morris Law Firm, has handled hundreds of DUI arrests for his clients.  He works aggressively to try to obtain the best possible outcome for their charges.  Also, he stays on top of the changing laws and seeks to help his clients avoid many, if not all, of the crippling penalties that accompany a Florida criminal DUI conviction.

Although Mr. Morris cannot guarantee a particular outcome to a criminal case, it is beyond dispute that retaining a lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity after arrest often spells the difference between a long night and a life-altering one as a result of a Florida drunk driving arrest.

If you have been arrested, you need the help of an attorney.  Call now for a free consultation to discuss your case, (850) 257-5680.  We are available 24 hours a day, so call now if you need us.  “Everyone has Rights.”  We will help you defend yours.

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Spring Break Arrests on Panama City Beach, Florida

March 14, 2017 • Dana Morris

Panama City Beach, FL is enforcing the following “zero tolerance” ordinances during Spring Break 2017.

These are the 9 laws on Panama City Beach this Spring Break that you need to know:

1. During the month of March, no possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages on the sandy beach of Panama City Beach so leave the alcohol in the room.

2. No possession or consumption of alcohol in commercial parking lots.

3. During the month of March, all alcohol sales on Panama City Beach end at 2 a.m.

4. No open house parties.

5. Parking in a closed business parking lot is not allowed.

6. Overnight scooter rental is not permitted.

7. It is illegal to climb, jump from or throw things from balconies of hotel or condominiums on Panama City Beach.

8. Parking is prohibited on unmarked or unpaved portions of the road after dark.

9. Metal shovels are not permitted on Panama City Beach, and any holes dug in the sand should not be deeper than 2 feet.

Dana Morris is a Panama City Beach Defense Attorney Who Will Help Defend Your Rights

Recently we were hired to defend some smart young ladies who were enjoying a drink on the sandy white beaches of Panama City Beach before they were arrested and taken to jail.  Before we were hired by their parents, the girls were just willing to plead guilty so they could get out of jail and get this behind them.  Thankfully, we were hired and provided legal counsel to them.  Consequently, now they don’t have a guilty plea on their record.  Furthermore, we can expunge the whole incident and remove it from their record.

Everyone has rights and we can help you defend yours.  A criminal defense attorney at The Morris Law Firm is available 24 hours, when you need us so call now for a free consultation.  (850) 257-5680.

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What are Opioids? What if I am caught with them without a prescription?

December 9, 2016 • Dana Morris

What are Opioids?

The most powerful prescription painkillers prescribed by a doctor are called opioids.  Opioids are opium-like compounds manufactured to react on the nervous system in the same way as drugs derived from the opium poppy, like heroin. Some of the most commonly abused opioid painkillers are oxycodone, hydrocodone, meperidine, hydromorphone and propoxyphene.

  • Oxycodone is sold under the brand names Percodan, Endodan, Roxiprin, Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet and OxyContin.
  • Hydrocodone brand names include Lorcet, Vicodin, Anexsia, Dicodid, Hycodan, Hycomine, Lortab, Norco, and Tussionex.
  • Meperidine is branded as Demerol, hydromorphone is sold as brand name Dilaudid and propoxyphene is sold with the brand name Darvon.

Opioids are classified as Schedule II controlled substances under the Federal Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 802.).  A Schedule II drug is a prescription drug that has been found to be safe when used as prescribed but has a very high potential for abuse and significant risk of addiction. The federal government heavily regulates the manufacture, possession, and distribution of Schedule II drugs.  In addition to federal laws, Florida also has their own stringent drug laws under Florida Statutes Chapter 893 that also apply.

Selling vs. possession

Possession of opioids such as oxycodone or OxyContin without a valid prescription is a serious crime with harsh penalties. It is a third degree felony to possess less than four grams of Oxycodone without a valid prescription.

When a person is caught with oxycodone but not in the act of selling it, the prosecutor must prove that there was the intent to sell it in order to convict that person of the more serious crime.

Most drug trafficking charges arise in situations where the prosecution must rely on circumstantial evidence of the defendant’s intent to sell. This is because most defendants will deny that they intended to sell the drug and possessed it only for personal use (which carries a lesser penalty).

Circumstantial evidence of intent to sell a controlled substance includes:

  • amount of the drug in the defendant’s possession,
  • drug packaging such as plastic bags, scales or other paraphernalia indicating dealing, and
  • the presence of large amounts of cash (assumed to be from sales).

A person convicted of attempting or conspiring to sell oxycodone or OxyContin is subject to the same penalties as a person convicted of making an actual sale of the drug.

