Articles Posted in Criminal

Published on:

A couple has been arrested for several mailbox thefts in the Spring Hill area.

A 31-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman were arrested Dec. 8 for allegedly stealing items from residents’ mailboxes in Spring Hill.

The first theft occurred on Dec. 6 at a home on Pillar Avenue in Spring Hill. The resident reported the theft of three gift cards from the mailbox.

The second theft occurred on Dec. 7 along Winding Oaks Lane in Spring Hill. Residents reported seeing a man and a woman removing items from a mailbox.

The man has been charged with petit theft, dealing in stolen property, defrauding a pawnbroker and burglary.

The woman has been charged with fleeing/attempting to elude officers, resisting an officer without violence, knowingly driving with a suspended license, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Authorities said the stolen items have been recovered.

The investigation is ongoing.

The holiday season leads to more theft crimes, particularly packages and other items being stolen from front porches or out of mailboxes. While this may not seem like major criminal activity, it is actually quite a serious offense. It is a federal offense to steal or tamper with mail. This includes packages, bags and any other type of mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. Individuals convicted of this type of theft can face up to five years in prison and significant fines.

Continue reading

Published on:

A Vero Beach Uber driver claims he picked up a passenger at a bar Thursday night, and shortly after he asked him to stop at a 7-Eleven that was along the way to allegedly buy drugs.

The driver apparently called the Vero Beach police and told the dispatcher that he wanted cops to pull him over since he believed that there were drugs in his car.

They obliged, and at the traffic stop, the officers asked the driver to step out of his car. While he did that, the passenger allegedly took something out of his right front pocket and threw it out the window, according to police.

Police claim they found a clear plastic baggie with a white rock inside that tested positive for cocaine.

The passenger told officers that the drugs were not his, and that he had simply tossed a cigarette butt out of the car during the traffic stop.

Officers arrested the passenger just after midnight and charged him with felony possession of cocaine, according to the Indian River County Sheriff’s report.

He was booked into Indian River County Jail and released Friday on $5,000 bond. He has a court date Jan. 3.

Whether it’s cocaine, prescription drugs or meth, drug possession charges can have a lasting impact on your future, your career and your freedom.

If you have been charged with drug possession in Florida, it’s important to consult a drugs crimes defense attorney who will review your case and help to minimize any potential damage to your future. Our Florida Drug Possession Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you through every step of your case and make sure your rights are protected.

Continue reading

Published on:

Police arrested two women on Monday at the Aventura Mall who are accused of trying to buy thousand of dollars’ worth of designer goods with stolen credit cards.

Aventura police said the women, 31 and 52, allegedly stole five credit cards from a Sunny Isles Beach woman. The 31-year-old is accused of using one of the cards around 4:30 p.m. on Monday to buy two pairs of sunglasses valued at $1,400 at the mall’s Bloomingdale’s store, police said.

Police said she left the store and joined the 52-year-old woman, who was waiting inside a car in the mall’s parking lot.

Officers said they were waiting for the pair as they tried to leave the mall, having been tipped off by an earlier attempt to use the stolen credit cards.

An hour earlier, officers said, the 31-year-old had attempted to buy a designer handbag for $4,800 at the mall’s Nordstrom store. When she used one of the stolen cards to pay, the transaction was declined, police said. She tried again with another card, which was also declined.

The failed purchase triggered an alert, and the credit card company contacted the victim, who in turn contacted the Aventura Police Department.

Aventura police said that the pair had planned to resell the items that they purchased with the stolen cards. Police said they found five credit cards belonging to the victim when they arrested the women.

The 31-year-old is currently being held on $82,000 bond at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami. The 52-year-old was released on bond. According to court records, both women face multiple charges of credit card fraud and theft in addition to the Aventura Mall case.  

Fraud charges occur when someone uses deception to obtain money or other benefits from another person. In order for criminal charges to be filed, it  is not actually necessary that the person be successful in their attempt to defraud property.

Some examples of credit card fraud include:

  • Using a stolen credit card as your own
  • Knowingly reporting purchases you made as unauthorized purchases
  • Using stolen credit card information to apply for another credit card
  • Charging expenses to a credit card without the cardholder’s consent

If you have been charged with credit card fraud, our South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can defend you and your rights. We will pursue the best possible outcome in any fraud case.

Contact us online or call us at 561-367-8777 for a free consultation to learn how we can help you. Your consultation is completely free and confidential.

Continue reading

Published on:

Crime fell across Florida in the first half of 2017, according to the Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

While there were more than 6,000 fewer crimes reported in Florida in the first sixth months of the year, a 2 percent drop, overall crime was nearly flat in Duval and St. Johns counties, marginally higher in Alachua and Bradford counties and there was a spike in Union County.

