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Panama City Drug Possession Arrests

March 13, 2015 • Dana Morris

Some of the very best spring break memories are made right here on the beautiful white beaches of Bay, Walton, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties.  Sadly, so are some of the worst.  We have received numerous calls this year from parents of spring break students who need our help. This made us wonder how many arrests have been made since spring break began just two weeks ago. We checked the Bay County Jail arrest records for the month of March and discovered there have already been over 900 arrests in Bay County and we are only just beginning.  We also contacted both the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and the Panama City Beach Police Department to find out how many officers are staffed during spring break. From the best we could tell, both offices nearly triple their normal patrol efforts, often bringing in officers from other counties on a temporary assignment. We further researched what laws spring break students are charged with, or arrested for, violating most often on Panama City Beach.  Possession of narcotics seems to be one of the major offenses the officers are citing.

These are just some of the actual felony and/or misdemeanor drug possession charges that have been made in Panama City, or on Panama City Beach, over these first few weeks of spring break:

  • Heroin possession Schedule 1
  • Possession of Meth (crystal, ice, glass, tweak, crank) with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver
  • Marijuana (weed) possession, not more than 20 grams
  • Possession of a new legend drug without a prescription.  A legend drug is a drug that requires a prescription.  This can be a controlled narcotic or a non-narcotic, such as Viagra.
  • Possession of a controlled substance (examples include Xanax, Fentanyl (Duragesic), Hydrocodone, Oxycodone (OxyContin), Dilaudid, Darvon, Demerol, Lomotil) without a prescription
  • Cocaine possession Schedule 2
  • Synthetic Narcotic Schedule 1 or 2

Due to drug laws put in place to curtail drugs being imported into Florida from out of state and even out of the country, Florida has some of the strictest drug laws in the nation. If you or a loved one is facing drug charges in Panama City, FL, you need an experienced defense lawyer working to protect your rights. We at The Morris Law Firm will work hard to minimize, if not eliminate, the negative effects of these charges on your future.

Contact The Morris Law Firm – A Criminal Defense Attorney who Puts Clients First

Attorney Dana Morris is a Panama City criminal defense lawyer who, as a former prosecutor, has had great success in winning criminal cases in Florida.  If you or a loved one have been arrested for drugs or drug possession in Panama City and need the assistance of a Panama City criminal law attorney, do not hesitate to contact The Morris Law Firm. We’re available to answer our calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Call us now if you need us, (850) 257-5680.  Starting with a free consultation with an attorney from our firm, we’ll help get you through this difficult time.

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6 things about PCB Spring Break 2015

March 7, 2015 • Dana Morris

Spring Break PCB 2015 is here!  The fun is in full swing and unfortunately so are the laws being broken that lead to Spring Break arrests.  Each year spring break brings college and high school students from all over the country to enjoy our sugar white sands on what is commonly known as “The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches!”  While the sun, surf and sand are a major draw, many come for partying and lots of it.

Here are some tips for your Panama City Beach vacation:

    • Panama City Beach has substantially increased the number of police officers walking on sand patrol this year.  They are looking for underage drinking.  According to a Panama City Beach city ordinance passed in October 2014, if you are drinking on the “sandy beach” you MUST have a valid ID with you at all times.
    • Glass containers are strictly forbidden on the beach.  Avoid a citation, leave the glass in your room.
    • Florida has an open container law which makes it illegal to have an open alcoholic beverage anywhere in your car.  Currently 39 states have similar laws, but our college friends from Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia or Wyoming may be unfamiliar with this law.  Furthermore, in Florida, not only is it illegal to have the open container in the vehicle, it is also illegal to have an open container of alcohol within 50 feet of a public thoroughfare.  This means you can be cited for walking along the road drinking a cold beer.
    • Do not drink and drive.  Take a taxi!  Read our posts on what to do if you’re pulled over.
    • For the month of March, all alcohol sales will end at 2am on Panama City Beach.
    • Do not balcony climb.  Balcony climbing is strictly prohibited by law and throughout the years several students have been killed attempting this.
    • Do not tamper with any fire safety devices at your hotel or elsewhere.  Tampering with these type devices can result in a felony arrest.

