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October 21, 2014

Lee County Sheriffs Arrest Fourteen in Unlicensed Contractor Sting

A recent sting operation which targeted unlicensed contractors, resulted in fourteen arrests. Along with charges of unlicensed contracting, some of those arrested were also charged with failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance. The unlicensed contracting sting operation in lee county flsting operation included Lee County Sheriff’s Department officers from the Economic Crimes Unit, agents from the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud, officials from the Florida Contractor Licensing and Code Enforcement Division, officials from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and members of the Lee County Dept. of Community Development. A family home was used in the sting, with undercover agents contacting those advertising as builders on Craigslist or Porch.com. The suspects met with undercover officers, many agreeing to do work which required a Florida contractor’s license and carry valid worker’s compensation insurance. Those arrested were issued civil citations for unlicensed contracting along with a notice to cease and desist offering building services.

Potential Charges and Consequences of Unlicensed Contracting

Should the prosecutor be able to prove the charges against those arrested, a first-time conviction for contracting without a license is considered a misdemeanor, carrying penalties of up to a year in jail and a fine as high as $1,000. Those who have a prior conviction for contracting without a license could be charged with a third-degree felony. If convicted, penalties could include as many as five years in prison, and fines up to $5,000. Depending on the individual circumstances of each case, the builder may have to pay the costs of the investigative sting. For builders charged with contracting without a license (apart from the recent sting), restitution could be ordered in cases where the homeowner alleges substandard work was performed or sub-standard materials were used, either or both of which resulted in loss. If the unlicensed contracting occurred during a period when the Florida governor has issued a state of emergency, even a first time offender could face third-degree felony charges.

Unlicensed Contracting Defenses

There are a number of defenses your attorney may be able to implement on your behalf if you have been charged with unlicensed contracting. Perhaps you truly did not represent yourself to the homeowner as a licensed contractor, and, in fact acted in a very limited scope on the job in question. You may well fall under one of the exemptions provided in the Florida Statutes such as:

-You sold or installed finished products, materials or articles which do not become a permanent fixture of the home (such as awnings).

-The owners of the property acted as their own contractor and provided direct, onsite supervision of all work not performed by a licensed contractor.

-You performed work of a casual, minor or inconsequential nature in which the total contract price for labor and materials is less than $1,000.

-Your construction work consisted of the repair or construction of irrigation or drainage ditches.

There are a total of eighteen exemptions listed under Chapter 489.103; your building activities may well fall under one of those exemptions. The ultimate outcome of your case will depend on your prior criminal history and the amount of money involved. Because the potential penalties for unlicensed contracting are very severe, it is important that you take the charges seriously and speak to a skilled, reputable Florida unlicensed contracting attorney. Our experience will work in your favor, as we are extremely capable of examining the work performed in order to provide evidence casting you in a favorable light. When appropriate, we may attempt to negotiate a period of probation, along with some level of restitution. The benefit of this withholding of adjudication is that your record will not show you received a conviction for unlicensed contracting. Before you consider pleading guilty to the crime of unlicensed contracting, it could be very beneficial for you to speak to a qualified lawyer who will assess your case and clearly explain your options.

October 8, 2014

Magnate del Polo a la espera de nuevo juicio

El multimillonario de Texas, John B. Goodman, se encuentra todavía en las primeras fases de su segundo juicio, pautado para el 3 de Marzo, por la muerte en Febrero de 2010 de Scott Williams, un estudiante universitario de 23 años. Goodman fue declarado culpable de homicidio involuntario por DUI y homicidio vehicular en el 2012 y sentenciado a 16 años de prisión y una multa de $ 10.000. Sin embargo, la sentencia fue posteriormente revocada por el Juez Colbath debido a que un miembro del jurado no dio a conocer a la corte que su ex mujer había sido detenida en una oportunidad por conducir bajo la influencia (DUI) – mala conducta del jurado. Goodman fue puesto en libertad con una fianza de $ 7 millones y ha estado desde entonces bajo arresto domiciliario.

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Los fiscales afirman que el día del accidente, Goodman estaba conduciendo su Bentley ebrio y procedió a ignorar la señal de Pare, lo que causo una colisión contra el auto de Scott Williams, empujando el mismo hacia un canal, donde el estudiante murió ahogado. De acuerdo con la policía, Goodman huyó de la escena del crimen.

El proceso de selección del jurado comenzó el lunes en Tampa. Una vez seleccionado el nuevo jurado, viajarán a Palm Beach para el nuevo juicio.

