Articles Posted in Polk County

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A 33-year-old youth softball coach from Auburndale is facing charges of having sex with a minor.

The 33-year-old was taken into custody Friday after authorities talked to the 17-year-old girl. According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Lakeland girl told authorities she had consensual sex with the man in early February.  

According to authorities, the man and the girl knew each other for several years, and the man lived with her family for a period of time in the past. The girl is to turn 18 years old in a couple of weeks.

The man works part-time as an assistant softball coach at a Polk County high school.

The man also was a coach for the teen’s travel softball team.

Authorities claim the two attended the Monster Jam event in Tampa on Feb. 3 with two other friends. After the event, the group drove back to Bartow, dropped off the friends and drove back to Lakeland.

On the way, the man allegedly pulled over his vehicle near State Road 60 and Highway 37 in Mulberry, where the two had consensual sex.

The man has been charged with unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

The man has been placed on administrative leave. A recommendation to terminate him will go before the School Board later this month.

If you have been arrested for alleged unlawful sexual activity with a minor, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. A conviction for this crime could result in a significant fine, up to 15 years in prison and mandatory registration as  a sex offender.

Following an arrest for a sex crime, you should exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and avoid answering any questions that could be used against you in court. Regardless of your innocence, you should not say anything to authorities until you have contacted our Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton. We can make sure your rights are protected and comb through all the evidence against you to establish the best defense strategy for you.

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A Haines City High School teacher is accused of having explicit, sexual conversations with a 15-year-old boy in Texas.

The 27-year-old faces felony charges from Winter Haven Police.

She told police the teen told her he was 19 years old. According to police, the boy’s mother found out about the messages and told Dunlap to stop communicating with him.

Police apparently learned that the two continued to communicate through Google Hangouts.

Detectives arrested the woman at her home Sunday and booked her into the Polk County Jail.

She is charged with transmitting material harmful to a minor and using a two-way communication device to commit a felony.

Sex crimes in Florida can take many forms, but regardless of the offense, those who are charged with this type of offense need a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Those who are found guilty can receive hefty punishments, including jail time and fines.

Anyone can be accused of a sex crime, which is scary. You could be charged for offenses against total strangers, friends, significant others, family members, and even spouses. If  the alleged victims are minors or children, the consequences of a conviction are enhanced significantly.

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A former Polk County school principal was arrested Friday morning on allegations of fraud and theft.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has charged the 46-year-old former principal with 60 counts of dealing in stolen property, 16 counts passing forged or altered documents, 2 counts fraudulent use of credit card, 1 count obtaining property by fraud, 1 count money laundering, and 1 count grand theft.

Detectives said the crimes occurred while the woman was principal. She resigned as principal in June 2015 and was hired in July 2015 as Assistant Director of Academics at another school. Detectives said the woman resigned from that position in Sep. 2016 when confronted by school officials about suspected fraud and theft–a total of $105,426.

The woman was arrested on Jan. 10, 2017 for grand theft fraud, fraudulent use of credit card, money laundering, and criminal use of personal ID. She was released from jail two days later, on Jan. 12, after posting a $39,000 bail. This case is still pending an outcome, officials said.

The woman was arrested Friday, July 21, at her home in north Lakeland. She will have a first appearance hearing Saturday morning, July 22, 2017.

Anyone can be arrested for a crime, as this case shows. Theft and fraud crimes are taken very seriously in Florida, and can come with severe penalties and consequences. Whether it is a misdemeanor or felony theft or fraud offense it can have serious consequences that will haunt you for the rest of your life. If convicted of theft or fraud, you are looking at serious jail time and steep fines. Any type of theft or fraud conviction will more than likely affect your job. Employers do not generally like to hire people who have been arrested or convicted of theft or fraud, which could make it very difficult to support yourself both now and in the future. Therefore, it is very important to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer who understands the consequences a theft or fraud conviction and what it can mean to your future.

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A suspected drunken driver hit five middle school students as they walked home from the bus stop last month. One student later died of his injuries.

A witness at the scene pointed out the car that had allegedly just crashed into the children.

The black vehicle had hit another car about 4,000 feet (1,219.2 meters) down the road. The driver then stumbled out of the vehicle. A woman who was four months pregnant was injured in that crash, according to authorities.

The 48-year-old was arrested. He is apparently a former police officer.

Officials said a 13-year-old died of his injuries at an Orlando hospital. Another child was in intensive care with orbital fractures. Three other children suffered minor injuries.

The man arrested has made his first appearance in court. He faces 11 charges, including DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. He was being held on $600,000 bail.

