Articles Posted in Orange County

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Police have arrested two Orlando men accused of packing 24 children younger than 18 into a van and forcing them to work in Palm Bay.

Palm Bay police claim the children were dropped off in Palm Bay and forced to spend more than 10 hours selling cheap items door-to-door.

According to a spokeswoman for the Palm Bay Police Department, the children were brought over from Orlando and were told the only way they could get food or water was to sell.

van betch.jpgOn Monday, the 39-year-old river of the van and owner of an Orlando-based group called Teens Against Drugs and Alcohol and a 20-year-old man faced a judge on 24 counts each of human trafficking.

A Brevard judge ordered both men to be held on a $5.6 million bond each at the Brevard County Jail Complex.

Both men were also charged with 24 counts of child abuse and eight counts each of employing a minor child, reports show. The case will be sent to the Brevard County state attorney’s office, and prosecutors will decide whether or not to press formal charges.

The men were arrested Friday after Palm Bay police received a message from a Department of Children and Families agent that underage children were seen roaming Palm Bay streets selling cheap goods.

The children were picked up by police and turned over to their parents.

Human trafficking often involves forcing vulnerable individuals into unpaid labor or other services. If you have been charged with human trafficking, labor trafficking, sex trafficking or child trafficking, you need to contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and to begin establishing your defense. Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes throughout the United States and prosecutors will fight for maximum sentences in these cases.

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On Monday, a former Ocoee city commissioner and local business owner, was arrested on fraud and counterfeiting charges for leading a scheme to sell fake bulletproof vests.

Two of the man’s employees were also arrested and charged with fraud and counterfeiting.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials claim counterfeit bulletproof vests have been sold online and at gun shows throughout the state by the man’s Ocoee-based business.

Fake body armor is usually pieced together with duct tape using old body armor pieces.

Agents allege the vests the man was selling could not stop a bullet. They claim the man placed fake brand-name labels on body armor manufactured at his Ocoee warehouse and sold the items online and at gun shows across the state.

According to agents, the company had its own special line of body armor that when tested, “every round went through it.”

bulletproof vest betch.jpgAgents allege that the man has been selling these counterfeit vests for around two years.
FDLE’s investigation started in August after someone purchased one of the man’s vests at a gun show in West Palm Beach. While the label on the vest did bear the name of a reputable brand, the purchaser was suspicious and took the vest to the manufacturer to confirm the item’s authenticity, according to agents.

The company apparently confirmed the item was counterfeit and notified FDLE.

FDLE agents raided the former commissioner’s facility on South Cumberland Avenue in early September. Agents allegedly found counterfeit body armor affixed with phony labels from various companies. They claim employees were sewing old pieces of body armor together, sometimes using duct tape, in order to create products that looked brand new.

It is unclear at this time how many alleged counterfeit vests were sold, but agents estimated 10 to 15 a weekend could have been sold at gun shows. The items sold for $600 to $900 each.

The 57-year-old former commissioner and one of his employees were booked into the
Orange County Jail on Monday and released after posting bail. If convicted of fraud and counterfeiting, the pair could face up to 10 years in prison per count.

The man’s other employee that was arrested is currently being held in the Pinellas County Jail on unrelated federal gun charges out of Tampa. He is accused of selling unregistered weapons, including a machine gun. Reports indicate he was indicted in August and arrested last month.

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Former NBA All-Star Mookie Blaylock, facing charges of driving on a suspended license and failure to maintain his lane in a Friday head-on crash in suburban Atlanta, has now been charged with vehicular homicide.

Authorities claim that Blaylock, 46, was driving an SUV that crossed the center line of Tara Boulevard, about 20 miles south of downtown Atlanta, when he struck a van. A 43-year-old female passenger of that van died from her injuries hours later. The woman’s husband, who was also riding in the van, was treated for his injuries at a hospital and released later.

Following the crash, Blaylock was placed on life support at the hospital, but his condition has since been upgraded. According to an Atlanta Medical Center spokeswoman, as of Monday, Blaylock was in fair condition.

1135202_basketball_player_5.jpgOfficials said that Blaylock was also wanted in Spalding County on charges of failure to appear in court, DUI and drug possession.

