DRYWALL POWDER WRONGFULLY DETERMINED TO BE COCAINE BY FLAWED FIELD TEST
A Jacksonville.com story gives details into a tragic case in which an innocent man remained jailed for 90 days on suspicion of possession of cocaine. The case is out of Oviedo, Florida near Orlando. Karlos Cashe was pulled over by law enforcement for driving a motor vehicle without headlights. During the traffic stop the officers used a police K9 to conduct a sniff of the vehicle to determine the presence of any illegal narcotics in the vehicle. After a positive alert by the K9, a search took place in which a white powdery substance was recovered. Cashe informed the officers numerous times that the powdery substance was drywall. The officers however field tested the substance which tested positive for cocaine. The story also clearly points out that the officers ran the background of Cashe and saw that Cashe was currently on probation for possession of cocaine and cannabis. The officers knew any new arrest would suffice to violate Cashe’s probation.
Mr. Cashe was certainly at the mercy of system in his current arrest. The way the system is set up is how an innocent man was forced to sit for ninety days behind bars. When an individual is on probation and they violate their probation for what is considered a “new law violation,” they are not entitled to a bond. Often times their bond will in fact be set at none. In Cashe’s case he was forced to sit behind bars while the suspected cocaine was sent off to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Chemistry lab for analysis. Unfortunately for Mr. Cashe or anyone else in his situation, the labs typically are backed up due too under funding and the sheer number of cases they are assigned. As Cashe knew himself and tried to explain to the officers, the substance was not cocaine. This writer and many other defense attorneys are very skeptical of an officer stating that the drug dog “alerted” on the car. Here, for example, has the dog been trained to alert on drywall powder? If not, what was causing the dog to alert? Who knows if the dog alerted at all? Cashe most probably, based on this writer’s experience, aggravated the officers by not consenting to a search of his vehicle. If he had consented to a search, the drug dog and its handler would not have been called to the scene as they were not necessary.
HOW HE SAT IN JAIL 90 DAYS
So why did Cashe have to sit behind bars so long? Case law has long been established that field test kits for narcotics are allowed to be utilized to determine probable cause to arrest an individual. The simple fact that Cashe was on probation is why he was held with no bond. The obvious questions that this blogger has start with the date on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Chemistry report that exonerated Cashe. I am certainly curious to know how much longer did an innocent Mr. Cashe sit behind bars after the report was completed. Furthermore, how long was Mr. Cashe sitting behind bars before the suspected cocaine was even sent to the chemist? These are all questions that will likely be answered in a non- criminal courtroom.
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED FOR DRUG POSSESSION DURING A TRAFFIC STOP
In the event you are pulled over in a motor vehicle and arrested for the possession of cocaine or any other illegal substance it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney will pick through the officer’s reason for the traffic stop, reason for the search, as well as argue against any illegal search and seizure. In the event a K9 is involved in the search you want to speak with a criminal defense attorney that has experience dealing with the intricacies in the law surrounding law enforcement’s use of K9’s. The dispatch log alone may give way to the suppression of the K9 sniff based on the amount of time the person was held, here for example to receive a driving with no headlights citation, being too long while other officers waited for the dog to arrive, therefore being deemed unreasonable in the court of law.
In the event that a suppression hearing is not warranted the State of Florida is still required to prove that an individual knew about the presence of the illegal substance found in the car. This raises several questions that a defense attorney will be able to argue. Specifically where the substance is found, who’s car is it, how many people are in the car, and how the substance is packaged are just a few small points that can easily be shown to a prosecutor to have a case dismissed. To prove the crime of possession of cocaine or any other illegal substance the State of Florida must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt. First, that the suspect knew of the presence of the substance. Second, that the suspect exercised control or ownership over that substance. Lastly, that the substance was in fact cocaine or some other illegal substance.
In the case above the news story shows that Cashe knew of the presence of the substance as well as exercised control over it. Cashe discussed the substance with the officers as he clearly told them it was not cocaine, but was dry wall. The third element however is clearly lacking as the chemistry report refutes that the substance recovered was cocaine, or any other illegal substance. What is clearly the deciding factor to explain the injustice for Mr. Cashe is that the system, comprised of government actors, simply looked at the fact that he was on probation and therefore no one seemed to care or listen to him while he sat for 90 days. Had Mr. Cashe not been on probation, he likely would have been out on bond awaiting the test results.
If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged on similar charges discussed above or any other drug offense or narcotics related case including Trafficking, Sales, Possession with Intent, or Simple Possession you will certainly need an attorney. In the event you are on probation and are arrested for any new crime you will certainly need to discuss your options with an attorney. You should not plea to any charges regardless of what they are before being informed of the consequences. Even if you receive a withhold of adjudication on your new charges, it will be an automatic violation of your probation. Virtually all North Florida criminal defense lawyers are well versed in these violation of probation cases and most give free consultations and/or jail visits.
Please give the Forbess Law Firm, 904-634-0900, a call for a free consultation. Our firm handles narcotics and drug cases as well as violations of probation on a daily basis in Duval (Jacksonville), Nassau, Clay, Baker, St. Johns, Bradford, Volusia, Flagler, Putnam and other surrounding counties. Further, upon the arrest of yourself or a loved one, our law firm is always available to argue for a reasonable bond in First Appearance Court. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to represent you and your loved ones.