We’re here if you need us.  Give The Morris Law Firm a call if you, your son or daughter, have been arrested on Panama City Beach during Spring Break.  We’ll start with a free consultation to find out more about your situation.  Feel free to call us 24 hours a day at (850) 257-5680.  We realize you are looking for the best criminal defense attorney possible for your charges.  We strive to provide our clients with the best legal defense through aggressive representation, personal attention and genuine concern for every client.

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Why Hire a Former Prosecutor as Your Defense Attorney?

December 7, 2014 • Dana Morris

When you, your child, or a loved one is facing possibly the greatest challenge of your life, you’re going to want to choose the best criminal defense attorney in Panama City Beach, Panama City and Northwest Florida for the fight at hand.   You’re going to want to choose someone who had a successful career as a prosecuting attorney before entering the field of criminal defense.  You’re going to want to choose a defense attorney who is a former assistant state attorney and knows how many prosecutors may think.

While working in the prosecutor’s office for over 10 years, I was in court regularly.  I got to know the other prosecutors and the judges in the Bay, Washington, Jackson, Holmes, Escambia, Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa County courts and gained insight into how to prepare and present effective arguments in all of these courtrooms.

One of the most powerful figures influencing your case is the prosecutor. In addition to trying your case, the prosecutor initiates the process by filing the charges against you. It is the prosecutor who has the authority and discretion to decide when to file charges, what charges to file, whether to file charges at all, and to dismiss the charges if convinced that the case against you is weak or unjustified. With over 10 years of former experience as a prosecutor, I can often tell which cases the prosecutors are most likely going to vigorously pursue and which cases they are more most likely going to dismiss, as well as how and when to influence the prosecutor’s decision in these areas.  Time is of the essence for the assistant state attorneys with their burden of extraordinary caseloads.

Contact The Morris Law Firm a Panama City Criminal Defense Lawyer  – We’re With You Every Step of the Way

Only a former prosecutor has an edge over the prosecution, with experience on both sides of the fight.  When it’s your future, your liberty, your freedom that is at stake, you can’t afford to choose someone who lacks experience working on both sides of the law. Whether you have been arrested on Panama City Beach during Spring Break or are facing misdemeanor or felony charges,  call The Morris Law Firm, (850) 257-5680, for strong, effective representation from a seasoned attorney with both prosecutorial and defense experience.  We offer a free legal consultation with an attorney from our firm.

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What to do if pulled over for a DUI in Florida

November 3, 2014 • Dana Morris

You have had a drink and you’re being pulled over.

What are you going to do?

First, you’ve heard throughout your life that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? As both a friend and a criminal defense attorney, I would advise you to go out to your car, at your earliest convenience, and make sure that your registration and insurance information is together and easy to find in your glove compartment box. Second, keep your driver’s license in your wallet or purse. If you have all the documentation that an officer asks for, you appear organized, not incoherent or confused (i.e.: intoxicated). Third, try your best to settle down and be polite to the officer. Remember, it is very important to start off on the right foot with law enforcement. Fourth, questions asked by law enforcement will be designed to require that you admit something. What does that mean? Here are just a few examples:

  • Do you know why you were stopped?
  • Where are you going? Where have you been?
  • Have you been drinking tonight?
  • Do you know your eyes appear bloodshot/glassy?

Remember, you are not required to say anything at all but refusing to do so may appear evasive; as if you’re not cooperating or have something to hide. Keep your answers brief. If the officer asks you if you know why you were stopped, answer “No.” Realistically, you may have been driving just fine except for a tail light was out or you weren’t wearing your seatbelt. You aren’t required to share with an officer if you have had anything to drink that evening. Likewise, you don’t have to say where you have been or where you intend to go. Most DUI lawyers will advise individuals to use the phrase, “I’d rather not say.” It is fine to just leave it at that. Again, you need to appear organized, respectful, and responsive. Responsive DOES NOT MEAN providing long winded answers or engaging in law enforcement’s fishing expeditions. If the answer is no, the answer is no.

