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During the beginning of the war on drugs, young African Americans heard rumors of government involvement in the crack-cocaine explosion that outraged LA’s black community. Although it was not openly talked about in the media in the 80’s, in 1996, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Webb published his book, “Dark Alliance,” that connected the African American crack-cocaine surge to a thoroughly planned CIA operation. Major news network entities, including The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, attacked Webb’s research, ultimately discrediting his work. In December 2004, Webb committed suicide.

7724848260_ba4500da86_mNow, Webb’s expose is being further reviewed in a documentary, “Freeway: Crack in the System,” which tells the story of “Freeway” Rick Ross, who created a crack empire in LA during the 1980s and is a key figure in Webb’s “Dark Alliance” narrative. The documentary is being released following the major motion picture “Kill The Messenger,” starring Jeremy Renner in the role of Webb which is now in theatres.  The documentary focuses on key figures in the CIA now stepping forward to tell their stories in a series of interviews with The Huffington Post.

The film not only explores the corrupt foundations of the war on drugs, but also questions the jail sentences the U.S. justice system doled out to a mostly minority population, all while the country’s own foreign policy assisted the drug trade.

According to research from The Sentencing Project, in 1980, there were roughly 40,000 drug offenders in U.S. prisons. By 2011, the number of drug offenders serving prison sentences skyrocketed to more than 500,000. It is important to note that most of these offenders are not high-level operators and do not have prior criminal records.

The “War on Drugs” in the United States translates to mean that the federal and Florida drug laws give vast powers to law enforcement and prosecutors, which can end in the overzealous prosecution of even the most minor drug crimes, causing innocent people and first-time offenders to be sentenced to lengthy prison terms. At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers work tirelessly to defend clients accused of misdemeanor and felony drug crimes.

The penalties you could face for a drug crime all depend on the type of drug in question as well as the amount of the drug. Our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys have years of experience handling crimes involving all types of drugs, narcotics and controlled substances, including:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamines
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy
  • PCP
  • Prescription Pills

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Police arrested a 19-year-old man for allegedly using a stuffed animal to masturbate inside a Walmart on Tuesday.

According to Brooksville Police, the 19-year-old was caught on store cameras just before 3 p.m. acting suspiciously.

Reports indicate that the teen took a stuffed toy horse off the shelf and walked to the bedding department where police allege he then used the toy horse to masturbate.

8911036631_310f7cfc48_zThe cameras apparently showed the teen place the toy back on the store shelf next to other items.

Police claim the teen ran from the store. He was arrested a short time later and charged with indecent exposure. He is being held on a $1,500 bond at the Hernando County Jail.

Police said they questioned the teen and that he admitted to the alleged act.

People have many different views about sex, sexuality and what is appropriate behavior in public. However, if you act in a way that someone else finds lascivious and offensive while in public, you could find yourself facing a sex crime charge of indecent exposure in Florida.

An action you intended as maybe a raunchy joke can easily escalate into a criminal sex charge pretty quickly. If you are convicted of a sexual offense, you will not only face possible jail time, fines and a criminal record, but you could be slapped with the label of being a registered sex offender.

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Columbia County detectives served a search warrant on a home in Columbia County on Thursday and allegedly found 73 marijuana plants growing and made three arrests.

Police apparently received a tip about the Fort White home, which they allege was operating as an indoor marijuana grow operation.

Those arrested include a 74-year-old Fort White man, a 45-year-old Tampa man and a 50-year-old Tampa man. All three men arrested were charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana of more than 20 grams and possession drug paraphernalia. They were booked into the Columbia County Detention Facility.

marijuana grow houseThe Drug Task force made the arrests and is comprised of law enforcement personnel from Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Lake City Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Marijuana plants are currently illegal in the State of Florida. However, that does not stop people from transforming their homes into a “grow house.” Once police catch wind of an alleged grow house, they quickly start investigating, looking to arrest someone and charge them with various felonies, including possession of marijuana with intent to sell or distribute, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, cultivation of cannabis and trafficking in cannabis. Trafficking is the most serious of these charges, requiring 300 or more plants at any stage of growth, and is a first-degree felony carrying a minimum mandatory prison term.

If you know you are being investigated by police, or have already been arrested, you must act fast and obtain the help of a criminal defense lawyer right away. There are steps that can be taken during investigations to prevent police from obtaining further evidence against you. That is why you must not delay, contact a Columbia County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton today.

Manufacturing marijuana in Florida is a felony. Under the Marijuana Grow House Eradication Act, it is also illegal to own or rent a home for the purpose of growing or possessing marijuana plants. Convictions from grow house charges can vary from five to 30 years in prison depending on the size of the operation and if any children were present in the home.

