Articles Posted in Pinellas County

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Florida authorities said three teenagers – one 14-year-old and two 16-year-olds – stole a sport utility vehicle, sped away from officers and died in a fiery, violent crash early Sunday morning.

The 4:30 a.m. crash happened in Pinellas County.

A fourth teen in the SUV, who is 14, survived and is hospitalized.

All the teens all had criminal histories – including one who had gotten out of jail on July 31.

Reports indicate that a Ford Explorer and a Chrysler Sebring were stolen from a Clearwater car dealership Thursday. Both vehicles were spotted by deputies early Sunday morning. Deputies tried to apprehend the drivers of the cars, but didn’t pursue them. The sheriff’s office’s pursuit policy generally does not allow deputies to chase stolen cars.

Deputies believed the teens were using the stolen cars to commit burglaries. At one point, they set up a perimeter to try to catch the teens, but a deputy spotted the vehicles outside of the perimeter.

According to reports, the cars were in a “cat and mouse” game with each other, accelerating and slowing down, hitting speeds of 100 mph or more.

The deputy that spotted them did not initiate a high-speed chase, but the Explorer continued at about 100 mph when it hit another vehicle, caught fire and went airborne. The Explorer also hit a billboard pole.

The driver hit by the Explorer suffered minor injuries, reports indicate.

Officers found the Chrysler Sebring and arrested the two in that car; one is 16 and the other 18.

The teens involved were being monitored under a program for repeat offenders.

In 2015, police in Pinellas made 499 felony arrests for juvenile auto theft, more than any other county in Florida going back eight years, and more than the most populous counties in America, including Los Angeles. The Tampa Bay Times did an investigation into teen car thefts in April of 2017; the paper found that every four days, a teen crashes a stolen car in Pinellas County. It also found that in nearly every other county in Florida, most people arrested for auto theft are adults. But in Pinellas County, 62 percent are younger than 18 – the largest rate of juveniles arrested for grand theft auto of any sizable Florida county for at least a decade.

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St. Petersburg police arrested a 25-year-old man and charged him with two counts of kidnapping and one count of sexual battery with a deadly weapon.

Police claim the incidents involved teenage boy.

Police said the first incident happened June 29 when the man posed as a teenage girl on Facebook and lured a 17-year-old boy to a house. The man was allegedly armed with a handgun and threatened the boy, then apparently sexually assaulted him, authorities said.

The man is also accused of posing as a teenage girl and luring a 15-year-old boy to a vacant house on July 17. The boy escaped unharmed.

There are various levels of kidnapping laws in the state of Florida, and all of them are serious. Potential penalties can include substantial jail time and fines, just to name a few. These are severe crimes that require a strong defense. Depending on the facts of your case, some of your defense options could completely dismiss kidnapping charges while others may reduce the penalties of a conviction. When faced with kidnapping charges in St. Petersburg or the surrounding area, don’t mess around – get help from a Tampa Bay Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible.

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Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler was arrested on charges of simple battery and criminal mischief Tuesday night.

Police say Fowler was driving in the Trellis at the Lakes apartment complex Tuesday night when a man walking nearby criticized his driving.

Fowler allegedly got out of his car, exchanged words with the man before hitting him, investigators said. Police claim the hit knocked off the man’s glasses, and Fowler stepped on them. He also allegedly grabbed the man’s grocery bag and threw it into a nearby lake.

The victim did not suffer any injuries.

Fowler was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail.

Fowler is scheduled to report to training camp next week.

While both of these charges are misdemeanors, they still need to be dealt with accordingly. A conviction could result in jail time and fines. Our St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are committed to the aggressive defense of our clients when they are facing battery charges. If possible, we will fight for a dismissal of the charges. We pursue every legal defense possible to mitigate the potential penalties, so that you can move on from this unfortunate situation as unscathed as possible.

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A Dunedin man was arrested last week on charges of sexual battery on a minor.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office alleges that a 15-year-old girl was in the care of the 32-year-old man when he engaged in sexual activity with her on at least two occasions.

The teen apparently told an adult what happened, who reported it to the sheriff’s office.

The man is charged with one count of sexual battery and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation.

He was booked into the Pinellas County jail.

Anyone can be accused of a sex crime. Once you have been accused, police will investigate and usually make an arrest. All it takes is one person’s word against yours. When children are involved, police and prosecutors tend to side with whatever they say happened, regardless of whether it’s true. Because of this, you must take appropriate action to protect yourself and your future. You need a criminal defense attorney who can tell your side of the story and make sure your rights are protected.

If you or someone you know has been accused of a sex crime, you must act fast and obtain legal representation. Our Pinellas County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you through this difficult time. We will investigate the charges against you and make sure any evidence against you was obtained legally. We will also look into the credibility of your accuser.

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A St. Petersburg police officer has been charged with domestic battery.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the man was arrested Monday following an altercation with his live-in girlfriend.

The alleged incident occurred at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. The man was arrested Sunday.

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A Largo man has been charged with possessing child pornography, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

The 69-year-old was arrested at his home on 126th Avenue Wednesday morning.

