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Articles Posted in Property Crimes

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Pinellas County deputies have been on a mission to arrest contractors accused of operating without licenses.

In a sting conducted from Saturday through early Monday called “Operation Flush Out,” 30 people were arrested after pitching electrical, drywall and other construction services to undercover detectives.

The three-day sting produced a combination of at least 60 felony and misdemeanor charges against people offering to work without a license or insurance, the sheriff said.

It is the sheriff’s third sting since October to combat the hundreds of unlicensed contractors who rip off homeowners and leave properties in shambles.

Contracting without a license carries a misdemeanor for first-time offenses and a felony the second time. Other violations include felony charge of workers’ compensation fraud. Florida law requires contractors in the construction industry to carry the insurance. Without it, violators can lower prices and steal business from licensed and insured contractors.

In the state of Florida, unlicensed contracting is usually charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 1 year in jail or 12 months of probation, and a $1,000.00 fine. If the accused has been previously convicted of contracting without a license, the offense may be charged as third-degree felony, which carries penalties of up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation and a $5,000 fine.

When it comes to charges of contracting without a license, it is vital to have a criminal defense attorney on your side to identify possible defenses and to minimize potential penalties. However, many people accused of this charge opt to plead guilty to the charge in order to avoid the expense of an attorney. By doing this, they obtain permanent criminal records, risk their chances of obtaining a license in the future and get slapped with paying out restitution to alleged victims that claim they performed substandard work or used sub-standard materials and caused a loss.

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Two teenage girls were charged after deputies said they stole packages from the front porch of a home in Riverview.

The alleged incident occurred on Dec. 19 around 6:15 p.m. at a home on Palmetto Pine Street.

The two teens are accused of entering into the neighborhood on a golf cart and stole a FedEx package containing an Apple TV streaming router–valued at $140–and two UPS packages with a t-shirt–valued at $9.88–and hand balm–valued at $12.77–from the front porch of the home.

The suspects are a 13 and 14-year-old girl. They were charged with petit theft and were entered into the Juvenile Arrest Avoidance Program based upon no prior criminal history.

Tis the season for seeing an increase in thefts, specifically, packages stolen from homes. Childhood is a time of learning rules and juveniles don’t always stop to think before they act. The number of ways a child can get into trouble are truly unlimited. Simple mistakes can easily turn into a criminal arrest, and the consequences can be serious. The juvenile court system focuses on rehabilitation and education of minors who have deliberately or mistakenly committed a crime.

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About 20 unlicensed contractors accused of scamming Pinellas County residents were taken into custody Tuesday.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies began rounding up the contractors at 5 a.m. during “Operation Nailed.”

The men, roofers, painters and construction workers are accused of scamming residents out of thousands of dollars in the past few months.

The roundup was a collaborative operation between the Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Financial Services, Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, Pinellas County Consumer Protection and the State Attorney’s Office, targeting unlicensed contractors in Pinellas County.

Until two months ago, unlicensed contractors normally received simple fines. But in an effort to crack down on members of the public being taken advantage of, arrest warrants are now being issued.

In Florida, doing contractor work without a license is a misdemeanor for the first offense. After that, it is a felony. According to the PCSO, the pilot program targeting unlicensed contractors still has four months to go. So far, detectives are working as many as 220 cases.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that performing work for others, without a license, is “no big deal.” However, if you are convicted of contracting without a license, there will be additional consequences on top of potential jail time and fines. You will also have a permanent criminal record, which can make it more difficult to apply for jobs, to apply for other professional licenses, to obtain housing, or to pass a background check.

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The good news is that overall crime is down in Flagler County, but the bad news is that violent crime is up in many categories.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Uniform Crime Report, the rates of rape, aggravated assault, burglaries and stolen vehicles all increase in 2015. There was also one murder in the county, up from zero in 2014.

Flagler County’s sheriff says his deputies have managed to keep the crime rate low for a long time. And despite increases in key categories, the overall crime rate is still down .6 percent.

The increase has been blamed on population growth. In the last four years, the county’s population has grown by about 10 percent.

The sheriff said whenever they start to see a spike in crime in specific areas, they flood the zones with patrols.

Statewide, crime is also up in several categories, although overall crime is down 1.6 percent.

In 2015, the crime rates rose in the following categories:

  • Murder: 5.7 percent
  • Rape: 6.1 percent
  • Fondling: 2.0 percent
  • Aggravated Assault: 3.9 percent
  • Motor vehicle Theft: 12.4 percent

The report also breaks down domestic violence-related crime by category. Overall, domestic violence-related crime is up .5 percent.

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Police believe a 65-year-old man used rented trucks to steal nearly 450 pallets of brick paver stones, worth an estimated $200,000, from Flagstone Pavers.

Brooksville investigators arrested the man on a felony grand theft charge resulting from a six week investigation into the missing pavers.

The company claims they never knew the pavers were missing until early February when an operator received an anonymous call from a woman who said that ’54 pallets of their pavers had been stolen and brought to a warehouse’ in Pasco County, according to reports.

A detective was able to get to the scene before the pavers were dispersed.

Police claim that what they thought were just 54 pallets of product turned out to be 450 stolen pallets.

4745160167_db76dca48d_zThe detective claims to have questioned the man who allegedly told him that he buys products from various locations. The detective said he asked the man for receipts, and the man apparently requested to speak with his lawyer.

Police claim the man had rented Penske trucks nine times for a total of 25 trucks to make multiple trips from Brooksville to Port Richey.

