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Two physical therapists and five other alleged participants in Miami were arrested last week and charged with staging car accidents and then billing insurance providers as much as $161,000.

Florida’s Department of Financial Services apparently spent the last few months working with an informant to document the alleged car insurance fraud ring. They believe that one of the participants used Instagram, the social media app, to find people willing to help stage accidents.

These no-fault car insurance scams apparently worked like this: The accident would be staged first, then the “victims” would be taken to physical therapy clinics where they were paid up to $2,000 to request treatment for their “injuries.” After this was complete, the physical therapists would tell the “victims” what types of injuries to complain about and then their insurance companies would be billed accordingly for treatment.

https://www.floridacriminalattorneyblog.com/files/2022/04/httpswww.thefllawfirm.com_-300x300.pngThe Miami physical therapy clinics involved have been named as Life Medical Rehab, Premier Wellness, Red Diamond, Holistic Medical and Evolution Med, according to reports.

All seven alleged participants were booked into jail in Miami. The charges include staging accidents, organized scheme to defraud, patient brokering, grand theft and insurance fraud and grand theft. The police said that they expect to arrest more people involved.

Personal injury protection motor vehicle fraud has been an ongoing issue for South Florida. There have been numerous arrests for PIP fraud schemes in recent years, including a $23 million PIP fraud scam in 2018.

Staged car accidents are nothing new in Miami and throughout all of Florida. In fact, many auto accident fraud complaints are filed by public citizens who see something suspicious and report their findings to the Florida Department of Financial Services by using the online Fraud Reporting Website. Police are always on the lookout for these “PIP Mills” that often involve physical therapy or chiropractic clinics who file fraudulent medical claims to insurance companies using PIP automobile insurance coverage. Continue reading

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A former Hillsborough County teacher and coach has been arrested for the second time facing more allegations of child molestation, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

The 33-year-old ex-teacher and former volunteer coach was arrested Wednesday on new charges stemming from a football player who has accused him of sexually abusing him more than 50 times between 2017 and 2021. The former volunteer coach has been released on bail.

The man was initially arrested last month after being accused of inappropriately touching a child and showing pornographic images to the child at the school where he was a teacher.

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A teacher for the Pasco County School district has been arrested and charged with custodial authority sexual battery on a student.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office launched an investigation into the 32-year-old man on January 2, 2022, after they received information about an alleged inappropriate relationship between the male teacher and student.

The alleged incidents took place when the student was 14-years-old.

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Alvin Kamara, running back for the New Orleans Saints, was arrested on a battery charge Sunday in Las Vegas after playing in his fifth pro bowl.

Reports from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department show that Kamara is accused of injuring another person at a Las Vegas nightclub sometime over the weekend.

Police said they were dispatched to a local hospital around 5:50 p.m. where an injury victim had reported that they were battered by 26-year-old Kamara.

nevada-g85d2f7e10_1920-300x199Kamara played in Sunday’s Pro Bowl, making four catches for 23 yards, but was taken into custody and booked at the Clark County Detention Center immediately after the game. He was charged with battery resulting in great bodily harm.

Kamara spent Sunday night in jail and posted bond on Monday.

In the state of Florida, when an act of battery is committed against another person resulting in great bodily harm, this is considered Felony Battery – a third-degree felony that can land a person behind bars for up to five years. Battery is escalated to Felony Battery when a person intentionally touches or strikes another person with the intent to cause great bodily harm, such as broken bones, injuries that require surgery, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement.

Facing criminal charges for battery, with or without a weapon, is a very serious matter in the state of Florida and requires immediate legal representation from an experienced criminal defense lawyer right away. Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton know the laws and how to navigate the Florida criminal justice system to help defeat misdemeanor and felony battery charges. We can handle all types of misdemeanors or felony assault and battery charges, such as assault, battery, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, domestic violence, and sexual assault and battery.

Whether you have been arrested following a bar fight, a domestic argument, or any other circumstance, we recommend remaining calm and keeping quiet. Do not try and talk your way out of these charges as you can end up doing more harm than good. Call our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton at 866-608-5529 and let us speak for you. We can guide you through the criminal justice process and help you understand how the police, prosecutors, and judges usually handle these types of violent cases. Depending on the facts of your case, we can work with the prosecution to negotiate a reduced a sentence or possible have the charges against you dropped. Continue reading

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A former Steinbrenner High School band director has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to having an unlawful sexual relationship with a student.

