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Gas prices are high and they don’t appear to be dropping any time soon.

But authorities allege that a one-time Palm Beach County employee went a step too far when he used his county-issued gas card to fill up his own car, WPBF reports.
Everyone learns at a young age what stealing means. In Florida, the crime can be punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Either way, the charges should be fought aggressively by an experienced West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney.

Grand theft in Fort Lauderdale is a serious criminal charge that carries the real threat of prison time. And a criminal conviction can lead to job loss, disqualification of government-based benefits and loss of other liberties. Even if a person faces a misdemeanor charge, they shouldn’t think they can face the charge alone.

According to the news station, the worker was a storekeeper for the Palm Beach County Purchasing Department from 2008 until earlier this year. The state alleges the man filled his personal vehicle with gas on the county taxpayer dime 40 times, costing more than $3,000.

The news station alleges that the man told authorities his county vehicle would nearly run out of gas several times, so he used his own money to fill that vehicle and, in turn, used his gas card for his own vehicle to make up the difference.

Charges of grand theft in Fort Lauderdale are defined under Florida Statutes 812.014. Under that set of laws, theft means knowingly taking or using the property of another to deprive the other person of the property or using the property without having a right to do so.

The penalties for these theft charges range, depending on the alleged value of the amount stolen. In this case, the value of the alleged stolen gas money is set at around $3,000, meaning the former worker is charged with third-degree grand theft, which is punishable with up to five years in prison, if convicted. For third-degree grand theft, a person must have taken something valued at up to $20,000, a gun, vehicle, a person’s will or other specific things.

The higher the value of what is alleged to have been stolen, the more serious the charge. A second-degree felony in Florida can be punished with a 15-year prison sentence, while a first-degree felony can result in up to 30 years in prison for a person who is convicted.

Obviously, the charges are serious, but sometimes the prosecution has a difficult time proving the value of what is said to be stolen. And if the defense can disprove certain things were stolen, the value can drop and so can the possible penalties.

Also in theft cases, the state can seek restitution, which means money that must be paid back to the victim. So, if the state secures a conviction against a person who steals $10,000 from a company or another person, they may be sent to prison and then once they serve their prison sentence have to pay back $10,000. That can be a large burden for a person who is fresh out of prison and has to find work to get back on their feet. That’s just another reason why fighting these charges is necessary.
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Seventeen people were arrested recently after authorities raided the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Riviera Beach, The Palm Beach Post reports.

The newspaper says that the arrest of a man for conspiracy to distribute oxycodone led to detectives working on a 7-month investigation. The investigation resulted in a dozen arrests and charges of unlawful drug distribution based out of the clinic.
Drug charges in West Palm Beach and throughout South Florida can range from minor possession cases to large-scale distribution and conspiracy cases. Likewise is the possible range of penalty. The sanctions can be as simple as a few months in jail if convicted to decades in prison. The type of charge depends on the type of drug, the quantity and where it is being sold.

An experienced Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney will be able to look at all aspects of the evidence and challenge all aspects of the case. With decades of experience as a prosecutor, our West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyers understand how these cases are handled and what tactics the state uses in prosecuting them.

According to the news report, agents found 5,000 oxycodone pills in a safe at a 52-year-old Jupiter woman’s house. She was a controlled substance technician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, according to an arrest affidavit.

Authorities allege that the woman was ordering the pills and allowing her son to sell them. Sixteen other people were also arrested as part of the undercover investigation into illegal drug sales. Warrants were also issued for four other people.

Those in custody are medical center employees, veterans and associates, authorities said. Most arrested face charges of sale of oxycodone or sale of marijuana. In some cases, veterans are charged with selling drugs to make money. More than 6,000 oxycodone pills were seized, along with $200,000 in cash and two vehicles.

What must be considered in cases like this is how credible the information gained from potential co-defendants is. When several people are charged with a crime, many will jump to make a deal with the state in exchange for a lesser prison sentence or sometimes no charges at all. This also goes for people whom the state doesn’t charge and agrees to not charge if they testify for the prosecution.

