Challenges to Florida’s Drug Statute, Section 893.13, Being Used to Preserve Right to Appeal in Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties
In a recent post, I noted that Miami Dade Circuit Judge Hirsch has dismissed charges against approximately 30 defendants in drug cases, opting to follow an opinion issued by a Federal Judge in the Shelton case. You may recall that in Shelton, the Court ruled that Florida’s drug possession statute, section 893.13, is unconstitutional because it does not require the State to prove that a defendant actually knew that he, or she, possessed drugs.
Well, it seems that motions to dismiss drug charges are now being filed in Florida’s Treasure Coast counties of Indian River, St. Lucie, and Martin. The first challenge is set to be heard by Judge Robert Pegg at 3 pm on Tuesday, August 30, 2011, in the case of Donald Hart, Jr. Although an Assistant State Attorney commented in one report that he expects the motion to be denied because of a previous opinion issued by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in 2005, the fact that the motion to dismiss is being filed is still important for purposes of appeal. Even if the likelihood of winning a motion to dismiss seems low, criminal defense attorneys know that it is important to preserve any argument as to the constitutionality of section 893.13 now, as the Shelton case winds its way upward through the courts.