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Over the last decade there have been several highly public scandals at jails and prisons throughout the country involving organized smuggling of contraband. As a result, detention facilities across Florida are cracking down on contraband violations and tightening up security measures. There is zero tolerance at Florida jails and prisons, and anyone caught attempting to introduce contraband will be arrested and charged. Prosecutors and judges take this offense seriously, so hiring an experienced lawyer is extremely important to secure a favorable outcome in your case. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida criminal defense lawyer who specializes in charges involving the introduction of contraband into a detention facility. He has successfully defended numerous clients (including professionals) who were accused of attempting to bring drugs, cell phones, tobacco and other items into a jail. Benjamin defends clients in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County, as well as the Treasure Coast jurisdictions of Martin and St. Lucie County. He is available 7 days a week to discuss your case at (954) 543-0305 and has flexible hours at his Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach locations.
Florida statute 951.22 prohibits introduction of contraband into county detention facilities and statute 944.47 prohibits the same at state prison facilities. The two laws slightly differ in the type of penalties provided for a violation, but both essentially prohibit a person from introducing, possessing or receiving an item defined as contraband except through regular channels authorized by the sheriff, warden or other officer in charge. Contraband includes money, written or recorded communications (notes or recorded messages), food, clothing, tobacco, controlled substances, alcohol, weapons, cell phones and tools. The most common scenario for contraband charges involves a visitor attempting to bring an unauthorized item into the facility, but staff such as correctional officers and nurses are also occasionally charged. The same goes for professional visitors such as counselors, psychologists and even lawyers. We have also represented defendants who are accused of contraband violations on the day they were arrested. This has happened on multiple occasions where the defendants were searched and even cleared by the arrested officers. Benjamin fights for all defendants facing contraband charges in Florida, and will do whatever it takes to secure a dismissal in your case. Any person who violates the contraband law at a state correctional facility faces third-degree felony charges if the items consisted of food, clothing, money, notes, recordings or cellular phones. A violation regarding all other items including weapons and controlled substances could result in second-degree felony charges. Violations occurring at county jail facilities are generally less serious, but that does not mean they can be taken lightly. Under Florida law it is a first-degree misdemeanor to introduce money, food, clothing, tobacco, and intoxicating beverages into a county jail facility. The charge is elevated to a third-degree felony for weapons, controlled substances, tools that can be used to aid an escape and cell phones.
There are numerous defenses in Florida contraband cases including lack of knowledge. The state must prove that the defendant knowingly and willfully introduced the contraband. A person who accidentally brings in the wrong bag or forgets to clean out their pockets cannot be held accountable for a knowing violation of the contraband laws. The same is true in cases where another person may have placed the item on or about the defendant’s person. Defendants may also be able to argue that they were given consent to bring the articles into the facility by a corrections officer or other jail staff. Finally, the defense of duress may be available in certain contraband cases where it is alleged that the defendant was forced or coerced to bring an item into the facility. Benjamin Herbst is a South Florida contraband lawyer who is standing by to examine your case and discuss which of these defenses could be argued. He provides all clients with his cell phone number and is always available to answer questions or discuss strategy. Call today to speak to Benjamin at (954) 543-0305.