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False Rape Accusations on the Rise?

Rape and sexual assault are among the most heinous crimes a person may be charged with short of murder. Any type of sex crimes conviction carries serious penalties in Florida. A defendant is facing not only possible jail time, but also a lifetime of legal and public condemnation as a “sex offender.” Rolling Stone Scandal Shows How False Rape Accusations Go Viral Given the gravity of any rape accusation, it is imperative that law enforcement perform their due diligence before charging a suspect. Prosecutors must also be strictly held to their legal burden of proof: guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Unfortunately, in our social media-crazed age, people are quick to rush to judgment. There is an understandable, if legally misguided, view that we should “always believe the victim,” which can end up trampling on the constitutional rights of the accused. At the end of the day, a judge and jury need to see evidence beyond a mere accusation before convicting someone of a felony. And while studies have shown that the majority of rape accusations are credible–or at least, they are not deliberate fabrications, there is increasing anecdotal and scientific evidence that false allegations are on the rise. On the anecdotal side, there was a recent report about a video where a passenger using a popular ride-sharing service verbally threatened to accuse the driver of rape following a disagreement. Heat-of-the-moment exclamations are one thing. But then there are the false rape accusations that “go viral” and are willingly spread by the national news media. Consider the July 2014 report published in Rolling Stone magazine accusing several University of Virginia students of raping an unidentified female accuser. Although none of the accused students were ever charged with a crime, the uncorroborated accusation alone was enough to prompt a wave of stories decrying the purported “rape culture” on the nation’s college campuses. Rolling Stone later retracted the story after acknowledging its reporter and editors never bothered to corroborate the accuser’s story. Cathy Young, a writer for the libertarian magazine Reason, noted in the aftermath of the Rolling Stone scandal that “[t]he willingness to treat uncorroborated narratives of victimization as fact may be partly due to sensationalism,” but also “reflects a climate in which any suggestion that a woman who says she was raped may be lying is often treated as ‘victim-blaming’ or ‘rape apology.’” Have You Been Falsely Accused of Rape? But false rape accusations do happen. A study authored by a group from the University of Massachusetts and Northeastern University in Boston found that “the prevalence of false allegations is between 2 percent and 10 percent.” That may not sound like much, but consider that each false rape accusation represents a potential criminal conviction for an innocent person. This is why if you or a loved one is accused of a sex crime, you need to take it seriously. Do not assume it is a misunderstanding and that the police (and the press) will simply believe your claims of innocence. You need to speak with an Orlando criminal defense attorney who has experience in dealing with these types of cases. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at 407-377-0150 if you need to speak with a lawyer right away.

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Rise in Heroin Overdoses in Orange County in 2017

For the past several years, Florida has been a key battleground in the government’s efforts to combat illegal drug use. While recreational drugs like marijuana tend to draw the most attention from the press, the more serious problem of opiate and heroin abuse has rapidly become the top priority for law enforcement and public health officials. Heroin vs. Legal Opiates Morphine is a naturally occurring opiate–pain medication–found in many plants. While morphine is incredibly helpful in treating patients with moderate-to-severe pain, it is also highly addictive. For this reason, the legal prescription and distribution of morphine is heavily regulated by state and federal authorities. Heroin is an illegal form of morphine. According to the National Institutes of Health, heroin sold in Florida and throughout the eastern United States is primarily imported from South America. Heroin has become increasingly popular in Florida as authorities have cracked down on the over-prescription of legal opiates. How Bad is Florida’s Heroin Problem? A reported prepared by the National Governors Association said approximately 586,000 people in the United States are addicted to heroin. Since 2001, there has been a 200 percent increase of overdose deaths attributed to heroin or other opiates. That represents more than 60 percent of all overdose deaths. Orlando and Orange County are at the epicenter of this epidemic. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said there were 101 drug overdoses reported in the first six weeks of 2017–70 of which were related to heroin. During the same period in 2016, there were only 28 heroin-related victims out of 63 total reported overdoses. A 2014 Reuters article noted that Florida’s heroin problem is especially widespread among people under the age of 30. As state and federal law enforcement have stemmed the tide of legal prescription pills, heroin has simply taken its place. One health care official said many young people now actively use heroin “in place of prescription pain pills.” What Are the Legal Risks of Using Heroin? Heroin is not something to mess around with. Possession of 10 ounces or less of heroin is a third-degree felony under Florida law punishable by up to 5 years in prison. In contrast, possession of 20 grams of marijuana is only a misdemeanor punishable by no more than 1 year in jail. And if you are caught selling, delivering, or manufacturing heroin, you can be charged with a second-degree felony and, if convicted, sentenced up to 15 years in prison. If you have been charged with heroin possession, you need to remain calm and contact a qualified Orlando criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Police often make mistakes in drug cases, such as conducting an illegal search or misidentifying a legal substance as heroin. You need a lawyer by your side who understands the law and will stand up for your rights. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at 407-377-0150 if you need to speak with a lawyer today.

