Articles Posted in Marion County

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The State Attorney’s Office has made the decision to charge a Marion County juvenile as an adult for a robbery that happened last month.

According to jail records, at 12:01 a.m. on a Friday night, on his 18th birthday, a teen was charged with robbery with a firearm, possession of a firearm by a delinquent and carrying a concealed firearm.

6444319887_9045628534_zThe teen and another 16-year-old juvenile were taken into custody Nov. 17 after they were accused of robbing a man in Silver Springs Shores the day before.

The alleged victim told sheriff’s deputies he was approached by two people, each armed with a handgun, when one of them took his cell phone, ear buds and wallet.

His description of the two teens lead to their arrest.

The 18-year-old’s court date is scheduled for Jan. 13.

When it comes to juvenile crimes, it is up to the court to decide whether the juvenile case is transferred to adult criminal court. The court considers many factors when making its choice, including the nature of the crime and the juvenile’s previous delinquent history. If the case is transferred to adult court, the juvenile will be subject to the law in the same manner as an adult.

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According to the most recent FBI Crime report, Florida is home to some pretty dangerous cities. The top 20 cities that were found to have the most violent crimes and property crimes are as follows:


  • Miami Beach, Florida5196788334_e6ed189c68_m


With a population of 91,066, the total reported crimes were found to be 109.47 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 10.33 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 99.14 per 1,000 residents.


  • Orlando, Florida


With a population size of 246,513, the total reported crimes in Orlando were assessed at 78.19 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 10.34 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 67.85 per 1,000 residents.


  • Daytona Beach, Florida


Daytona Beach has a population of 61,861, and 74.10 reported crimes per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 11.56 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 62.54 per 1,000 residents.


  • Panama City, Florida


Panama City’s reported population is 37,187, with a total number of reported crimes at 70.27 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 7.80 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 62.47 per 1,000 residents.


  • Key West, Florida


With a smaller population of 25,249, Key West has a total of 69.47 reported crimes per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 8.24 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 61.23 per 1,000 residents.


  • Homestead, Florida


Homestead has a reported total population of 62,785, with a total number of crimes at 67.87 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 16.64 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 51.22 per 1,000 residents.


  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida


With a population of 170,827, the total reported crimes in Fort Lauderdale were determined at 67.92 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.11 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 58.80 per 1,000 residents.


  • Pensacola, Florida


Pensacola’s population size is 52,909. The total reported crimes are 69.86 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.11 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 60.75 per 1,000 residents.


  • Fort Pierce, Florida


The total population for Fort Pierce is 42,566 and the number of reported crimes ranks in at 65.95 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 11.14 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.81 per 1,000 residents.


  • Miami, Florida


With a larger population size of 414,327, Miami has a total reported crimes of 65.47 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 11.72 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 53.75 per 1,000 residents.


  • Pompano Beach, Florida


The total population size in Pompano Beach is 103,003. The total reported crimes in the area are 64.29 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 10.29 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.00 per 1,000 residents.


  • Sarasota, Florida


Population size in Sarasota totals 53,055 with the total reported crimes at 63.14 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 8.03 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 55.11 per 1,000 residents.


  • Riviera Beach, Florida


Riviera Beach has a total population of 33,309 and the total reported crimes are 61.97 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 13.21 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 48.76 per 1,000 residents.


  • Lake Worth, Florida


Lake Worth has a population size of 35,788 and the total reported crimes are 61.17 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 12.88 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 48.28 per 1,000 residents.


  • West Palm Beach, Florida


The population size is 102,422 and total crime ranks in at 60.78 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 8.02 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 52.76 per 1,000 residents.


  • Oakland Park, Florida


Oakland Park’s population is 42,071, with the total reported crimes at 60.75 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 7.85 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 52.90 per 1,000 residents.


  • Ocala, Florida


The population in Ocala is reported at 57,288. The total reported crimes for the area is 60.61 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 6.55 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.06 per 1,000 residents.


