FLORIDA COP WHO LIED ABOUT SMELLING POT TO SEARCH VEHICLE SHOULD BE PROSECUTED & PUNISHED

Gloating officer with a bag of marijuana looks like he might enjoy using the smell of pot to gain entry to a home or vehicle with a search warrant in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Pinellas Circuit Judge Andrews recently found that a nosey police officer’s testimony was too incredible to be believed when the officer said he could smell marijuana in a vehicle he wanted to search for drugs. As often happens in Florida although the vehicle did have cocaine when searched without a warrant no marijuana was found. Officers in Florida are taught to use the smell of marijuana as a pretext to search vehicles without taking the time, paperwork or probable cause for a proper search warrant.


In his written opinion the judge noted that “… it stretches the limits of credulity for this court to believe that the search of the defendant’s vehicle was based upon the odor of marijuana.” What then, one wonders, was the search based on and why did officers choose that particular vehicle to stop?

Of the many St. Petersburg Police officers at the scene of the pulled over SUV only one testified that he could smell marijuana albeit mixed with vanilla air freshener to justify the search. Clearly when other officers could not readily obtain a search warrant, this officer decided that breaking the law justified an unlawful search. And let’s not mince words – the officer did break the law. First, the police officer committed at least a trespass and possibly an armed burglary of the vehicle since he had neither a search warrant nor permission to enter the vehicle. Second, the officer while testifying that he smelled marijuana may have committed the crime of perjury if he knowingly lied under oath during the Motion to Suppress evidence.

This manufacturing of evidence has been a recurring problem with Tampa Bay police officers. The only way for it to end is not only for heroic judges to throw out cases based on lies, but for the police departments to punish those who do it. 

I had a case in the Middle District Court in Tampa in which the initial stop was based on the very strong smell of marijuana. Yet when the trunk was opened without a search warrant there was no marijuana at all only a large quantity of methamphetamine. Despite suggestions from the government agents that marijuana must recently have been in the drunk, but offloaded just before the stop, the more reasonable likelihood is that the agents simply were not being honest.

Each defense lawyer in Pinellas County, Florida should be on the look out for any cases involving this officer. All of his pending cases should be reexamined by the state attorney’s office to determine if the factual basis for criminal charges is corrupt. Further, every plea and every conviction involving his work should be investigated. If it is found after an investigation that the officer knowingly lied to the Judge or entered the vehicle inappropriately then St. Petersburg Police Department should not only fire the officer, but arrest him for perjury, trespass or armed burglary. 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN FALSELY ARRESTED

When Florida law enforcement officers make a mistaken arrest it’s important to take immediate steps to win back your freedom, your reputation and your future. Here are the critical steps you should take to regain control of your life.

1. Preserve evidence. If there is video, audio or other evidence of the incident be sure to keep the original and make copies. Any discrepancies between the police reports or officer testimony and tangible evidence helps to weaken the state’s case against you.


Finding evidence of innocence is the key to establishing that someone has been falsely arrested.
Find Evidence of Innocence

2. Preserve witnesses. In a recent felony Battery on a Police Officer case that I handled a cab driver observed an officer from the St. Petersburg Police Department push my client’s head into the  pavement, which was far different than the officer’s false allegation that my client had tried to take his badge. Finding this witness and exploiting his damaging testimony resulted in the case being dismissed (no filed) by the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office in Clearwater.

3. Find corroborating details. Once in an alleged grand theft and burglary case that I handled the defendant happened to have a time dated ATM withdrawal slip which placed him far from the scene of the crime at the time the crime was committed. Had he not had that evidence of a corroborating detail he likely would have been convicted of the crime. Further, I’ve often encountered situation in allegations of misconduct or violations of probations where traffic ticket, pay stubs, work records or business records readily establish that my client is innocent.

4. Find computer, social media or smart phone trails. Most of our lives are now being tracked in countless ways by our computers, social media, smart phones and apps. Within the search structure and query system lay clues that may convict on exonerate you. It’s essential to have computer experts search the content of your devices in search of helpful evidence.

