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Articles Posted in Citrus County

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The Citrus County Sherriff’s Office arrested a 25-year-old Lecanto, Florida woman and a 29-year-old Beverly Hills, FL man for scheming to defraud, criminal conspiracy and giving worthless checks.

A deputy arrived at a Publix Supermarket in Inverness, FL after receiving a call from the store manager regarding a woman trying to return purchases made with a check for cash. The manager told the deputy that the checks the woman was using were from an account that allegedly had insufficient funds.

According to the Citrus County Chronicle, the woman and her boyfriend had been buying items at local Publix supermarkets with worthless checks and then going to different Publix stores to return the items for cash.

It is the understanding of law enforcement that an account was opened for $50 on April 1, 2011. Further, the allegation is a total of $530.77 that was written on this account and the total cash refunds were for $167.90.

According to the arrest report, the man and woman took turns making purchases and returning items.

The couple was transported to the Citrus County Detention Facility in Lecanto. Her bond was set at $4,100; his bond was set $3,500.

In Florida, you could face a worthless check charge by writing a check with reasonable knowledge that the check won’t clear or the account has been closed. The charge of Worthless Checks is a first degree misdemeanor carrying a potential jail sentence of up to one year and fines of no more than $1,000. If a single worthless check is more than $150 or multiple bad checks written total more than $150, you will face third degree felony charges with a potential sentence of five years in prison.

Many people bounce checks due to difficult financial situations. Due to a miscalculation of funds or a simple error in balancing their checkbook, people can write checks that bounce and end up facing criminal charges. Under Florida law, unknowingly writing a bad check can be a defense to a worthless checks crime. If the person cashing the check was notified there were insufficient funds available at the time of receipt, this too can be a defense to a worthless check charge and may prevent prosecution under Florida law.

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A 45-year-old man was arrested and charged with molesting a 25-year-old mildly retarded girl from Crystal River on Monday by the Citrus County Sherriff’s Office.

According to the arrest report, the Citrus County man is a registered sex offender.

The arrest report shares that the girl’s brother caught the man on top of his sister with his pants down, while she was fully clothed. The girl verified the story when her mother questioned her.

The girl told the Citrus County Sherriff’s Office that this had happened three or four other times over the past few years.

After being read his rights, during questioning the man admitted what happened and that he knew the girl was mildly retarded. He confirmed that the incident had happened three times throughout the past couple years.

The man was arrested and transported to county jail on the charge of lewd and lascivious molestation. No bond was set.

The words lewd and lascivious both have the same meaning which is a lustful, wicked or sensual intent of the person committing a certain act. In this case the girl can be referred to as a “disabled adult,” which describes any person over the age of 18 that suffers from a physical or mental incapacitation due to a developmental disability. The facts that the girl is disabled, a sexual act occurred and that the man knew she was disabled are the three elements the State will have to prove to convict the man of a sex crime.

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Inverness, Florida – La oficina del alguacil del condado de Citrus, ha considerado exitosa la emboscada de crimen sexual, llevada a cabo la semana pasada, ya que resultó en el arresto de 22 individuos por presuntos crímenes sexuales por Internet. El operativo que presuntamente se inició a través de la página de Internet Craigslist, anunciaba “a una madre joven en busca de sujetos que le enseñaran a su hija adolescente como complacer a un hombre y a participar en situaciones familiares íntimas y placenteras.”

Los abogados defensores de crímenes sexuales de la firma Whittel & Melton, en la Florida, ya han iniciado la defensa de varios hombres en la corte de circuito en el condado de Citrus.

Este tipo de emboscadas se han hecho populares, con las autoridades locales, desde el inicio de la serie “Cazar al Predador” (To Catch a Predator) del programa Dateline de la cadena NBC; la cual grabó algunos de sus episodios en Fort Myers, Florida. En esa operación, 24 hombres fueron arrestados en un periodo de tres días.

Los tipos de crímenes que generalmente se otorgan en estos casos involucran el uso del Internet ya sea para solicitar o asegurar sexo con un menor, también conocido como Solicitación por Internet; o el viajar para tener sexo con un menor. Algunos de los casos también pueden involucrar la posesión o distribución de pornografía infantil – muchas veces, las autoridades participan en conversaciones por Internet o en las salas de Chat haciéndose pasar por un menor. Durante estas conversaciones, las autoridades intercambian material pornográfico para atraer al individuo al lugar donde se realizará la emboscada.

En estos casos recientes, el estado buscará, sin duda, condenas bajo el Acto de la Pornografía en Computadora y la Prevención de la Explotación al Menor en la Florida (Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act). Como parte de esta emboscada, las autoridades del condado de Citrus también incautaron un arma de fuego, 26 teléfonos celulares, 19 computadoras personales, 4 cámaras e innumerables vehículos de motor. En este momento, no está claro que tanto de lo incautado permanecerá en la corte.

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Inverness, Florida – The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office has deemed last week’s sex crime sting to be a success, as it resulted the arrest of some 22 individuals for alleged Internet Sex Crimes. The operation, which allegedly started with an online Craigslist advertisement featuring “a young mother who was seeking subjects to teach her teenage daughter how to please a man and share in intimate family fun”.

The Florida Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have already begun defending several of these men in Circuit Court in Citrus County.

These types of sting operations have become popular with local law enforcement since the inception of the Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series which shot some of its episodes in Fort Myers, Florida. In that operation, 24 men were arrested in a three day period.

