| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

Resources for Domestic Violence Victims

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), domestic violence affects about 1 in 3 women. The numbers were almost as high for men—1 in 4. Put differently, 24 people suffer physical violence from an intimate partner every minute. Unfortunately, it is not always easy for a victim to leave. In fact, 75% of the women who are killed each year by an abusive partner are killed after they have left the relationship. Instead, domestic violence victims need significant help. Read on for more information about the resources available to domestic violence victims. Create a Safety Plan Victims of domestic violence often experience a sense of powerlessness as well as panic during a violent explosion. It is very easy to forget what simple steps you can take to keep yourself safe. This is where a safety plan comes it. It should include the following information: An exit plan for leaving the home during a violent episode (identify the door or window you can use to exit). The place where you will keep your purse and keys in the event you need to leave quickly. Who you can tell about the violence and who you can ask to call the police if they suspect something has happened to you. Where you can go if you need to leave the home suddenly. Where you will stash extra money as well as important documents, such as birth certificates or Social Security Numbers. How you will secure safety in your new residence if you leave. If you need help creating a safety plan, you can contact Harbor House of Central Florida. Their 24-hour confidential hotline number is 407-886-2856. If you are outside central Florida, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Someone is available to take your call 24 hours a day. Seek a Restraining Order A restraining order (called a “protective order” in Florida) is an order from a judge that prohibits an abuser from contacting you or coming near you. A protective order can also include other conditions, such as: Forcing the abuser to move out of the home Prohibiting the abuser from having a firearm Allowing you to use the family car Requiring that an abuser attend an alcohol or drug treatment program Granting you temporary custody of the children If your abuser violates the conditions of the order, then the police can pick him up and take him to jail. A judge can also keep the abuser in jail or order additional conditions to compel compliance with the protective order. In Florida, you can get an emergency protective order by filing an application in court. The judge will then hold a hearing, which your abuser can attend, to decide whether to grant a permanent protective order. Need Help? Contact Moses & Rooth At Moses & Rooth, we have significant experience assisting those involved in domestic violence cases in Orlando. Please contact us today to learn more about the services that we offer or give us a call at (407) 377-0150.

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How Domestic Violence Can Creep into Your Relationship

No one enters a relationship expecting it to be violent. Nevertheless, experts caution that about 25% of women and 14% of men will experience at least one occurrence of domestic violence. To protect yourself, you should better understand why abuse happens. It’s All About Control When couples feel comfortable and on equal footing, a relationship can be harmonious. However, one partner sometimes wants to control or dominate the other, often because of insecurity and fear. When abusers see domestic violence as a child, it operates as a powerful lesson that violence is an effective means of obtaining control. Abusers often feel that they are about to lose control, with the following as common triggers: A major life change, such as a pregnancy or death in the family. An abuser can feel neglected and use violence to once again become the focal point of the relationship. Job loss or sudden debt. Financial stress often serves as a trigger to violence. An attempt by the victim to leave. To regain control of the situation, the abuser uses violence. The Cycle of Violence Relationships expert describe domestic violence as a cycle. The cycle begins with rising tension. During this time, the abuser might make threats or insults or commit small acts of violence.  The abuser also tries to control the victim, such as not allowing her to leave or checking her phone to see what messages she has received. Victims often do not take this controlling behavior, and tension builds. When tension reaches a tipping point, a violent explosion takes place. An abuser might use physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal abuse during this phase. The violent phase ends with the abuser apologizing—though still blaming the victim. The honeymoon phase follows, with the abuser becoming apologetic and sometimes romantic. He also will make promises to change. If the victim stays, then even small acts of domestic violence set the stage for more intense violence later on. Why We Don’t Break the Cycle If society did not reward or condone domestic violence, many victims would probably leave after the first violent incident and many abusers would change their behavior. However, domestic violence is normalized in our society: Popular culture glorifies male violence, which is often portrayed heroically. Mass media reinforces that it is normal for men to control women and make all key decisions in a relationship. Mass media also minimizes that women can use violence and makes men afraid of being open about the abuse they suffer. People accept the excuses abusers offer, such as alcohol caused their aggression. Friends and family minimize the violence and look for reasons to blame the victim. If you know someone is being abused, remind them that they are not to blame. Also seek out resources to share that might allow the victim to leave the situation. And if you are the abuser, seek help. It is up to abusers to also break the cycle of violence, not victims. At Moses & Rooth, we practice in the fields of criminal law and domestic violence. If you have a legal issue, we can help. Call 407-377-0150 today or contact us online.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Domestic Violence

Deadly Orlando Standoff Ends with 4 Children Killed, Officer in Critical Condition

