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Thanksgiving is a time of year when families get together to celebrate memories and honor traditions. However, this is also the time of year when law enforcement agencies gear up to catch drunk drivers on our roadways.

Most law enforcement agencies, receive federal grants to increase their staffing levels during the holiday season, which typically begins with the four-day Thanksgiving weekend and continues to New Year’s Day. Arrests for DUI are highest during this time period.

The following are a few tips that may prove helpful to avoid a Thanksgiving DUI:

  1. Do not drink and drive. If you have been drinking, call a cab, a friend or use a ride share app like Uber or Lyft to get home safe. If you know you will be drinking, designate a sober driver to take you home.
  2. If you are pulled over, do not talk to law enforcement about where you were or what you were doing. Remember, you have the right to remain silent until you have your lawyer present.
  3. If you are involved in an accident, stop immediately and remain at the scene. Do not admit to anything and request to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
  4. Do not fall asleep inside your vehicle. You could get arrested if the officer observes that you have the keys in the ignition or if the engine is running.
  5. Drive cautiously. Police will be closely monitoring motorists for any mistakes they make. In particular, they will be on the lookout for motorists who may be driving too fast or too slow, or running red lights or failing to stop at stop signs.

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More than 20 pounds of marijuana, a semi-automatic pistol and $9,000 in cash were allegedly found Monday after agents raided a Flagler County home.

Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Tri-County Narcotics Task Force, as well as Flagler County Sheriff’s Office deputies, apparently seized 23 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $76,000, a pistol and the cash during the search warrant they executed around 8:52 p.m. at a home on Wheatfield Drive in Palm Coast.

A 21-year-old of Palm Coast was arrested and charged with one count of possession of cannabis with intent to sell. He was booked into the Flagler County Jail on $10,000 bond.

According to jail records, he has since posted bond.

During the operations, the semi-automatic pistol that was seized was determined to have been reported stolen by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office.

With Florida law enforcement determined to crack down on drug laws and close ranks on drug distribution operations, it can be amazingly easy to find yourself arrested for a drug possession with intent to sell charge. Arrests like these can stem from simple misunderstandings or even after you have been allegedly caught for possession and the prosecution wishes to amp up the charges.

Regardless of the situation, adding intent to distribute to a drug possession charge can greatly increase the penalties you face if convicted. It is highly recommended you work with a Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer to protect your rights and fight these charges.

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A former West Delray doctor faces a mandatory minimum of 1,343 years in prison when he is sentenced in January on charges of overprescribing pain medication.

The former doctor prescribed high numbers of oxycodone — including 20,000 pills over 10 months to one patient.

The jury, a panel of four men and two women, deliberated more than 16 hours over three days before finding the former doctor guilty of 55 drug trafficking counts. They found him not guilty of 19 charges.

Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jack Cox said he will sentence Schultz on Jan. 8. The 59-year-old doctor, whose medical license was already suspended, was immediately taken into custody by courthouse deputies. He had been free on bail since his 2011 arrest.

Schultz still has a pending 2013 manslaughter charge and another trial looming in the 2010 overdose death of a 50-year old male patient who was taking methadone — a fact that was not permitted to be shared with the jurors who just convicted him.

Authorities began investigating the former doctor in 2010 after receiving a complaint from a Lake Worth pharmacy that a patient tried to fill a 30-day supply of oxycodone totaling 1,590 pills. The pharmacist testified he became alarmed because that would be enough medication for nine months.

Officials then seized records from the former doctor’ s office, which allegedly revealed that he prescribed 80,350 oxycodone tablets between March 25 and May 11, 2010, compared to 3,450 pills for other ailments, an arrest report shows.

It is likely that the former doctor will file an appeal.

Have you been charged with a drug offense? Time is of the utmost importance. Contact a South Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible after your arrest. We can explain the court process and begin working immediately on an effective drug crimes defense strategy for your unique situation.

Those facing charges for drug trafficking or any other related offense are encouraged to contact us for a free case evaluation. We can make sure you understand your charges as well as the options you have available for your defense.

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Authorities arrested a Florida deputy recently for her alleged role in a marijuana selling business following a month-long investigation.

According to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, an anonymous tipster told them a 27-year-old female deputy was involved in drug activity. Authorities apparently searched the apartment she was staying at with her boyfriend and another couple Friday and said they found felony amounts of marijuana, packaging materials and other items typically associated with the sale and distribution of marijuana.