In either of these cases, people are being given a benefit to tell a story that is pleasing to the prosecution. If they vary at all, even if it’s not 100 percent truthful, they can see the consequences — a lost plea deal or charges being filed. For this reason, their testimony should be seen as questionable.

In Fort Lauderdale drug cases, in particular, police officers will use confidential informants to try to nab other people. Informants are former drug dealers or buyers who agree with police to work with them to net arrests for the department. But in many cases, these people set up drug deals, which can lead to entrapment. That means a person wouldn’t normally have committed a crime if not enticed, or trapped, by law enforcement.

There are many factors to take into consideration in cases like this and the complexity requires the experience of a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney, who can work to uphold the rights of the accused.
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A store clerk died after being shot during a robbery at a check cashing store on Sunrise Boulevard recently, The Miami Herald reports.

Robbery that leads to murder in Fort Lauderdale is typically charged as first-degree murder, which can lead to a possible penalty of up to life in prison or the death penalty. That’s why a defendant facing these types of charges must hire an experienced Broward County Criminal Defense Attorney.
According to the news report, Broward County Sheriff’s deputies received distress calls from inside the building saying there was a robbery. When a SWAT team arrived, shots were fired, police said. A clerk inside died from her injuries, while a suspect and a person found across the street, who may have been a bystander, were also injured.

A two-hour standoff situation insued. Officers thought they had a hostage situation and when paramedics attempted to treat a man on the ground outside the store, they noticed he was armed and waited for SWAT to extract him.

The other man, who hasn’t been identified as a bystander or suspect, was treated by paramedics. All were taken to Broward General Medical Center.

Eventually, SWAT team members broke through a window of the business and brought out the clerk. Traffic on the typically busy six-lane West Sunrise Boulevard was cut off during the standoff.

In Florida, a person can be charged with first-degree murder by police, but in order for the charge to go forward to trial, the State Attorney’s Office must seek a grand jury indictment, meaning a panel of people on the grand jury must agree that the charges rise to the level of first-degree murder. That’s because of the severity of the penalties against someone facing that charge.

First-degree murder charges in Florida mean a person can face life in prison or possibly death by lethal injection. It can be proven either by proving a premeditated plan of committing murder or if the defendant committed another felony –in this case, a possible armed robbery — while committing the murder.

Among the crimes that can lead to a first-degree murder charge: trafficking, arson, sexual battery, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, escape, aggravated child abuse, aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult, aircraft piracy, unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb, carjacking, home-invasion robbery, aggravated stalking, murder of another, resisting an officer with violence and a felony that is an act of terrorism.

As you can see, there are many potential reasons to be charged with first-degree murder if a person dies. But this doesn’t just apply to someone who was the intended target of violence.

In fact, there have been many cases of a co-defendant dying during some sort of planned robbery and the surviving co-defendant is charged with murder — even if the police, for instance, shoot and kill the suspect. In other cases, a person may have a heart attack during a house break-in and those responsible for the break-in can be charged with murder.

That’s why hiring an experienced Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney should be the first step in defending a crime of this nature. Getting sound legal advice in a case like this is critical to ensuring a defendant’s rights are upheld from the very beginning.
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A 79-year-old man is charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in Fort Lauderdale after allegedly shooting a boy, NBC Miami reports.

This is a serious charge levied against an older man. And he, and others like him, must have an experienced Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney who will examine all aspects of the case and scrutinize all evidence the state intends to use at trial.
Battery charges in Florida can be charged as a felony and can lead to years or decades in prison, depending on the circumstances. Some people can get confused about the difference between battery and assault. Assault is threatening to do harm to a person, whereas battery is committing the physical abuse. Therefore, battery charges typically carry tougher penalties.

For instance, felony battery is punishable as a third-degree felony under Florida Statutes 784.03. That means a person can spend up to five years in prison, if convicted.

But Florida Statutes 784.045 defines aggravated battery, which is punishable as a second-degree felony and up to 15 years in a state prison. Aggravated battery means committing a battery while using a deadly weapon or intentionally causing disability, great bodily harm or disfigurement.