Lastly, if an officer asks you to submit to field sobriety tests, chances are good that you are going to jail. Why would I say this? Very, very few people who are asked to perform these tasks are released afterward because they did an outstanding job (even when sober). At this point, the officer is simply building the DUI case against you. By refusing, you will be arrested. Just remember, it’s the State Attorney’s Office that decides if, and how, someone will be charged. If there’s not enough evidence to support a DUI charge, the case may result in a dismissal or a lower misdemeanor charge, such as Reckless Driving.

Now what?  Were you pulled over for DUI or reckless driving? Are you facing “drunk driving” charges or have you been arrested for a DUI and need an attorney?  If so, give The Morris Law Firm a call and they will help answer your questions and ease your mind.  Dana Morris specializes in answering tough legal questions.  With over 14 years experience as an attorney, he can help you with answers to some of your questions like:

  • “What do I do now?”
  • “What is this going to cost me?”
  • “How much will a DUI attorney charge?”
  • “Will I lose my license for a DUI?”
  • “Will I have to come back to Panama City for court dates?”

Contact a Panama City DUI Attorney at The Morris Law Firm – Defending Your Rights Every Step of the Way

The Morris Law Firm is available 24/7, so call now, (850) 257-5680, and let us help you.  We can also schedule a free consultation in our office to review the facts of your case and determine the best course of action.

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Possession of Marijuana Under Florida Law

October 31, 2014 • cms@nextclient.com

Florida law criminalizes the possession of even small amounts of marijuana. Unlike other states, Florida does not contain any exception for a joint or other small amount for personal use. In fact, Florida statutes list marijuana (cannabis) as a Schedule I drug, declaring that it has a high potential for abuse with no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

In terms of the penalties that can be imposed for conviction of a drug charge, Florida law does distinguish between possession of a small amount of marijuana that is likely for personal use, as opposed to larger amounts that arguably could be in one’s possession with the intent to distribute. For instance, possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is a first degree misdemeanor under section 893.13(6)(b). Twenty grams is less than one ounce. Even this charge can carry a stiff punishment, though. The maximum penalties for a first degree misdemeanor in Florida include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A conviction also results in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license for a year or more.

Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a third degree felony in Florida, meaning you could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and be ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, still for having less than an ounce of pot in your possession.

Being in possession of fewer than 25 marijuana plants is also a third degree felony. Possession of 25 or more plants is a second degree felony, with potential punishment up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Possession of drug paraphernalia, including pipes, bongs and other smoking devices, is a first degree misdemeanor.

Can you really go to jail for one joint?

Technically, yes you can, although that result seems unlikely. However, with the threat of up to one year in jail for possession of a small amount of marijuana, police and prosecutors can easily scare people who have been arrested into pleading guilty and accepting some lesser punishment rather than risk a trial. This is one reason why it is so important to talk to an experienced Florida drug crimes attorney immediately after your arrest. There may be many ways to fight the charges against you. For instance, the police may not have had the right to stop or search you in the first place. With a criminal defense lawyer on your side, you may be able to get the charges dismissed when you might have otherwise pled guilty and paid a significant fine because you were scared by the prospect of jail time. Even if a plea is in your best interests, your attorney may be able to secure probation or treatment through the Bay County Drug Court, rather then paying a substantial fine or spending time in jail.

Contact the Panama City Criminal Defense Law Firm of The Morris Law Firm – We Put Our Clients First

Make no mistake that Florida drug laws are tough, and being found guilty of possession of just a small amount of marijuana can spell serious trouble with long-term consequences. However, with the help of an experienced Florida drug crimes defense attorney, you have the ability to achieve the best outcome possible in your given set of circumstances. Call The Morris Law Firm. We’re available to answer our calls 24 hours a day. (850) 257-5680. We can also schedule a free consultation in our office at your convenience.

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