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Dani Mathers Update as of 1/25/2017

Since the initial public outrage, Ms. Mathers has been charged with Invasion of Privacy.  In California, where this incident occurred, this crime carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  She had a court appearance on December 21, 2016.  At that hearing it is being reported that her attorney has been attempting to negotiate a non-criminal resolution.  She is concerned that any criminal conviction will have a negative effect on her pending real estate licensure. Click here to read original article published July 15, 2016  

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Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

Teenagers and other minors interact with law enforcement whenever a police officer suspects a minor violated the law. As a result of the interaction, a minor may be arrested, given a citation or held in custody until a parent can arrive. These interactions can be straightforward and simple to resolve. Matters become more complicated if a minor claims he or she committed a crime because he or she was encouraged or commanded to commit the act by an adult. Once this sort of accusation is made, law enforcement officers must investigate the claim. Claiming that an adult contributed to the delinquency of a minor is a serious accusation and adults should understand the consequences and potential penalties that come with a conviction. What is Contributing to Child Delinquency? Florida law defines contributing to child delinquency as engaging in an act that causes or encourages a child to become delinquent. These are any acts which induce a child to commit a crime. The law will treat you the same if you enticed, threatened, or ordered a child to become delinquent or to become a child in need of service or remain in need of services. The law defines “child in need of services” as a child who: Runs away from home; Is truant from school despite reasonable efforts to remedy the situation; or Disobeys reasonable and lawful requests. Common examples of contributing to delinquency of a minor include: Permitting a teenaged niece to use an empty room to have sex with her adult boyfriend. Providing drugs and alcohol to her teenaged son and friends. Recruiting middle and high schoolers to help with drug sales. What are the Penalties for Child Delinquency? The penalties for a contributing to a child delinquency charge range from large fines to lengthy jail sentences. Under Florida law, contributing to child delinquency is a first degree misdemeanor. You may be placed on probation for twelve months or sentenced to jail for up to one year. A court may decide to impose additional penalties which include: Court costs, Restitution payments, or Community service. In addition to criminal sanctions, a contributing to the delinquency of a minor conviction may also stigmatize the adult charged with the crime. A conviction may result in restricted interaction with the accused’s children and other children in the community. It is important that you seek legal advice if you are dealing with this serious criminal charge. Let an Attorney Help Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a serious charge. Just the accusation alone may impact an adult’s reputation and his or her ability to interact with children in the future. If you have been accused of contributing to the frequency of a minor, then you should seek advice from the orlando criminal defense attorneys at Moses & Rooth. We can help you deal with a contributing to child negligence charge and can advise you through the legal process. Contact us today 407-377-0150 to schedule an appointment.

