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Articles Posted in Property Crimes

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A 49-year-old St. Petersburg woman was arrested Monday morning for allegedly attempting to torch her boyfriend’s apartment while his sister was inside.

The woman was charged with arson, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

St. Petersburg police claim the woman and her boyfriend got into a domestic dispute early in the night, which prompted the woman to go over to the man’s apartment.

The man’s sister apparently saw the woman knocking on the door through the window, but did not let the woman inside.

According to reports, around 3:50 a.m. the woman allegedly hauled a grill to the front door and placed “combustible” items like a pillow, paper, wood and a floor mat on the grill outside the door and proceeded to set the items on fire.

The woman allegedly dragged a plastic garbage can filled with trash to another door at the rear entrance of the apartment and set that on fire as well.

Police were called to extinguish the fires. No one was injured in the fire, nor was the apartment seriously damaged.

Police did not say if the boyfriend was actually inside the apartment.

The woman was taken to the Pinellas County jail with bail set at $52,150.

Residential fires can start for a variety of reasons, but when law enforcement believes a fire was intentionally set, the accused can be charged with arson. To be charged with arson, no person needs to be home or present in the area. In the state of Florida, arson may be classified as a first-degree or second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 or 30 years in prison. There are many factors that determine the level of the charge. The prior criminal record of the accused, the circumstances of the particular case and the damage done to the property can all influence charges and potential penalties.

Law enforcement agencies working at the local, state and federal levels have sophisticated methods of handling evidence in crimes scenes involving arson that allows them to identify the exact cause of the fire. At Whittel & Melton, our attorneys work with chemical and explosives experts to help those accused of arson. This knowledge can be helpful when investigating the case as well as in creating a zealous defense against the charges. Sometimes these cases can be dismissed based on one mistake by law enforcement or crime scene investigators.

Arson is classified as a violent crime, and like all violent offenses, an arson conviction carries harsh legal consequences. Arson cases are typically prosecuted quite vigorously by the State, which is why it is essential to contact a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney immediately following an arson arrest. If you are convicted of arson you could face imprisonment, restitution expenses and major fines.

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Officials with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office have arrested a Citrus Park, Florida amateur comedian for allegedly robbing a SunTrust Bank, twice.

According to police, the man allegedly entered the SunTrust Bank on Tuesday, claimed he had an explosive device, demanded money and fled the scene. On Thursday, detectives said the same man targeted the bank again, requesting money from the same teller.

Witnesses supposedly saw the man exit the bank and gave a description of his physical being and car to authorities.

The man was supposedly known to investigators for past events, and was picked up, positively identified and later arrested.

The man has supposedly performed at open mic nights for comedy clubs throughout Tampa. He has performed at a comedy club in Carrollwood, FL several times this year.

The man faces numerous charges, including robbery and possession of cocaine. He has supposedly been arrested before for similar charges.

Robbery in the state of Florida is considered the intentional and unlawful taking of money or property from another person while endorsing threats, violence, force or assault. The crime of robbery is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, up to 15 years of probation and a maximum of $10,000 in fines. However, since most banks are federally insured, bank robbery can be amplified to a federal offense. This means that if you are charged with bank robbery, not only are you facing a possible Class A, B or C felony you must also face federal prosecution, which can be quite aggressive considering the government’s resources. The type of felony you are charged with depends on whether weapons or violence was inflicted, if anyone was injured and how much money was taken. If a weapon was used, the penalties for this crime are often enhanced, but even if there was no use of weapon in the robbery, a conviction can carry a prison sentence of anywhere between one and 10 years.

Today’s technology has made evidence against bank robberies, including credit unions and savings and loans associations, much stronger due to several factors:

• High-technology security systems
• Exploding dye packs located in the money
• Locator devices
• Marked bills
• Silent alarms
Charges of bank robbery can damage you and your family’s life in more ways than one. Not only do you run the risk of being prosecuted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but you ultimately face the possibility of hefty prison terms, probation, parole, large fines and a record that could limit all aspects of your future life. The Florida Bank Robbery Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can discuss your best line of defense to combat federal charges and help you avoid a conviction with potential prison time.