Crime in the first half of the year was down significantly in Putnam County and Nassau counties, noticeably in Baker, Clay, Columbia and Flagler counties.

The crimes of murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and larceny were down statewide while the crimes of rape and motor vehicle theft increased.  Domestic violence fell 1 percent, with domestic violence murder and aggravated assault down while rape and stalking were up.

FDLE has tracked crime statistics since 1971.

When you, or someone you love, is facing criminal charges in Florida, it can be a frightening time. Perhaps you were arrested for DUI, were charged with possession of drugs, or are being accused of a sex crime. Or, maybe you were arrested for a violent crime, a weapons charge, assault or domestic violence. It really doesn’t matter what charge you’re facing because you could be facing possible jail time and a criminal record.

Our Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you if you are facing a criminal charge of any kind. As former prosecutors, we understand how the State will proceed against you on the charges and how the local police investigated the case which helps us to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Every criminal case is different, but we will mount the strongest defense strategy for your unique case and work to overcome the prosecution’s strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses.

Continue reading

Published on:

Two people have been arrested in Hernando County and are facing multiple fraud and drug charges in connection with an alleged credit card fraud scheme.

The pair have been booked into the Hernando County Jail.

A detective with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said this is one of the largest credit card schemes she’s seen here in the county in the 18 years she’s been with the department.

This all started with an investigation into a fraudulent return refund case, but detectives said they soon learned much more.

On Sunday, detectives arrested the two for fraudulent credit card charges at a Bed Bath and Beyond retail location. When detectives arrived at their Spring Hill home, they discovered the two were allegedly growing marijuana at the location.

On Monday, they came back with a search warrant for the drugs. During their search they claim they found dozens of items used to make fake credit cards, as well as skimmer devices used to capture people’s credit card information.

Credit card fraud is taken very seriously by law enforcement in Florida. Those convicted of credit card fraud are often subjected to stiff penalties, so it is crucial to the outcome of your case to understand your legal options.

In the state of Florida, if a credit or debit card was used to obtain more than $100 worth of goods or property more than twice in six months, the crime is considered a third-degree felony. If the card was used to acquire less than $100, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.

Continue reading

Published on:

About 20 unlicensed contractors accused of scamming Pinellas County residents were taken into custody Tuesday.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies began rounding up the contractors at 5 a.m. during “Operation Nailed.”

The men, roofers, painters and construction workers are accused of scamming residents out of thousands of dollars in the past few months.

The roundup was a collaborative operation between the Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Financial Services, Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, Pinellas County Consumer Protection and the State Attorney’s Office, targeting unlicensed contractors in Pinellas County.

Until two months ago, unlicensed contractors normally received simple fines. But in an effort to crack down on members of the public being taken advantage of, arrest warrants are now being issued.

In Florida, doing contractor work without a license is a misdemeanor for the first offense. After that, it is a felony. According to the PCSO, the pilot program targeting unlicensed contractors still has four months to go. So far, detectives are working as many as 220 cases.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that performing work for others, without a license, is “no big deal.” However, if you are convicted of contracting without a license, there will be additional consequences on top of potential jail time and fines. You will also have a permanent criminal record, which can make it more difficult to apply for jobs, to apply for other professional licenses, to obtain housing, or to pass a background check.

Continue reading

Published on:

A Mandarin High School student and an 18-year-old Northside charter school student were allegedly caught Friday with guns on their respective campuses, according to police.

The 18-year-old was arrested Friday with a loaded gun in his book bag at Biscayne High Charter School on the Northside, police said. The gun had 14 rounds in it, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrest report.

He is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 30.

Across town, a 17-year-old apparently had a loaded .380 handgun at Mandarin High and was also charged with possession of marijuana, according to reports.

There were five rounds in the gun.

No students or staff were hurt.

There have been three gun-in-school arrests in Duval County this school year. During the 2016-17 school year, there were 17 arrests in incidents that resulted in 11 guns, a Taser and a starter pistol being confiscated.

Gun violence is certainly an ongoing issue, and something high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools have to deal with on a regular basis. Because of this, Florida laws have cracked down on individuals, including juveniles, who bring weapons onto school property.

Below are a list of weapons that are banned from being brought on school property:

  • Firearms
  • Shotguns
  • Rifles
  • Knives
  • Cutting tools
  • Nunchuck sticks
  • Any other tool, instrument or implement that can inflict serious bodily injury

Continue reading

Published on:

A Marion County teacher assistant was recently charged with molesting a middle school student, according to Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

The 36-year-old is being charged with lewd or lascivious molestation.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said she allegedly admitted to investigators that she had sexual contact with a then 14-year-old student.

