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Ex-dolphin arrested for marijuana possession

December 06, 2011

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The Broward County Sheriff's Office with the assistance of federal, state and local authorities conduct a large scale crackdowns every few months in an effort to get drugs and guns off the street. The latest operation dubbed "Operation Cold Turkey" netted 280 arrests over a two day period. One of the big scores came when the investigation led to a marijuana grow house which contained large amounts of cannabis, guns and other illegal drugs. Other items seized during the operation included 2,000 oxycodone pills and illegal firearms. In a separate incident, a former Miami Dolphin player was among those arrested. He was charged with one count of possession of marijuana, less than twenty grams. Igor Olshansky was taken to the Broward County Jail where he was released on a $100.00 bond. It is not clear whether the former defensive tackle will hire a Broward or Miami criminal lawyer to defend the charge.

Possession of marijuana is a first degree misdemeanor punishable up to 364 days in the county jail. While the potential punishment seems harsh, people arrested having a small amount of marijuana never go to jail. In fact, many of the cases are dismissed in Miami-Dade County because the officers fail to appear in court; and if they appear, usually forget to bring the marijuana with them to court. Either event will result in the dismissal of the charges. Prosecutors will offer first time offenders a pretrial diversion program which will result in a nolle pros or dismissal of the charges if a defendant completes a couple hours of drug classes and pays the enrollment fee. People who have prior criminal records will most likely not be eligible for the program and will be offered time served and court costs. If a person is not eligible for the program, experienced defense attorneys will set the case for trial as the plea offer will always be the same.

Marijuana possession charges can come in many forms depending on the amount involved in the case. Possession of less than 20 grams is a misdemeanor as previously discussed. Possession in excess of twenty grams of marijuana is a third degree felony punishable up to 5 years in prison. Sentences of this kind are very rare and usually require a defendant to have an extensive criminal record and would also require a conviction after a jury trial. The most serious of the marijuana cases is trafficking. To be charged with trafficking in marijuana, a defendant must be in actual or constructive possession in excess of 25 pounds. There are different levels of trafficking depending on the weight of the illegal substance. Cases involving between 25 and 2,000 pounds of marijuana carry a 3 year minimum mandatory sentence; between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds a 7 year minimum mandatory sentence; and in excess of 10,000 pounds a 15 year minimum mandatory sentence apples.

The majority of marijuana trafficking cases that come out of Miami-Dade and Broward County stem from "grow house" operations. Despite the harsh potential sentences a defendant faces if caught running a grow house, several defenses exist to fight these cases. More likely than not, narcotics detectives gained access to the residence containing the marijuana without the use of a warrant and generally rely on obtaining consent from the residents. Often times, the detectives threaten to arrest everyone present, unless consent is granted. If this issue arises, a motion to suppress the search should be filed as the consent was not truly voluntary. If the detectives obtain a search warrant, grow house cases are more difficult to defend unless counsel can convince a judge at a motion to suppress that the facts that established probable cause in the warrant were illegally obtained or untrue.

Former Dolphin Igor Olshansky Arrested on Marijuana Charge, Sun, December 2, 2011.
Categories: Drug Offenses
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