The types of crimes usually charged in these cases involve using the internet to solicit or secure sex with a minor, aka Internet Solicitation, or traveling to meet a minor for sex. Some of the cases may also involve the possession of or distribution of child pornography– as many times, law enforcement will engage in online conversations, or chat in online chatrooms, posing as a minor. During these chats, law enforcement may exchange pornographic material to lure an individual to the physical location of the sting operation.

In these recent cases, the State will undoubtedly be seeking convictions under Florida’s Computer Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act. As a part of the sting operation, Citrus County authorities also seized one handgun, 26 cell phones, 19 personal computers, four cameras and countless motor vehicles. It is unclear at this point how many of these seizures will stick in court.

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Citrus County Online is reporting that the 20-year-old Floral City man who was set to go to trial next week for sexually battering an eight year old girl accepted a plea deal last week of 25 years in prison and lifetime probation. He was facing life in prison.

The man was charged with sexual battery on a child and false imprisonment of a child relating to the February blindfolding, handcuffing, and sexually battering of a 8-year-old Brooksville girl. According to the State Attorney’s Office, the plea negotiation was approved by the girl’s family because understandably, they did not want the child to have to testify in open court about the horrific experience.

In abuse cases involving children making statements to law enforcement or other adults regarding their abuse, the State has an extra burden if they want these statements to be introduced at trial. Under the Florida Rules of Evidence and Florida Statutes Section 90, the State must show, at a hearing separate from the trial, that the child’s out of court statement about the abuse is reliable. Some of the factors courts can consider in determining whether these child hearsay statements are admissible for a jury to consider include: when the statement was made in relation to the abuse, how the child’s statement was elicited, whether the child was coached prior to questioning and whether forcing the child to testify in open court would cause serious emotional harm. Many times, getting these statements into evidence can make or break the State’s case, as it is quite common for children to recant their statements as time passes.

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According to Kevin Metana of the St. Petersburg Times, two men were arrested this past week in Tampa, and charged with two counts of drug trafficking, two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, burglary and grand theft.

The report indicates that the men were allegedly found to be in possession of more than $10,000 of prescription Oxycodone, or roughly 687 pills. In addition, the men were allegedly also found to be in possession of marijuana and $2,500 in cash. The cash will certainly become subject to an Asset Seizure or Forfeiture proceeding as part of this arrest.

The arrest for drug trafficking is partially based on law enforcement’s suspicion that they have been committing these acts in several areas, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Sumter Counties. Because these men hail from Floral City and Brooksville, this suspicion will certainly be investigated by several departments. This arrest was allegedly initiated by a “tip”. Any Florida Drug Trafficking Lawyer hired in this case will investigate this “tip” as it may be the product of a confidential informant, or “CI”, or through coercive or constitutionally illegal tactics by the Police.

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According to the Citrus County Chronicle, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a 23 year-old female detention officer for allegedly performing a sex act on a 17 year-old male inmate.
Citrus County is of course no stranger to newsworthy sex crimes, as this was the location of the brutal Jessica Lunsford rape and murder several years ago. The detention officer was not taken into custody in the facility she previously worked as she was released and not asked to post a bond.

According to reports, the Citrus County Juvenile Detention officer first allegedly denied the act, but after consenting and allegedly failing a voice stress analysis, the former officer confessed to the events. The reports indicate that not only was a sex act performed, but also a personal mobile phone number was also allegedly exchanged.
Sexual Misconduct by a Correctional Employee is a felony and it is undetermined at this time if this case will be prosecuted by the Citrus County State Attorney’s Office.

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According to the Citrus County Chronicle, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is investigating injuries sustained by a 54-year old Inverness, FL man in an alleged shooting. Not fifteen minutes later, at approximately 5:00 a.m., another Inverness man hobbled into the Inverness, FL Huddle House Restaurant with stab wounds on his neck and wrist. Citrus County is a community that has seen its fair share of criminal episodes in recent years– having two violent offenses occur in such close proximity in time would seem to indicate that they are connected. However, police believe these incidents are unrelated.

Both alleged Citrus County crimes are being investigated by police at the time of this post. In Florida, arrests for this type of case could range from assault, attempted Murder, Attempted Manslaughter, Felony Battery or Aggravated Battery.

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Florida’s 5th DCA– the appellate body that reviews criminal cases in counties like Hernando County or Brooksville, FL, Sumter County or Bushnell, FL, Citrus County or Inverness, FL and Marion County or Ocala, FL, to name a few–declined to change a $500,000 bond ordered in a potential homicide case in Orange County.

Sheriff’s Office detectives originally arrested the defendant for child neglect, obstruction of a criminal investigation and false statements. The defendant is rumored to be linked to a potential homicide. At the first appeareance, the Prosecutors presented evidence of thier murder investigation and suspicions of defendant’s involvement. Although the defendant was only charged with the above, the Judge took the murder investigation into consideration when setting a bond.

Murder, which is defined in Florida Statute § 782.04, and Manslaughter, which is defined at Florida Statute § 782.07, are crimes that First Appearance Criminal Judges take a very serious look at when considering a request for Pre-Trial Release. Certainly, ties to the community and criminal background also play a role in a judge’s determintaion of bond. However, the danger to the community, potential flight risk and nature of the offense, along with any aggravating factors, are often the overriding when denying the petition to overturn the $500,000 bond. I am sure the judge took the murder investigation into consiteration when setting the high bond.

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