The 37-year-old man will also serve 10 years’ probation as a sex offender.

He is slated to turn himself into authorities on Monday, February 7 at 10 a.m. at the Orient Road Jail.

The man was arrested in June 2020.

Teachers are placed in trusted positions over young students, and because of this they are held to high standards. When they are accused of violating their positions of authority, things can quickly get messy. Due to the high number of cases of sexual abuse by teachers, counselors, coaches, clergy members, and other people in positions of authority, teachers need to be aware of the potential for accusation to arise regarding a potentially inappropriate teacher-student sexual relationship. Claims of this nature can be damaging to one’s career and reputation and lead to criminal charges carrying very severe consequences if a conviction is achieved.

college-student-g6082e6904_1920-300x198If you are a teacher or another person placed in a position of trust among minors and have been accused of unlawful sex with a student, then you must fight back to protect your future. We believe that you are innocent until proven guilty and we will fight on your side to help prove your innocence.

Our Tampa Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand the urgency of your situation, which is why we will work hard to build you a powerful defense strategy. Our hope is to protect you from criminal charges and avoid you being forced to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life and all the challenges that this label brings with it. We also know that you have worked hard for your career and want to protect your status as an educator from being tarnished.

Just mere allegations of impropriety between a teacher and a student can stir up a lot of issues. You could be fired and humiliated AND face serious legal ramifications. Our Tampa Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to encourage you to stay the course and not lose hope. By working with us, we can help you make the best decisions for your specific situation and work towards getting the charges against you reduced or dismissed entirely. Continue reading

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A 51-year-old Wildwood notary was arrested at the end of 2021 for her alleged involvement in notarizing a document for a dead person’s bank account.

She was charged with a felony – false certification by a notary – after she was interviewed at the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Building at Pinellas Plaza in The Villages.

Just what is the woman accused of? She allegedly notarized a document on Aug. 12 not in the presence of the person whose signature she was notarizing, according to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office report.

The woman apparently never met the person whose signature she was notarizing, and signed the document and stamped it with her notary stamp and seal.

The document in question was then used to withdraw funds from the deceased family member’s bank account, according to the arrest report.

The woman was arrested and booked at the Sumter County Detention Center. She has since been released after posting $2,000 bail.

A notary, also known as a notary public, is someone who has the duty to witness the signing of legal documents, such as trusts, deeds, licenses, etc. A notary is publicly commissioned official who has the task of verifying the authenticity of legal documents to deter fraud as well as serving as an impartial witness when legal documents are signed. stamp-g0ef3c5d31_1920-300x230

Legal documents are required to be notarized to make sure that the transactions are conducted properly and that no fraud is committed. Notaries serve as a person who can verify the authenticity of documents and make sure that all parties involved are entering into agreements knowingly and willingly.

Being a notary carries inherent risks. One careless mistake could easily lead to criminal charges. The following are just a few ways a notary can land themselves in hot water:

  1. Notarizing a document when the signer is not present
  2. Failing to properly identify the signer
  3. Incomplete certificates
  4. Failing to record all notarizations
  5. Allowing someone else to use your notary tools
  6. Overcharging for notary fees
  7. Offering legal advice
  8. Continuing to notarize documents once your commission expires

Notary misconduct is real and can lead to criminal charges. If you have been charged with a criminal offense related to notary misconduct in The Villages or surrounding areas, then you need to enlist the help of our Villages Criminal Defense Lawyers at 352-369-5334. Whittel & Melton as soon as possible so that we can help you clear up any misunderstandings. Once you get us involved with your case, we can conduct our own investigation into any evidence and speak with police and prosecutors on your behalf so that your side of the story can be heard. We may be able to have the charges against you dropped or significantly reduced. The best thing you can do to help yourself following an arrest is to call us at so that we can make sure nothing you say is twisted to be used against you later on.

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Each year FBI crime data is released that focuses on the most dangerous states in the country. The state of Florida ranks 17th on the deadliest states scale, which means there are numerous cities within the state that have a high crime rating. 

The FBI uses statistics focusing on violent crimes, murder, property crimes, and more as their metric for making their determinations. From there, the data is compiled to map out the cities with the most crimes per capita, rounding out the top 10 most dangerous cities for 2021. 