  • Sanford, Florida


Sanford has a population of 54,662. The total number of reported crimes for the area is 60.13 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 5.91 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 54.22 per 1,000 residents.


  • Lauderdale Lakes, Florida


The population is 33,644 and the total reported crime is 59.80 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.99 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 49.82 per 1,000 residents.


  • Leesburg, Florida


Leesburg’s total reported crime is 60.05 per 1,000 residents. Violent crimes: 9.19 per 1,000 residents. Property crimes: 50.85 per 1,000 residents.

If you are facing criminal charges, you need to understand exactly what is at stake. How you respond to your charges will have a direct impact on how your case plays out, including your freedom and your future. During this critical time, everything you say and do, along with every decision you make can be the difference between imprisonment and you being free to move forward with your life.

Have you been arrested for a crime in Florida? You must act fast to protect your good name even if you have not had formal charges filed against you yet. A Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you with your case no matter what you have been arrested for or charged with. We will fully investigate the facts of your case and aggressively defend you in court or in seeking a settlement.

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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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Marion County sheriff’s deputies allegedly removed 212 grams of methamphetamine Thursday from a house in the 100 block of Southwest 87th Place south of Ocala.

The discovery was apparently made when the caretaker of the home arrived to drop off some mail, according to a MCSO report. The owner of the house does not live at the home.

Deputies claim that when the owner opened the back door of the property, he saw someone run into the front bedroom. The man told police that he confronted the person, who apparently told him that someone else was in the camper in the backyard.

Illegales_Methlab_(USA)The property owner allegedly witnessed a man in the camper cooking meth. The caretaker called 911, and the man in the camper fled.

The Unified Drug Enforcement Strike Team arrived at the scene and reported finding 212 grams of meth in paint cans.

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing.

Also known as “crystal meth,” “crank,” “ice” or “chalk,” methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that is not only extremely dangerous, but one which has grown increasing popular in Florida and throughout the United States. Florida law enforcement and prosecutors combined have recently cracked down on those who produce meth or maintain a meth lab because of the potential danger of the drug and the side effects, which can be fatal.

Characteristically, the term manufacturing brings to mind visions of large scale factory-type operations that generate massive quantities of illegal drugs. However, meth labs are actually extremely portable, so much in fact, that most labs can fit inside the trunk of a car. Trailers, campers and even motel rooms have become popular locations for meth lab operations.

Whether you are a first-time offender or a repeat offender, manufacturing, trafficking or distributing methamphetamines can lead to lengthy prison sentences. Pleading guilty to manufacturing charges or simply relying on a public defender is never a good idea when decades of your freedom are on the line and the stakes are this high. A Drug Crimes Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton can relentlessly challenge every angle of the prosecution’s case against you. We can challenge the arrest, the search, the seizure and any warrants and statements.

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A 32-year-old former Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime lab analyst was arrested Tuesday on charges of grand theft, 12 counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and nine counts of trafficking illegal drugs.

Investigators allege the man replaced prescription pain pills with over-the-counter medications while processing drug cases.

The former Pensacola crime laboratory chemist is currently free on bond.

prescription pills

If you or someone you know or love has been charged with tampering with evidence in Hernando, Lake, Marion, Osceola, Pasco or Sumter counties, a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton can make sure you know what to expect from your case.

The man was arrested at the Escambia County Jail around 6:30 p.m. His bail was set at $290,000.

FDLE agents claim that since 2006 the accused processed 2,600 cases that crossed 35 counties in Florida, including Hernando, Lake, Marion, Osceola, Pasco and Sumter. On Monday, 80 agencies were alerted of the alleged tampering.

St. Cloud police said that they are reviewing 16 cases from several years ago that could be linked to this case.

The investigation apparently began Thursday, Jan. 30 when Escambia investigators noticed that there were prescription pain pills missing from the evidence locker room.

The accused was relieved of duty Friday, Jan. 31 and issued his resignation Monday asking the agency to issue any money owed to him.