Sale or attempted sale near a school or other facility

Under the Controlled Substances Act, a person convicted of selling or attempting to sell oxycodone or OxyContin near a school, including a college, or other areas where young people may be present faces twice the maximum prison sentence, twice the maximum fine, and twice the term of supervised release.

A person is subject to the enhanced penalties if he or she is convicted of selling or attempting to sell the drug within:

  • 1,000 feet of a public or private elementary, secondary or vocational school
  • 1,000 feet of a public or private college, state college, junior college, or university
  • 1,000 feet of a playground, or public housing facility, or
  • 100 feet of a public or private youth center, or video arcade

How is Selling Oxycodone/OxyContin Punished?

Under federal sentencing guidelines,  someone convicted of selling or attempting to sell oxycodone or OxyContin faces five to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 to $5 million fine, or both. As previously stated, if the defendant is convicted of selling or attempting to sell the drug near a school or one of the other specified facilities, the penalty (both prison time and monetary fine) doubles. And, if anyone dies as a result of the drug sale (from overdose or otherwise), the defendant may face life in prison.

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Want a Guarantee that I’ll Win Your Case?

April 27, 2016 • Dana Morris

Would you hire me if I said, “I’ll win your criminal case, guaranteed”?

I have potential new clients call my criminal defense firm all the time. Sometimes they ask me, in no uncertain terms, if I can guarantee that I will win their criminal case and get their criminal charges dropped. An actual call can go something like this, “Mr. Morris, I’ve read the great reviews that other clients have posted about you.  I want to hire you if you can guarantee that you will win my case, too.”

Why can’t a criminal defense lawyer give a client a guarantee that he(she) will win his (her) criminal case?

Ok, there are several reasons. First of all, it’s illegal. Did you know that rules from the Florida Bar on ethics strictly prohibit a lawyer from making a guarantee as to any outcome in any criminal case? There are no guarantees as to any outcome for any criminal case. Lawyers who give a guarantee as to a result could get sanctioned, suspended or worse, disbarred. However, some unscrupulous lawyers give people guarantees as to an end result all the time.

Besides being illegal, it’s just plain wrong. Having handled thousands of criminal cases in Florida, I counsel my clients about possible ways to beat their cases and probable outcomes. This comes from years of experience, as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, not from a crystal ball that allows me to see into the future.

Everyone wants a guarantee. But when we are working with an officer, a prosecutor, a judge and a jury, there simply are no guarantees on the outcome.

Here is a list of guarantees that I can make:

  • I guarantee to stay in touch with you as your case progresses. In fact, I strive to return all of my phone calls within one hour. When my day is packed with back-to-back court appearances, it may take longer than an hour, but I guarantee that I’ll call you back as soon as possible.
  • As your criminal defense attorney, I guarantee to work extremely hard and to stay focused on my top priority; to win your case and get you the best possible outcome for your charges.
  • As a father, I guarantee you that I will keep your child’s best interest foremost in my defense efforts.  I try to treat each client as if they were my own child and work as hard for them as I would for my own son and daughter.
  • I can also guarantee that if you don’t trust the lawyer that you hire, you’re not going to be happy. Trust your instincts; it’s important that you get along from the beginning.
  • I guarantee that any lawyer that gives you a guarantee as to an outcome in your criminal case is one that you should want to run, not walk, away from. Most likely, this same attorney will tell you anything you want to hear just to get your money. I’d rather not get your business than be dishonest with you.

If you’re looking for a lawyer that you can trust to work hard for you, guaranteed, I’m available 24/7, so call now, (850) 257-5680.

 Criminal Defense Lawyer in Panama City Beach, FL  Best Law Firm in Panama City, FL

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How to hire the best attorney in Panama City

March 21, 2016 • Dana Morris

“Who is the best attorney in Panama City to handle my case?”

If you have found yourself or a friend in legal trouble, I am sure you have wondered or asked others, maybe even Siri, this very question.  Perhaps you’ve even wanted the answers to similar questions like:

  • “Which lawyer gets the best results in Panama City, Florida?”
  • “How do I know which attorney to hire for my criminal case?”
  • “Who is the best attorney to call for a DUI in Panama City?”
  • “Which attorney should I call to get me out of the Panama City jail?”
  • “My son/daughter has been arrested, who is the best attorney to hire in Panama City, Florida?”

We suggest that you do your homework and check the results of the attorney(s) that you are considering.  In a time like this, you don’t want to leave the future of your defense to chance.  You want someone who will work hard to learn the details of your case and strongly defend you.  You want someone who will fight for your rights every step of the way.