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Two Gator basketball forwards were charged with one felony count of third-degree burglary Sunday for allegedly trying to break into a car in St. Augustine, Florida. A Florida basketball student manager was allegedly acting as a lookout for the men and was charged with principal to burglary.

According to the Gainesville Sun, the two student athletes went into Scarlett O’Hara’s Bar and Restaurant around 2 a.m. saying they lost a wallet. St. Augustine police said that the men tried to get close to a female employee who was counting cash taken in for the night.

Bouncers asked the men to leave the premises. Moments later, the bouncers told police they saw the men attempt to break into a co-worker’s car parked across the street. All three men tried to leave the scene. Two were taken into custody after a brief chase. The other man turned himself into police.

The owner of the vehicle told police that nothing appeared to be missing from the car. The two forwards were taken to jail and released on $5,000 bond.

In Florida, there are three basic types of burglary: structure, dwelling and conveyance. In this case the men are accused of burglary of a conveyance. A conveyance is classified as any motor vehicle, ship, vessel, railroad vehicle or car, trailer, aircraft, or sleeping car.

In the state of Florida you can be charged with burglary if you illegally enter any structure, dwelling or conveyance with the intent to commit an offense. Burglary usually occurs when no witnesses or victims are present, while robbery entails the use of force or fear to take another person’s property. The biggest factor in charging decisions on these types of cases is whether or not the house, garage, car, etc. was occupied during the alleged crime.

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Central Florida police arrested a 49-year-old Brooksville, Florida man Tuesday morning for three counts of criminal mischief, armed burglary and battery after he used a chainsaw to break into a hotel room and attack a man.

According to the Hernando County Sherriff’s Office, the victim was on a date with the suspect’s wife.

A female deputy arrived at a Best Western shortly after midnight after a 911 phone call was placed reporting a disturbance. The Tampa Tribune reports that a hotel clerk told the officer a man arrived at the hotel carrying a chainsaw and looking for his wife. The clerk would not give the man the information he wanted and left the room.

The clerk supposedly heard loud banging from outside and went to check it out. While in the parking lot he noticed his rear passenger-side door was smashed.

Witnesses allegedly saw the Brooksville man break the window of another vehicle in the parking lot with his fist. The man then ran upstairs and shattered the window of a hotel room and used his chainsaw to break inside.

The chainsaw was apparently not running.

After the man allegedly broke the window he confronted his wife and her date. The man evidently punched his wife’s date three times in the face. The man left the hotel after the battered man called the police.

The battered man’s car window was smashed. He refused medical attention.

The Brooksville man was arrested at his home later where the chainsaw was taken into evidence.

A hotel manager is supplying surveillance footage to police for evidence as well.

The Brooksville man was booked at the Hernando County Jail with bail set at $26, 500.

Criminal mischief, as defined by Florida statutes, is when you willfully and maliciously damage any property belonging to someone else. It can be deliberate or careless, malicious or merciless behavior that results in someone’s possessions being broken or ruined, at some quantifiable cost. The degree of punishment as a misdemeanor or a felony charge depends on the monetary value of the damage.

Along with criminal mischief charges, the man in this case faces charges of armed burglary and battery. Armed Burglary in Florida is a first degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. It is considered a violent crime even if no crime actually occurs. Since the burglary was committed without the use of a firearm the 10-20-Life statute can be implemented, which means a minimum sentence would be calculated under a guidelines score sheet. The charge of simple battery is a first degree misdemeanor which carries consequences of up to one year in county jail, no more than 12 months of probation and up to $1,000 fine, apart from some obligatory excess fees set forth by the Florida legislature.

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A Florida woman just released from state prison earlier this month was arrested by the Gainesville Police Department Sunday night for robbery by sudden snatching.