Here is the list of the most dangerous cities in Florida: 

  1. Florida City: This is the most dangerous city in the entire state for 2021. For Florida City, violent crimes 100k is at 2,619, which is nearly 7 times higher than the national average of 366. 
  2. Lake City: Lake City has a population of about 13,000 in Lake City and is the #2 spot on this list again for 2021. Lake City has a high volume of larceny and property crimes per 100k, coming in at 6,432 while the national average is at 2,109. 
  3. Opa Locka: Opa Locka, Florida is a relatively smaller city in the northeastern area of Miami-Dade county. It is only 4.2 square miles, but takes the #3 spot on the list due to  very high numbers of violent crimes, robberies, and larceny. 
  4. Lake Park: Lake Park, FL has fewer than 10,000 residents, but due to their extraordinarily high volumes of larceny, property crimes, and violent crimes it takes the 4th spot on the list for 2021. Violent crimes in Lake park are nearly four times the national average. 
  5. Panama City Beach: This is a popular tourist area, known as PCB. PCB has an all-time high property crime rate at 6,347 per 100k, which is much higher than the 2,145 state average.
  6. Miami Beach: This area boasts some beautiful scenery and hotspots for nightlife, but that comes with high miami-885032_1920-300x225crime rankings. With so many tourists and visitors every year it is no surprise that this area sees its fair share of property and larceny crimes. Larceny is nearly 4 times as high in Miami Beach when comparing to the USA’s national average. 
  7. Perry: Perry, Florida is new on the list for 2021, taking the 7th spot. The crime rate in Perry is 108.94 percent higher than the national average. Most of the crimes in Perry involve property crimes, larceny, and burglary. 
  8. Daytona Beach: This is one of the most well-known cities in the state, but sadly also one of the most crime-ridden. Violent crimes in this area clock in at 1,137 per 100k, and while this might not seem, keep in mind that the national average is 366.  
  9. Cocoa: This city in Brevard County with a population of fewer than 20,000 residents take the number 9 spot on the list due to the crime rate in 20221 reacging 139.59 percent above the national average. FBI data shows that the crime rate for larceny in Cocoa is almost triple the national average and property crime is double. 
  10. Riviera Beach: Riviera Beach is in Palm Beach County and takes the 10th spot for 2021 due to the crime rate per 100k being 5,158. This statistic means that the crime rate in this area is 108.26 percent higher than the national average. 

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A former Palm Beach County, Florida deputy has been sentenced to three years in prison for attempting to rape a woman when responding to a call.

On Thursday, the 42-year-old man was sentenced in Palm Beach County circuit court after admitting guilt to battery and attempted sexual battery. His sentencing was a part of a plea bargain with the prosecution. 

His second trial was slated for later this month. 

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The state of Florida sees millions of tourists every year to have a relaxing vacation at the beach, a wild spring break trip for college students, or maybe even a fun bachelor/bachelorette party weekend. While having some fun in the sun is a great idea, things can turn sour quickly when travelers are arrested while vacationing. Whether you are facing a DUI, drug charges, solicitation, assault and battery, shoplifting, or any other criminal charges, our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to offer our help. 

Dealing with an Out of State Arrest 

vacation-2218989_1920-300x205So what do you do now if you have been arrested while vacationing in Florida, but live somewhere else?  Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you do not live in the state of Florida that if you leave and never come back that your arrest won’t follow you. If you ignore the charges against you then this could result in a warrant for your arrest in the state where you live. The best way to handle any criminal charges is to hire a local lawyer in the state where you were arrested who can assist with your legal matter. 

At Whittel & Melton, we know that dealing with an out of state arrest can be cumbersome. Traveling back and forth, spending money on gas or plane tickets and hotels, and missing time from work is not ideal, but it may be necessary depending on your situation. We may be able to keep you from having to come back and make an appearance in court or we can work with the prosecutors involved to only have you travel back for the most important dates. In most cases, we often find that we can make an appearance on your behalf so that you can save yourself a trip. 

In the event that you are facing more serious charges and will have to show up for trial, you need to make sure that you have the best legal defense possible so that you can benefit from a possible plea deal, which may result in more serious charges being reduced in exchange for your guilty plea on a lesser charge. While pleading guilty to any crime may not sound appealing to you, sometimes doing so can make your life easier and keep you from traveling back and forth. This can also spare you the consequences of a conviction if things don’t go as planned in trial. We will do everything we can to have the charges against you dropped whenever possible, but in cases where the evidence is overwhelming this just may not be an option. 