“Estamos listos para el juicio”, dijo el Fiscal General Asistente del Estado Alan Johnson después de la audiencia del viernes. “Queremos concluir este asunto. ”

El Juez Colbath también anunció durante una de las audiencias que el jurado tendrá la oportunidad de escuchar la evidencia acerca de la sangre extraída de Goodman dos horas después del accidente. Según los investigadores, su nivel de alcohol en la sangre estaba muy por encima del límite legal en la Florida. Los abogados defensores de Goodman inicialmente trataron de que esta pieza de evidencia fuese retirada alegando que violaba su cuarta enmienda por falta de una orden de registro, sin embargo, el juez lo rechazo.

La fiscalía está buscando una segunda condena, mientras que el equipo de la defensa está buscando que el Juez Colbath sobresee el caso debido a cuestiones relacionadas con la evidencia.

En Florida, si una persona que conducía bajo la influencia del alcohol o cualquier otra sustancia controlada provoca un accidente que causa la muerte de un individuo, la persona conduciendo puede ser acusada de homicidio involuntario por DUI. Este es un delito muy grave en la Florida, y puede acarrear una condena de hasta 15 años de prisión y/o una multa de $ 10,000. Más aún, si la persona que provocó el accidente huye de la escena del crimen sin reportarlo a las autoridades correspondientes o no trata ofrecer algún tipo de ayuda, se convierte en un delito grave de 1er grado, punible con una multa de hasta $ 10,000 y / o 30 años de prisión.

Este no es un cargo que debe ser tomado a la ligera, ya que tiene el potencial de cambiar su vida en un abrir y cerrar de ojos. Usted quiere contratar el mejor equipo legal que hay que evaluará las circunstancias de sus cargos y el accidente y le dará el mejor asesoramiento jurídico y opciones de defensa disponibles. En Finebloom, Haenel y Higgins, nuestros abogados calificados están listos para luchar por su caso. Si usted o alguien cercano a usted ha sido acusado de homicidio involuntario vehicular u homicidio vehicular por DUI, llámenos hoy para una consulta gratis. ¡No espere ni un minuto más!

November 20, 2013

George Zimmerman Arrested for Aggravated Assualt

Orlando resident George Zimmerman is in trouble once again – only months after being acquitted for the second degree murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in a gated compound near Orlando. This time, Zimmerman is accused of aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief. The charge relates to an alleged attack against his girlfriend earlier this month. The aggravated assault charge is a third degree felony while the other charges are misdemeanors.

Zimmerman’s brushes with the law have been headline news most of the year, particularly the high profile trial of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman insisted that he shot the teenager in self-defense. His acquittal in July this year was met with strong public criticism from many in the black community who felt that Zimmerman had profiled the teenager by race and that his acquittal was an attack against the black community in general.

Zimmerman’s problems did not stop with the decision in his favor. His wife, who had apparently been loyal to him throughout the lead up to the murder trial, filed for divorce and then accused her husband of punching her father on the nose, destroying her iPad with a knife and attempting to threaten her and her father with a weapon. She rang 911 after the incident, but has not pressed any charges against Zimmerman. The incident is still being investigated by police.

When interviewed by the NBC during a “Today” program, Shellie Zimmerman said that despite still believing George’s innocence in the killing of Martin, she was not as convinced as before and felt that the incident earlier this month was an eye opener.

The current allegations against Zimmerman have been made by his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe. She has claimed that he locked her out of her own house after a fight. Scheibe rang 911 to say that Zimmerman had pulled a gun on her and smashed a coffee table before forcing her out of the house. Zimmerman was also reported to have rung 911 himself saying that his girlfriend was “acting crazy” and that he did not point a gun at her.

When police arrived on the scene, they were able to enter Scheibe’s rented house with a key which she provided and push past a series of blockades, after which they arrested Zimmerman who apparently did not resist.

The latest incident follows an alleged attempt to choke Samantha Scheibe by Zimmerman a week or so ago. The alleged choking was not reported to the police at the time, but was brought up by the prosecution in Zimmerman’s first court appearance this week.

Zimmerman was released on a $9,000 bail under the condition that he did not carry firearms, did not go anywhere near his girlfriend’s residence and wear a monitoring device. His next court appearance is in January next year.

The murder trial and current violence charges are not George Zimmerman’s only dealings with the law. He has apparently been in trouble in the past for a number of traffic offenses as well as having to take anger management classes after allegedly attacking an undercover police officer who was in the process of arresting his friend.