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Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents arrested Mike Classey, who resigned just last week as chief of the Atlantic Beach Police Department.

Classey, 50, was placed on administrative leave Sept. 19 after the city learned of a criminal investigation being conducted by the FDLE. And one week ago, Classey resigned.

Classey was arrested Tuesday and charged with 18 counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of trafficking in codeine, tampering with evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to reports, Classey turned himself in and was booked into the Duval County jail on $136,036 bond.

State Attorney Angela Corey and FDLE officials claim agents began investigating Classey after receiving a tip from the Department of Homeland Security. They allegedly intercepted a package containing controlled substances from India addressed to “Michael Cassey” at a UPS store post office box. Agents claim Classey showed up at the store to pick up that package, as well as a second package.

One package allegedly contained Xanax and the other contained injectable steroids.

5231885791_da7b35bea4_zFDLE searched Classey’s home on Sept. 19 and reportedly found what was described as large quantities of various steroids, Codeine, Xanax and syringes.

Agents apparently asked the man for the computer that he ordered the alleged drugs on, and he told them he had asked his son to dispose of it. Investigators claim they later found it in a trash container.

The man’s resignation is not tied to the Police Department or his job.

In order for police to charge you with tampering with evidence, you must have done either of the following while knowing that an investigation is going on or will soon:

  • 1. Hide, destroy or alter a piece of evidence, such as a document, weapon or even drugs in order to interfere with the investigation.
  • 2. Use false evidence to trick or confuse investigators or to interfere with the investigation.

If you are convicted of tampering with evidence, this is something that will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. Despite the circumstances surrounding your case, even just an accusation that you tampered with evidence in a criminal investigation can tarnish your reputation and good standing in the community. With that said, understand that these charges are extremely serious and must be given the high level of attention that they deserve.

A Duval County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you if you have been charged with tampering with evidence. First and foremost, we will conduct an extensive investigation into the charges to look for any mistakes law enforcement made during their investigation, as well as any other legal issues that can be raised on your behalf.

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A Flagler County man who was previously convicted of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The 29-year-old man was previously convicted by a Flagler County jury on Aug. 20 after a two-day trial.

At trial, the man’s defense centered around the fact that he suffered from “sexsomnia” and committed the acts while asleep. According to the evidence from trial, the man had apparently touched the victim inappropriately on more than one occasion.

Jurors did not believe the man’s disorder of sexsomnia and returned a verdict of guilty.

383476178_8fe0f5e767_mEvidence from the prosecution claimed that the man sent out a postcard from the Flagler County jail that requested information about nations without extradition agreements with the U.S. and where marijuana is legal.

The prosecution used this evidence to argue about the man being a flight risk.

The judge imposed the 30-year sentence after hearing a letter written by the victim in the case and from several witnesses that testified on the man’s behalf.

Once the man is released from prison, he will be placed on sex-offender probation for the rest of his life. His probation requirements order him to have no contact with minors. A $15,000 statutory fine was also imposed. In addition, the man will be classified as a sexual predator.

Sexsomnia, similar to sleepwalking, is a condition that is not very well understood, however scientific evidence does prove that it exists. In fact, this is not the first case that has used sexsomnia as a defense. It has been used in similar cases and has resulted in acquittals. Sexsomia is classified as a rare type of sleep disorder that essentially entails a person acting out sexually while sleeping. Episodes of sexsomnia occur during a deep sleep, so a person experiencing this disorder may not even be able to recall anything that happened after he he or she wakes up.

Unfortunately, when people are charged with sex crimes, especially when children are involved, the public usually instantly assumes that they are guilty. However, those who are charged with sex crimes, or any crime for that matter, are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

While a rare defense, this not the first case where sexsomnia has been brought up as a defense. This case just goes to show that allegations of child molestation and other sex crimes are a lot more complex than they seem on the surface.

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A Clay County man plead guilty to receiving child pornography over the Internet Tuesday.

Officials claim that through investigations, agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found a host computer that held images of child porn using a peer-to-peer file sharing program. The agent downloaded files from the host computer, and linked the subscriber information back to the 45-year-old man.

Officer’s obtained a search warrant for the man’s home and allegedly seized several computers and other electronic media that were later found to contain at least 18 images of child pornography and at least 20 videos depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

The man apparently acknowledged during an interview with police that he had been receiving child porn for about two years.

6853270358_c89271d21d_mThe man faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in federal prison and a potential life term of supervision.

