Criminal Intent in Florida Drug Conspiracy Cases

Conspiracy is a common charge in Florida drug cases that generally refers to an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. Many conspiracy cases succeed or fail based on whether prosecutors can actually prove such an agreement. As Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal recently explained, however, prosecutors also have to prove the intent to commit the crime.

gun and moneyTwo defendants were charged with a number of criminal offenses stemming from a shooting and alleged drug conspiracy in Hillsborough County. Prosecutors presented evidence, according to the court, showing that a third man had called one of the defendants to arrange the purchase of a small amount of marijuana. The third man, who the court says suffers from a debilitating medical condition that he treats with marijuana, arrived at the designated transaction place in a car driven by his mother. He called the defendant several times after arriving at the spot. When the two defendants approached the car, the man tried to direct their attention to his mother, who was waving a $20 bill. The defendant who talked to the man on the phone responded by saying “my homeboy’s got it.” He allegedly pulled a gun on the man shortly thereafter and shot the man’s mother in the face when the car sped off.

The defendant who did not talk to the victim on the phone, whose case was separated from the other defendant’s case for trial, was eventually convicted of principal to felony battery causing great bodily harm and conspiracy to deliver less than 20 grams of cannabis. The Second District affirmed the first conviction on appeal. It overturned the drug conviction, however, finding that prosecutors failed to prove a conspiracy. The court explained that prosecutors had to show that the defendant intended to deliver marijuana to the victim and that he “agreed, conspired, combined, or confederated” with another person to deliver the marijuana. There was no evidence of either element of the criminal offense, the court said.

“We agree with [the defendant] that the State introduced no evidence, direct or circumstantial, that [the defendant] had intended to deliver cannabis to [the victim] or that he had agreed with [the other defendant] to cause the delivery of cannabis to [the victim],” the court explained. Instead, the court said the evidence tended to show that the entire drug deal may have been a ruse to lure the victim to the meeting spot. Witnesses testified that the defendant pulled out a piece of paper when the other defendant told the victim that the defendant had the weed. It appeared that he may have simply been trying to distract the victim while the other defendant pulled the gun, the court said. As a result, the court vacated the conviction on the drug charge.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Florida, it is essential that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney. Tampa drug crime lawyer Will Hanlon is a seasoned attorney who fights aggressively on behalf of clients charged with a wide range of offenses. Call our offices at (813) 228-7095 or contact us online to speak with Mr. Hanlon about your case.

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