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5 Things You Didn’t Expect From a Drunk Driving Charge

by David W. Bate Emotional As a criminal defense lawyer in Bangor, ME, I have been practicing for over 20 years and it still surprises me every time: Ordinary people charged with drunk driving are devastated by the prospect of facing real criminal charges with real criminal consequences.  You are afraid to face family and friends.  Through mere negligent conduct, getting behind the wheel when intoxicated, you are thrown in with other criminal defendants who intentionally committed their crimes: thieves, burglars and murderers.  And you don’t know what to expect. I think it helps speaking to a Bangor, ME criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to alleviate the misconceptions and get a clear picture of what’s coming.  Even if it seems to you that the State’s case is rock solid and a guilty plea likely, a well-focused analysis and review can alleviate the anxiety of the unknown.  For some cases, a defense lawyer’s scrutiny of the police reports can unearth a complete defense or at least an argument that can reduce the charges and penalties. Inconvenience License suspensions (150 day minimum in Maine) wreak havoc on drivers and their families and friends, especially in rural states without public transportation.  Driving is one of the most important conveniences in life, one that we all take for granted.  The stress of a suspension can cause job loss, friend loss, even loss of family.  A defense attorney may be able to avoid or minimize your suspension to reduce this unexpectedly burdensome penalty. Jail Time Jail undoubtedly is the most daunting prospect of a drunk driving charge.  You may have had a taste of jail during your arrest.  It is a bad place with bad people.  Although most states. Like Maine, have alternative sentencing programs designed to place you in camps in classes instead of behind bars, it often takes a defense attorney to navigate the complex rules behind these programs.   Employment Some employers equate a drunk driving conviction with a loss of trust and reliability.  Even if your job does not involve driving, your employer may see you as less likely to show up for work, question your sobriety, question your judgment, and pass you up for raises and promotion.  A defense lawyer is your best option for avoiding conviction and, at times, will be able to convince your employer that the charge or conviction, if unavoidable, have made you a better employee. Lifetime Criminal Record A criminal record will be public and will stay with you a lifetime.  A conviction will be scrutinized at awkward moments by potential employers and even friends and family.  Some see any criminal conviction as a permanent black mark against your character.  Although some states have procedures for pardoning drunk driving convictions (Maine does not), most have waiting periods and a stingy attitude toward A defense attorney obviously is your best bet against this life long stigma. Thanks to our blog contributor, David W. Bate, of David W. Bate Law Office, PC, for his insight into the consequences of drunk driving charges.

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Tavares Mayor Accused of Fraud

Fraud is serious. Just ask recently arrested Tavares Mayor, Robert Wolfe. Mayor Wolfe is accused of committing fraud by submitting a false claim to his insurance company for $9,300 worth of damage to his home. It is alleged that Mayor Wolfe submitted a claim to his insurance company that he was forced to move out of his home due to damage from a leaky sink, but the insurance company claims that this never happened. Now, not only has Mayor Wolfe been accused of a serious felony but Governor Scott has removed him from office. Currently, Mayor Wolfe is standing accused of one count of insurance fraud. However, the State Attorney’s Office could add charges depending upon the evidence. Depending upon how the claim was made these additional charges could include perjury and grand theft. Our firm has seen a significant increase in the prosecution of these cases. Not only are local law enforcement agencies investigating these cases, but so are statewide agencies including FDLE and the Department of Financial Services. These statewide agencies are typically investigating fraudulent acts where the government is the victim. Insurance fraud, credit card fraud, tax fraud, and other “white collar” crimes are frequently prosecuted and must be handled by defense attorneys that have knowledge of how these types of cases are handled. The attorney must be prepared to examine the financial documents that are being used as evidence and have the required understanding to determine if the documents can prove the alleged crime. If you are being investigated for fraud do not speak with the investigator. Do not try to clear this up yourself. Do not try to explain the situation. Remember these investigators have a job and that job is to provide evidence of the alleged fraud. If you are contacted by an investigator contact an attorney. Allow the criminal lawyer to contact the detective. Allow the attorney to speak with the Assistant State Attorney or Assistant US Attorney. Trying to this yourself will only lead to problems. Too often I have had clients who try to tell “there side of the story”. If you have been contacted by law enforcement, or have been arrested for fraudulent activity contact a criminal attorney who handles these types of cases. The criminal defense attorneys at Moses and Rooth Attorney at Law are experienced in defending those accused of fraudulent activity. Contact us at 407-377-0150 and set up a free consultation. Let us assist you in making sure that your rights are protected.

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Should we Continue to Punish Felons After They Have Completed Their Sentence?