The woman was charged with marijuana possession over 20 grams, marijuana possession with intent to sell and possessing drug equipment.

She posted bail early Saturday morning and has been placed on administrative leave without pay.

The three other people in the apartment were also arrested on drug charges.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in Florida and throughout the United States. Marijuana is heavily portrayed all over the media, from music videos, movies and television. Because of how common it is, many people assume that marijuana-related drug charges are not as serious as other types of drug crimes. This could not be further from the truth. If you are arrested for possessing or selling marijuana in the state of Florida you could face very serious consequences.

If you or someone  you love has been arrested for a marijuana-related drug offense, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. You have a very small window of time to defend yourself from these charges, so it is best to act fast. A conviction for possessing or selling marijuana can have many consequences, and could affect your life long after you have served any jail time.

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Two Hernando residents have been accused of manufacturing methamphetamine in front of a child.

A search warrant was executed at a home on the 3900 block of Withlacoochee Trail Wednesday morning and Citrus Sheriff Fire Rescue Hazardous Materials Team responded to assist with the investigation due to potentially hazardous materials.

During the search, detectives allege they discovered several items used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Deputies believe that a secondary structure on the property was used to cook meth via the “one pot” method.

A small child was present during the manufacturing process, according to deputies. DCF was immediately notified and responded.

During the search, cooked methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, manufacturing vessels, other manufacturing paraphernalia, and a large amount of meth liquid was allegedly collected.

The amount of methamphetamine seized was more than 200 grams, according to reports. Due to the amount of meth collected, a 29-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were charged with trafficking in methamphetamine. If convicted, they face a 15 year minimum mandatory sentence in prison.

They have also been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine in the presence of a child, possession of listed chemical, and possession of paraphernalia.

The state of Florida takes meth charges quite seriously. After being arrested for trafficking in methamphetamine, you need to know that you are facing severe consequences if convicted. Our Hernando County Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton understand how scary these charges are and we are here to help you obtain the best possible outcome for your unique situation.

Meth is viewed as damaging to not just the person using it, but to members of the community as well. The production of meth can result in fires and explosions that can injure and kill innocent people, including children present, law enforcement personnel and emergency responders who are called to a house that is producing meth. Exposing a child to a meth lab is a first-degree felony, and a conviction carries a five-year minimum mandatory prison sentence. Causing the death of someone else through the manufacture of meth is a capital felony, punishable by life in prison.

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The Justice Department announced new rules recently that would potentially make thousands of federal inmates eligible for presidential grants of clemency, including a requirement that candidates must have served at least 10 years of their sentences and have no history of violence.

The six conditions announced by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, ban inmates with ties to criminal gangs, organized crime groups and drug cartels, and are designed to broaden access to early release for non-violent offenders who were sentenced to long prison terms under mandatory minimum-sentencing policies.

Up to 13 percent of the federal prison system’s 216,000 inmates have served 10 years or more, but not all would qualify for consideration, based largely on their criminal histories.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Inmates whose sentences would be substantially lower if convicted of the same offenses today because of changes to the sentencing structure.
  • Inmates who have demonstrated good conduct in prison.
  • Inmates with no history of violence before or during their term of imprisonment.

“Let there be no mistake, this clemency initiative should not be understood to minimize the seriousness of our federal criminal law,” the deputy attorney general said. “Our prosecutors and law enforcement agents worked diligently and honorably to collect evidence and charge these defendants and then fairly and effectively obtained their convictions. … However, some of them, simply because of the operation of sentencing laws on the books at the time, received substantial sentences that are disproportionate to what they would receive today.”

Cole said most eligible applicants would probably be drug offenders, other offenders could qualify if they meet the new requirements, including so-called career criminals.

Recently, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to reduce sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug offenders.

The commission estimated that 70 percent of federal drug trafficking defendants would qualify for the change, and their sentences would decrease an average of 11 months, or 17 percent, from 62 months to 51.

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A Riverview man has been arrested and charged with trafficking after deputies allege they found more than 300 pounds of marijuana at his home.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Riverview man was arrested Thursday and 358 pounds of pot were seized from 10728 Deepbrook Drive in Riverview.

Deputies claim that after obtaining a search warrant, they entered the home and found two separate rooms in the home being used to grow marijuana. Each room allegedly contained several large marijuana plants with multiple high sodium vapor lights, ballasts and fans.

In total, deputies found 70 marijuana plants in the home, according to reports. The street value of the marijuana is approximately $700,000.