This particular case is a bit odd because, according to NBC News, the man was agitated at neighborhood boys knocking on his door. Police say boys were playing football in the street when the man came out of his house and fired a gun twice into the ground.

According to the news report, a bullet hit a 12-year-old boy who was outside playing. Police said the man intended to scare off the boys by firing the gun. Witnesses said the man allegedly came out of his house after a football hit the back yard. He was denied bond and was required to spend an extra day in jail before reappearing in court.

Along with base penalties that are laid out under Florida law, prosecutors can sometimes enhance the penalties against the defendant based on the use of a weapon, including a gun, knife, baseball bat and even a vehicle.

In cases of battery, an aggressive Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney must examine all the evidence, including eyewitness statements, if there are any, the victim’s statement and what police officers write up in reports. Sometimes, the statements of witnesses contradict each other and can create doubt in the state’s case. In this case, whether the defendant is suffering from dementia or other health issues could also come into play.

There is also physical evidence that must be examined. State crime laboratories may very well be used to examine bullets and other physical evidence at the scene. Scrutinizing their work and questioning whether or not there are matches and physical probabilities that the defendant committed the crime are essential elements to a strong defense.

Perhaps most importantly is attacking whether or not evidence in the case should be used against the defendant. Filing motions to suppress evidence and statements can be crucial in eliminating evidence from trial if it was obtained improperly by police.
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Police recently conducted a sting to make arrests for prostitution in Fort Lauderdale on Federal Highway just south of downtown, the Sun Sentinel reports.

Prostitution is said to be the world’s oldest profession– accepting money for sex — but in Florida it is still a crime. Police are consistently holding raids to try to arrest people for soliciting prostitution as well as arresting the prostitutes. Crackdowns on online massage therapists or those advertising through classifieds is an even grayer area of enforcement. While it is a misdemeanor to seek a prostitute, it can be one of the more embarrassing crimes to be charged with and therefore should be defended by an experienced Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorney. Too often, an embarassed defendent will quickly plead guilty in an effort to put the incident in the rearview mirror. We think that’s a mistake. Having a prostitution or solicitation conviction on your record can impact your life for years to come.
According to the Sun Sentinel, police have averaged between 171 and 334 prostitution-related arrests each year over the past five years. So far this year, however, the department has only made 66 arrests. Businesses and residents complained that the highway has been the scene of prostitution, which they say is scaring away customers and bringing in other types of crime to their neighborhood.

So, the department set up a sting where an undercover officer with scantily clad clothes walked the streets. Eight men — ages 26 to 54 — were arrested and charged with soliciting a prostitute, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Police videotaped the transactions.

In these types of cases, entrapment is definitely an area an experienced criminal defense attorney will pursue in defense of the suspect. Entrapment means when police coerce a person into committing a crime they wouldn’t normally commit. For instance, if a person pulls over to talk to an undercover officer posing as a prostitute and decides to leave, but the officer urges them to stay, that could be considered entrapment because it was the officer’s words or actions that caused them to commit the crime.

Stings of any kind that police put together must be carefully conducted within the bounds of the law in order for the evidence they collect to stand at trial. And challenging the evidence is key to a successful defense.

But police sometimes conduct these raids in order to look for more serious crimes, such as human trafficking, sex slavery and underage prostitution. That’s when a seemingly less-than-serious misdemeanor offense can begin to turn into the more serious felony offenses that lead to serious prison time.

According to Florida Statutes 796, prostitution is defined as “giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire but excludes sexual activity between spouses.”

The chapter goes on to define how it is illegal to pimp a prostitute, seek out someone who is under 18 for purposes of prostitution, sell or buy minors into sex trafficking or prostitution and other prostitution-related crimes. The penalties range from months in jail to decades in prison, as the trafficking charges can be charged as first-degree felonies punishable by 30 years in prison.
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A man authorities have named as a suspect in the deaths of a Delray Beach woman and her two children recently pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge of possessing an illegal handgun silencer, The Sun Sentinel reports.

