Proven Criminal and DUI Defense
I don’t care what you’re accused of doing. You are a human being and you deserve to have someone in your corner who will fight for you. I will not judge you; I’ll defend you. - Tim Flaherty

If you’ve been charged with a crime, call (850) 243-6097 to get a FREE consultation.

Blog Posts

K-9 Vehicle Searches In Okaloosa County

Are The Police Allowed To Use A Dog To Search My Car For Drugs?

Canine searches are commonly used by the police in Okaloosa County. Florida has taken a strict approach to drug regulation. It is because of the war on drugs that law enforcement is beefing up their tactics to catch suspected drug handlers, drug dealers, and the occasional drug user. Trained canine officers and their handlers make the challenge of cleaning up the drug problem easy work. How do you challenge the unbiased opinion of an “expert” at drug detection?

Most canine searches are conducted roadside after a traffic stop. Law enforcement does not have the right to search your vehicle without probable cause. They know this. A loop hole for law enforcement is the “free air sniff.” It is the canine approach to stepping on your Fourth Amendment rights. Essentially a “free air sniff” is the canine officer sniffing the air around your car for an alert. It is not a search and the air is free property, right?

The alert that the canine gives can come in two forms, passive or aggressive. The aggressive alert is easy to see. The canine will charge, growl, paw, and attempt to make contact with the illegal substance. The passive alert however could be as simple as the dog taking a seat or staring at one particular spot. With so many possibilities for an alert, how do we know the dog alerted? Who is responsible for understanding what an alert is? Simple, the biased law enforcement handler attached to the dog.

Canines do not view a drug situation in the same fashion as humans. A canine could care less that you are clean, have drugs or just sold drugs. Canines are driven by one goal: reward. In training, every canine is provided a reward immediately after they alert. Makes sense right? Dog does good, dog gets treat. If that were the case, canine searches would not be so controversial. The problem with the training and certification is that EVERY alert whether positive for drugs or negative for drugs receives a reward. This works great for the dog but not for you.

Just because a dog searched your car and altered on illegal narcotics does not mean your case is hopeless. You have rights, and because a dog was used in your arrest it is possible that your rights have been violated. Flaherty Defense Firm is no stranger to the “free air sniff” ploy used by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department. We will:

  • Challenge the time gap between contact and a canine search
  • Challenge the certifications and training of the canine
  • Review the canine’s track record and analyze the balance between successful and unsuccessful alerts.

Don’t let man’s best friend take your freedom.

If you were arrested for drug possession after a K-9 alert in Okaloosa County, your best chance at challenging the arrest is to retain the best criminal attorney you can find. I invite you to call Flaherty Defense Firm and see what a team like ours can do for you. Call us today at (850) 243-6097. We are available 24/7.

Could I Go To Prison In Destin For Possessing A Few Pills?

Prescription painkillers such as Lortab and Oxycodone are miracle drugs. They provide pain management and comfort for patients recovering from surgery, suffering from cancer, or dealing with serious injuries. Unfortunately, these medications are also highly addictive. We are seeing an epidemic of cases involving people who started taking the medications for a legitimate reason, but then became addicted and continued taking them long after they were needed and long after their prescription had run out.

You would think that the law, and our society, would treat these people with compassion and rehabilitation. And in some cases, that is exactly what happens. But in other cases, being caught with just a few pills can lead to a mandatory prison sentence.

Possession of controlled substances without a prescription is a felony offense in Destin, Florida. It is a charge that the prosecutors aggressively pursue. And things only get worse if the amount possessed reaches a certain limit.

What is Trafficking?

Most people think of drug trafficking as something only “drug dealers” do. But under Florida law, Trafficking really just means possessing a certain amount of a controlled substance. The key thing to understand when it comes to prescription drugs, is that the Trafficking limits are based on weight, and in order to determine the weight, the police are allowed to combine the weight of the actual controlled substance with the weight of the other ingredients in the medication.

There is a mandatory minimum prison sentence associated with all Trafficking cases. A mandatory minimum sentence means that the Judge is bound to give you at least the minimum sentence if you are convicted. It takes away the Judge’s discretion and leads to a lot of people going to prison who don’t deserve to. Given the approach our local law enforcement takes when they arrest suspects, with drug cases in Destin, it can be a very difficult thing to get around.

