Sunrise Police Officer Resigns After Being Charged With Marijuana Distribution

Joseph Rodriguez-Santiago, a Sunrise Florida police officer, resigned his position after he and his live-in girlfriend were accused of selling marijuana from their home. The officer quit his job of six years after he was placed on administrative leave for being cited for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. His girlfriend, Paige Nicole Merritt, is facing two felony charges after she allegedly sold marijuana to a confidential informant on two different occasions, including once in front of Rodriguez-Santiago.

Jacksonville drug crimes can range from distributing illegal substances like marijuana to simple possession. However, the crime’s punishments can be harsh. If one is facing a drug charge, one should have an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes lawyer to represent, defend, and ensure their rights and options are known and protected.fl-sunrise-cop-marijuana-resignation-20130930-001.jpg

Sometimes, law enforcement officers will betray the public trust and try to illegally benefit from positions of authority by committing acts of wrongdoing they arrest other citizens for, the citizens they are sworn to protect. For many citizens in Jacksonville, this police misconduct may be in the form of theft, planting of drugs by police, illegal searches and seizures, and police brutality. Whatever the case may be, one needs to ensure that one has an experienced attorney who is committed to defending one’s freedom and proving law enforcement abuse of authority in violating the Constitution.

Drugs can seem like an easy escape from reality, but the reality one faces as being charged with selling drugs is something that no drug can shake one from. When one is arrested as a drug offender, it may seem as though the walls are closing in, and for some, they only see bars in their near future. However, if one is arrested for a drug crime in Jacksonville, one has options.

In this case, Rodriguez-Santiago was entrusted with the responsibility of arresting those offenders who are creating a danger to society by selling drugs, but instead, abandoned that duty and joined his arrestees. Many times, rather than arresting the suspect for drug charges, the police officer or detective will take that evidence for their own purposes, leaving no record of the bust, and thus, no reason to look at the officer with suspicion. Some officers will then use those drugs and either sell them back to another dealer, several users, or may decide to smoke it all on their own. Unfortunately for people like Rodriguez-Santiago, and many like him, being entrusted to take care of a substance or object that one has a temptation of stealing, selling, or using is simply not possible.

However, not every case of distribution, theft or misuse of funds obtained from an arrest made by an officer is true. Unfortunately for those who are falsely accused of crimes like this, the penalties can be very severe, costing both reputation and likelihood of being employed elsewhere where money transfer or control is involved, simply for being accused in that capacity.

If the accused is a police officer and is charged with a crime such as this, the police may initiate an internal investigation. When the investigation is internalized, there is a possibility that either one’s future in that particular form of employment may be protected, or one’s future in that job is completely over, unfortunately being subject not to any legal standard in that capacity, but rather being subject to the whims of one’s superior. Many accused of this see a charge like this as leveling two sentences: one sentence against one’s career, and the other against one’s freedom.

The Jacksonville police as well as the State Attorney’s office have a policy of being tough on crime, in particular on drug crimes. As such, the police are willing to negotiate with buyers for lower sentences in exchange for helping take down the distributor above him in the chain. This type of negotiated snitching allows the police to find each bigger distributor in the hopes of getting to the source of the drug. However, this still must be done legally.

In a situation like this, if one obtained an experienced attorney to fight for one’s case, if there was enough information to show that the police seized the drugs illegally, one’s attorney could file a motion to suppress the marijuana as illegally obtained evidence, and thus the drugs could not be used against the accused. If the court were to suppress the marijuana, one’s chance of being found not guilty tremendously increases.


The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one requires a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Source:Sunrise cop resigns following drug investigation, Orlando Sun Sentinel