“A man without a vote is a man without protection.” –Lyndon B. Johnson A third Driving on a Suspended License, Possessing more than 20 grams of Marijuana, and Trespassing on a construction site. All felonies. If convicted of any one of these, you would lose your civil rights including the right to vote. These are just a few examples of seemingly minor crimes that, upon a conviction, would trigger a permanent loss of your fundamental right to vote. In Florida, more than 1.6 million citizens cannot vote because of a felony conviction. The Florida Constitution prohibits a person who has been convicted of a felony from voting, serving on a jury, or holding public office until those civil rights are restored. The laws do not differentiate between a person convicted of a robbery or the person convicted of purchasing marijuana. In fact, Florida is only one of three states that has permanent disfranchisement of its citizens for any conviction. As shown on the map the vast majority of states allow for the right to vote be restored upon the completion of a person’s sentence. The debt to society has been paid and the government allows the person to resume their life and hopefully become a productive citizen. This is not the case in Florida. A convicted felon must apply for the restoration of their civil rights including the right to vote. Seems simple enough. Well not really. Here is the process. First, the convicted felon must wait five years after they complete their sentence (includes probation) before they can even apply. If they are arrested for even a misdemeanor the clock resets, even if the case is eventually dismissed.   This application must be approved by the Clemency Board. As of the end of 2015 Gov. Scott had restored the rights of 1866 felons. There is also a backlog of over 20,000 applicants. This has not always been the case in Florida. Under Gov. Bush 72,000 felons had their rights restored and Gov. Crist instituted a nearly automatic restoration of civil rights for non-violent offenders restored the rights of 155,000 felons. As a society we want those who stepped outside the legal system to come back in. We want them to move on from their past and work hard and succeed. The fact that our current administration is delaying this process for many is not right. These people paid their debt to society; let’s welcome them back. The more accepting we are the less likely they are to reoffend. If you agree consider signing this petition to amend the Florida Constitution. The amendment would only allow for the restoration of civil rights once the person completed their sentence including probation or parole. The amendment would not apply to individual who committed murder or sex related offenses. I am normally against amending the constitution by vote, however I think the discrepancies between governors is not fair and a more consistent process is needed to assist people who are trying to reintegrate themselves into our communities.

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The Criminal Side of Online Dating

Love. Soulmate. Companionship. At some point we all want to experience it. We search high and low for someone who we can call our own and when we find him or her, most of us try to hold on tight. With the increase of technology and different paths available to find love, such as online dating, meeting people has become considerably convenient. However, crime has also increased due to the convenience of “love” and technology. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime associated with online dating, it is important for you to seek legal advice. Contact an experienced Florida criminal law attorney to help you with your case. Crimes and Online Dating: What You Should Know Though online dating has been around for a while, in recent years online dating has become a trend and although there have been some very successful relationships resulting from online dating, there has also been an increase in crime. For instance, recently in Florida, a woman who moved from Alabama to Florida to be with a man she met online vanished. This is not the first time nor the last time that online dating has led to a potential crime. In 2010 Carol Markin went on a date with a man she met online, and after he asked to use her bathroom, he raped her. Though online dating is a booming industry, it can also be a scary one. Online dating crimes in recent years have consisted of sexual offenses, money laundering, and extortion scams. Targeting women over 40, who are divorced or widowed, money laundering has become significantly easy for those who have joined dating sites. According to the AARP, the FBI says that Americans lost approximately $82 million to online dating fraud in only six months in the year of 2014, and that number is only for those who chose to report the problem. Because online dating crimes have increased and most dating sites do not make their users submit background checks, Florida has proposed bills that would require a dating service to notify their consumers on whether or not they have conducted background checks. Need Legal Advice? Being charged with any crime can be overwhelming, however, this is definitely the case when the crime is considered to be a crime associated to online dating. If convicted, you can face imprisonment, fines, registering as a sex offender, as well as probation and community service. Because of this, it is invaluable to seek legal advice. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime associated with online dating, contact Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law  at (407) 377-0150  to help you strategize about the best possible outcomes for your case. Contact our office today for a free consultation.  

