Articles Posted in Misdemeanor

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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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A total of 10 people were arrested in an undercover operation cracking down on unlicensed contractors resulting in civil citations totaling $9,675.

The sheriff’s office, working with the Hernando County Building Department, conducted a two-day sting from July 1-2 in order to combat what has been called a growing problem.

8903345091_7511dfd86a_mThe arrests made were in several trades, including: tree removal, tile installation, electrical, roofing, plumbing, general and residential contracting.

All those arrested allegedly advertised their businesses publicly and did not hold the appropriate licenses for the work they agreed to perform, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Two arrests were made for people driving on suspended driver’s licenses.

All of those arrested apparently had a combined total of ten misdemeanors and four felony previous arrests in Hernando County, including grand theft and organized fraud.

For the most part, the crime of unlicensed contracting is recognized as a first-degree misdemeanor offense. This crime is punishable by up to one year in the Hernando County Jail and up to a $1,000.00 fine. However, it is important to point out that some offenders can be charged with a third-degree felony with penalties that carry up to five years in state prison and a $5,000.00 fine. These felony offenses include:

  • A second arrest for contracting without a license offense
  • Violating the unlicensed contracting laws that happen during a state of emergency
  • Any violations that involve pollutant storage systems contracting

Aside from potential fines and jail sentences, a person convicted of contracting without a license is often subject to court-ordered restitution. This is usually set in place to reimburse the alleged victims for substandard work or substandard materials that caused a loss. In many cases, restitution amounts can be tens of thousands of dollars. Failing to pay these fees or failing to pay them in timely manner can lead to the defendant being held in contempt of court.

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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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A bar popular with college students in downtown Boca Raton was the scene of two fights earlier this month, and has been the place of nearly a hundred arrests since its opening last June, according to Boca Raton police records.

Police are now saying that the high number of disturbances at 101 Cantina in downtown Boca must be dealt with.

The bar’s Boca Raton location had its grand opening party on June 8, 2013. Since then, officers have responded to 92 calls for service for incidents including fights, vandalism, beverage violations and other disturbances, according to police records.

The total number of arrests at this point is 98. Of the total arrests, the majority are due to underage drinking.

bar hoochIn fact, according to police records, 78 of the 98 arrests were for possession of alcohol by a minor. While underage drinking charges do not generally result in the suspect being taken to jail, police still give suspects notices to appear in court at a later date, which counts as an arrest.

The suspects arrested at 101 Cantina range in age from 17 to 20. Police claim they are working with state regulators and the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office to address issues at the bar.

As for the two fights earlier this month, one involved an 18-year-old Boca Raton man who was allegedly jumped by a group of about six to eight males as he was leaving, according to the incident report. Police noted that “there were over 200 people in the area” when the fight happened, and no witnesses were able to describe the suspects. No arrests have been made.

The second fight, apparently happened at about 2:30 a.m. and resulted in the arrest of a 21-year-old man who faces a charge of causing a disturbance.

In the state of Florida, it is considered illegal for any person under the age of 21 to possess or consume alcoholic beverages. A conviction for underage drinking can vary depending on the details of the case, but maximum penalties generally include up to 60 days in jail and a fine up to $500. In addition to time behind bars and fines, the defendant could also face driver’s license suspension or revocation. In order to protect yourself from the strict consequences that come along with an underage drinking conviction, you must act quickly and enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney.

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If you have been arrested for or charged with a crime in Dixie, Levy or Gilchrist County, it is important to that you obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Why? Despite the severity of the charges you face, a good criminal defense lawyer can explain your rights throughout all stages of the criminal process and help you make the most informed decisions regarding your case. Most importantly, a criminal defense attorney can be the difference between a reduction of charges or dismissal and a jail or prison sentence.

handcuffs.jpgAt Whittel & Melton, our Dixie County Criminal Defense Lawyers have extensive experience in defending people that have been arrested and accused of every type of criminal offense. Our firm handles all types of criminal charges – from Driving While License is Suspended or Revoked and serious DUI offenses to drug crimes, violent crimes and even juvenile offenses. We stand ready to defend clients at every stage of the criminal process, beginning with the arrest. If you have been arrested in Cross City, Horseshoe Beach or the surrounding area, a Dixie County Criminal Defense Attorney at Whittel & Melton can make sure you understand the charges you are up against. Contact us today online or call 866-608-5529 to learn more about how we can assist you.

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991264_alligators_1.jpgA 63-year-old Florida airboat captain who lost his hand to a 9-foot alligator in June was recently charged with unlawfully feeding that same gator.

According to reports, the man was attacked in the Everglades while leading a boat tour for an Indiana family.

The family claims the man was holding a fish with his hand at the water’s surface when the gator attacked.

Following an investigation conducted by Florida Fish and Wildlife officers into whether the man provoked the attack, police arrested the man July 27.

The man was jailed and released after posting a $1,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 22.

Unfortunately, the man’s hand is gone forever. It was recovered from the stomach of the gator, but doctors were not able to reattach it.

While alligators are abundant in Florida, it is uncommon to here of attacks by these animals. However, anytime humans are in the presence of gators, things can get dangerous. Alligators are large, powerful, sometimes ill-tempered reptiles that have lots of sharp teeth and strong jaws. Alligator bites have the potential to deliver devastating injuries and can even result in death. These bites can result in severe infections and the loss of limbs, so alligators should never be provoked.

Feeding an alligator is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. This man is not the only person that has been reprimanded by the law for allegedly provoking a gator recently. According to reports, from Jan. 2011 to May 2012, a total of six people were warned and 13 were cited in the state of Florida for feeding or luring an alligator. It seems that the State is looking to make an example out of this man, so it will be interesting to see how this case plays out.

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A 44-year-old Pompano Beach woman accused of placing 15 calls to 911 laced with racial slurs was ordered by a Broward judge Wednesday to not dial 911 for non-emergencies and to undergo a mental health evaluation.

The woman was arrested Tuesday and charged for misusing the 911 system after allegedly calling police for no apparent emergency 15 times between 4:40 and 9 p.m. Monday.
Investigators claim the woman was on their radar for calling 911 an estimated 1,000 times in recent months.

Before Tuesday’s arrest, the woman allegedly dialed 911 around 100 times on March 20.

According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, they tracked the woman down using two cellphone numbers the woman had previously used. They asked employees at the woman’s apartment complex to call if she walked into the rental office.

After the woman stepped into the office Tuesday, police were notified and arrested her.

While non-emergency phone calls made to 911 may seem innocent, police claim these calls are actually a real problem and can serve as a distraction from true emergencies in need of immediate assistance. In fact, calling 911 for any other reason than to report an emergency situation could result in criminal penalties. Abuse of an emergency line like 911 is actually a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Following an arrest for a misdemeanor in Florida, you will want to review the Florida criminal guidelines to understand the full scope of what is at stake in your particular case. The Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can provide you with the specific details related to a misdemeanor offense in Florida. When facing any type of criminal charges a legal team is always your best defense. A criminal defense lawyer can investigate the particular facts of your case and possibly find ways to beat your Florida misdemeanor charge.

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