The saga revolves around the fact that prosecutors believe the 34-year-old man killed his girlfriend because she would have been a key witness against him in the federal gun case. He has been held without bond on the charge as state investigators try to link him to the homicides.
Weapons charges in Fort Lauderdale require the experience of lawyers who have spent years as prosecutors and know how the state and law enforcement work. Understanding these tactics and knowing how case loads and office politics can affect cases are an advantage that Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorneys bring to the table.

It can be particularly dangerous when the state starts with a suspect and then attempts to work backward gathering evidence, as appears to be the case here.

The man was scheduled to go to trial in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami, but instead entered the plea, which calls for a range of imprisonment of 2.75 to 3.4 years. The charge of possessing an illegal handgun silencer carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The man has been in custody since March, when the bodies of a 10-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister were found stuffed in luggage that had been tossed into a canal that divides Delray Beach and Boca Raton. The siblings had been living with the man since their mother’s disappearance the previous summer, the newspaper reports.

The man’s on-and-off girlfriend was the children’s mother and she would have been a key witness against him on the gun charge. She was found at a Palm Beach County trash processing plant last August, the newspaper reports.

Federal prosecutors have said in court documents that they can prove the man killed the woman and that the motive was to eliminate her as a witness in the gun case. A judge admitted into evidence a secretly recorded conversation between the woman and her ex-husband, where she admitted to buying a .22-caliber revolver with a homemade silencer from the defendant in West Palm Beach.

It comes as no surprise that charges of homicide in Florida carry the most severe penalties. In fact, a person charged with murder in Fort Lauderdale can face the death penalty or at least decades or life in prison.

But gun charges can be extremely serious as well. Using a weapon while committing other crimes can lead to enhancements that add years to criminal charges. Possessing a gun if you are a convicted felon is also a crime.

But these charges can be beaten, depending on the facts of the case and the ability of the lawyer to get key evidence eliminated. Being able to disprove state witnesses, shoot holes in the police investigation and suppress statements made by the defendant are examples of ways an aggressive defense attorney can serve the client.
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A former Transportation Security Administration employee at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was charged with grand theft after allegedly stealing from passengers over the last few months, Fox News reports.

Grand theft charges in Fort Lauderdale can be filed as either first-degree, second-degree or third-degree felonies. Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Attorneys are always available for those who are being investigated for serious charges. Because serious theft crimes can be punishable by long prison terms, the allegations must be defended vigorously.
But this isn’t the first allegation of TSA agents stealing from passengers. In New York, authorities are investigating how $100 went missing from the bag of a 16-year-old at JFK Airport, the New York Post reports. And The Associated Press reports that a TSA agent from Los Angeles International Airport has been indicted on theft charges.

In the case in Fort Lauderdale, the 30-year-old former agent is accused of stealing electronics from passengers in checked luggage, taking photos, posting the items to Craigslist and selling them, sometimes by the end of his work shift.

Among the items he allegedly stole, according to Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputies, were iPads, computers, small video cameras and a GPS device. He had been a TSA agent since January 2009 before he was arrested. Investigators allege he conducted the scam for six months and stole about $50,000 in merchandise.

While the article doesn’t specify, it appears likely that the man will face grand theft in the second-degree, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Theft charges can range from shoplifting to armed robbery and the punishment varies, typically depending on whether weapons were involved and the amount of the stolen goods.

According to Florida Statute 812.014, grand theft can be punished as a third-degree felony (up to 5 years in prison), a second-degree felony (up to 15 years in prison) or a first-degree felony (up to 30 years in prison).

While the differences for the three levels of charges vary, they mostly come down to the amount of the alleged property stolen. For a first-degree felony, the amount stolen must be between $20,000 and $100,000 and meet other criteria. If the value is between $20,000 to $100,000, it is a second-degree felony and up to $20,000 is a third-degree felony.

In allegations such as these, where the theft is committed over time and with the possibility of many people being able to commit the crime, prosecutors must have an abundance of proof in order to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard that must be met in order to show the person committed the crime.

In this case, where possessions were allegedly sold after being stolen, the state must be able to prove where the possessions are now and that they were taken by the defendant. Video surveillance and eye witness accounts must be vigorously defended in order to ensure justice is done in these types of cases.
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