Recently, I read about a Florida man you who spent 90 days in jail after police who stopped him for driving without headlights said white powder found in his car was cocaine. Karlos Cashe repeatedly told officers the substance was drywall powder. Oddly enough, the officers did not believe him. Once they realized he was on probation for marijuana and cocaine charges, they brought in the K9, who alerted the officers to the presence of cocaine.
Surprisingly, these types of stories are not all that uncommon. Many times, drug dogs can be mistaken and alert of drugs that are not present. However, police are trained to arrest first and let the courts sort everything else out. In the large majority of cases involving drugs, the prosecutor will forward the suspected substance to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for definitive testing, rather than solely relying on a K9 alert. This testing typically takes between 3 and 4 months due to FDLE backlogs. So what do you do? Sit in jail for up to 4 months, knowing full well that you did nothing wrong?
Interestingly enough, I have handled so many of these cases that I have developed a particular strategy for challenging them. DEMAND YOUR RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL!!! In felony cases, you can demand your right to a speedy trial at any time. Once you do this, the prosecutor has 60 days to bring you to trial, well before the 3 – 4 months it takes FDLE to complete their test. This strategy puts the pressure on the prosecutor and forces them to produce proof of the nature of the substance.