Articles Posted in Hillsborough County

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At least 13 people were arrested in a series of drug raids Thursday in Orlando and Tampa, according to reports.

Federal agents claim members of the group have been conspiring to sell heroin and cocaine since at least December 2015.

They are charged with conspiracy and intent to distribute a controlled substance.

At least $80,000 and a 2015 Acura ILX were seized, according to reports.

Have you recently been arrested in a drug raid? If so, you will definitely need the services of a highly skilled Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton who can help you. When you are arrested on drug charges, you need a defense attorney who can investigate every aspect of your case with the hopes of possibly getting your charges reduced or even completely dismissed. We can assist with your case and have extensive experience in handling drug cases on both the state and federal levels.

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A female University of South Florida student who said two students robbed her has been arrested and charged with making up the story.

The 19-year-old was arrested Wednesday following a follow up interview with USF Police detectives. According to officials, she admitted to making up the story and that there was no robbery.

At 9:15 p.m. Tuesday, USF officers responded to a report of a strong armed robbery near the Interdisciplinary Science Building.

Police said the student originally told police that two white men in their early 20’s stole her jewelry near the ISA building. Officials said the student told them the men engaged her in conversation, then took her backpack from her and her necklace fell to the ground as a result of the physical contact.

After she allegedly admitted she made up the story, she was charged with filing a false police report and was taken to the Hillsborough County Jail.

USF police also the student is part of a group of four students who recently reported receiving threatening messages inside their USF residence hall rooms on Election Night.

The investigation into that incident is ongoing.

Lying about robberies has been in the headlines a lot this year, what with the whole Ryan Lochte debacle in Rio. Our Hillsborough County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton urge everyone to refrain from lying about crimes as you can be charged with filing a false police report, as this case shows.

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A state investigator has been arrested on charges that he sexually abused two young boys.

According to officials, the man was working on a case at a children’s home for boys who’ve been abused. Investigators claim two 8-year-olds allege the man inappropriately touched them and made them perform sexual acts on him.

The man used to work for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in Tampa investigating crimes against children.

Investigators reported that the man has denied any allegations against him.

The man is charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of two victims under 12 years old. He has also been placed on administrative leave.

When a police officer or other law enforcement official is charged with a crime of any kind, it is absolutely vital that they speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure that their rights are protected. When it comes to sex crimes cases against a law enforcement officer, prosecutors will vigorously try to make it known that the officer is not above the law. It is likely that the prosecution will seek the maximum penalties, maybe even enhanced penalties, just to “make an example” of the officer charged.

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Texas district Judge Elizabeth E. Coker is stepping down from the bench after she was apparently caught texting prosecutors on how to win cases.

A whistleblower revealed that Corker was sending text messages to prosecutors with suggestions on questions to ask in court in order to secure a conviction.

The judge, who sits on the bench over Trinity, Polk and San Jacinto counties, has resigned, according to a voluntary agreement with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

It stems from complaints and media stories alleging that Coker “had engaged in improper ex parte text communications with Polk County Assistant District Attorney Kaycee Jones while Judge Coker presided” over a criminal trial in August of 2012.

With those complaints, “the commission commenced an investigation into allegations that Judge Coker used Assistant District Attorney Jones to privately communicate information” about the case “to suggest questions for the prosecutor to ask during the trial” among other issues.

The agreement also said the commission looked into other complaints that Coker allegedly engaged in other improper communications and meetings with Jones, other members of the Polk County prosecutor’s office, the San Jacinto County District Attorney and certain defense attorneys.

The agreement goes on to say “the parties agree that the allegations of judicial misconduct, if found to be true, could result in disciplinary action against Judge Coker.” As a result, the parties sought to resolve the matter “without the time and expense of further disciplinary proceedings.”

Coker did not admit any guilt or fault.

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The case of a former Turkey Creek Middle School teacher accused of having a sex with a 15-year-old student will not go to trial.

The Brandon woman accepted a plea deal Monday. She received five years in Florida state prison, two years of community control (GPS monitoring), followed by 15 years’ probation.

The woman was arrested and charged with sexual battery, lewd and lascivious battery and lewd conduct in February 2015.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the woman established a relationship with the teenager, who was a student in her classroom.

Deputies claim the relationship turned physical with the woman having sex with the boy at the school during school hours and once in his bedroom.