5. Think outside the box. Think of everything that may possibly help you by retracing your steps that day. Place everything that happened on a flow chart by writing every down event and nonevent that occurred that day chronologically. Then fill in the details of each event. You will find further supporting evidence of innocence. 


If you’ve been falsely arrested in Clearwater, St. Petersburg or Tampa you should hire the best possible lawyer to ensure that these steps will be followed and that you’re provided with an excellent defense. 

PICKPOCKETS, LUSH WORKERS AND BEACH TOWEL BANDITS ARE ON THE RISE – HOW TO AVOID BEING A VICTIM IN TAMPA BAY FLORIDA

From time immemorial Pickpockets and Thieves have thrived by diverting someone’s attention by any means then going in for the kill. Pickpockets aren’t only operating on St. Petersburg and Clearwater tourists they’re after anyone who is vulnerable in the Tampa Bay Area. And you’re vulnerable as soon as your attention is diverted, even if only for a moment while reading what your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney is typing, so hold onto your wallet.


Clearwater Police say there’s been a spike on Clearwater Beach of Beach Blanket Bandits stealing cell phones, ipods, wallets and especially car keys while the victim walks the beach or swims. Possibly the downturn in the economy is creating more criminal activity than usual. 
It’s best to keep as many valuables safely locked in the car as possible and if walking on the beach to keep valuables with you.  In Florida any amount over $300 is a Grand Theft punishable by up to 5 years in prison; while an amount under $300 is Petty Theft. Anyone breaking into a vehicle with the intention of stealing is also guilty of a Burglary (A number of Beach Thefts occurred on the west side of the Clearwater Beach island, stretching from the 300 block of S Gulfview Boulevard on the south end to Rockaway Street farther north.).
Clearwater police see spike in beach blanket thefts
Here is a short excerpt from the always optimistic New York Times about Lush Workers who cut the pockets of those who are disoriented perhaps from that one drink too many at the end of the night. Many victims don’t report the crime because they’re too ashamed or inebriated:

The lush worker sounds like a monster in a bedtime story, a stooped creature with a razor blade in one stealthy hand. Don’t drink, children, or the Lush Worker will get you.
But he is actually a middle-aged or older man who has been doing this for a very long time. And he is a fading breed.
Lush workers date back at least to the beginning of the last century, their ilk cited in newspaper crime stories like one in The New York Times in 1922, describing “one who picks the pockets of the intoxicated. He is the old ‘drunk roller’ under a new name.” While the term technically applies to anyone who steals from a drunken person, most police officers reserve it for a special kind of thief who uses straight-edge razors found in any hardware store… the good ones practice at home with mannequins.

There’s even a Chicago-based group of pickpockets who like something out of Oliver Twist, calling itself ‘Cannon to the Wiz’ have been merging low-tech pickpocketing with the modern scheme of choice, identity theft. The group has been active since at least 2007, “marrying high-tech fraud techniques with the Dickensian art of pickpocketing,” Wired.com reported.

The Tampa Police Department does not have a rough estimate of how many lush workers are out working lushes, but they sent me this recent painting of a lush mush tush that occurred recently at Old Hyde Park in Tampa, Florida.

The Pick Pocket - Charles Edouard Edmond Delort
Charles Delort, The Pickpocket

Is the lady part of the scam with the boy or is she merely an innocent flirt who enjoys being helped by older men on soggy afternoon walks? 
    Scholars, Art Experts & Lushes agree that the boy appears to be coming not from behind the couple but from the front, then smartly turns around to do the quick trick of cutting the man’s money bag, which easily is within the young lady’s view as she distracts the target, the innocent man, well maybe not so innocent, man. Also, their stances match, their facial expressions match and even the color of their clothes match. Recent DNA evidence from the FBI taken of pigment samples on the surface of the painting conclusively reveals that the young lady and boy are in fact brother and sister, thus proving a pickpocketing conspiracy.