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January 18, 2013
Police Plan to Use RNC Surveillance System at 2013 Gasparilla
Gasparilla 2013 is upon us. In addition to preparing your costume and coordinating with friends, you should also make sure you know all the various rules and regulations pertaining to the event. The past couple of years have seen strict changes to what you can and cannot do at Gasparilla. Not surprisingly, the number of tickets nearly doubled last year, much the result of party goers having no idea that they could not do one thing or another. For instance, parade officials restricted open containers to the parade route. Many people were issued $75 tickets for wandering a measly block off the route and had no idea until it was too late that the rules had tightened.
From the floatilla to the pirate parade to the street festival, Tampa expects crowds of over 300,000 people come January 26th, but those high numbers does not necessarily mean that there is safety in numbers when it comes to breaking the rules. The Tampa Bay Times reports that for local police will be using the $2 million security camera system installed for the Republican National Convention to monitor the parade this year. 58 cameras in total, police will continue to monitor open containers and public intoxication issues from the ground and look for fights, disturbances and other crimes from the sophisticated surveillance system.
The Tampa Bay Times quotes police Chief Jane Castor, “We will also be on the lookout if a child gets separated, or if anyone gets injured, we’ll be able to alert fire-rescue to that.” Following the decision by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to keep the cameras originally intended just for the RNC, many individuals and groups (including the Tampa chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union) have expressed concerns about their continued presence within the city. The Tampa Bay Times quotes Mike Phenger on the topic as it relates to Gasparilla, “People go to Gasparilla to have a good time, not to be monitored by the police. It sounds like (Chief Castor) wants to use them for a set of problems that haven’t materialized in previous Gasparilla parades.”
Whichever side of the argument you fall on, know that they will be in use when you are participating in festivities. In addition to security cameras, here’s a look at some of the other ways police will be patrolling Gasparilla this year:
- Ground police walking and getting around on horses, golf carts, Kona bicycles and segways
- Long range acoustic devices—another leftover from the RNC, these powerful megaphones will be used to make announcements
- SWAT truck
- Increased patrol cars monitoring the surrounding area for intoxicated drivers
One of the biggest enforcement changes that took effect last year was the shift from arresting law breakers to issuing citations. In years past, police made hundreds of arrest for things like open containers and public intoxication. Now, police issue civil citations ranging from $75 to $450. This is a good thing—it means that individuals are able to avoid criminal charges that come with an arrest and simply have to pay a fine. Either way, getting caught for breaking the law at Gasparilla is a huge buzz kill.
One thing that will always end in an arrest are those individuals found to be driving or boating under the influence and police will be on high alert for this. We hope you have a wonderful, safe and legal time at Gasparilla this year. If you do find yourself in trouble, make sure to give the attorneys at Finebloom & Haenel P.A. a call. We are available day and night to discuss your situation. We look forward to hearing from you!
January 17, 2013
Gasparilla 2013 Do’s & Don’ts
Is there anything more fun than an annual pirate party hosted by Tampa? Tampa’s unique annual Gasparilla festival draws attendees near and far. Scheduled for Saturday, January 26, 2013, Gasparilla includes: an Invasion brunch, a parade down Bayshore Boulevard and a lively street fair. A free community event with more than 300,000 people expected to attend, you can purchase tickets if you wish to feast at the Invasion Brunch or enjoy reserved parade seating.
A parade and street fair and lots of opportunities to drink throughout the day means that it is also easy to get in trouble while enjoying the Gasparilla festival. And to the surprise of no one, the Tampa police are especially vigilant during the festivities to catch things like open containers, public intoxication and underage drinking. To help you plan ahead and stay out of trouble, here’s an easy to remember list of Gasparilla do’s and don’ts
- Dress up!
- Get there early—as a result of recent construction projects and landscaping changes from last year, there is actually a little less space to view the parade than in years past so make sure to get there early.
- Bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages if you want
- Get an all day pass—both the HART and TECO offer all day transportation passes for less than $5
- Leave your pets and bikes at home—the event will be way too crowded for your furry friends and cumbersome bike
- Plan ahead if you are hoping to boat along the floatilla—in addition to limited dock space for any size boat, Gasparilla has special rules for boats over 65’ in length
- Have a great time!