According to detectives, the investigation began in April after they received information that the man had child porn in his possession.

Investigators were allegedly able to recover six images depicting child pornography from electronic devices belonging to the man, according to reports.

He has been charged with six counts of possession of child pornography. He was transported to the Pinellas County Jail.

Whether you are facing possession of child pornography charges or the actual production of child porn, these charges are severe and require a strong criminal defense. As former prosecutors with the State, our Pinellas County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can  provide you with the thorough and aggressive legal defense you need.

We know that many of these cases involve online peer-to-peer file-sharing networks where the material is usually downloaded by mistake or embedded in with other files being downloaded that can later be traced to you. If you have been caught with child porn or have been contacted by police, it is best to invoke your rights to remain silent and contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Speaking with police without your attorney present, regardless of your innocence, can quickly backfire.

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A New Port Richey couple has been arrested on charges of organized fraud, grand theft and mortgage fraud tied to the sale of investment offerings in Clearwater.

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation announced on Friday the couple is accused of defrauding at least 13 Floridians out of about $500,000.

According to the OFR, potential investors were allegedly recruited through “free” real estate investment seminars held at various hotels throughout the Tampa Bay area. At the seminars, attendees were offered investments in an assisted living facility. The facility never came into operation, authorities claim, and instead the pair allegedly used investor funds for personal expenses, including the purchase of a home in New Port Richey.

When arrested separately on June 24 and July 13 the man and wife were believed to be recruiting investors for a new venture involving multi-level marketing and real estate projects.

The crime of fraud is defined as deceiving another person for financial gain. Organized fraud is any type of fraud committed by an organized group in order to steal from unsuspecting individuals. These charges are quite serious and carry severe penalties. Fraud charges are often investigated by federal agencies such as the FBI, IRS and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A few types of organized fraud include:

  • Get Rich Quick Schemes
  • Phishing: obtaining sensitive personal information, like online usernames and passwords.
  • Bank Fraud
  • Investment Fraud
  • Money Laundering
  • Mail Fraud
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Credit Card Fraud

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A 76-year-old Pinellas Park doctor has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the deaths of three patients who were prescribed pain medications at his clinic.

A federal judge in Tampa called the man a “drug pusher” at sentencing Monday and said he will have the “rest of his life to think about that.”

Reports indicate that the man was unaware he was breaking the law and asked the judge to show mercy on his 66-year-old wife who is scheduled for sentencing Tuesday. She managed her husband’s office.

The couple was convicted during a 17-day trial on multiple counts in a drug and financial conspiracy.

The man was held accountable for the three deaths.

In an attempt to crack down on the pill mill epidemic in Florida, police and prosecutors can be a tad overzealous when it comes to charging legitimate health care professionals with running pill mills. With that said, innocent doctors and other health care providers are often accused of committing crimes they did not commit.

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Detectives arrested a St. Petersburg man who was allegedly running a drug operation involving more than $1 million worth of marijuana.

The 24-year-old is facing charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Detectives claim they have been watching the man for several years.They received a tip that he was storing large quantities of marijuana in his apartment, which led them to obtain a search warrant, according to reports.

On March 23, investigators went to his apartment and apparently found 23 pounds of high-grade hydroponic marijuana that was packaged and ready for distribution inside his kitchen cabinets. Detectives claim they also found three guns and $87,000 in suspected drug money.

For the next month, detectives continued to investigate the man, and they claim they were able to identify about 230 pounds of marijuana — including the 23 pounds found his house apartment — and $168,000 cash associated with his operation.

Police say 230 pounds of marijuana has a street value of $1,150,000.

The U.S. Postal Service assisted police with the investigation, according to reports.

Being caught with any amount of marijuana and charged with a crime of marijuana possession in Florida is a very common drug charge. However, this does not mean you  should take these charges lightly. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you could be facing hefty fines, a permanent criminal record, and a significant amount of time behind bars.

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A 17-year-old student is accused of luring an 11-year-old boy out of in-school suspension at Pinellas Secondary School, an alternative school for grades six through 12, and attempting to rape the boy.

The 17-year-old apparently told the 11-year-old they were going to go to McDonald’s, but instead they wound up behind abandoned buildings and into a wooded area, where the 17-year-old, 255-pound, 6-foot-1 high school sophomore allegedly hugged the 73-pound sixth-grader and told him they were going to have sex.

According to police, the 11-year-old boy escaped by faking an asthma attack and asked the 17-year-old to let him call his mother from a nearby business.

Reports indicate that the 17-year-old teen has had similar run-ins with the law previously.

Last week, police arrested the 17-year-old teen and charged him with lewd and lascivious conduct on a minor and interference with custody for removing the 11-year-old from school. He is currently in custody at the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

When an individual is under the age of 18 and is accused of a crime, he or she usually ends up in juvenile court. A record of conviction in Florida juvenile court can follow the juvenile into adulthood and lead to serious problems. Our Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton fight aggressively to protect children and teens from unnecessary punishments that will haunt them well into adulthood.

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