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This Saturday, Tampa Bay will be celebrating the 2014 Gasparilla Pirate Fest. This day-long celebration welcomes the public to partake in a spectacular parade and festival inspired by Jose Gaspar. This annual festival accommodates more than 300,000 people every year, which results in large crowds of rowdy and excited guests.

While a fun time, it is important to remember that as with most things, larger crowds usually means more arrests for various violations. Reports from earlier Gasparilla Parades recount numerous arrests for open container violations, as well as various citations for civil infractions. Arrests for alcohol-related criminal offenses are also very high this weekend, particularly for disorderly conduct, DUI, Boating Under the Influence and underage drinking.

8431098388_181f4bc534_zDuring this Gasparilla weekend, it is very important  to practice safety in order to avoid a potential arrest. It can be quite helpful to prepare your agenda for the day ahead of time and make all necessary arrangements to get home safely at the end of the night. You can protect yourself as well as the safety of others by following the guidelines provided by the City of Tampa.

  1. Plan your day in Advance. Save time by planning where you will park and familiarize yourself will the street closures so that you can map your route there accordingly.
  2. Pick a meeting place for friends and family. By selecting a spot ahead of time, you and the rest of your party can know where to go in the event you get separated.
  3. Know the “Wet Zones.” The parade route does allow participants to drink alcohol openly, but only from select vendors selling along the route. Keep in mind that no coolers, kegs or open containers are allowed elsewhere on the streets. Police are stressing that no glass containers of any kind are permitted.

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A University of Florida women’s basketball player was arrested Friday afternoon after a teammate accused her of stealing her credit card and using it at several stores, a nail salon and a pawn shop.

According to the arrest report, the 21-year-old woman was charged with theft of a credit card and fraudulent use of a credit card. The report identifies the woman as a member of the women’s basketball team.

The victim was listed as the woman’s teammate. The report alleges that the woman took her teammate’s credit card without permission on Jan. 11 from the women’s locker room of the basketball practice facility. According to reports, the locker room is secured by a key code known only to the team, coaches and janitorial staff.

12696032183_0d9622ae98_zThe alleged stolen card was used at Macy’s and a nail salon at The Oaks Mall on Monday, according to police. It was used on Tuesday at some other shops as well as a pawn shop.

On Friday, the woman apparently told police she found the card outside the practice facility and allegedly admitted to using the card at the stores, police said. She told officers she threw the card away after using it.

Credit card fraud often involves identity theft. It can be defined as many things, including:

  • Stealing a credit card and assuming the victim’s identity in order to purchase merchandise or goods
  • Theft of credit card data
  • Using credit card data without permission to make online purchases
  • Opening a new credit card account using someone else’s information
  • Using forged credit cards

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A Lakeland man is facing up to 80 years in prison after pleading guilty to producing and transporting child pornography.

Reports indicate that the 40-year-old man accepted a guilty plea Monday in Tampa federal court. A date for his sentencing has yet to be set.

Prosecutors believe the man produced at least 50 sexually explicit videos of himself having sex with two children who were 2 and 13 months old.

Officials claim the alleged abuse began in 2012 when one child was under 6 months old.

5555771417_79bc61d1e7_zCourt records show the man filmed the acts with his cell phone and shared the video with at least 100 people.

The Department of Homeland Security began looking into the case in 2013.

Child pornography cases are all over the media today. We have all seen or heard of recent cases where individuals are sentenced to lengthy prison terms for possession, distribution and production of child pornography. Facing a federal sex crimes charge in Florida can be extremely frightening.

Due to the social stigma attached to child pornography accusations, our Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand how important it is to swiftly minimize the impact of a federal child pornography investigation or charge. We know that your family life, personal relationships and job are on the line and will fight for your rights throughout the entire process and will work vigorously to defend your rights.

Unfortunately, federal child pornography cases can be complex and difficult to defend. The government will not usually bring charges until they have conducted a lengthy investigation and are confident they have enough criminal evidence to succeed at trial.

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A 25-year-old Pasco County High School instructor has been placed on administrative leave after being arrested for unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

According to reports, the female teacher contacted the student at the school through  Facebook messenger in early April. Deputies allege that she gave the victim her phone number and asked him to call her.

Deputies claim the pair met up at a park in New Port Richey and had sex. According to the arrest report, several more sexual encounters occurred between April and July.

7949717596_50b93b42fb_zDeputies said the teacher was 24-years-old at the time of the incidents and the victim was 17.