- Drink if you are under the age of 21—the police will be on the lookout for underage drinking and this is not a ticket you want to get
- Drive your car or boat after a day of drinking—plan ahead to take public transportation or a taxi to avoid a DUI or BUI
- Have open containers outside of the parade route. That’s right, having an open container outside of Bayshore’s sidewalks can result in a ticket or arrest
- Urinate in public—there are plenty of port-o-toilets present on the route and police are on the lookout for individuals using a local lawn for a toilet
Following complaints by local residents, Gasparilla officials changed a lot of the rules pertaining to the parade and what you can and cannot do. Unfortunately, not knowing the rules will not get you out of a ticket and Tampa police arrested over 400 people last year. If you happen to follow more of the “Don’t” list than the “Do” list, give the attorneys at Finebloom & Haenel P.A. a call to discuss your case. We are available day and night for a free consultation.
And for those of you that just can’t get enough of Gasparilla, the University of Tampa will be hosting a free presentation entitled: Gasparilla: Tall Tales & Scandalous Stories. The presentation will feature four former mayors of Tampa discussing their experiences with the annual festival. Taking place on Friday January 25, 2013 from 6:45-7:45pm, attendees will also have a chance to partake in the opening night of the Gasparilla museum exhibit. The exhibit is located at the Henry Plant Museum on the University of Tampa Campus. For more information about the presentation and exhibit, click here.
January 16, 2013
What You Need To Know To Enjoy Gasparilla 2013
Get your pirate costumes ready, Gasparilla 2013 is almost here! Tampa’s annual festival that includes everything from a pirate ship taking over the city to a huge parade down Bayshore Boulevard hits our city on Saturday January 26, 2013. With so many people attending the festivities this year, here’s the information you need to know in order to make the most of this year’s fun!
Parking & Docking
There will be special event parking set up in Downtown Tampa as well as Ybor City. For those of you that live in these areas, be on the lookout for special restrictions starting Thursday afternoon to avoid costly tickets and towing.
Once you have parked, you can take the TECO line street car of the HART bus service to get to the heart of the activity. Both have continuous service throughout the day and an all day TECO pass can be purchased for $5 and an all day HART pass can be purchased for $3.75.
On a related note—you are allowed to use your bike to get to the event site but you must walk your bike once you are inside. Before you bike, you may want to consider the great public transportation options available as the streets will be very crowded.
For more information on Gasparilla parking and transportation click here.
If you are looking to dock you boat at Gasparilla, be warned that dock space will be VERY limited on the day of the event. There is limited docking space available at The Tampa Convention Center or in the Marina area along Bayshore between Platt Street and the Davis Island Bridge, available through the City of Tampa Parks Department. If you have a boat larger than 65’ in length then you need to secure your dock space ahead of time and also gain special permission to participate.
For more information on boat docking call: 813-259-1604.
Due to some landscaping improvements and new construction in the area, the actual viewing area for the parade may be a little smaller than it was in years past so be sure to get there early to get a good spot to watch the festivities from!
Gasprialla is a free community event so you won’t need cash if you are just wanting to watch the parade and enjoy the great music. If you would like reserved seating or a ticket to the Invasion Brunch, here’s a look at the various prices
-Invasion Brunch- $70.09
-Invasion Brunch & Reserved Parade Seating Combo: $97.20 ($87.85 for a child)
-Reserved Bleacher Parade Seating: $35.51
-Reserved Hospitality Experience Ticket: $102.80
All tickets and merchandise can be purchased here.
Food & Beverages
If you have attended before, you know there are tons of food vendors to choose from and the 2013 celebration will be no exception. There will be over 100 vendors located throughout the event site. You are also allowed to bring in your own food and beverages. Here are some of the food and beverage items you cannot bring to the event:
-Coolers (other than soft-sided coolers for childcare and medical needs)
-Styrophone cups and containers
You will be able to purchase alcohol at one of the Gasparilla Charity Beer Gardens.
There is typically a lot of drinking taking place at Gasparilla and the Tampa police are on the lookout for anyone breaking the law with open containers or driving under the influence. If you have an issue at the event or anywhere else, give the law firm of Finebloom & Haenel P.A. a call to discuss your case.
Stay tuned for more posts updating you on Gasparilla 2013!