Child pornography is any photograph, film, video or computer generated image that displays a minor in a sexual situation. Both the federal government and the state have criminalized the production, distribution and possession of any form of child pornography. Due to the nature of these crimes, the media and public express much disdain when it comes to these offenses. Prosecutors, judges and juries also find these crimes quite heinous, and the consequences of a conviction can result in severe penalties.  In fact, it is common to be slapped with a five year mandatory minimum sentence behind bars for receiving or possessing even just one child pornography image. However, most investigations into child porn uncover numerous images, which can enhance a sentencing guideline of more than ten years in prison.

State or federal authorities can prosecute cases involving child pornography, however, the majority of cases involving child porn in recent years have been prosecuted in federal courts, which usually impose sentencing guidelines that are much harsher than state courts. Due to the seriousness of these crimes, it is vital to retain a criminal defense lawyer immediately so that your rights can be protected and a solid defense can be established.

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A Lakeland middle school teacher was arrested at his Winter Haven home Tuesday for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student.

The 28-year-old man is a media teacher at Southwest Middle School in Lakeland.

Police claim he forced himself on the girl while he supervised her community service at the school this summer.

7606416730_26cb8b5536_mInvestigators allege that the student was afraid to tell anyone what happened, but she told a therapist who then told her parents. Her parents are the ones who contacted police.

According to reports, police believe the man texted the girl, gave her e-cigarettes, lingerie and small bottles of alcohol.

Investigators claim they found physical evidence at the man’s home to back up the girl’s story – an alleged receipt for the returned lingerie.

According to LPD, the man confessed to having sex with the student. He is being held at the Polk County jail without bond.

Polk County’s school superintendent said the man has been suspended without pay and she is recommending to the school board that he be fired.

According to the school district, the man was hired on Oct. 25, 2010, and has had no prior discipline or investigations, according to his personnel file.

Sexual assault cases are quite serious, and the potential penalties for these sex crimes are even more serious if committed by a person in authority, like a teacher. That state of Florida does not take these charges lightly. With that said, sometimes prosecutors and law enforcement are a bit overzealous when it comes to sex crimes cases, which makes wrongful convictions and wrongly escalated charges very possible. In certain situations, false allegations can put well-respected teachers or administrators behind bars for behaviors or actions they did not actually commit. Working with a Polk County Sex Crimes Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help make sure that you do not end up serving an unnecessary sentence. Sex crimes have grave penalties including prison time, substantial fines and sex offender registration, so it is in your best interest to work with a sex crimes defense attorney as soon as you learn you are the target of a sexual assault investigation.

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According to the most recent FBI Crime report, Florida is home to some pretty dangerous cities. The top 20 cities that were found to have the most violent crimes and property crimes are as follows:

 

  • Miami Beach, Florida5196788334_e6ed189c68_m

 

With a population of 91,066, the total reported crimes were found to be 109.47 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 10.33 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 99.14 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Orlando, Florida

 

With a population size of 246,513, the total reported crimes in Orlando were assessed at 78.19 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 10.34 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 67.85 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Daytona Beach, Florida

 

Daytona Beach has a population of 61,861, and 74.10 reported crimes per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 11.56 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 62.54 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Panama City, Florida

 

Panama City’s reported population is 37,187, with a total number of reported crimes at 70.27 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 7.80 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 62.47 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Key West, Florida

 

With a smaller population of 25,249, Key West has a total of 69.47 reported crimes per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 8.24 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 61.23 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Homestead, Florida

 

Homestead has a reported total population of 62,785, with a total number of crimes at 67.87 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 16.64 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 51.22 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida

 

With a population of 170,827, the total reported crimes in Fort Lauderdale were determined at 67.92 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.11 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 58.80 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Pensacola, Florida

 

Pensacola’s population size is 52,909. The total reported crimes are 69.86 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.11 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 60.75 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Fort Pierce, Florida

 

The total population for Fort Pierce is 42,566 and the number of reported crimes ranks in at 65.95 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 11.14 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.81 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Miami, Florida

 

With a larger population size of 414,327, Miami has a total reported crimes of 65.47 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 11.72 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 53.75 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Pompano Beach, Florida

 

The total population size in Pompano Beach is 103,003. The total reported crimes in the area are 64.29 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 10.29 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.00 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Sarasota, Florida

 

Population size in Sarasota totals 53,055 with the total reported crimes at 63.14 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 8.03 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 55.11 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Riviera Beach, Florida

 

Riviera Beach has a total population of 33,309 and the total reported crimes are 61.97 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 13.21 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 48.76 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Lake Worth, Florida

 

Lake Worth has a population size of 35,788 and the total reported crimes are 61.17 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 12.88 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 48.28 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • West Palm Beach, Florida

 

The population size is 102,422 and total crime ranks in at 60.78 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 8.02 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 52.76 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Oakland Park, Florida

 

Oakland Park’s population is 42,071, with the total reported crimes at 60.75 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 7.85 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 52.90 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Ocala, Florida

 

The population in Ocala is reported at 57,288. The total reported crimes for the area is 60.61 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 6.55 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.06 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Sanford, Florida

 

Sanford has a population of 54,662. The total number of reported crimes for the area is 60.13 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 5.91 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.22 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Lauderdale Lakes, Florida

 

The population is 33,644 and the total reported crime is 59.80 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.99 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 49.82 per 1,000 residents.