Police are currently investigating the cause of the crash, but do not believe alcohol played a factor.

Blaylock allegedly told investigators that he blacked out right before the crash. Authorities are currently looking into his medical history.

More than 6 million motor vehicle accidents occur annually across the United States. Sadly, a great number of these accidents result in the death of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. If you were behind the wheel of a car that caused a tragic collision, you are most likely facing immense stress over your own injuries, but a vehicular manslaughter charged can quickly pile on more tension to your current situation.

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This week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Florida v. Harris, a case originating in Calhoun County circuit court. At issue was whether a K-9’s alert could establish probable cause for a warrantless search of a car. Under review was the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion that a K-9 alert could establish probable cause–but only after the Government produced a long litany of evidence during the suppression hearing to support the reliability of the K-9’s training. The U.S. Supreme Court Justices, in a unanimous decision, disagreed with this exhaustive checklist, ruling it was inconsistent with a common sense approach to probable cause. Aldo, the drug-sniffing dog at the center of the case, was deemed reliable by the trial court and ultimately, the highest court upheld Mr. Harris’ conviction for possessing pseudoephedrine for use in manufacturing methamphetamine.


In this case, an officer with a canine partner stopped a truck for a minor traffic violation, and sensed that the driver might be on drugs. Because the truck’s driver refused to let the officer search the truck, the officer led Aldo around the exterior of the vehicle. The dog made movements that showed he smelled something suspicious on the driver-side door handle. Taking that as a signal that drugs were inside the truck, the officer checked out the interior, and found a stash of drug-making equipment.

Law Enforcement across Florida utilize trained dogs for a variety of law-enforcement tasks, including investigation in potential drug-trafficking cases. Dogs can be trained to react, by specific kinds of movements, sometimes called an alert, when they smell an odor that emanates from a stash of drugs. What is important to understand is that K-9s do not smell drugs; they smell odors. When they show that they have picked up the scent, that usually leads the police officers to follow up with a search to see if drugs are, in fact, present in such a spot. Normally, police can use a drug-sniffing dog without having to get a search warrant from a judge–especially if the officers are in the field and having to get a warrant would frustrate the investigation.

The impact of this ruling will be minimal, as it maintains the status quo in Florida. The Florida Supreme Court’s ruling that was under review was in direct opposition to the law in 48 other states on this issue, and this opinion essentially aligns Florida with the rest of the United States. One upside for defendants is that the Supreme Court also held that the accused must have the opportunity in court to challenge the dependability of the training evidence and to test whether the police handler might have “cued” the dog to make an alert. Thus, the bottom line of the ruling was that the dog does not always win, if the accused individual can undercut its training record.

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 991548_prescription_bottle_-_blank_label.jpgAn Orlando doctor accused of hosting wild sex and drug parties at his Hunter’s Creek home pleaded guilty to a slew of criminal charges Monday in exchange for 10 years in prison.

The 57-year-old man was arrested in October 2010 by the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation as part of a crackdown on doctors who were overprescribing highly addictive drugs, such as the painkiller oxycodone.

The MBI claims their initial investigation eventually lead to the doctor being charged with more than a dozen crimes, ranging from racketeering to drug charges to insurance fraud.

Agents allegedly interviewed several women who claim they became addicted to oxycodone after being prescribed the drug by the Orlando physician.

One woman apparently told agents that she was invited to one of the doctor’s parties during her third office visit. Another woman alleges the doctor paid her daughter to be videotaped wearing lingerie.

A search of the physician’s home apparently yielded more than 1,400 oxycodone tablets, cocaine, handguns, more than $37,000 and an electronic money counter.

The doctor pleaded guilty to several crimes on Monday, including trafficking in oxycodone, purchasing prostitution and patient brokering.

Prosecutors with the State Attorney’s office informed the court that the doctor used his practice to purchase oxycodone and other drugs, which he prescribed to women who became addicted.

The doctor is also accused of trying to hide money from law enforcement by transferring money into several different bank accounts.

Without the plea agreement, the physician could have faced 156 years in prison.

