Hillsborough County Deputy Arrested for Selling Edibles to Inmates
January 11, 2023 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, Drug Charges Social Share
When an individual is caught with the possession of illegal substances, depending on the substance the state may try to prosecute to the full extent. This is especially true when illegal substances are sold to others. In a recent Florida case, a jail deputy has been arrested for selling controlled substances to jail inmates.
This article will provide the case details, along with information on criminal charges in Florida for possession of contraband and possession of marijuana.
What was the Case?
Hillsborough County Deputy Terry Bradford, Jr., 25, was arrested after being accused of selling marijuana “pot brownies” to inmates at the Falkenburg Road Jail.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the deputy’s arrest in a press conference Thursday. According to the report, Bradford Jr. was arrested when he walked into work Wednesday. Officers found over a pound of cannabis-laced brownies individually packaged for sale.
The jail’s Intelligence Squad received a tip that Bradford Jr. had been pocketing a “few thousand dollars” from the ongoing operation. One source stated that the deputy was exchanging the edibles for payments via Cash App and had a new order coming in on January 4th, 2023.
Chronister stated that Bradford Jr. had brought in perishables along with “other contraband.” Bradford Jr. has been charged with introducing contraband into a detention facility and possession of a controlled substance.
Chronister also addressed that it is likely that the inmates involved in the edible purchases may receive additional charges, but the case is still ongoing so it is not currently clear who all was involved.
Introduction, Removal, or Possession of Contraband Charges
Except through regular lawful channels, it is unlawful for any person to bring contraband into any state correctional institution.
Codified under Florida Statute section 944.47, contraband is defined as any of the following items that are attempted or taken into a jail, prison, or other correctional institution:
- Any written or recorded communication to an inmate;
- Any currency or coin given, transmitted, or intended to transmit to an inmate;
- Any article of food or clothing given, transmitted, or intended to transmit to an inmate;
- Any alcoholic drink, or beverage that may cause intoxicating effects to an inmate;
- Any controlled substance as defined under section 893.02(4), marijuana defined under section 381.986, hemp defined under section 581.217, industrial hemp under section 1004.4473, or any prescription or nonprescription drug that may have a hypnotic, stimulating, or depressing effect;
- Any firearm, explosive substance, or weapon of any kind;
- Any portable communication device—such as a cell phone—that is intentionally and unlawfully introduced inside the secure perimeter without prior authorization or consent from the head correctional institution director. Such devices include, but are not limited to:
- Portable two-way pager
- Hand-held radio
- Cell phone
- Blackberry-type device
- Personal digital assistant or PDA
- Laptop or computer
- Any vapor-generating electronic device—defined under section 386.203 as any product that employs an electronic, chemical, or mechanical means capable of producing vapor or aerosol from a nicotine product or any other substance including e-cigarettes, electronic cigars, electronic pipes, or other similar devices.
Penalties for Introducing Contraband
Violations of Section 944.47 are broken down into four categories. The first category involves the following contraband items:
- Written or recorded communications, or any currency or coin.
- Food or Clothing.
- A portable communication device, such as two-way pagers, hand-held radios, cellphones, blackberries, PDAs, laptops, or any device that receives or transmits verbal or written messages, connects to the Internet or allows communications in any form.
A violation of this first category of contraband is classified as a third-degree felony. A third-degree felony has penalties of up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
The second category of contraband involves:
- Vapor-generating electronic devices, meaning any product that employs an electronic, chemical, or mechanical means capable of producing vapor or aerosol from a nicotine product or any other substance, including, but not limited to, an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or other similar device or product.
A violation of this second category of contraband is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. A first-degree misdemeanor has a penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
The third category involves any of the remaining items, which is punishable as a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony has a penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.
Finally, the fourth category of penalties is exclusive to employees. “Employee” is defined as an employee of the department or a private vendor in a contractual relationship with either the Department of Corrections or the Department of Management Services, and includes persons such as contractors, volunteers, or law enforcement officers who are within a state correctional facility to perform a professional service.
If an “employee” uses their powers, rights, privileges, duties, or position of their employment to introduce contraband, then the offense is ranked one level above. This works as follows:
- A first-degree misdemeanor is reclassified to a third-degree felony
- A third-degree felony is reclassified to a second-degree felony
- A second-degree felony is reclassified to a first-degree felony
Possession of Marijuana in Florida
When an individual is accused of possessing marijuana, they can be charged with a simple or felony offense. Florida Statute section 893.13 covers the various regulations on marijuana in the state of Florida.
For a person to be charged with simple possession of marijuana, they must have been accused of possessing less than 20 grams. An individual who is accused of possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana in Florida can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. A first-degree misdemeanor has a penalty of up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
For a person to be charged with felony possession of marijuana, they must have been accused of possessing over 20 grams. An individual who is accused of possessing over 20 grams of marijuana can be charged with a third-degree felony in Florida. A third-degree felony has penalties of up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
Selling or Trafficking Marijuana in Florida
Codified under Section 893.13(2)(a)2, a conviction for possession with intent to sell Marijuana in Florida is a felony of the third degree. Potential punishments could include up to 5 years in Florida state prison, fines up to $5,000, or both.
For a person to be charged with trafficking marijuana, they must have been accused of selling, purchasing, manufacturing, or bringing into the state of Florida more than 25 lbs of marijuana or 300 cannabis plants. Charges for trafficking marijuana can vary depending on the amount of marijuana involved, ranging from a third-degree to a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony in Florida has a penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.
Possible Defenses to Marijuana Charges
The state of Florida enacted the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, making it effective as of January 1st, 2015. The signed bill was the first to allow a regulated amount of medical marijuana for patients in need in the state. However, the bill remained somewhat confusing for Florida citizens. Despite the continuous conversation over whether marijuana should be legal for recreational purposes, Florida courts have recognized the use of a medical marijuana card as a defense in a possession case.
However, the defenses can range on a case-to-case basis. Some possible defenses to a possession of marijuana case include the following:
- Insufficient evidence
- Lack of knowledge or intent to commit the offense
- Constitutional violations by the arresting officers
- Failure to read the accused person their Miranda Warnings
- Procedural violations by law enforcement
To find out which defenses are relevant to your specific case, we highly advise speaking with a skilled defense attorney in your area.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
Despite becoming recreationally legal in multiple states, marijuana is still listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. It is still only legally allowed for medical use in the state of Florida. That means getting caught possessing of marijuana can still lead to harsh consequences. To fight for your freedom and secure your future, it is best to work with an experienced defense attorney.
Don Pumphrey and his team have years of experience representing Florida residents for various criminal charges. Our attorneys will be at your side throughout the entire legal process. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm today to receive a free consultation on your case today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.
Written by Karissa Key