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Crimes that Result in Deportation

For many, the United States is a country that represents freedom and opportunity. This is especially so for those who are from developing countries trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Though your intentions may be good, in Florida, you can potentially get involved in situations that are considered crimes. Though these crimes vary, when you are an immigrant and commit certain crimes, you have more to lose than those born in the United States. For those unfortunate instances, it is important to seek legal advice. If you or a loved one face potential deportation due to a crime, it is invaluable to contact an experienced Florida criminal law attorney to help you with your case. What Crimes Can Lead to Deportation? The truth of the matter is, all immigrants, including those who have been issued green cards, can be deported if they are found to have violated the laws of the United States. It is unfortunate, but when you commit a crime as an immigrant your punishment may be harsher than when a citizen of the United States commits a crime. Even for misdemeanor charges or instances when you do not have to serve jail time, you could face deportation if you are convicted of a crime. In the case of drugs, you can be deported for almost any form of drug conviction under federal law.   Crimes that can result in deportation include: Aggravated felonies; Firearms conviction; Crimes of domestic violence; Crimes of moral turpitude. Though firearm convictions and domestic violence convictions are more straightforward, aggravated felonies and crimes of moral turpitude are not. According to 8 U.S.C. Section 1101(a)(43), aggravated felonies are the most serious crimes in immigration law and include, but are not limited to: Murder, Drug trafficking, Money laundering over $10,000; Crimes of violence where the sentence is at least one year imprisonment; Rape or sexual abuse. Crimes pertaining to moral turpitude include, but are not limited to: Fraud; Larceny; and Intent to harm persons or property. Lastly, it is important to note that a formal guilty verdict is not the only disposition that may result in deportation, you can also plea nolo contender and receive some form of punishment such as probation or house arrest, as well as deferred adjudication that can lead to deportation. Need Legal Advice? When you have committed a crime, you face several consequences that can result in fines, imprisonment, probation, as well as suspension of licenses. However, when you are an immigrant and commit a crime, the consequences are a lot stricter and oftentimes can lead to you being deported. Though you may feel like there are no other options, seeking legal advice and representation can change your view. If you or a loved one face potential deportation due to the committing of a crime, contact Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law at (407) 377-0150 for a free consultation. As former prosecutors, we will not miss details when defending you. Contact our office today!  

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Do You Have a Defense to Your Robbery Charge?

Criminal records harm you wherever you go. You are automatically looked at in society with a stigma of dishonesty or as a violent person. However, when you have been accused of robbery, you do not get to choose which stigma follows you. Usually you are liable as both untrustworthy and violent. What happens when you have been falsely accused or the level of taking was not as serious a crime as robbery itself? If you or a loved one have been charged with robbery, no matter the degree, it is beyond beneficial to seek legal representation. Contact an experienced Florida criminal law attorney today for an initial consultation. Robbery: The Crime and Possible Defenses According to Florida Statute Section 812.13, robbery means the taking of money or other property from a person, with the intent to either permanently deprive the person of their money or other property with the use of force, violence, assault, or putting the person in fear. In simpler terms, if you are charged with robbery, a prosecutor must show that there was a taking of property, that force was used to take that property, and that you had the intent to take that property and to never give it back to the owner. If these elements can be established then you may be convicted of robbery. If convicted of robbery, the consequences can be steep. In Florida a robbery charge can get you imprisoned for 15-30 years as well as fines, depending on if you had a weapon when the robbery was committed or if you are a felon. Though overwhelming, you may have possible defenses. Defenses can be in the form of consent; a claim of right defense where the taker believed in good faith that he or she was the owner of the property, or if no force or weapon was used or if there was no taking from the person then the robbery charge can be considered a lesser offense charge. Because of the many defenses you may have available to you as well as the severity of a robbery charge and conviction, it is invaluable to seek legal advice. Need Legal Advice? Being charged with robbery is a serious offense that has several serious consequences that follow if you are convicted of robbery. Though you may feel hopeless, contacting the right attorney could possibly get your case dismissed or mitigate your punishment, though each case is different. That is why it is important, that if you or a loved one have been charged with robbery, contact Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law at (407) 377-0150 for a free consultation. As former prosecutors, we will not miss details when defending you.  

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