Articles Posted in Citrus County

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A Citrus County man was found guilty for sexual battery on a person 12 – 18 years old and lewd/lascivious molestation of a child.

Authorities claim the 46-year-old man sexually battered the child while in a position of familial or custodial authority.

He was found guilty during a retrial after the first trial ended in a hung jury.

The man could face the following at sentencing:

  • 3 counts sexual battery punishable by 30 years each count.
  • 2 counts of Lewd/Lascivious punishable up to 20 years each count.

Once a person is found guilty by a jury at trial, one of the most important stages of their criminal case is sentencing. At a sentencing hearing, the judge will issue a written judgment of your guilt as well as a court order for the penalties imposed. These penalties can vary, but your criminal defense lawyer should be able to prepare you for what to expect.

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A 56-year-old Floral City man was arrested Friday and charged with one count of sexual battery on an 8-year-old boy.

Police claim the alleged victim came forward to several members of his household and said the man had been sexually abusing him. The child accused the man of touching his genitals and sodomizing him, according to reports.

Deputies transported the man to the county Emergency Operations Center and interviewed him in reference to the accusations. He was then arrested and transported to the county detention facility.

The man faces one count of sexual battery with familial or custodial authority. He was denied bond.

Any accusations of a sex crime are very serious and must be handled accordingly. While anyone can make these heinous allegations against another person, police can arrest you based solely on a sex crime accusation even if there is no physical evidence to support these claims. Regardless of your innocence, you could be in for the fight of your life, as police and prosecutors tend to side with the victim in these cases.

If you have been arrested for a sexual offense, or think you might be, it is imperative to keep quiet until you have retained legal counsel. You should never make a statement to police without your attorney present. Even if the allegations against you are false, it is still important to remain silent. Your side of the story will be best told by your criminal defense lawyer.

Our Citrus County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help if you are facing sex crimes charges. We can preserve any evidence before it is lost or destroyed and obtain statements from any witnesses before their memories fade. We know that your life is on the line, which is why we will do everything in our power to obtain the most positive outcome on your behalf.

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The mayor of the City of Tavares was suspended from his office by the governor of Florida on Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Robert William Wolfe was charged a day earlier with insurance fraud, a third-degree felony. He bonded out of jail Wednesday evening.

According to Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s executive order, Wolfe “is prohibited from performing any official act, duty or function of public office.”

The city’s vice mayor, Lori Pfister, has been moved to the position of mayor.

The State Attorney’s Office claims that in February, Wolfe filed a $9,000 claim with his insurance company, saying his home was damaged and he needed to rent a home. However, an investigation by the Department of Financial Services found that he never left his property.

It has been estimated that insurance fraud costs the industry more than $80 billion each year. The tricky thing about insurance fraud is that it can be difficult to prove someone guilty because of the way these types of crimes are usually committed. If you have been accused of insurance fraud, you may be an innocent party who had little to nothing to do with a crime. Our Lake County White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will investigate your case until we get to the bottom of any alleged criminal activity, so that we can protect your interests and fight for your rights.

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A Citrus County sheriff’s deputy was arrested and charged with solicitation and engaging in prostitution, authorities said Wednesday.

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said the 31-year-old man was taken into custody.

Authorities said the arrest was in connection with an incident that occurred in Hernando County on July 4.

The man has been fired from his job in Citrus County, according to reports. An internal affairs investigation is being conducted.

He had been with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office since July 2015.

Prostitution is the exchange of sexual favors for a fee and is illegal in the state of Florida. Prostitution charges can result from a plethora of scenarios and carry significant consequences. The state of Florida takes an aggressive stance on prostitution and any related charges, like solicitation, are treated as serious sexual crimes.

Solicitation or prostitution is a severe criminal charge that should not be taken lightly. With that said, these charges often elicit fear, which is why you should never face these charges alone. A prostitution/solicitation offense can be detrimental to your personal life, career, reputation, and freedom.

A Citrus County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you with your sex crimes charge. We will fight to get the charges against you reduced so that you avoid harsh consequences that could devastate your life and career.

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A Citrus County teacher has been suspended without pay while an investigation is conducted regarding accusations that she gave students pot, alcohol and sex tips at a Christmas party hosted at her home last December.

The woman could face termination.

A complaint was filed Dec. 15 with the district against the Citrus High School teacher.

The complaints alleges that the woman hosted a party Dec. 12 at her home for several students.

According to the district, the woman may have known several high school students were drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at her home. She is accused of hosting several parties over the summer and fall where similar incidents were reported and she allegedly discussed her sexual relationship with her spouse to students, discussing how to perform oral sex acts with students and reportedly making sexually derogatory statements to a male student over the phone.

School district officials claim they interviewed 15 students who all said they attended an “ugly sweater” party at the woman’s house. They reportedly said six students had to stay overnight at the teacher’s home because they were too intoxicated.