Regardless of the situation, a car accident that results in a death is always traumatic. Adding a DUI charge to this just exacerbates the situation. DUI manslaughter charges can be confusing, which is why you need to get legal help right away. It is imperative that you understand the charges you are facing, what the consequences are, and what defense options are available to you.

Yes, a DUI manslaughter conviction can result in severe penalties. However, please understand that there are ways to defend yourself. Knowing your defense options are crucial. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI manslaughter charge in Polk County, you need to consult with a Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible. We are former prosecutors so we are armed with the knowledge and experience you need to achieve a successful outcome from DUI manslaughter charges.

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A recent Polk County six-day-long undercover sting resulted in 114 arrests.

The sting — dubbed “Operation Not So Silent Night” — focused on suspects allegedly advertising prostitution in online ads and human trafficking.

While a total of 114 people were arrested, warrants were filed on two others.

During the investigation, female undercover detectives posted fictitious ads online, and male undercover detectives responded to ads posted online by others.

The suspects ranged in age from 17 to 64 years old. In a news release, the sheriff’s office highlighted some of the arrests.

Undercover prostitution stings happen every day across the U.S. Police usually employ any tactics, even if they are not legal, to try and make arrests. Our Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand how unfair these stings can be. We can help you understand the charges you are facing and make sure you have the best defense possible.

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Legoland has been evacuated Thursday afternoon due to a bomb threat.

Winter Haven Police, along with Legoland Florida security, are investigating the threat at the Winter Haven theme park.

A bomb threat was made at the property and an evacuation was started at both the theme park and hotel for the safety and security of the guests and employees.

Nor further information is available at this point.

Making a bomb threat is no small prank. Recently, there have been a number of bomb threats directed toward schools and universities. Because of this, police are utilizing the latest technology to catch anyone making threats. If you are facing charges related to a bomb threat, you need a criminal defense attorney on your side to help fight these charges.

What may have started out as a prank can turn into an extremely serious situation once a threat is made. If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge for making a bomb threat, our Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help. While we do not know the full details of this case, if the threats prove to be false, criminal charges can still be applied. There are possible defenses against a false bomb threat charge, and we would be happy to discuss the specific facts and circumstances regarding your case and help you decide how to proceed.

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A Polk County ex-teacher facing 22 years in prison for child sex crimes will be asking for a lighter punishment, according to reports.

The former English teacher pleaded guilty to 37 child-sex charges in March 2015 and was sentenced a few months later.

The 31-year-old was initially arrested on allegations she had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. Investigators said she also admitted to having sex with two other teens at the school.

The judge told the woman that even though the victims were willing participants, their age doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a crime.

Now, the woman is seeking a lighter sentences for several factors, including an undisclosed mental condition, the victims being willing participants and a lack of treatment options available to her in prison.

She is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday to ask for that lighter sentence.

Any criminal accusation involving sex is quite serious and should be dealt with accordingly. Prison time and steep fines are enough to worry about for any criminal charge, however, sex crimes punishments can haunt you long after you have served your sentence. You are required to register as a sex offender in a public database, where anyone can see the details of your crime.

Just because you have been convicted of a sex crime, this does not mean that your defense is completely done. Depending on the facts of your case, it may be possible to appeal your conviction or obtain a reduced sentence.

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Polk County deputies have arrested a Polk County high school teacher for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old female student.

The 34-year-old has been charged with three counts of sexual battery by custodian on a victim between 12 and 18 years old.

The sexual activity took place during the 2014-2015 school year, according to deputies.

Investigators claim the teacher and the student started “sexting” on their phones and then the relationship turned physical. A report alleges that there were two sexual encounters in a classroom at the school and another at the man’s home.

Investigators allege that when they questioned the man he blamed his behavior on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from serving in the military. According to reports, the man apparently told the girl he was involved with that he felt “guilty” about the relationship, because he was married and his wife was pregnant at the time.

The man has been an employee of Polk County Schools since 2010.

The district said he has been placed on administrative leave. A recommendation is being made to terminate him, according to reports.

Sex crimes charges are prosecuted quite aggressively in the state of Florida. After accusations have been made, it is important to get the legal help you need as these cases can be quite taxing on those accused due to the fact that they are very emotionally driven.

Everyone has the right to a fair trial. However, sexually based offenses carry a powerful social stigma that makes protecting your rights much more complicated than any other types of criminal charges. It is important to remember that you are entitled to a fair trial, even if the court of public opinion has already found you guilty.

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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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