According to the judge who made the decision to release Zimmerman on bail this week, Judge Fred Schott, none of the other allegations or charges laid against him affected the decision.

Zimmerman’s defense attorneys believe that he will be acquitted of the current charges when the trial takes place next year.

One of the difficulties faced in defending George Zimmerman will be the fact that his previous trial was so controversial and his actions and personality were discussed in the media constantly in the months that led up to the trial. In Zimmerman’s favor will be the fact that domestic violence accusations like the current ones are particularly hard to prove. They often rely heavily on events that go on behind closed doors. Both the accusations by his ex wife and his girlfriend follow acrimonious arguments about separation and with emotions so highly charged it is difficult to separate fact from fiction.

October 29, 2013

Halloween a Reminder to Life Long Effects of Sex Offense Convictions

With Halloween just around the corner, there have been at least a couple of strong reminders to those convicted of sex offenses around Tampa that they are subject to life long public attention.

This is particularly true of those people who have been convicted of sex offenses against children. One of the penalties that may be faced by any one who has been convicted of a sex offense in the past is that they are put on a registry of sex offenders. This is available for the public toview. It means that even well after any other aspect of a sentence has been completed like imprisonment or probation that the personal punishment continues.

In Tampa, police have taken to the streets and have been distributing leaflets to known sex offenders and sexual predators throughout the region before the Halloween celebrations begin. The idea is to ensure that registered offenders and predators are actually living where they have said that they were living and to remind them of responsible behavior during trick or treat activities leading up to Halloween. In particular, they have been told not to attract minors in any way by offering candy or putting up decorations which might attract children to their homes.

Detective John Guzina of the Tampa Police Department has been working on the latest police initiative. He was reported as saying that one of the reasons for the flyer distribution was to keep track on where registered sexual predators and offenders were living in case a child disappeared over the Halloween period.

Detective Guzina said that there were around 800 on the sex offenders register in and around Tampa and of these, about 230 had committed sex offenses against children. It was these individuals that were the subject of their concern.

In a separate, but related incident, well known radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge has also been in the limelight in the period leading up to Halloween. He has been revealing the whereabouts of people he thinks are registered “sexual predators” independently of any actions by the Tampa Police.

Bubba has been reported as having made up personally prepared posters warning members of the public that a “sexual predator” was living at a certain address. He had got the original information from radio listeners who telephoned or e-mailed him the names and addresses of candidates for his action. He said that he had confirmed the names and addresses with the Florida Law Enforcement Agency and then decided to plant the posters in front of the houses of those that he had chosen.

It looks as if Bubba wasn’t discriminating between those people that had had convictions as “sex offenders” and those that were convicted “sexual predators” by putting up posters that labeled them all the same way. Predators and offenders, according to Florida statutes are treated differently, with the charge of sexual predator being the more serious of the two and may involve felony offenses against adults as well as minors.

Sex offenses are an emotional subject amongst the public and potential sex offenders and predators can expect to be harshly treated by the criminal justice system as well as society at large as can be witnessed by the events taking place in Tampa at the moment. Any one who has been charged with a sex offense is entitled to fair and just treatment by the law. No one is guilty of any criminal offense, however heinous it appears to be, unless proof of the offense beyond reasonable doubt is available.

If you have been accused of a sex offense of any nature, you will need an experienced sex offense attorney to help you prepare an adequate defense. A lifetime of being constantly in the spotlight is one of the worst punishments that a conviction might result in. It is not worth trying to represent your self when it comes to being charged with a sex offense in Florida.

October 24, 2013

Ceelo Green Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Drug Charge

A judge for the popular NBC TV series “The Voice” and singer in his own right, Ceelo Green, will appear in court on November 20th to answer a charge of supplying a controlled substance to a woman last year. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge, but could face four years in prison if he is convicted at next month’s trial. He is presently out on bail, set at $30,000.

Mr. Green has had a second charge of rape dropped after the prosecution decided that there was insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.

Green was charged with the offenses after a meeting he had with an unidentified woman last year in a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles. The woman later accused him of supplying her with Ecstasy or MDMA, as well as sexually assaulting her. She claimed that she woke up naked next to Green in her Luxe Hotel bed without any idea how she got there.