We will always review any evidence against you in order to determine what is in your best interests. If a plea deal is not something we think is of benefit to you, then we are trial lawyers that can fight for you in the courtroom in order to achieve the best possible results for your charges. 

The following are the common cases where our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can appear on your behalf: 

  • If you are facing misdemeanor charges – When you are charged with a misdemeanor in Florida, you may be issued a Promise to Appear (PTA). This can provide you with the option to waive your presence in court and allow an attorney who is representing you to appear on your behalf. This will also allow your lawyer to accept a plea deal on your behalf. 
  • If your charges qualify for Pretrial Diversion (PTD) – If you are facing felony charges, but the offense in question qualifies for PTD, then you may be able to waive your presence for certain court appearances. 

Keep in mind that if you are arrested for a DUI while vacationing in Florida, then you will need to appear in court under the Interstate Drivers License Compact. Failing to appear will result in your driver’s license privileges being suspended and a warrant for your arrest may be issued. Your attorney will advise you on how to proceed after a DUI arrest and what you must do to avoid further consequences.  Continue reading

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A Hillsborough County high school teacher is facing various charges for allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a student for over a year, according to reports. 

The 46-year-old teacher is facing 12 counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor for his alleged involvement with a female student who was under the age of 18.

The sheriff’s office claims that from the time period between November 2019 and last December, the teacher allegedly had sex with the student, who was apparently in the man’s Spanish class at one point. 

As of Saturday, the man remained in jail with bail set at $180,000.00. 

Investigators did not say how they came to find out about the alleged sexual activity between the teacher and student. 

Florida law does criminalize any sexual activity between people 24 or older and minors who are 16 or 17 years old. Accusations of sexual activity with a minor can be devastating for anyone, but this is especially true for educators, school officials, coaches, youth mentors, pastors, and anyone that is placed in a position of authority over children. The mere accusation that an educator was involved in a sexual relationship with a student or minor can lead to the immediate suspension of their teaching license and could result in an immediate suspension to their position or even permanent termination. Sex crimes allegations can negatively affect a teacher’s livelihood, their family relationships, their personal relationships, and every aspect of their life. 

There is so much at stake when sex crimes accusations come about. Law enforcement and prosecutors take these allegations very seriously and will conduct a lengthy investigation to determine what exactly happened. They often side with the victims in these cases even if the only evidence is a student’s word against the teacher’s, so it is absolutely essential to retain legal counsel as soon as you are made aware of the accusations or charges against you. You are in for a fight, and you must trust your attorney to defend your rights, future, freedom, and career. 

Our Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton fully understand how urgent and sensitive these situations are. As soon as allegations or criminal charges arise, we can piece together a strong defense on yoru behalf to help you avoid being labeled a sex offender for the duration of your life. We want to help you protect your good standing reputation within the community and keep your teaching career that you worked so hard for from being tarnished. We will do everything in our power to get you the best possible results for the sex crimes charges you are facing. 

What Is Considered an Inappropriate Relationship with a Student?

It is certainly not unheard of for teachers and educators to form close relationships with their students. Teachers are placed in positions to help guide students towards bright futures, so being supportive role models is often expected of them. However, there is a fine line between role model and mentor and being too close with a student. While some behaviors should be obvious to educators in regards to inappropriateness, all school employees and volunteers should keep the following improper interactions with students in mind before engaging: 

  • Any communications where an educator or school staff member solicits a romantic type of relationship with a student 
  • Making ill-suited comments about a student’s body 
  • Making sexually inappropriate comments to a student 
  • Making any comments about a student’s sexuality/sex life/potential sexual performance
  • Requesting details about a student’s sexual history 
  • Asking a student out on a date 
  • Any comments or conversations about sexual preferences, fantasies, problems, etc. 
  • Unprofessional behavior like hugging, kissing, or excessive touching
  • Hinting at a romantic relationship with a student once they turn 18 or graduate
  • Giving a student alcohol or drugs

Inappropriate behavior that occurs between a teacher and a student is taken very seriously by Florida school districts, police, and prosecutors. As we mentioned before, accusations regarding illegal sexual contact between an educator and a student can ruin your teaching career. Teachers and school staff must be very careful when it comes to their relationships with students as interactions can easily be misinterpreted and lead to criminal charges. Continue reading

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