According to the FDLE, additional charges could be filed pending the results of this ongoing investigation.

These charges are undoubtedly serious. If convicted of tampering with evidence, this could remain on your criminal background for the rest of your life. Despite the circumstances surrounding your case, by being accused of this crime, you run the risk of being permanently labeled someone who destroyed or concealed evidence. Because of the severity of the charges, you must make sure and give tampering with evidence charges the attention they deserve.

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Police arrested two men on Thursday for allegedly trafficking cocaine and a slew of other charges following a routine traffic stop.

Members of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Investigations Unit apparently witnessed a driver not utilizing proper signals in the 4000 block of West State Road 40. Police claim the vehicle was weaving, swerving and crossing the fog line multiple times. Detectives pulled the driver over in the 7000 block of the highway and allegedly seized drugs and firearms.

According to officials, they detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from the car and that one of the occupants seemed nervous. The men were asked to exit the vehicle.
While authorities were searching a 28-year-old Ocala man they allegedly found two clear plastic bags containing marijuana, according to the arrest report.

Detectives claim they recovered two loaded firearms and 42 grams of cocaine from inside the vehicle. Reports indicate that one of the guns found, a Springfield Armory Model XD, had been reported stolen.

cocaine baggie betch.jpgThe Ocala man told a detective he had purchased the Springfield for $140. He apparently denied ownership of the second gun, an H&R Inc. Gardner Model 632, or the cocaine.

The man was charged with trafficking cocaine, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and possession of marijuana less than 20 grams.

The driver of the car, a 19-year-old Ocala man, was also was arrested. He was charged with armed trafficking of cocaine, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and carrying a concealed weapon.

Trafficking cocaine is classified as a felony in Marion County and throughout the state of Florida. Police and prosecutors usually seek maximum sentences in drug trafficking cases. In order to obtain a conviction, prosecutors do not have to actually prove that the defendant intended to sell or distribute cocaine, just that there was enough of the drug in the person’s possession that could indicate it was to be sold. This is an offense that is not taken lightly and the penalties attached could significantly impact your future, and not for the better.

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Deputies arrested a man apparently wearing lipstick and dressed as a woman after he allegedly attempted to steal clothes from a Marion County Walmart last month.

Deputies claim the man began removing tags off items and placed them into a purse that was stolen from the store.

walmart betch.jpgReports indicate that the man did try and check out from the store, but apparently only tried to buy a frozen dinner and not any merchandise. Employees reported the alleged theft.

According to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the man had about $800 in his wallet.

The man was arrested and booked into jail.

When you are arrested for shoplifting from a retail store, this can be an embarrassing experience. You will likely have to explain your actions to your friends and family members, which can be difficult to do. A Marion County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you through this difficult time and provide you with a solid defense against theft charges. We know how theft cases work, and realize that these cases often boil down to simple misunderstandings. Regardless of the details surrounding your arrest, we can mount a solid defense and seek a favorable resolution on your behalf.

Shoplifting laws in Florida are designed to protect store owners from lost merchandise. How these crimes are prosecuted varies depending on the cost of the items taken. Theft crimes are broken down into two categories: petty theft, a misdemeanor, and grand theft, a felony. If the amount of merchandise taken is $100 or less, second-degree petty theft charges will likely be filed. If the amount is between $100 and $300, this is classified as first-degree petty theft. If the amount is between $300 and $5,000, third-degree grand theft charges will be filed. A charge of this nature carries up to five years in prison. First-degree grand theft involves stealing more than $100,000 and carries consequences of up to 30 years in prison.

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1384588_brown_envelope_money_bribe_1.jpgOcala, Florida – A 38-year-old veteran employee of the Marion County Public School system was arrested and charged with organized fraud Wednesday. She was taken to the Marion County Jail and released about 24 hours later on a bond of $2,000.

The woman is on paid administrative leave while an investigation is conducted. She is a finance clerk in business services and has worked for the school system for 16 years.