Police allege that from November to February, the man and a crew would load pallets into those trucks overnight and then drive them back and unload them at the warehouse, which is owned by the man’s son.

Police reported that they do not plan to arrest any of the crew members because they did not know what they were doing was illegal.

Police are investigating if an employee inside the plant was helping to facilitate the heist.

In the state of Florida, theft offenses are classified as both misdemeanors and felonies. In general, the determining factor of whether charges are a misdemeanor or felony revolve around the amount of money taken or the value of the item or items. In most cases, a theft involving $300 or more is classified as a felony. However, there are instances when a theft offense of a lower amount can become a felony due to a person’s prior record of theft-related offenses.

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This Saturday, Tampa Bay will be celebrating the 2014 Gasparilla Pirate Fest. This day-long celebration welcomes the public to partake in a spectacular parade and festival inspired by Jose Gaspar. This annual festival accommodates more than 300,000 people every year, which results in large crowds of rowdy and excited guests.

While a fun time, it is important to remember that as with most things, larger crowds usually means more arrests for various violations. Reports from earlier Gasparilla Parades recount numerous arrests for open container violations, as well as various citations for civil infractions. Arrests for alcohol-related criminal offenses are also very high this weekend, particularly for disorderly conduct, DUI, Boating Under the Influence and underage drinking.

8431098388_181f4bc534_zDuring this Gasparilla weekend, it is very important  to practice safety in order to avoid a potential arrest. It can be quite helpful to prepare your agenda for the day ahead of time and make all necessary arrangements to get home safely at the end of the night. You can protect yourself as well as the safety of others by following the guidelines provided by the City of Tampa.

  1. Plan your day in Advance. Save time by planning where you will park and familiarize yourself will the street closures so that you can map your route there accordingly.
  2. Pick a meeting place for friends and family. By selecting a spot ahead of time, you and the rest of your party can know where to go in the event you get separated.
  3. Know the “Wet Zones.” The parade route does allow participants to drink alcohol openly, but only from select vendors selling along the route. Keep in mind that no coolers, kegs or open containers are allowed elsewhere on the streets. Police are stressing that no glass containers of any kind are permitted.

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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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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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An 18-year-old Gainesville man was arrested early Saturday morning on charges related to carjacking.

The man is accused of battering a friend with whom he had allegedly been doing drugs and then stealing the friend’s car.

Later, a motorcyclist apparently spotted the man on top of a car that was moving on I-75. The motorcyclist, reportedly about 70 years old, stopped to help the man.

The accused allegedly told the man he needed his motorcycle to get away from his father, whom he feared was going to kill him.

According to the arrest report, the man pushed the motorcyclist off of his bike and began beating him, but was not able to take the motorcycle.

The report indicates the man abandoned the car he allegedly had stolen but was found a short time later.

Police claim the man told them he had used mushrooms and drug known as spice.

Florida law defines carjacking as the forceful taking of a car from a person in their presence. Carjacking is classified as first-degree felony carrying consequences of up to 30 years in state prison. Due to the fact that this crime involves the use of threats, force and possibly weapons it carries stricter penalties than a grand theft auto charge. Carjacking is actually considered a form of robbery, which is why being arrested for this crime is a grim issue. Prosecutors are zealous about pursuing convictions and lengthy prison sentences for crimes of violence, so it is vital to retain a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer right away to provide an aggressive defense for your case.

With your future and freedom on the line, it is essential to perform a thorough investigation into the charges against you in a timely manner in order to mount the most effective defense. The Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will do whatever it takes to make sure your rights are protected. We believe in the presumption of innocence and can provide you with the strong defense you deserve.

It is important to exercise your rights and refrain from answering any police questions before retaining a criminal defense attorney. Many individuals accused of crimes succumb to police pressure and make incriminating statements they later regret. Regardless of the circumstances you are facing, the Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can manage the situation and seek out any possible defense strategy to fight and avoid the severe penalties associated with a carjacking charge.

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A 19-year-old Largo, Florida man was charged with grand theft after allegedly stealing a 2012 Dodge Charger from a local dealership.

The man apparently entered the dealership Tuesday and test drove the vehicle. Later, police claim the man returned and stole the car from the dealership lot.

The man allegedly removed the spare key from the key ring after test driving the vehicle and returned to the lot after the dealership closed for the day.

On Wednesday, the dealership received a tip that one of its cars had been stolen. Clearwater police were contacted after a review of their inventory revealed a missing Charger.

Officers arrested the man at his home and transported him to the Pinellas County Jail. The stolen car was allegedly sitting outside his home. His bond was set at $5,000.

Florida courts tend to take grand theft charges quite seriously. In order for a grand theft charge in the state of Florida to be made, the following conditions must be met:

• Value of the stolen property exceeds $300
• The property must be taken without the owner’s knowledge or consent
• The accused must have no intent to return the stolen property
When a person steals a motor vehicle, Florida classifies this as a felony sometimes charged as grand theft or grand theft auto. The consequences associated with any grand theft charge are usually severe. In order to receive a favorable outcome, it is important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Grand theft auto is a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. Those accused of grand theft auto charges are subject to the three strikes law in Florida. Basically, the penalties associated with every arrest become harsher with every “strike.” Because of this, it is very important to contact the Florida Grand Theft Auto Attorneys at Whittel & Melton so that we can vigorously pursue an outcome that does not end in conviction. Receiving a conviction places you at risk for maximum penalties under the three strikes law.

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