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Florida Supreme Court Hears Argument on State’s Strict Liability Felony Drug Law (NACDL News)
By Ivan J. Dominguez
NACDL News columns.
On Dec. 6, 2011, the justices of the Florida Supreme Court expressed considerable skepticism regarding whether a person can be found guilty for unknowingly possessing an illegal drug. The case is State v. Adkins, et al., Fla., No. SC11-1878, consolidated appeals by the state of Florida, certified directly to the Florida Supreme Court. In a lower court ruling, Circuit Judge Brownell had dismissed 42 drug possession charges on a finding that Florida’s felony drug law is “facially unconstitutional.”
NACDL filed a joint amicus curiae brief in this case, which was joined by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Cato Institute, the Reason Foundation, the Libertarian Law Council, and 25 law professors from across the United States. Amici argue that Florida’s strict liability felony drug law runs afoul of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and is inconsistent with centuries of common law.
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