January 15, 2013
The Who, What and Where of the Tampa Gasparilla Parade
Tampa’s famous Gasparilla parade is once again upon us; and that means lots of great food, drinks, lively parades and other fun events. While getting your best buccaneer attire together and making plans with friends for the day, do you know who and what you are celebrating? We thought we would take some time to give you a quick who, what where of the Gasparilla parade:
Who: Who is Gasparilla? Legendary pirate Jose Gaspar is widely considered “the last of the buccaneers” and his namesake and pirate lifestyle serve as the inspiration for our famous parade. An aristocrat-turned-pirate, Gasparilla captured and burned as many as thirty six ships during his twelve year run as a pirate. And where was he running to? The Florida straits, of course. Gasparilla met his fate on his final capture (isn’t that always the case?) when the pirate and his crew attempted to capture a disguised U.S. Navy warship. Legend has it that Gasparilla wrapped himself in chains and threw himself overboard when faced with the inevitable capture by the Navy. A death that only made his legend stronger.
What: On this death, legend has it that Gasparilla left a large fortune of buried treasure somewhere along the coast of Florida. And so the celebration began. In 1904, Gasparilla became the patron of the celebration we all look forward to enjoying every year. The community has been so supportive of the celebration over the years that in 1954, the Gasparilla commission built the world’s only modern, fully-rigged pirate ship, the Jose Gaspar. Parade attendees can see the ship among many other homages to the legendary Gasparilla throughout the day. The entire day is designed to mimic a typical Gasparilla capture—from the invasion on the city of Tampa to the celebrations that ensue after. On Saturday morning, the now famous Jose Gaspar ship sails among hundreds of other boats to Downtown Tampa to capture the city for the weekend. The mayor hands over the key and the partying begins.
Where: Originally, Gasparilla was celebrated on the second Monday in February every year but was moved to the last Saturday in January in order to enable more people to attend the celebration. Set for Saturday, January 26th of this year, the Gasparilla parade will include an invasion brunch, a parade of pirates along Bayshore Boulevard (which includes over ninety floats and fourteen marching bands) and a street festival in Downtown Tampa.
For specific times and other locations, click here. We will also be writing a series of blog posts on Gasparilla so stay tuned throughout the next couple weeks!
With all the good times to be had at the Gasparilla parade comes with a warning: Be careful when it comes to alcohol. In past years, police have arrested between 250 -400 people on alcohol-related charges, and those numbers do not include later DUI’s. Open container laws, underage drinking, driving under the influence and boating under the influence—the Tampa police are on the lookout for any illegal activity and will not hesitate to arrest you.
At Finebloom &Haenel P.A., we know you just want to have some fun during the celebration. If you have been arrested for any drinking or criminal activity, give our law firm a call for a free consultation on your case. We are available day and night.
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 20, 2010
Tampa Drug Trafficking – No Second Trial For Doctor Accused Of Prescription Drug Trafficking
A doctor accused of illegally dispensing prescription drugs will not face a second trial on Florida drug trafficking charges. Dr. John Mubang was tried in Tampa last month and the jury could not reach a verdict in his case. Now the state has decided to not go through with another trial and Mubang will continue to see patients as he has done since his arrest.
One of the reasons Mubang will not stand trial for a second time was the fact that five of the six jurors wanted to find the doctor not guilty. That was according to a quote from the jury foreman to the St. Petersburg Times. Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta was on the bench for the case and declared the mistrial. The Seffner doctor has agreed to enter a pretrial intervention program that will last 9 to 18 months and include community service hours. Following successful completion all drug trafficking charges will be dropped.
The drug trafficking case dates back to 2008. Prosecutors accused Mubang of prescribing undercover officers addictive medication. According to charges, the doctor prescribed enough drugs to warrant trafficking charges. It was also alleged that the physician never examined the undercover detectives, never asked about their medical histories or any other pertinent questions before writing prescriptions for painkillers. The charges led to the first such trial ever in Hillsborough County.
According to Mubang’s criminal defense attorney, there were no sanctions on the doctor’s medical license and he will continue to practice medicine in Seffner. He also emphasized that there was no admission of guilt by his client. Mubang did not comment following the announcement by prosecutors but his attorney said he felt that the resolution was fair for everyone involved in the case. The quote from the jury foreman had a big effect on the prosecution not moving forward with a second trial according to Mubang’s lawyer.
September 8, 2010
Pinellas County Arrest – Getting Bailed Out Of Pinellas County Jail Just Got A Little Easier
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.