It is well known that domestic violence is a serious problem in central Florida. Area police frequently cite domestic violence calls as among the most dangerous situations they must respond to. Sadly, recent events have only brought this danger to home for residents of Orlando. On the evening of June 10, police officers responded to a domestic violence call in southwest Orlando. Specifically, a woman reported she was being battered and fled her apartment to a nearby restaurant. Orlando Police Department officers then went to the woman’s apartment to confront the suspected abuser, 35-year-old Gary Wayne Lindsey, Jr. But when police arrived, a shootout ensued, seriously wounding OPD Officer Kevin Valencia. The officer subsequently required emergency surgery at Orlando Regional Medical Center, followed by extensive treatment at a spinal cord and brain-injury rehabilitation facility in Atlanta. As of a June 28 report, Officer Valencia was “responsive” but “remains in a coma.” Unfortunately, Officer Valencia’s injuries were not the most serious. After a 24-hour standoff, an OPD SWAT team entered the apartment, where they found the suspect, Lindsey, and four children dead. According to OPD Chief John Mina, Lindsey shot and killed the children–who ranged in age from 1 to 11– before turning his gun on himself. Two of the children were reportedly Lindsey’s, while the other two belonged to the woman who made the initial domestic violence report. Suspect Owned Multiple Firearms Despite Felony Conviction, Probation Requirements In the aftermath of this incident, news reports focused on Lindsey’s prior criminal record. The Orlando Sentinel reported that at the time of his death, Lindsey was serving a 35-year probation term arising from a 2010 arson arrest. More precisely, the Sentinel said Lindsey “was accused of trying to burn down a house in Orange City during a domestic argument.” During the course of his probation, Lindsey was “reported for four violations,” including a 2012 domestic violence arrest–involving the same accuser as the June 10 report–where the charges “were later dropped.” And following a May 4, 2018, arrest for grand theft, a judge “reluctantly agreed to release Lindsey back to supervision after his sister agreed to pay $1,000 in restitution on his behalf.” Although the terms of Lindsey’s probation prevented him from owning firearms, he had two rifles, two shotguns, and a handgun in his possession, according to Chief Mina, who said the weapons were gifts from Lindsey’s father. Defending Yourself Against Domestic Violence Charges It is important to note that cases like this are an outlier. Most domestic violence cases in Florida do not end in deadly shootings. More commonly, domestic violence charges are the result of verbal fights or minor altercations where nobody is seriously injured. Nevertheless, you should take any domestic violence accusation seriously. An experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney can assist you in preparing a defense to any domestic violence charge. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 531-8694, to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today.

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Why Domestic Violence First Responders and Florida Gun Laws Clash

For Orlando-area police officers, domestic violence calls are among the most dangerous situations they face. What starts out as a verbal argument between two people quickly escalates into threats of physical violence. And when one of the parties has a gun, these threats may turn into deadly action–exposing not only the other person but any law enforcement first responders who arrive at the scene. Post-Stoneman Douglas Laws Will Likely Affect Domestic Violence Cases Domestic violence is usually not a one-time occurrence. Police often find themselves responding to multiple calls from the same household over a period of weeks or months. This can significantly elevate the risk to law enforcement, as they know they are responding to a decaying domestic situation with a growing potential for violence. For police, the key to ensuring a safe resolution is restricting the availability of firearms to the people inside the house–especially if one of the occupants has a documented history of domestic violence. Historically, this was easier said than done, as the victim had to first obtain an order of protection against domestic violence. Such orders typically require the subject to surrender any firearms he or she owns to the police. But in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School mass murder on February 14, the Florida legislature passed new legislation designed to further restrict access to firearms by individuals who are judged to be a risk to the public. Under the new law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott on March 9, a law enforcement officer may directly petition a Florida circuit court judge for a “risk protection order” against any individual who “poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to himself or herself or others by having a firearm or any ammunition in his or her custody or control.” Once the officer files the petition, the court must hold a hearing within 14 days. In the interim, the judge can issue a temporary “ex parte” order immediately suspending the subject’s right to own or possess firearms. Following the hearing, the court can issue a final risk protection order if the state demonstrates by “clear and convincing evidence” that the subject does in fact pose a danger to the community. Note this standard is less rigorous than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal cases, but more stringent than the civil standard of “preponderance of the evidence.” An Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Make Sure the Courts Respect Your Rights While Florida legislators acted in response to a horrific school shooting, the availability of risk protection orders will also prove beneficial to police looking to confront individuals suspected of domestic violence. A risk protection order does not require any action on the part of an accuser or victim, since law enforcement may now directly apply for an order to disarm someone deemed a threat to themselves or others. At the same time, this may open the judicial system to abuses, as individuals subject to risk protection orders may not receive adequate due process before their rights are restricted. This is why it is always a good idea to work with an experienced Orlando domestic violence attorney who understands the law in this area and can advise you on how to best assert your rights in court. Contact the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150, to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today.