Dana Morris is a Panama City criminal defense lawyer who others trust, too.

If you need to hire an attorney, a great place to start is by looking at the reviews that others have left.  A great review site I recommend is Yelp.  The Morris Law Firm has excellent reviews on Yelp.  I also suggest that you check out a firm’s Google+ page. The Morris Law Firm also has really great reviews on Google+ that can be found here. Lots of people share their experience  with lawyers on Facebook, too.  I encourage you to read our Facebook reviews to see what people are saying about the Morris Law Firm.

At the Morris Law Firm, Dana Morris goes the extra mile to make sure that he handles each of our client’s cases as if they were his own.  Don’t just take our word for it, check out what others have said about us.  Take the time to read the reviews and hire the attorney that you think will do the best job with your defense.

I’ll leave you with a great review that a mother recently left for us after we defended her daughter.  Reviews like this one and countless others mean the world to us. This truly is why we do what we do at the Morris Law Firm.  Results matter:


Give us a call to talk to our attorney, (850) 257-5680.  We are available 24 hours a day, so can now if you need us.

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Questions asked of a Criminal Defense Attorney

March 10, 2016 • Dana Morris

New laws are in place on Panama City Beach this Spring Break leading to more arrests. If  your student has been arrested, you likely need answers to legal questions that you have never even thought of.

As a parent of a college students you probably have questions you are used to asking. Questions like:

  1. What is a typical workload of homework, papers, and tests in your classes?
  2. How much is tuition?
  3. How many credit hours will it take to graduate?
  4. What are some of the reasons students leave or transfer?

The best questions to ask a criminal defense attorney after an arrest are much different than the questions you are accustomed to asking.

Criminal Defense Attorney Dana Morris, at the Morris Law Firm, can counsel you through the entire legal process, from arrest to resolution, answering your questions and easing your confusion and fears.

Panama City criminal defense lawyer, Dana Morris, will help you answer questions like:

  1. What is pretrial diversion (PTD) and is my son/daughter eligible to receive that?
  2. What is a first appearance and when will my son/daughter receive one?
  3. Will you be present for first appearance if I hire you as our criminal defense attorney?
  4. How much is bail and how can I find a bail bondsman?
  5. When is an arraignment and what is it?
  6. Where is the jail and how will my son/daughter get home from there?
  7. How often will we have to travel back to Panama City for court dates or can this be avoided?
  8. How can we get the record sealed or expunged?
  9. What are your legal fees and do you charge by the hour or flat fee?
  10. Do you take payments or do we have to pay all up front?

Dana Morris has extensive experience in criminal law charges and has helped many students and parents in situations just like yours. Keep in mind that the sooner you hire an attorney after an arrest, the better.  

Call our office 24 hours a day at (850) 257-5680.


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Important Questions to Ask When Hiring a Panama City Criminal Defense Attorney

November 19, 2015 • Dana Morris

Facing criminal drug charges? Arrested for a DUI? Violated your probation? Need a criminal defense attorney in Panama City or the surrounding area?

We understand that hiring a criminal defense attorney is an important decision and can be a challenging process. We have listed some general questions to guide you in the process.

Some Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney in Panama City:

• Are you truly located in Panama City or the surrounding area?
• How long have you been practicing criminal law?
• How much of your practice is devoted to criminal law?
• Do you have experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney?
• Have you defended criminal cases like mine before?
• How many cases have you won and how many have settled with this type of matter?
• Are you able to anticipate the various strengths of the state’s argument? the weaknesses?
• How often will you be communicating with me about my case?
• Will the attorney I hire actually be the one handling my case?

• Will you accept payments in increments?
• What forms of payment do you accept? (check, credit card, etc.)

The questions above are only general suggestions. The answers you get to these questions should give you a good idea if the criminal defense attorney you’re talking to in Panama City is the one you should hire to best solve your legal problem.

At The Morris Law Firm, we will guide you through the legal process, doing everything we can to make sure one bad decision, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, has as little effect as possible on your life and your future. Call our Panama City law office today at (850) 257-5680 for a free consultation.

In addition to Bay County, we represent clients in Washington County, Gulf County, Calhoun County and Jackson County.

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Things a 6th grader knows about Criminal Defense

June 23, 2015 • Dana Morris

This post was not written by a criminal defense attorney at The Morris Law Firm, but by a thirteen year old guest blogger in Panama City, Florida. Enjoy.