Recently, the state of Florida has started pursuing doctors in their efforts to combat prescription drug crimes. In these “pill mill” operations, law enforcement officers focus on investigating physicians they believe are distributing prescriptions to addicts or healthy patients who do not need prescription drugs. In addition to prison time and steep fines, medical professionals charged with prescription drug crimes run the risk of losing their license, careers and reputation.

Physicians and other medical professionals can be slapped with various prescription drug charges as a result of state and federal crackdowns, including:

• Incorrectly Documenting Patient History
• Over-Prescribing Pills
• Not Checking Patient Records for Previous Incidents of “Doctor Shopping”
• Prescribing Unnecessary Medications
As part of the war on drugs, the government prosecutes those believed to be pushing pain pills quite harshly. Trafficking in oxycodone carries severe mandatory minimum prison sentences. While oxycodone trafficking carries a maximum prison term of 30 years, a mandatory minimum sentence can range from 3 to 25 years in prison depending on the amount found in your possession.

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1260785_laptop_work.jpgA Canadian judge declared a mistrial Wednesday morning in the first-degree murder trial of a man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend due to comments posted by one of the juror’s on a Facebook site.

The man’s family apparently visited some Facebook pages after the 12-person jury was selected and cross-referenced the names of the jurors with comments made on the sites.

They discovered that juror No. 12 was a member of a group that disliked the suspect and had posted comments on the site.

The family immediately alerted the Crown about the juror’s social media history.

The judge claims he had no choice but to declare a mistrial, seeing that the woman could have tainted the rest of the jury.

The misuse of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook by jurors during trials can lead to the overturning of court rulings, convictions and as this case shows, mistrials. Using social media sites has become an everyday task to many people, and continued use during a trial can be very tempting to jurors. With most people owning smartphones, it’s even easier now for jurors to violate the rules of banning them from chatting about the trial. It’s hard to control the use of smartphones as jurors are free to use these devices once outside the courtroom.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, nearly 66 percent of adult Internet users use social median platforms. The increasing popularity of sites like Facebook and Twitter make it extremely hard to regulate a juror’s conduct via social media sites during a trial. Social media use by jurors has become a more recent problem and attorneys and judges are wrestling with how to deal with the problem as well as how to stop it from happening in the future.

Florida is one of 20 states that explicitly instruct jurors to steer clear of newspaper and television reports on the case, as well as stay away from social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Google and e-mail. Jurors are expected to decide the outcome of a case based solely on the facts presented at trial. In fact, courts can hand out harsh punishments to jurors caught using social media sites during a trial. Recently, a Florida court held a juror in contempt and sentenced him to three days in jail after he apparently used Facebook to ‘friend’ a defendant in a personal injury case.

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A 21-year-old mother was placed under arrest after police claim she strangled her 11-month-old daughter six times at Florida Hospital South in Orlando, Florida.

The girl was apparently unresponsive, but was saved by hospital staff.

It was not clear why the mother and daughter were at the hospital.

The woman was charged with six counts of attempted homicide and is currently being held without bond at the Orange County Jail.

This case is still in the investigation phases and the charges against the woman could change. When facing attempted homicide charges, it is essential to seek the advice and counsel of a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney. It is never in your best interest to take criminal matters into your own hands, as the legal process is not always favorable towards unrepresented defendants. The Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can discuss the facts of your case with you and further develop any relevant defenses or justifications to attain the best possible outcome regarding your criminal matter.

The crime of attempted murder is considered one of the most heinous crimes a person can commit against another individual. Being accused of attempted homicide can cause the public and members of the jury to view your character as unsympathetic. An experienced criminal defense attorney can gather appropriate evidence, interview witnesses, ensure you are treated justly and do whatever it takes to make sure your side of the story is heard.

While the details of this case are still unraveling, prosecutors and judges tend to view the fact that a victim survived as irrelevant. These cases are prosecuted aggressively, which is why it is so important to combat these serious charges early on with a vigorous defense strategy.
Attempted homicide charges can vary in degree, depending upon premeditation or planning and the severity of the crime. For someone to be convicted of attempted homicide, or attempted murder, the prosecution must show that the accused took action towards committing murder as well as the intent behind it. Because of this, it can be argued that attempted murder is more difficult to prosecute than murder. Regardless of how challenging it may be for the prosecution to prove, it is in your best interest to contact the Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton immediately if you or someone you know has been charged with attempted homicide.

