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Sealing and Expunging Criminal Records in Florida

proctoraccess : November 29, 2012 9:15 am : Record Sealing/Expunction

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Learn About the Florida Open Container Law

proctoraccess : November 29, 2012 9:12 am : Underage Alcohol Possession

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Prescription Drugs, Doctor Shopping, and College Students in Criminal Law

proctoraccess : October 19, 2012 1:01 pm : College Students In Criminal Law

Prescription drug abuse kills more than 7 people in Florida every day. In 2010 there were 2,710 prescription drug deaths in Florida, with Oxycodone causing almost 3 times as many deaths as cocaine and heroin combined. In an effort to stem this public health crisis, Florida enacted tough new laws in 2011 aimed at strengthening its regulation over pain management clinics, increasing criminal penalties for the illegal use and dispensing or prescription drugs and implementing a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (“PDMP” also known as “E-FORCSE”). The law now requires doctors and pharmacists to report certain controlled substances (e.g. Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet, Klonopin, Xanax, Valium, etc.) to the PDMP no later than 7 days from the date of the dispensing. Law Enforcement can then gain access to information in the PDMP to identify possible “doctor shoppers.” Under Florida law, a “doctor shopper” is a person who, when seeking a controlled substance from a practitioner, fails to inform the practitioner that he or she received a prescription for a controlled substance with “like therapeutic use” from another practitioner within the previous 30 days. In other words, there is an affirmative duty on your part to inform your doctor about prior similar prescriptions even if your doctor does not ask you about it. Failure to do so is a third degree felony in Florida under section 893.13(1)(a)8, Florida Statutes. While it has always been a good idea to be as thorough as possible with your doctor about your medical history because your life may depend on it, it also makes sense because your liberty may depend on it to.

As serious as prescription drug abuse is, so is taking prescription medicines that you do not have a prescription for. Probably one of the most abused drugs on college campuses these days is Adderall (and to a lesser extent, Ritalin). Although Adderall does not rank high in death related cases like Oxycodone and Benzodiazepines, it is possible to overdose on this amphetamine based drugs. Adderall is typically prescribed to treat attention deficit disorder but is commonly used on campuses due to its stimulant qualities that vies its user laser-like focus. Scientists call them “cognitive enhancers” and students call them “study drugs” or “smart drugs.” Students without prescriptions typically use these drugs during exams so they can cram all night and still remain focused on exam day. Most students get Adderall from friends who have legitimate prescriptions for the drug. However, a word of warning to both parties; merely having one Adderall in your possession without a prescription is a third degree felony in Florida punishable up to five years in prison. It is in fact the same level offense as having an “eight ball” or (3.5 grams) of cocaine on you. And for the person who even gives their Adderall away? You can be prosecuted for distributing a controlled substance which is also a third degree felony. To be sure, there is a certain societal acceptance of prescription drugs in our country which makes people believe they are safer than illegal street drugs like cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. However, do not be fooled. Prescription drugs have been killing more people than these street drugs for the last few years. Furthermore, the criminal penalties associated with their possession and delivery are at least as punitive, if not more, than those assigned to cocaine, heroin, etc. Doing well in school is important, bot not nearly as important as your health or your freedom. Please keep this in mind while you prepare for exams, and good luck.

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Hazing: Fun or Felony?

proctoraccess : September 26, 2012 8:05 am : Criminal Matters, Hazing, Matthew R. Willard

States all over the country have enacted anti-hazing laws aimed at putting an end to this age old college rite of passage. Florida’s anti-hazing law went into effect in July 2005. Since then, Tallahassee has criminally prosecuted hazing cases involving students from Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Florida State University (FSU). Two of the FAMU students, who were by all accounts leaders in their class, were found guilty and sentenced to prison; that case was ultimately overturned but the two aspiring professionals still spent over a year in prison. My law firm represented one of the students in the FSU case and we ultimately got it dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. Of course the case that is currently making national headlines right now is being prosecuted in Orlando and deals with the tragic death of Robert Champion, who was a member of the FAMU Marching 100. The public evidence, as it’s known to us now, seems to indicate that Mr. Champion was a willing participant to the hazing ritual but let me be clear, that is no defense to the law. Notwithstanding his apparent willingness, I think that we can all probably agree that Mr. Champion never possibly believed that it could end in such a disastrous and final result.

Florida’s prosecution of persons for hazing is a very real and very serious reality. Florida has instituted a zero tolerance policy for hazing. So what exactly is hazing? Hazing is defined as any action that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission into an organization sanctioned by a college. It is a third degree felony if the hazing results in serious bodily injury or death, and a first degree misdemeanor if it creates a substantial risk of injury or death. Let me repeat – it is no defense that a person willingly participates in the hazing activity. Although there were no injuries to any pledge in the FSU case I defended, the State still prosecuted the students because it determined the acts created a substantial risk of injury. If the risk of being charged with a criminal offense isn’t deterrent enough, there is still your college’s student conduct code to deal with. For instance, FSU’s anti-hazing policy prohibits any activity which subjects a person to embarrassment or humiliation. That probably covers just about anything you can think of to do to a person just because he or she is pledging your sorority or fraternity. The lesson therefore is that you should never, ever engage in any form of hazing whatsoever- it’s just not worth it; not only because of the law but because of the potential unintended consequences.

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Traffic Tickets

proctoraccess : August 21, 2012 2:48 pm : Traffic Tickets

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