SANTA COULD MISS CHRISTMAS
On December 19, 2016 undercover detectives from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested Isaac Earl Geiger for several narcotics charges. Per a News4Jax story, the Sheriff’s office were conducting an investigation on Golfair Boulevard based on recent complaints regarding drugs and/or illegal narcotics. During the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office noticed Geiger standing at the door of a U-Haul rental truck in the parking lot. Geiger was dressed in a red Santa Suit. The Sheriff’s Office reports that they observed Geiger go to and from the U-Haul several times, retrieving items, and walking away. Upon Geiger detecting the police presence, Geiger fled on foot. The report states that Geiger “Tripped” over his Santa pants while fleeing from the police. While being taken into custody, Geiger refused to take his hands out from underneath his body. A search of Geiger revealed a large sum of cash and a plastic baggie containing narcotics. The Sheriff’s Office returned to the U-Haul and observed a large amount of marijuana in plain view on the driver’s seat of the U-Haul. A search of the U-Haul revealed additional marijuana, a scale, MDMA commonly referred to as ecstasy, Molly (another purer form of MDMA) and additional money. It is unclear based on the report if Geiger was the target of the complaints or not. Geiger was arrested and charged with several violations of Florida State Statute 893.13 which deals with illegal drug possession, sale of drugs, possession of drugs with intent to sell, and paraphernalia. Specifically, Geiger was charged with three counts of Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Sell within 1000 Feet Public Housing (First Degree Felony), two counts of Possession of Cannabis with Intent to Sell within 1000 Feet of Public Housing (Second Degree Felony), Resisting an Officer without Violence (First Degree Misdemeanor), and Possession with Intent to Use Drug Paraphernalia (First Degree Misdemeanor).
THESE CHARGES COULD MEAN SANTA MISSES THE NEXT FEW CHRISTMASES
Geiger faces a maximum of one hundred and twenty two years in the Florida State Prison system as he is currently charged. The defendant faces thirty years for each first degree felony, fifteen years for each second degree felony, and one year for each first degree misdemeanor. However, the State likely is barred from filing multiple counts regarding the same illegal substance. For example the State likely will be unable to prove two separate counts of Possession of Marijuana or three separate counts of Possession of MDMA. Furthermore, it is almost impossible for the State to file and prove that the Narcotics found inside of the U-Haul were placed or possessed there with the intent to sell. Even with large sums of money, scales, and even a confession that narcotics were possessed with the intent to sell at a later date is usually not enough for a conviction.
Another burden the State will have to overcome is the “Possession” element of the crimes charged. Florida law defines Possession in two ways, Actual Possession and Constructive Possession (Florida State Statute 893.13(6)). Actual Possession means the person is aware of the presence of the substance and the substance is in the hand of or on the person, or, the substance is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or the substance is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of a person. If Geiger actually did have a plastic baggie containing narcotics in his Santa suit, then the State may move forward under the actual possession theory as the argument is that the substance is within ready reach and is under the control of the person. Constructive possession means the person is aware of the presence of the substance, the substance is in a place which the person has control, and the person has the ability to control the substance. Mere Proximity to a substance is not sufficient to establish the power and intention to control that substance when the substance is in a place that the person does not control. All of the items found within the U-Haul the State will be required to prove the defendant’s knowledge and control. This is often times were the hiring of defense lawyer comes in to play. Often times the defense attorney is able to have cases completely dropped based on this very simple analysis of the Florida Law defining possession.
FIRST APPEARANCE AND THE SETTING OF THE INITIAL BOND
Geiger went through first appearance court on December 20, 2016. First Appearance court in Duval County runs two sessions a day, 365 days per year. The purpose of first appearance is to determine if probable cause exists for your arrest. Upon a Judge determining if probable cause does exist, next a bond amount will be set. The purpose of bond is two-fold. The amount of bond set on a case is based upon the danger a defendant posed to the community if released as well as to ensure the presence of a defendant in court. A Judge will look at the facts of the case, prior criminal record, whether the defendant has any prior failure to appears or violations of probation, and ties to the community when setting a bond. Geiger’s bonds were set at a total of $74,521.00. Although this writer has represented hundreds of defendants at first appearance court dates it is still surprising how many people do not know that they have a right to a lawyer in first appearance court. When a private attorney is hired for purposes of first appearance Court, the objective is to get the bonds are significantly lowered or have client is released on his own recognizance (ROR), based on the lawyer’s representations to the Court and the State Attorney. Duval County is one of the few counties remaining that actually brings the recently arrested to physically appear directly in front of the presiding judge. Most counties in North Florida have utilized available technology and the defendant appears in front of the judge(some counties only do this on weekends) by way of closed circuit television. In Duval County, for example, the family of the accused can come watch the proceedings and can speak on the record should the court have questions about the defendant such as employment and living arrangements if the defendant is to bond out. Domestic battery is an all too common arrest in North Florida. The judge and the state attorney will usually both want to hear input from the reported victim in order to allow or disallow contact based upon the facts alledged in the incident. On a felony arrest all that happens at first appearance court is two things: a bond gets set for the defendant and he gets a pass date to his next court date, which in Duval County is 21 days from arrest.
STEPS TO TAKE IF YOURSELF OR A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN ARRESTED FOR DRUG POSSESSION OR SALES
If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged similar to our unfortunate Santa above, it would be beneficial to consult an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. Almost all North Florida criminal defense lawyers 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 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.