An Ocala police officer was called to the district’s Internal Auditing Division on Oct. 5 to take a report about possible embezzlement. School system officials had apparently conducted an audit on money collected from various school collections and found that $15,758.07 was missing.

School officials told police that the woman had been “flagged” for an incident in July after an error was found related to the account she was in charge of.

Reports indicate that an audit was performed on the various collections the woman received from July 1 to Sept. 21, which allegedly revealed the amount that was missing. School officials claim the woman was given the money from collections to deposit the checks or cash. She allegedly deposited the checks, but not the cash.

The case was passed along to a detective to further investigate the claims. At the conclusion of his investigation, the woman was arrested and taken into custody. She apparently refused to speak to the detective regarding the accusations against her.

The state of Florida tends to prosecute those accused of fraud-related offenses rather harshly. Prosecutors devote a lot of time and resources to white collar crimes, like embezzlement. Typically these crimes involve complex financial transactions, and you may be under investigation without even knowing it. In fact, it could take months for the prosecution to build its case against you before making an arrest and filing charges. As soon as you know you are under investigation for embezzlement you should consult with a white collar crimes defense lawyer. Every white collar case is unique, so it is essential to the outcome of your case to make sure you are properly represented as early on as possible.

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A 51-year-old man was arrested Friday after local drug agents allegedly found marijuana and a shotgun at a property apparently owned by the man.

A Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy allegedly went to an Ocala, Florida home to serve an arrest warrant on Feb. 7 for a 51-year-old woman. The deputy allegedly noticed several plants that appeared to be marijuana in the back yard while peering through a window at the residence, including several small plants on the kitchen table.

Multi-Agency Drug Enforcement Team agents were called to the residence. Agents claim they smelled and detected marijuana at the scene, and when they could not find anyone at the residence they left to obtain a search warrant for the property.

After receiving the search warrant, agents allegedly found 69 marijuana plants growing inside the home, three marijuana plants in the back yard and a 12-gauge double barrel shotgun inside the master bedroom.

On Friday, agents claim they found the man not far from where the marijuana plants were discovered and arrested him.

In an interview with the agents, the man allegedly told them the marijuana and the shotgun was his.

Records indicate the man is a convicted felon and should not be in possession of any firearms.

The man allegedly told investigators that he had a second residence that contained marijuana.

With the man’s alleged consent, detectives went with the man to two buildings. Detectives allegedly uncovered two marijuana plants in the yard of one property, and five in the second yard.

Agents claim the seven plants were around 3 feet tall.

In the yard of one of the buildings, agents allegedly viewed 36 plants with heights between five to 10 inches tall.

According to officials, the man apparently told agents he was selling the products from the plants he had been growing.

He was arrested and charged with two counts of cultivating marijuana and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Under Florida statutes, drug cultivation refers to growing a plant deemed an illegal substance. In general, most cultivation charges stem from being in possession of cannabis plants, also known as marijuana. The amount of drugs a person is found growing plays a fundamental role in whether felony or misdemeanor charges apply. Another key factor relies heavily on intent. There are two crimes that can be charged for drug cultivation in Florida, including:

Cultivation with Intent to Distribute: This crime is a felony offense that carries a minimum sentence of 1 year in state prison. Additional penalties such as fines, probation, registration as a narcotics offender, counseling programs and drug rehabilitation can be tacked on.

Cultivation with the Intent for Personal Use: While the lesser of the two crimes, this offense is classified as a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in county jail. This crime is a lighter offense because the cultivation was done for personal advantage, not for the purposes of selling or distributing drugs to others.

With a drug cultivation conviction carrying such hefty consequences, it is extremely important to develop a powerful defense strategy in an effort to reduce or drop criminal charges. Attempting this matter alone is never a good idea, as you could be subject to maximum penalties associated with a drug cultivation charge. A Florida Drug Crimes Attorney can assist you with establishing an appropriate defense for the charges you face. Often, this can be the difference between serving the maximum penalties and receiving a reduced sentence.

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