Green has been very cooperative with the prosecution, so far, according to his defense attorney. He has encouraged a full investigation of the allegations and has been quietly confident that the Los Angeles County Attorney’s Office would reject the charges once the full facts were known. He was reported to be glad that the rape charges were dropped by the prosecution and said he was unafraid of appearing on the drug charge, despite the potentially serious consequences.

Both of the charges that Ceelo Green has faced are very damaging, even if he is cleared completely. He has a high profile job on the TV show and has an established and successful singing career. Accusations like those that have been leveled at him, whether they are true or not, are very hard to either prove or disprove. This is especially so if they have been made some time after the event was supposed to have happened. In many such cases, the prosecution only has the hearsay of an individual witness to go on.

Both of these charges, if they led to convictions, are considered felony charges in California where the trial is taking place, as well as here in Florida.

Ecstasy or MDMA, which are the initials for the chemical name for ecstasy, is classified as a class 1 drug on the controlled substances schedule. It is not considered a drug which has any medical benefit, so  it is in the same category as heroin, LSD and cannabis. In Florida, the penalties for the use and distribution of ecstasy depend partly on the amount which is involved. Even small amounts of ecstasy can lead to a three to seven year jail sentence, as well as a fine of $50,000 and loss of your driver license.

A charge of rape, which has now been dropped in the case of Ceelo Green, is even more serious in the circumstances that were alleged by the woman involved. It would have been considered a felony in the first degree if Green was convicted of rape when the victim was unable to resist because of being supplied by a drug. The conviction could have led to a prison sentence of up to 30 years and possibly a fine as well.

Fortunately for anyone who is accused of these sorts of offenses, there are many opportunities for an experienced defense attorney to throw doubt on the charges involved. The prosecution must be able to supply evidence which is sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt that either of these offenses actually took place.

If you have been accused of a drug or sexual assault offense, you will need a determined and aggressive defense attorney to help defend you against a charge that can alter your life as you know it forever.

June 2, 2012

Expungement In Florida Criminal Cases

We all know how tough things are right now in the United State as far as the economy is concerned. Getting a job in Florida has become very difficult and highly competitive. If you have any sort of criminal record, that could be the difference between you finding work and being unemployed. Did you know it is possible to have your Florida criminal record expunged?

If you were charged with a crime and those charges were dismissed or if you received a withhold of adjudication and you have no convictions on your criminal record, we can help. You have one chance to expunge or seal one crime. How does it work? Is my crime eligible for expungement? We have the answers. Read about how a Florida expungement works or call our office at 1-800-FIGHT IT (1-800-344-4848).

October 25, 2010

Pinellas Drug Charges – St. Petersburg Lawyer Arrested On Charges Of Trafficking In Oxycodone

Florida Oxycodone Trafficking

A Pinellas County lawyer has been arrested in Clearwater on drug charges for allegedly attempting to smuggle the painkiller Oxycdone into the Pinellas County Jail. The lawyer was arrested Friday at a Clearwater gas station where he was set to make an exchange with undercover deputies. The investigation began following a tip to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s.

The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that the sheriff’s received a tip on Thursday that the lawyer was bringing illegal substances into the jail. At that point detectives reached out to the lawyer to and set up a deal where the lawyer would take 50 oxycodone pills into the jail in exchange for 20 of the painkillers for himself. The attorney was arrested at the time of the exchange. The arrest took place at a Mobil gas station located on the 4800 block of Ulmerton Road.

The 31-year-old suspect has been charged with trafficking in oxycodone and possession of a controlled substance. A former Hillsborough County assistant state attorney, the current defense lawyer has been a licensed attorney in Florida for five years. He came under heavy criticism by Hillsborough County Judge William Fuente in 2008 for his defense of a shooting suspect. The trial involved David Rolon who was accused of shooting his neighbor in Sulphur Springs. The judge granted a motion for a new trial based on his in adequate representation of his client. There are no disciplinary actions on record against the man with the Florida Bar despite that judge’s ruling in the case.

In August the man was arrested on spousal battery charges that were eventually dropped. He is currently in the Pinellas County Jail on $105,000 bail on his current Florida felony drug charges. According to another newspaper report the investigation into the attorney is on-going and more information could be forthcoming.

September 30, 2010

Florida DUI News – World Series Champion Yankee Ready To Face DUI Manslaughter Charges

Florida DUI charge

One of the legendary clutch hitters in World Series and New York Yankee postseason history is facing the fight of his life on a Florida DUI charge that could result in a long DUI prison sentence. Former Yankee catcher Jim Leyritz is getting ready to be tried on a DUI manslaughter charge in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom stemming from a 2007 crash.