 

  • Leesburg, Florida

 

Leesburg’s total reported crime is 60.05 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.19 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 50.85 per 1,000 residents.

If you are facing criminal charges, you need to understand exactly what is at stake. How you respond to your charges will have a direct impact on how your case plays out, including your freedom and your future. During this critical time, everything you say and do, along with every decision you make can be the difference between imprisonment and you being free to move forward with your life.

Have you been arrested for a crime in Florida? You must act fast to protect your good name even if you have not had formal charges filed against you yet. A Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you with your case no matter what you have been arrested for or charged with. We will fully investigate the facts of your case and aggressively defend you in court or in seeking a settlement.

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Federal authorities arrested a 67-year-old Manatee County man they allege used Craigslist to try to set arrange a sexual encounter with a 10-year-old girl.

According to the Department of Justice, an FBI special agent found an advertisement in the “all personals” section of Craigslist referring to a single white male seeking a “family dynamic.”

Authorities claim that last week, the accused engaged in email communications with the undercover agent posing as the father of a 10-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy. During the online communications, the man allegedly told the undercover agent that he wanted to engage in sexual conduct with the minors.

6853270358_c89271d21d_mAccording to authorities, the man traveled to Altamonte Springs on Thursday, where he had arranged to meet the father of the minors for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct. He was taken into custody upon his arrival at the location.

The Justice Department claims the man admitted to going to Altamonte Springs to explore the possibility of having sex with a 10-year-old girl. Investigators claim the man also shared that he has been involved in a bondage, dominance, sado masochistic lifestyle for about 10 years.

He is charged with attempting to persuade, induce, and entice a minor to engage in illicit sexual conduct. He faces 10 years to life in prison.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to put an end to the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ilianys Rivera Miranda.

Sexual offenses, especially those involving minors, tend to elicit much public outrage and condemnation than any other type of crime. Those that are accused of these crimes are made out to appear like they lead double lives and and should be stripped of their basic constitutional freedoms. Due to the intense stigma attached to sex crimes, it is not uncommon for people to falsely accuse a family member, neighbor, teacher or anyone else they do not like of committing a sexually motivated crime. Even worse, prosecutors have been known to rely on false testimony and statements in order to obtain a conviction. Even if the allegations are eventually proved false, the results can still be devastating for the accused.

When it comes to sex crimes, law enforcement and prosecutors will try and do everything in their power to persuade you to confess to the crime in question. Understand that pleading guilty can result in a lengthy prison sentence as well as lifetime registration as a sexual offender. These cases require a sex crimes defense lawyer who can look for holes in the prosecution’s case and fight aggressively for you.

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A 19-year-old man with a self-described meth problem was arrested Monday and charged with raping a 5-year-old girl.

The child is apparently the daughter of a woman with whom he is acquainted.

Investigators claim the man, who is described as a homeless man with ties to Citrus County, admitted to raping the child while her mother slept on a couch in her Inverness home. According to detectives, the man said he has serious problems with drugs and that he tried to first have sex with the girl’s mother, but she would not wake up.

A relative of the girl’s mother who also lives at the residence reported the crime to authorities.

gavelAccording to the arrest affidavit, the relative said she returned home last Saturday and found the man sweating and nervous. She claims the girl looked pale and scared. The relative said the man denied that anything had gone on, but the child later told her that the man had taken her to a bed and raped her.

The man was arrested in Hernando on Monday and taken to the Citrus County Jail. He was charged with sexual battery on a child under 12.

Sexual battery is considered to be one of the world’s worst crimes. Sex crimes involving young children are often considered more heinous than murder. Prosecutors despise sexual battery cases, which is why they prosecute sex crimes so aggressively. Unfortunately, this leads to many false convictions, enhanced sentences and ruined lives for those that are falsely accused or who receive harsher sentences than they deserve.

If you have been accused of a sex crime, it is very important to contact a Citrus County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton immediately. Even if you have not been formally charged, you still need the help of an attorney right away. Sex crime cases can sometimes bypass criminal prosecution and be settled out of court. Even if law enforcement is already involved, we may be able reach an agreement that works in the best interest of both parties. In order to have the highest chance at receiving a successful outcome for your particular situation, it is best to act fast before things spiral out of control.

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