The teacher worked as a graduation enhancement instructor helping kids who are at risk of not graduating. She has been with the school district since April 2013.

The school board is expected to vote whether to suspend the woman without pay at its next meeting on January 20th.

The woman has been released from jail on $10,000 bond.

Sex crimes carry very harsh penalties, including mandatory registration as a sex offender, hefty fines, and depending on the specific charge, mandatory minimum prison sentences. It is absolutely necessary that you contact a criminal defense lawyer once you know that the police are investigating you for such a charge.

As a teacher in a public position, being accused of a sex crime can ultimately end your career. It is very important to get help from a Pasco County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible due to the fact that consequences for a conviction of are severe. When facing these accusations, licensed professionals, like teachers, may suffer automatic revocation of their license.

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A 29-year-old former crew member for Holland America Line was sentenced to 30 years and five months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for the attack and attempted murder of a female passenger last year, according to the US Department of Justice.

the man is an Indonesian citizen and according to FBI agents, admitted to entering the woman’s stateroom using his company-issued master key, and hiding on the balcony waiting for her to return.

The man said that before the attack, while delivering room service, the woman disrespected him and his parents by referring to him as a “son of a b____.”

The victim, a 32-year-old American woman, was assaulted by the man while on a seven-day western Caribbean charter cruise.

492037987_de1234b5e0_zFBI agents said the man attacked the woman after she got into bed, choking and punching her numerous times. The man struck the woman with a laptop and curling iron, and tried to strangle her with a telephone cord and a curling iron cord. The victim was said to be unconscious at least once during the attack, at which time the man sexually assaulted her.

The man continued to attack the woman on the state room’s balcony where he tried to throw her overboard.

The woman was able to escape after stabbing the man with a corkscrew, according to the report.

According to Holland America Line, the man was immediately fired.

The company said the man was hired in 2012 after a careful screening that included a clean criminal history check. He apparently had good references and no prior performance issues.

The man did plead guilty to the attack in September. He will be deported after serving out his sentence.

People who are charged with sex crimes can expect to have their lives changed forever, as they will be subjected to invasive investigations and questioning by police. The media can also be quite intrusive once they catch wind of a sex crimes case. Because of this, it is always a good idea for a person to seek legal counsel from a knowledgeable attorney when arrested for or charged with a sex crime.

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You want to avoid getting arrested for DUI in Florida on New Year’s Eve and “becoming a statistic.” New Year’s Eve is a holiday that it is both cause for celebrating and relaxing. After the stress of getting ready for Christmas, people usually take this time to enjoy the end of the holiday season and contemplate their goals for the new year. However, because this is the last holiday of the year, there tends to be an increased number of people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Listed below are several tips to help drivers avoid a DUI this New Year’s Eve.

  1. Limit Drinks

If you are at a party that has an open bar, and you know you are driving, know exactly how many drinks you are having so that you can watch your personal limit. Remember that once you start drinking it can be difficult to stop yourself from having too many. Be mindful of the exact amount you have had to drink.

  1. Call a Cab or Uber or Lyft

Public transportation can save many people from DUI-related accidents and arrests. Save the number of a local cab company in your phone, use a ride share app on your phone or attend parties or social gatherings close to a bus route.

  1. 15958303240_5a5181cc2a_zDon’t Go Solo

Don’t go to a party or social gathering by yourself. Bring along at least one other friend and make sure to determine who the designated driver is for the entire group before any alcohol is consumed.

  1. Eat!

While many people have New Year’s resolutions about weight loss, New Year’s Eve is one of those nights where you should eat. Food fills the stomach, making less room for alcohol. Try to snack on foods like meats or dark chocolate, which are known to keep you fuller longer.

  1. Offer Alternative Drinks

If you are hosting a party, include “mocktails,” sodas, punch, or even just water on your drink menu.

  1. Make Accommodations for Guests

If you know your guests have a far trip ahead of them, arrange for them to stay with you or at a nearby hotel. That way, no one drives home drunk.

  1. Leave the Party Early

New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year. You can expect delays for taxis and other modes of public transportation, so be prepared. Leaving your party or social gathering early can also ensure that you get home safely and at a reasonable hour.

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A pretrial hearing has been scheduled Monday for former New England Patriot and Florida Gator Aaron Hernandez.

His murder trial is set to start next month.

The hearing at Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River will focus on jury issues. Jury selection is scheduled to start Jan. 9.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to the June 2013 killing of a semi-professional football player who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee.