According to prosecutors as reported in a blog post on CNN.com, Leyritz was out celebrating his 44th birthday when he decided to get behind the when of his Sport Utility Vehicle after a “alcohol-fueled” celebration. He allegedly ran through a red light and crashed into Fredia Veitch. The 30-year-old mother of two died in the crash. It was determined following the crash that Leyritz was driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.14.

The reason the case could be problematic for prosecutors is that court records show Veitch was also intoxicated at the time of the crash. Her blood-alcohol level was higher than Leyritz’s at 0.18. The defense is going to use the fact that the woman was drunk, along with alleging that she was distracted on her cell phone, speeding and driving with her lights off and they will also challenger the fact that Leyritz ran a red light claiming it was yellow at the time he went through the intersection.

The case will revolve around the seconds leading up to the fatal crash that lead to the DUI manslaughter charge. Leyritz’s DUI defense lawyers will have their accident reconstruction experts battle those from the state and that may be where the case is decided. There has also been an issue with discovery in the case. The prosecutors admitted a violation but said that it occurred before the trial ever started but the defense has been granted a hearing on that issue, which CNN reported as a minor victory for the lawyers defending Leyritz.

September 24, 2010

Manatee County Drug Blog – Anyone Know Where 260 Pounds Of Marijuana And Two Kilos Of Coke Went?

Bradenton Drug Lawyer

Two suspected drug dealers could be on their way to freedom as their Mantaee County drug case is at risk with the disappearance of 260 pounds of marijuana and two kilos of cocaine. The Herald Tribune ran a front page story today detailing the loss of evidence and the mess that has become evidence property management in Manatee County.

According to the story the missing cocaine and marijuana are from two separate cases and while Sheriff’s officials say they don’t really know what happened they placed some o the blame on a leaky dehumidifier. One of the issues in Manatee County when it comes to storing evidence is that the county does not use a singular location like many other jurisdictions. In Manatee, evidence is stored in three different facilities including a bank vault leased by the county.

The evidence stored in the bank vault was from old cases. According to the article there was poor record keeping of that evidence and the Sheriff’s office eventually decided to incinerate all of that evidence assuming it would never be needed. When The Innocence Project came to ask for a piece of evidence for DNA evaluation in a rape case, it was gone along with evidence that could have been used in a drug trafficking trial from 11 years ago when the suspect was recently apprehended after jumping bail.

With the recent loss of cocaine and marijuana, both cases against those defendants are in jeopardy. While the drugs seem to have been tested and weighed by the Sheriff’s office, it was never independently evaluated by defense lawyers, which may be enough to foil a conviction in both cases. Manatee County has started to use bar codes for their evidence and a central storage facility in hopes of correcting the problem that is jeopardizing the criminal justice process in Bradenton and Manatee County.

September 8, 2010

Pinellas County Arrest – Getting Bailed Out Of Pinellas County Jail Just Got A Little Easier

Pinellas Criminal Lawyer

If you happen to find yourself in a Pinellas jail needing bail following a Pinellas County arrest, there is good news for you. The Pinellas County Jail is now accepting credit and debit cards for bail of $750 or less. This is the first jail in the Tampa Bay area to offer this service. According to TampaBay.com there are only three other jails in the state that accept credit or debit cards.

According to Jim Coats, sheriff of Pinellas County, the program was put into place to lower the number of people stuck in jail while awaiting trial. The idea came out of a meeting of the minds between law enforcement, the county clerk, judges and public defenders offices.  The limit was set at $750 despite the fact the sheriff wanted it set higher. The sheriff pushed for $1000, the state attorney for $500 so they split the difference.

The program will only apply to a small portion of people in jail as the $750 threshold will include mostly those in jail for minor charges. TampaBay.com looked at the number of people arrested in Pinellas County and sitting in jail on Wednesday. Of the 3,252 people in Pinellas County jail, only 74 would qualify to use their credit or debit cards in order to post bail. The article reported that just over 20 people have utilized the program since August 23.

Most of the crimes that involve a bail of $750 or less are traffic offenses or non-violent misdemeanors. The processing fee will be seven percent and the sheriff’s and clerk’s offices will get ten percent of that cut. The Pinellas County clerk and sheriff see the idea as a winner as will many people who are arrested and need to use credit to get out. The losers under the new plan will most likely be the bail bondsmen who were called on in the past to help these people get out of jail.

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