How much do I have to have on me to get charged with Trafficking?

The minimum amount when it comes to opiate-based prescription drugs is 4 grams. If you are convicted of possessing between 4 and 14 grams, the Judge will be required to sentence you to a minimum of 3 years, and a maximum of 30 years, in prison.

The mandatory prison sentence is 15 years if the amount is over 14 grams.

Is there any way to keep from going to prison?

 My #1 responsibility with all of my clients is to do everything possible to keep them from going to jail or prison. There is no doubt that a Trafficking charge is serious and needs to be handled by a criminal defense attorney with extensive experience defending drug cases in Destin.

My team and I at Flaherty Defense Firm have successfully kept clients out of prison who were facing mandatory minimum sentences. Not all of them, unfortunately, but in every case, I could honestly say that we explored every option, and kept fighting. And while I can’t guarantee what result we will achieve for your case, I do guarantee that we will dedicate ourselves to your case and your freedom.

If you have been charged with Prescription Drug Trafficking or any Drug Offense in Destin, call us today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.

Can you lose your license after a drug conviction in Destin?

Aggressive representation to save your driving privilege despite being arrested for drugs.

Did you know that when you accepted the privilege of a driver’s license in the state of Florida that you were giving up certain rights and acknowledging certain punishments for law violations? If your answer is no, you are in the same boat as 99.9% of Floridians.

Driving is a privilege and it can be taken away for a year if you are convicted for a drug related offense. Drug related offenses that can trigger the suspension include:

  • Misdemeanor possession of marijuana
  • Any felony possession of an illegal substance


Do not wait until the last minute to speak with an aggressive Destin criminal defense attorney regarding your Destin drug arrest. The State Attorney knows they can take your license if you allow it to happen. Do not let this happen to you because you did not know the right questions to ask.

  • Find a Destin criminal defense lawyer
  • Ask hard questions about what you stand to lose
  • Do not be afraid to push to get the answers you deserve!

The choice is up to you. You have to take the first step to protect your rights and privileges.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug related offense in Destin, call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Fort Walton Beach Marijuana Charge Dismissed.

When a college student in Fort Walton Beach gets arrested for drug possession, the stakes are high. Most people don’t know that you will lose your federal student loans if you are convicted of a drug crime. That, in addition to a mandatory 1 year suspension of your driver’s license, possible jail time, and a permanent criminal record, means drug charges must be taken seriously.

MM was a young college student with his whole future in front of him. He had been arrested for Possession of Marijuana and he was very worried about what this would do to his future.

After listening to the facts of the case, I knew we had a possible search and seizure issue related to the search of the vehicle our client was in. The police in Fort Walton Beach do not always follow proper procedure when it comes to traffic stops and searches, so I  had to fully research this issue.

My initial hunch was correct. There was a potential legal issue with the traffic stop conducted by the Fort Walton Beach police department, so I drafted a Motion To Suppress Evidence.

I’ve been practicing criminal defense law for many years, so I have learned that with any Motion To Suppress, it is never guaranteed that the Judge will grant it, even in cases where the violation seems obvious. So when I filed the Motion, the Prosecutor reviewed it, and offered MM Pretrial Diversion which would guarantee a dismissal of MM’s charges if he completed the terms.

I talked to MM about his options and told him it was up to him whether to accept the Pretrial Diversion, or move forward with the Suppression Hearing. MM was relieved to have an option that guaranteed him the result he needed, so he accepted the offer.

MM successfully finished the Pretrial Diversion, which led to the case being dropped. Once it was dropped, I had the arrest expunged off of his record.

I’m a parent myself, so I know that sometimes, young people make mistakes. It is my job as a criminal defense lawyer to make sure a youthful mistake doesn’t affect the rest of someone’s life.

If you or your son or daughter has been arrested for a drug crime in Fort Walton Beach, I can help. Call Flaherty Defense Firm today at (850) 243-6097.

Lead Counsel Logo
America Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys
BV 2019 Logo
Criminal Defense Top 10 Law firms Logo
10.0Tim Michael Flaherty

Call (850) 243-6097 for your free consultation.