August 19, 2010
St Pete DUI News – Frustrated Woman Assaults Officers And Tries To Grab Gun During DUI Arrest
The DUI process is frustrating and complicated but obviously no excuse for an assault on an officer but that is exactly what happened during a St. Pete DUI investigation. The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that a 38-year-old woman is under arrest after turning violent in the midst of a drunk driving arrest.
Kimberly M. Hyde, a St. Petersburg resident, was pulled over Thursday morning. According to police reports Hyde was speeding and she also failed to stop at a red light. Officers reported smelling alcohol when they approached the car. She agreed to perform field sobriety tests and according to the officers she seemed impaired during those tests. At that point she was put in the back of a police cruiser.
Hyde was described as agitated by the article in the St. Pete Times as she sat in the police car. She then reportedly became combative when police tried to move her from one car to another. During the transition she kicked one of the officers two times. She then tried to grab another officer’s gun, which was holstered at the time. She kicked an officer a third time after she was restrained on the ground.
She has been charged with numerous crimes. The list of charges against Hyde include, battery on a law enforcement officer, attempting to deprive a law enforcement officer of his means of protection, DUI and resisting arrest with violence. She is still in jail at last report where she is being held on $15,650 bail. There were no further details provided in the story about the woman’s state of mind or actions after she was taken to jail.
July 30, 2010
Tampa DUI News – DUI Checkpoint Planned For Temple Terrace On Busch Boulevard
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s announced on their website that there will be a Tampa DUI checkpoint conducted from 12:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. tonight looking for drunk drivers in Temple Terrace. The Temple Terrace Police Department will have a Breath Alcohol Testing (BAT) Unit working with them in the parking lot of the Sweetbay grocery store located at 8837 N. 56th Street.
The checkpoint is a part of the Hillsborough County sheriff’s department’s Operation 3D, which was instituted to raise awareness of drunk driving in Tampa and Hillsborough County. The DUI checkpoint is part of the plan to help the sheriff’s face the problems commonly linked to drinking and driving. Checkpoints are not the only plan of action in Operation 3D. The campaign also involves public service announcements, awareness materials and news releases.
The BAT Unit will provide technical support to the Temple Terrace Police Department. The personnel staffing the BAT Unit are usually specifically trained in breath testing and in using the Intoxilyzer 8000. This machine is designed to measure the alcohol content inside a suspected drunk driver’s lungs. The thought process behind this is that it is assumed the concentration of alcohol in the lung air is correlated with a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The results of the Intoxilyzer 8000, while used to make an arrest, are just a rough estimate of your BAC.
The level of presumed impairment in Florida is a 0.08. When fractions of a percentage are involved in these tests, it is questionable as to whether or not that breath test result can be counted on to definitively prove a person was driving while intoxicated. If you are arrested following a breath test it is important you have an experienced DUI lawyer evaluate the case against you. Our Tampa DUI attorneys offer a free consultation so you have nothing to lose by just talking to a lawyer and assessing your options.
July 12, 2010
Tampa Criminal News – Brawl In Ybor City Leads To Seven Arrests Including Battery And Resisting Arrest
According to a story on TBO.com, a brawl in Ybor City early Sunday morning led to seven arrests including a woman from Tampa charged with battery. The Tampa Tribune story does not mention what started the fight but it did include one interesting side note that a man who was watching the fight, but not part of the brawl, was arrested for slapping a police horse.
The brawl took place on Seventh Avenue and 18th Street with the first arrest coming at approximately 2:30 a.m. The first person charged was a Massachusetts woman. The 30-year-old was charged with affray. Another Massachusetts woman was arrested on charges of battery, affray, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence.
The fight, which seemed to be between the two women at the start, drew a crowd and eventually more people got involved and more arrests followed. Two Tampa men and another man from Winter Haven were charged with affray. An 18-year-old man from Port Charlotte was arrested for resisting an officer without violence while standing in the middle of the street. He allegedly refused to move when asked to do so by the police.
The oddest part of the whole story was the arrest of a 23-year-old Bradenton man. The Tampa Tribune is reporting Calvin Esaw was not part of the street fight but he slapped a police horse when mounted units arrived on the scene to help break-up the altercation.
The story did not report what type of battery was charged in the case but typically a simple battery charge could carry a Florida jail sentence of up to one year in county and up to a $1000 fine. If the battery is a felony jail sentences can start out at five years. The main distinction between a misdemeanor battery and a felony battery charge is the amount of harm inflicted on the victim.