Tampa Electric crews claim they found an illegal electrical connection at the home. The estimated alleged theft of electricity was $8,800.

Authorities said the 27-year-old man tried to run out of the back of the home but was apprehended in the backyard.

The Riverview man was arrested and charged with trafficking in marijuana, cultivation of marijuana, grand theft and own, lease or rent for purposes of trafficking marijuana.

Marijuana use, trafficking, sale or distribution is strictly prohibited in the state of Florida. Marijuana trafficking is a serious criminal offense that carries severe penalties if convicted. In addition to lengthy prison sentences and extensive fines, a conviction of marijuana trafficking will negatively impact all areas of your life, including employment, education, and maintaining custody of your children.

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Newly released footage from a body-worn camera contradicts statements two Marion County deputies made just two days after they were suspended with pay, according to the State Attorney’s Office.

The two deputies were suspended after officials learned of possible officer misconduct in regards to how they executed a search warrant.

The deputies searched a Marion County hotel after receiving word that a suspect, wanted on a warrant, was at the property. The incident lead to a search and seizure situation.

One of the deputies wrote in the arrest affidavit that when he arrived to the suspect’s room, he knocked on the door and identified himself as a member of the Sheriff’s Office.

But footage from a body-worn camera apparently tells a different story.

“Maintenance. I know you have the do not disturb sign, but I need to come in,” the deputy said. “Maintenance. Are you available?”

Deputies said they discovered drugs and a stolen gun inside the room. The suspect was later spotted in the lobby and arrested.

The body-camera evidence could be enough to destroy the case against the suspect as well as  end the two deputies’ careers.

One of the deputies has been employed by the MCSO for 12 years and the other for nine years.

The suspect remains in jail.

Both the Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorneys’ Office are investigating the incident.

The use of police body cameras in this case is obviously playing a major role. A video log of the actual event is clearly shown, documenting what occurred during an arrest, including the dialogue between the arresting officer and the suspect. This type of footage is extremely important when it comes to criminal defense. The footage from a body camera worn by an officer will show if the criminal defendant’s rights were infringed upon and will show for certain if they were properly Mirandized as required by law.

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A resident of Hazlet, New Jersey was recently surprised with an unexpected delivery showed up addressed to a person who does not live there. The surprise was 50 pounds of marijuana, to be exact.

Police in the town responded to the situation and found about $100,000 worth of pot in the boxes, according to reports.

With the hopes of finding who the package was really intended for, they posted photos of the haul on their Facebook page Thursday, writing: “If you were expecting these packages and would like to claim them, please come to Police Headquarters. In the meantime our detectives will be working with County, State, and Federal Law Enforcement agencies to locate the owner of this property.”

At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers fight for the rights of those facing any kind of charge involving marijuana. If your are facing drug charges, we can help guide you through this stressful time. We will challenge any of the prosecution’s allegations and will fight aggressively to suppress all illegally obtained evidence.

We will work tirelessly to have your charges reduced or dropped. Call us today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.

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A convenience store owner and a clerk were arrested Thursday after deputies claim they openly displayed pornography on the store’s shelves.

A 25-year-old Winter Haven man and a 53-year-old Eagle Lake man are facing charges of displaying obscene material harmful to minors. One of the men is facing an additional charge of sale of obscene material to a minor.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, deputies received a complaint about pornographic magazines like Barely Legal, Hustler and Playboy being openly displayed for sale in the store, which is within walking distance of two schools. The rack that holds the magazines is about 10 feet away from the entrance, according to reports.

Deputies allege that one of them sold two pornographic magazines to an underage boy, who was working with deputies in the investigation.

One of the men allegedly asked the 17-year-old boy for identification, which showed he was underage. He then told the teenager to leave the store and park his car in a space directly in front of the store so he could make sure the teen didn’t have anyone with him, deputies allege.

Deputies also claim that one of the men offered to sell the teenager pornographic DVDs he kept behind the counter.

One of the men was previously arrested in 2012 for selling alcohol to a minor, according to reports.

Owners of convenient stores, as well as employees who work there, always run the risk of obscene materials charges. If police decide to crack down, as this case shows, they will not only face criminal prosecution, but they can potentially lose the business they have worked so hard to build. If you have been the target of an effort by law enforcement to get rid of  obscene materials in the community and you happen to be arrested, you need the help of a criminal defense lawyer who can stand up to overzealous prosecutors.

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