The district report says that it is not clear if the woman provided the alcohol or marijuana to the students.

According to the district report, a Snapchat video of the woman was taken showing her wearing a student’s jacket and slurring her words.

Citrus County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Heather Yates says they have forwarded the case on to the State Attorney’s Office.  No charges have been filed at this point.

It can be devastating to a teacher when they are removed from their classroom following accusations of misconduct. Many teachers hear rumors of misconduct floating around at their school and fear their reputations will be ruined no matter what the outcome. These humiliating accusations can lead to a criminal investigation or even an arrest, often without any evidence to corroborate the accuser’s story.

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The new year is quickly approaching, and thousands of Floridians have made plans or are starting to think about how to say goodbye to 2015 and ring in 2016.

But before you solidify your New Year’s Eve plans, fire officials have some tips for residents and visitors when it comes to fireworks.

“Anything that is projectile or leaves the ground is illegal in the State of Florida. Basically your safest bet is with a sparkler,” said Natalie McQueen, a Firefighter and Paramedic for the Panama City Beach Fire Department.

Even though sparklers are allowed in the Sunshine State, residents and visitors still need to exercise caution when using them.

Younger children should never light or handle sparklers. Parents should maintain a close watch on kids at all times if sparklers are going to be used. Burns are very common to the hands and face since sparklers do have flickers that come off once they are lit.

If you are using sparklers, after you are done with them, fire officials say to place them in a big bucket full of water, and let them sit overnight.

While setting off your own fireworks might seem fun, our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to remind everyone that the best way to stay safe while ringing in the New Year is leaving the fireworks to the pros. If you are caught with fireworks in the State of Florida it could lead to misdemeanor charges.

Under Florida law, the use of or possession of illegal fireworks is a first-degree misdemeanor. If you are accused of breaking this law, please be aware that you will be arrested. If you are convicted of this crime, you can be sentenced to up to one year in jail, given up to one year on probation, and/or fined up to one thousand dollars.

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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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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 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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Florida will have 159 new laws starting Tuesday that address various issues, including college tuition, corporate tax credits, abortions and sex offenders.

One of the most prevalent laws is one that aims to protect children and others from dangerous sex offenders. The laws are intended to keep the most violent sexual offenders locked up longer and close any loopholes in a law that allows the state to send predators to a high-security treatment center once they have served their time in prison. The new laws will subject more offenders to potential civil commitment and prosecutors, detectives and victim advocates will be part of the committee that reviews their cases.

The sexually violent predator package of bills was among the first of the legislature sent to Gov. Rick Scott during the 60-day session that ended in May. The new laws are meant to create a better child welfare system in Florida. As of now, Florida is the only state in America that has a 50-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for violent sexual offenders.

gavelAnother law that seeks to protect children concerns the Department of Children and Families. The law changes how the department investigates and responds to cases; now placing a higher emphasis on shielding a child from abuse rather than focusing on keeping a family together. Moreover, the law also pays for 270 additional child protective investigators so that caseloads can be reduced and a response team can be sent out quickly to investigate child abuse deaths when the child had previous dealings with the system.

Another law will establish a statewide pilot program to pay for foster children’s driver’s education classes, license fees and car insurance so that they can be better prepared to gain employment when they turn 18 and leave the system.

The children of immigrants in the country illegally will now be able to receive in-state tuition at state universities after Scott changed his position on the issue. Another bill will give tuition breaks to honorably discharged veterans as well as waive professional licensing fees for them.

Local school boards now have the responsibility of selecting textbooks, whether or not they are on a state-adopted list, and will be required to put policies in place that allow parents to object to the books they choose.

Another new law took effect on June 20 that expands a voucher program, giving corporate tax credits to companies that provide money for low-income families to send their children to private schools.

As far as criminal laws go, there will be increased penalties for spiny lobster poachers, people leaving the scene of an accident that causes injury and people who illegally sell prescription drugs. Additionally, electronic cigarette sales to minors are now illegal in Florida. Another law forbids sending text messages soliciting products to residents on the state’s “no sales solicitation calls” list.

Florida has also changed its definition for its late-term abortion ban. Abortions will be illegal in Florida at any stage in a woman’s pregnancy if her doctor concludes that the fetus could survive outside the womb. The previous law banned abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy. An exception can be made to this law if the mother’s life is at risk.

Lastly, new laws will create a Florida Tourism Hall of Fame and the position of state poet laureate to promote poetry in Florida.

Laws across the United States are constantly changing. When you have been accused of committing a crime in Florida, only a Florida Trial Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can provide you with the legal representation that you need. While many attorneys are quick to negotiate with prosecutors to obtain a plea bargain instead of pursuing trial, our Florida Criminal Attorneys know that sometimes trial is the best option for your situation. We thoroughly evaluate every case and will always advise you of your best legal defense strategy.

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