According to the sheriff’s office, she was working as a paraprofessional teacher’s assistant at the school at the time when she met the student. Marion County Public School officials say she has been removed from the classroom and is on paid administrative leave.

The investigation started in July of 2017 when a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy found a suspicious vehicle in a church parking lot.

According to investigators, the deputy found the woman alone and partially clothed.

Authorities claim the woman made statements about having a relationship with an 8th grade student.

Investigators said the teen told them he was with the woman in the parking lot that night, but he ran away when he saw the deputy.

She was released on $5,000 bond.

If you have been arrested for child molestation, you need to consult with a Marion County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton right away. We can provide you with the aggressive defense you need to fight the sex crimes charges against you. As trial attorneys, we have decades of experience and a solid understanding of sex crimes defenses throughout the state of Florida. We can put our experience to work for you and develop an aggressive defense strategy for your child molestation charges.

Continue reading

Published on:

A top University of Florida housing official has been charged with stealing more than $180,000 to buy $16,000 worth of lunches, nearly $45,000 in furniture and $37,000 more in electronics, a report shows.

The 41-year-old senior director of UF housing and education, was arrested Monday night and charged with grand larceny of more than $100,000.

According to a UF police report, the man used state funds to buy $25,000 in household items, more than $11,500 in maintenance items like lawn mowers and more than $44,000 for miscellaneous items including internet service, electricity and seven cellphones.

The report says the UF Office of Internal Audit also has records detailing fraudulent purchases of a recliner chair, blue-cushioned patio furniture, a motion-sensor trash can, tablecloth, cloth napkins, flatware, plates, lamp, storage box, motion light sensor, pitcher, several floor rugs, wall mirror, a seafoam green cabinet and several flat-screen televisions.

In November 2016, the man used his assigned UF credit card to buy a dining set and hutch at Furniture Kingdom in Gainesville for $1,340 and $1,399.95 respectively, the report says.

According to the report, a witness saw the dining set and hutch inside the man’s house. Several photographs posted on the man’s wife’s Facebook page also clearly show the dining set and hutch that were purchased with UF funds, police say.

Beginning in April, the UF Ethics and Compliance Hotline received several anonymous reports of several employees in the UF Housing and Resident Education Department who were using their positions within the department to make fraudulent reimbursement and expense claims and using department funds for private gain, the report says.

The man apparently told police Monday he was only storing the items and planned on bringing them back. He also said he would make restitution for the items.

The man was trespassed from all UF properties, the report says.

UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said five additional employees who worked under the man have have been placed on administrative leave and may have been involved.

The man started at UF Housing in May 2004 and worked his way up to senior director about a year ago. Records show the man earned $145,675 in 2016.

As of Monday night, the man was in the Alachua County jail, awaiting a first appearance before a judge.

While many people think theft charges are minor offenses, theft convictions can damage your reputation and limit your future employment opportunities. If you or a loved one have been charged with theft or larceny, you should speak with an Alachua County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton. We can assess your case and determine your options.

Theft charges in Florida are no joke – they can result in hefty fines and jail time. A conviction can limit your ability to gain employment. Penalties stemming from a theft/larceny conviction may include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Restitution
  • Mandatory counseling
  • Difficulty obtaining employment
  • Trouble securing a professional license

Continue reading

Published on:

A woman was arrested and charged in the attempted murder of a homeless man in Nashville.

Police claim the 26-year-old allegedly shot a 54-year-old homeless man Aug. 26 near Music Row.

The man was critically wounded and is being treated at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

According to police, the man was trying to sleep on the sidewalk at 3 a.m. at 19th Avenue South and Chet Atkins place.

He was reportedly disturbed by exhaust fumes and loud music coming from a Porsche SUV.

The man said he asked the driver to move the vehicle. Police say the two began yelling at each other, and the woman allegedly got out of the car and shot the man twice before running up the street with another woman.

The woman’s father released the following statement, saying his daughter fired two warning shots not meaning to hit the man.

The two women were actually acting in self defense. The man was always on his feet and not asleep as someone apparently has alleged and had accosted a group of very young women and nearly became physical with one. He then approached the white Porsche (not Lexus) with two female occupants  and started verbally accosting them threatening them because their music was too loud for him to sleep… The driver fired a round as a warning to scare him away as he came at her. He kept coming and she fired a second round, again intended to scare him away. They quickly got back into the white vehicle and left, not knowing  that the man was hit by the warning shots. Both girls contacted the police and DA shortly after the incident and have always agreed to cooperate fully with the investigation.

The woman has since posted a $25,000 bond and was released from jail.

While this incident occurred in Tennessee, it raises the question of what if this happened in Florida? This brings up Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law, which states:

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

Continue reading

Contact Information