The Gainesville Sun reported the woman was charged with two counts of robbery by sudden snatching. The nearly identical crimes took place at motels on Southwest 13th St. where the male victims say they were speaking with the woman when she allegedly grabbed hundreds of dollars from their wallets and drove away in a black Chevy Impala.

The woman told police she took less than $100 from each man. As of Monday, she was being held at the Alachua County jail.

The robberies were reported on March 11 and 18. This was within two weeks from the woman’s release from prison on March 4, after serving 10 months for convictions of grand theft, credit card fraud and providing false information to a pawn broker.

Robbery by sudden snatching means taking money or some other property from a person with the intent to momentarily or everlastingly rob the victim or owner of the money or property and in the process the victim became aware of the theft. The woman is most likely facing a felony of the third degree since there was no reported weapon or firearm used to carry out the robbery.

Robbery is a crime of dishonesty and can be used in court for impeachment purposes. As a general rule, if you have a conviction for any crime of dishonesty a judge or jury is permitted to hear so even in the most remote of matters, if you plan on testifying. It has been the rule that this goes to your credibility of a witness. Critics often argue that it is a form of double jeopardy, but at least in Florida, it’s quite common.

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A 24-year-old Land O’ Lakes man was arrested on Tuesday and charged with robbery by sudden snatching, according to the Pasco County Sherriff’s Office report.

A 77-year-old Land O’ Lakes woman told police she was out shopping at a Kmart store on Feb. 11 when the robbery happened. She walked back to her car, opened the door and sat down in the driver’s seat when a man came up to her vehicle, grabbed her purse and ran.

The woman chased the man who snatched her purse and saw him get inside a black vehicle. She later found that her tires had been slashed. A police report indicated that her credit cards were used in Tampa.

When the suspect was contacted by authorities, he said that another man stole the purse, but he was present while the robbery occurred.

The man charged with robbery by sudden snatching lingered in jail Wednesday with bail set at $5,000.
Robbery is referred to as the use of violence or the threat of violence to take another person’s property. Common types of Robbery include purse snatching, carjacking and bank robberies. Depending on a defendant’s criminal history and the facts of any given arrest, a robbery can be charged as a third degree felony up to a life felony.

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Last week, there were reports that a Spring Hill man was victim to a car burglary where allegedly, a fight with the perpetrator left him injured after sustaining punches and a bite wound.

As a result of the incident, Michael Leonard is charged with battery, burglary of conveyance and resisting an officer without violence.

The victim told deputies that Leonard punched him in the face and bit him while the two wrestled on the ground. The items allegedly stolen from the victim included a plastic cell phone clip, a plastic knob, iPod, sunglasses and a small amount of coins.
Deputies also learned Leonard was on probation for a misdemeanor DUI which, in addition to the penalties he could be subjected to for the felonies he is charged with, could add another year onto his sentence for a violation of DUI probation.

As a former state prosecutor, I always welcomed felonies that came with an accompanying violation of probation charge. When the basis of a violation of probation is a new charge, state attorneys only have to prove the underlying charge–in Leonard’s case the burglary and battery– to a preponderance of the evidence to succeed on the violation of probation (instead of the higher beyond a reasonable doubt standard in criminal trials), subjecting the defendant to jail or prison time.

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Three Tampa juveniles have been arrested on charges of burglary and grand theft auto. It is not clear at this time whether they will be treated as adults.

ABC Action News reports that the charges stem from an incident on East Jean Street on Friday. Thinking no one was home, Tampa Police say the juveniles cased an elderly Sulpher Springs woman’s home and then the teens broke in. The victim heard the noise created by the break in and she investigated, using her crutches. She surprised the juveniles who fled with keys to her van which also had her wheelchair inside.

The juveniles were apprehended a short time later in the same neighborhood when police stopped the kids in the stolen van. Police were able to recover victim’s specialized wheel chair from a dumpster. Grand theft auto is third degree felony holding a maximum penalty of five years. Burglary of an occupied dwelling is a second degree felony.

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