When most people think of Panama City, Florida, they think of the pearly white beaches, the great eateries, and the upside-down house. There is, however, a less known secret about criminal defense, hidden within law books nationwide, and honestly, I wouldn’t have thought to look there at all.

More than 50 years ago, in 1961, a man was reported breaking and entering into the Bay Harbor Pool Room in Panama City, smashing a record player and cigarette machine, and stealing money from a cash register. Eventually, the suspect, identified as Clarence Earl Gideon, was arrested, prosecuted, and served his sentence. Case closed, right? Wrong.

Just like many other defendants, Gideon is brought into custody, but unlike many other defendants, he can’t find the money to get an attorney. He asks the judge assigned to his case for legal counsel (a criminal defense lawyer to defend him) due to his inability to afford a lawyer. The court responded by denying his request since Florida law did not require the court to assign him an attorney in cases where the defendant had only been charged with a non-capital felony offense. When his case was finished, Gideon was sentenced to prison.

While serving his sentenced time, Gideon began to think a lot about his rights, feeling that he was unfairly put in jail, that his rights were violated. He began to read up on the Constitution and higher courts, because I’m sure they have a lot of law books in jail. He decides that he has been treated unfairly, so he writes a paper while in jail requesting that his case be retried in a higher court because he wasn’t given some basic constitutional rights, such as in the fourteenth amendment, where it states, “…No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunization of citizens of the United States…” and in the fifth amendment, where it says, “…Nor shall any person be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” or in the sixth amendment, where it says, “If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, the trial judge must appoint one on his behalf.”

With 3 constitutional amendments on his side, he sent his case to higher courts until he reached the Supreme Court. Eventually, his case reached the Supreme Court, and was argued for by Hugo Black. Black said, “…Reflection and reason require us to recognise that in our system of justice, any person brought into court who is too poor to afford an attorney cannot be insured a fair trial unless counsel is provided to him.” He also wrote that the “noble ideal” of “fair trials in which every defendant stands equal before the law . . . cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.”

As a result of this decision, the Supreme Court retried the case on August 5th, 1963. This time Gideon was assigned a Panama City attorney, Mr. W. Fred Turner. Gideon was found not guilty, and as a result, two-thousand felons not previously provided with a lawyer were released. But it’s not over yet!

When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gideon, it overturned a 1942 ruling made by the Supreme Court, the trial of Betts v. Brady. This case said that indigent, or poor, defendants would not be provided a lawyer if they could not afford one, but did not overrule the Powell v. Alabama case of 1932. This case said that capitol offenders were to be provided with a lawyer. Basically, Gideon v. Wainwright said that everyone, not just capitol offenders, were allowed the right to a lawyer (public defender).

As a result of the trial, Anthony Lewis wrote a book called ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’ in 1965, which won an Edgar Award for best factual crime book later that same year. Hallmark picked up on the wave of Gideon media, and made a TV movie based on the book, based on the case (also called ‘Gideon’s Trumpet’), in 1980.

Also, if you went to law school or watch a lot of cop shows, you know what the right to remain silent is. That is one of the five clauses listed in the Miranda Warning, along with a clause that says that anything you say or do can be used against you in court.

The five rights listed in the Miranda Warning, called the Miranda Rights, are as follows:

1. All criminal suspects have the right to remain silent.
2. Anything they say or do may be used against them in court.
3. You have the right to consult a criminal defense attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or later.
4. If you cannot afford a criminal defense attorney and you wish to have one, an attorney (a public defender) will be appointed for you before any questioning begins.
5. If you decide to answer any questions now, without a criminal defense attorney present, you have the right to stop answering at any time until you consult with an attorney.

The Miranda Warning and Rights were put in place because of the 1964 Miranda v. Arizona case, but did you know that case was an extension of this case? It had pretty much the same premise: Ernesto Miranda was taken into custody, but, for whatever reason, didn’t know he had the right to remain silent. He signed off on papers saying that what he was going to say was voluntary, but all he knew was that you had to sign those papers (you don’t). Later, his lawyer found out about this, and appealed to higher courts until he got to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Miranda, but told him that his case was to be revised and remanded, meaning that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Miranda, but he had to retry his case in the county court. (He lost).

So, I hope you understand how this one man, Clarence Earl Gideon, influenced so very many lives, and how he was responsible for a book, a movie, two landmark Supreme Court cases, the overruling of Betts v. Brady, the release of over two-thousand Florida felons treated unconstitutionally, for every United States Citizen charged with a crime to be represented by an attorney, but best of all, an incredible piece of local Panama City history known all around the country.


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