Hernandez also has pleaded not guilty in a separate case involving the fatal shootings of two men in 2012 after an encounter at a Boston nightclub.

6566853359_6d069f2b0b_zProsecutors preparing for the murder trial have sought to admit a range of evidence related to Hernandez’s other alleged crimes, including the Boston homicides and unlawful possession of firearms.

However, Judge E. Susan Garsh has ruled that prosecutors cannot mention the Boston killings.

The judge also has ruled that prosecutors cannot submit as evidence the final text messages the semi-pro football player sent to his sister, including one sent minutes before he was fatally shot at an industrial park near Attleborough.

Garsh also has ruled that prosecutors cannot introduce the shooting of a former associate of Hernandez who has filed a lawsuit claiming Hernandez shot him in the face after an argument in Florida in 2013.

Courts are usually more inclined to allow previous evidence from other cases when it can be sufficiently connected to the facts of the present case. Admissible evidence of prior criminal acts is always circumstantial, and merely provides support for the prosecution to prove that the defendant could have committed the present act. Due to the fact that this evidence is strictly circumstantial, the purpose is to prove intent, identity or motive.

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A Massachusetts Uber driver has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman who had used the ride-sharing service app to request a ride.

Authorities have reported that the 46-year-old man was arraigned Wednesday in Cambridge District Court. The Boston man pleaded not guilty to charges including rape and kidnapping.

Investigators believe the driver picked the woman up in Boston on Dec. 6. She had apparently summoned an Uber driver to take her to her Cambridge home.

14656314348_f3aa8acb78_zUber customers use a smartphone application to arrange and pay for rides with drivers that are in the surrounding area.

The woman told police that the driver told her he would need a cash payment, so he took her to an ATM.

Authorities claim he then drove her to a secluded location and sexually assaulted her.

Uber released a statement saying that they are working closely with law enforcement to assist in the investigation.

Sex crimes allegations are very serious crimes that will have a devastating impact on your future if you were to be convicted. Your career, your family, your freedom and your reputation could all be ruined and suffer permanent damage just from the mere accusation that any wrongdoing took place. Because of this, you must obtain legal protection against the prosecution.

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The State Attorney’s Office has made the decision to charge a Marion County juvenile as an adult for a robbery that happened last month.

According to jail records, at 12:01 a.m. on a Friday night, on his 18th birthday, a teen was charged with robbery with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a delinquent and carrying a concealed firearm.

6444319887_9045628534_zThe teen and another 16-year-old juvenile were taken into custody Nov. 17 after they were accused of robbing a man in Silver Springs Shores the day before.

The alleged victim told sheriff’s deputies he was approached by two people, each armed with a handgun, when one of them took his cell phone, ear buds and wallet.

His description of the two teens lead to their arrest.

The 18-year-old’s court date is scheduled for Jan. 13.

When it comes to juvenile crimes, it is up to the court to decide whether the juvenile case is transferred to adult criminal court. The court considers many factors when making its choice, including the nature of the crime and the juvenile’s previous delinquent history. If the case is transferred to adult court, the juvenile will be subject to the law in the same manner as an adult.

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A Clearwater doctor has been accused of writing fraudulent prescriptions in order to obtain the controlled substances for herself, according to police.

The 50-year-old doctor was arrested Monday at a pain management clinic in Clearwater. She has been charged with  two counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain controlled substances by fraud.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office claims they began investigating the woman last month after detectives received a tip that the woman was allegedly writing prescriptions for oxycodone using patients’ names and filling them for herself.

5116635021_77b9367552_mDetectives believe the Tampa Bay area doctor filled those prescriptions at several pharmacies around Pinellas County. Investigators allege that they have surveillance video that displays the woman picking up one of those prescriptions for oxycodone.

The woman was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail without further incident. She was released later in the day after posting $10,000 bail.

The investigation is ongoing, according to police.

Many people that find themselves facing charges of prescription fraud are actually upstanding individuals that had a brief lapse in judgment, became addicted to a prescription after receiving medical treatment or are just being falsely accused. As this case shows, even health professionals like doctors and pharmacists can be slapped with charges of prescription fraud. If you or a loved one has been charged with a prescription drug crime, it is absolutely vital to speak with a Pinellas County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton immediately.

Doctors, just like unlicensed individuals, can be arrested for prescription fraud. It is illegal for a doctor to write a false prescription, just as it is illegal for anyone else to forge a prescription.

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