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Ex-Orlando Magic point guard Darrell Armstrong was arrested in California Tuesday on an outstanding warrant stemming from an alleged unpaid $37,500 debt at a Las Vegas Strip casino.

The 43-year-old current Dallas Mavericks assistant coach is accused of writing a worthless check and theft deriving from casino markers or IOUs last June at a Vegas hotel and casino.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Armstrong is wanted by the Clark County district attorney’s office for his alleged involvement in the case.

Armstrong was apparently stopped Tuesday around 8 p.m. for an alleged traffic violation. He was arrested and transported to the sheriff’s Marina del Rey station.

He was released Wednesday afternoon after posting $40,000 bond set by authorities in Nevada.

He joined the Mavericks for the team’s Wednesday game against the Lakers, taking his usual seat one row behind the bench.

Florida Statutes define the crime of passing off a worthless check as writing a check with reasonable knowledge that the account it was written from has insufficient funds or has been closed. The State of Florida considers a bad check charge a “crime of dishonesty” which could affect your employment status even after your case is resolved. A worthless check offense is classified as a first degree misdemeanor if the check is written for an amount less than $150 and carries a potential jail sentence of up to one year and fines of no more than $1,000. If a single worthless check happens to add up to more than $150 or multiple bad checks written total more than $150, the crime is elevated to a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

There are multiple reasons a check may be dishonored by the bank. Should a banking institution stamp a check with any of the following memos, a person can be prosecuted under the Worthless Check Statute:

• Non-Sufficient Funds
• Insufficient Funds
• Account Closed
• No Such Account
• Account Not Found
• Uncollected Funds
• Refer to Maker
Unfortunately, simply settling your debt pertaining to a dishonored check, draft, bill of exchange or a debit card order is not a viable defense for the charge and does not mean your case will be dismissed. However, if the check amount is paid immediately the State Attorney’s Office may choose to not continue with prosecution. Even if a case has already been opened, a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney may be able to persuade prosecutors to drop the charges in exchange for a payment of restitution.

The victim of a worthless check may choose to take civil action against you for passing off a bad check. In fact, the victim may seek damages for up to three times the amount of the check. In addition, you may be subject to attorney fees, court costs and bank fees should you be found guilty.

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My very first job as a lawyer in Florida came by way of an interview with a prosecutor, whom I later learned was one of the greatest prosecutors in Florida history. I am honored to have known him and worked in the same building for a short time. Since retirement, he wrote an opinion piece about the Casey Anthony verdict which is excellent, I hope you will read it.

This is better and more authoritative than anything I could pen. (This was originally posted by a fellow lawyer in Miami, Thanks for sharing David)

IN DEFENSE OF THE JURY (Miami Herald, July 10, 2011)

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Police arrested former NBA center, Oliver J. Miller, Tuesday for allegedly striking a man in the face with a handgun at a cookout over the weekend. He was charged with two counts of first and second degree assault.

Miller, 41, faces charges of assault, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and other related charges. Police were called to the cookout on Saturday around 8 p.m. after witnesses said Miller pulled out a Glock handgun and struck a 32-year-old man in the face.

The Big “O” was a first round draft pick for the Phoenix Suns in 1992 out of the University of Arkansas. He has since played for no less than 18 professional teams around the world, including the Harlem Globetrotters.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the man was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center for injuries not considered life-threatening.

Many assault charges trace back to fights that got out of control. If you are arrested for assault it does not mean that you started the fight, many times it simply can mean that the other person called the police first. When you are arrested for aggravated assault you face serious felony criminal charges. Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony that is defined as a crime of violence. This felony charge is a violent act that causes bodily harm or permanent disfigurement or disability to the injured party. Under Florida law, felony assault can be charged when a deadly weapon is used. The use of a firearm in any assault case can elicit prosecution under Florida’s 10-20-Life statute. Use of a firearm can also increase the degree of felony that is charged.

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