Drug Charges Dropped Against 39 Defendants

Miami-Dade judge dismisses host of drug charges

Drug charges against 39 defendants were dropped Wednesday by a Miami-Dade judge in a 25-page motion to dismiss.

Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch made the ruling on a 2002 change to a Florida law that allowed people who unknowingly carried drugs to be charged with a crime.

"If two people are in a car and the passenger puts drugs into the drivers backpack in the backseat, the driver can be convicted of those drugs even though they don't know those drugs are there," explained attorney Jonathan Jordan.

In all the other states, the person being charged with possession has to know they have the drugs to be found guilty.

"The law in the entire state is unconstitutional and the only way that will change is if other courts follow suit," said attorney Andrew Rier. "Only the state of Florida does not have the knowledge requirement as it relates to possession charges."

Hirsch's ruling cleared 39 suspects Wednesday and could affect tens of thousands of other drug suspects, attorneys said.

"All Judge Hirsch is saying, is that the law should apply equally to the people in the state of Florida as it does in the other 49 states and up until today in Miami-Dade it didn't," explained Rier.

"If anybody has had a conviction from 2002 to this date, they should contact their criminal defense attorney," Jordan advised.

The State Attorney's Office only said it is appealing the motion and will not comment further.

Rier said he believes this issue is destined to go to the Supreme Court of Florida - it is just a question of when.

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