The woman will also have to register as a sex offender.

The decision to take your chances with a jury or to negotiate a deal with prosecutors is never easy when you are faced with a criminal offense. A Hillsborough County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence along with the potential penalties for a conviction. In most cases, we can attempt to work out a deal to avoid or minimize prison time. As former prosecutors, we know how to evaluate the judge and the DA involved in your case, which means we can prepare a powerful strategy accordingly.

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A former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player was arrested Monday morning on charges stemming from an incident in January.

According to Tampa Police, Cosey Coleman, 37, was arrested at 11:30 a.m. at a home in Tampa. Coleman was an offensive lineman for the Bucs from 2000-2004.

A warrant was originally issued for Coleman’s arrest on Jan. 11, after he was allegedly involved in an altercation at Ducky’s Sports Lounge. While inside the bar, Coleman is accused of hitting a 40-year-old Tampa man in the face, knocking him to the ground. He was then escorted out by security.

When Coleman spotted the man leaving the bar, he allegedly grabbed a handgun from his car in the bar’s parking lot and began to raise his arm as if to point it at the man. Security grabbed him and prevented him from pointing or firing the weapon.

When authorities reached the scene of the alleged incident, Coleman was not present, and police issued the arrest warrant.

Police charged Coleman with two felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and battery. He was released later Monday on a $15,000 bond.

Coleman played a total of seven seasons in the NFL, five with the Bucs. He finished his career in 2006 for the Cleveland Browns.

If you are facing felony assault and/or battery charges in Florida, understand that these charges are quite severe. Florida felony assault and battery charges carry the possibility of actual prison time. With that said, there is no room for discussion – you need help, regardless of your innocence. Felony assault and battery charges are the real deal and can send you to prison, wreak havoc on your personal and professional life, and forever change your life’s path.

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A Plant High School student has been arrested after he was allegedly found in his car with weapons while the school was on lockdown Wednesday morning.

Tampa Police charged the 18-year-old student with two counts of possession of a firearm on school property.

According to a report, the school, initiated a “modified” lockdown due to a phone call communicating a vague threat. During a search of the school’s perimeter by officers and school security, the teen was allegedly found in his car with weapons.

A Hillsborough Schools spokesperson said the teen is an avid hunter, and the alleged weapons were unrelated to the earlier phone threat to the school.

The lockdown lasted a little more than an hour. The school was not evacuated.

With school violence such a hot button issue and deadly shootings occurring even in elementary schools, school districts and Florida law have cracked down on individuals, including juveniles, who bring weapons onto school property.

Weapons prohibited from being brought on school property include:

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

If your child has been charged with possessing a firearm on school property, you will need to enlist the help of an experienced Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton very quickly. As with all criminal charges, you should not talk to the police or prosecutors without your attorney present. Anything you say can be taken out of context and used against you. If the police question you, politely request your lawyer and refrain from answering their questions.

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A federal jury recently found a 23-year-old cruise ship employee guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years, up to life, in federal prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 11, 2016. He was indicted on August 21, 2015.

According to evidence presented at trial, the man was part of a drug distribution ring that imported cocaine into the United States from Roatan, Honduras using cruise ship employees at several ports in the United States. The man, along with five other crewmen from Norwegian Cruise Line, apparently received packages of cocaine from a source of supply in Honduras while the cruise ship was docked there. The packages ranged from 750 grams to a full kilogram of cocaine.

Reports indicate that once the ship had docked in Tampa, the crewmen gathered at a restaurant near the port to remove their secretly stashed cocaine packages. They then met with two local drug traffickers, who had ties to the Honduran source of supply, to provide them with the packages of cocaine. The two local traffickers were stopped by law enforcement after leaving the Channelside District. Agents claim they seized 10 packages of cocaine with a total weight of more than 7.5 kilograms. Agents also said they confiscated more than $50,000 from the crewmen.  

The five other cruise ship employees previously pleaded guilty for their roles in this case.  They will be sentenced in January 2016.  

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Shauna S. Hale and Gregory Nolan.

If you are facing transportation or federal drug trafficking charges, you need a strong criminal defense lawyer right away. State and federal drug charges for smuggling carry severe penalties, including years behind bars. If you are not a U.S. citizen, a conviction for drug smuggling could lead to deportation and might forever ban you from becoming a U.S. citizen.

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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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