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When Domestic Abuse Victims are too Afraid to Speak Up

If you ask the typical Orlando-area police officer what scenario they fear most while on-duty, their answer probably will not be “taking down a drug dealer” or responding to a mass shooting. Instead, the officer may tell you their greatest fear is responding to a domestic violence call. And with good reason: According to the FBI, 136 police officers lost their lives between 1988 and 2016 while handling domestic violence matters. This makes domestic violence the single largest category of firearm-related fatalities for law enforcement nationwide. Victims Face Credibility Catch-22 Of course, domestic violence is even more devastating to its victims. And in many cases, victims never bother to contact the police in the first place. A recent report published by USA Today sheds some light on the reasons why. The report cited a 2015 survey by the National Domestic Violence Hotline where about 25 percent of respondents said that while they previously reported acts of domestic violence, they would not contact the police again, mostly out of fear they would not be believed. And more comprehensive statistics gathered by the U.S. Department of Justice suggest more than half of “non-fatal domestic violence” incidents are never reported to police at all. Many domestic violence victims feel they are in a Catch-22 situation. If they call the police right away, they are afraid that officers will not believe their story. But if they later change their mind and contact law enforcement, their delay in seeking assistance may be used as proof their allegations lack credibility. And for many domestic abuse victims–especially in Florida–there is a secondary fear that going to the police might place them at risk for arrest or even deportation. There are approximately 110,000 unauthorized immigrants living in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan area, according to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center. Given the recent focus at the federal level on “cracking down” on undocumented immigrants, many domestic violence victims who might be subject to such a crackdown are understandably reluctant to step forward for fear of losing their jobs, home, and families. Domestic Violence & Deportation It should be noted that despite the political fervor surrounding undocumented immigrants, it is still not okay to commit acts of domestic violence against anyone based on their legal residency status. As U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services itself has made clear, “Under all circumstances, domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse are illegal in the United States,” and every victim–regardless of immigration status–is protected from such acts under law. But on the flip side, if you are a non-citizen convicted of domestic violence–even if you have a visa or green card–you are subject to deportation at any time following said conviction. This means that if you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, it is critical to defend yourself in court. If you need advice or assistance from a qualified Orlando domestic violence attorney, contact Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, today at (407) 377-0150.

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Recognizing the Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Many relationships are based on love and trust. The two parties involved respect each other enough to not physically or emotionally hurt one another. They do not forcefully push, shove or hit each other, and they do not use or threaten any other type of violence. Some relationships, however, become violent. While men are often the ones accused of domestic violence, women can be abusive, as well. Ultimately, the abuser should be able to control his or her behavior. It’s not the other person’s fault that the abuser physically or emotionally abuses the victim. An abusive relationship is not healthy. However, victims are often afraid to leave the relationship because they fear the abuser will stalk them, hurt them even more or even kill them. Signs to Look For Do you think you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship? There are many signs to look for.  First, analyze your feelings and answer these questions: Do you avoid talking about certain topics because you don’t want to anger your partner? Are you scared of your partner? Do you feel as though you can’t do anything right? Do you feel helpless? Do you feel like you deserve to be mistreated by your partner? Now, think about your partner’s behavior. Does he or she do any of the following? Yell at you Humiliate you Criticize you Treat you in such a cruel manner that you don’t want your loved ones to see Blame you for his or her abusive behavior Belittle your accomplishments Treat you as a sex object Many abusive people resort to threats and violent behavior. Does your partner do any of the following? Hurt you Threaten to kill you Threaten your children Threaten to commit suicide if you leave Destroy your personal property Force you to have sex Many abusive people want to have control of their partners. Does your partner control you in these ways? Act abnormally possessive or jealous Keep you from seeing friends or family Limit your access to certain items, such as your phone, car or money Need to know where you are at all times Constantly check up on you If you answered yes to many of the questions above, you are in an abusive relationship and should seek help right away. Ask a trusted friend or family member to help you. You can seek help in your community. Contact the authorities and get a restraining order. Get Help for Your Criminal Case in Orlando In a domestic violence case, it’s important to understand both sides of the story. Sometimes physical violence occurs accidentally or in self-defense. Sometimes “victims” make up their stories during divorce cases or as acts of revenge. If you are accused of domestic violence, you need someone on your side to help. Contact the aggressive Orlando criminal defense lawyers at Moses & Rooth. We will assess your case and help you achieve the best outcome possible. Call our office at (407) 377-0150 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.

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Is Domestic Violence a Public Health Issue?

We all understand that domestic violence is a serious problem in Florida. Indeed, many of us personally know someone who has been affected by acts of domestic abuse or violence. But beyond the individual victims, what does domestic abuse look like in the aggregate? The Global Problem of Intimate Partner Violence The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have both long treated domestic violence as a public health issue and not simply a matter of law enforcement. These agencies study the impact of “intimate partner violence” (IPV) on both women and men from a scientific perspective. Unlike the legal system, which primarily focuses on identifying and punishing known abusers, the public health agencies are more concerned with identifying the root causes of IPV and implementing strategies to prevent it from happening in the first place. According to the CDC, about 25 percent of women and 11 percent of men in the United States have experienced some form of IPV. The CDC defines domestic violence as taking place on a “spectrum.” So while some IPV situations were limited to a single incident, other cases involve a series of “severe episodes” over a period of weeks, months, or years. In this context, IPV incorporates physical abuse and sexual assault, as well as stalking and other intentional behaviors designed to make the victim afraid for their life or safety. So how do these figures add up to a public health crisis? Based on research compiled by WHO, there are substantial “negative health and development consequences” to IPV victims, especially women. In addition to the immediate consequences of the violent acts–which is often death–WHO said IPV “is also an important cause of morbidity from multiple mental, physical, sexual and reproductive health outcomes, and it is also linked with known risk factors for poor health, such as alcohol and drug use, smoking and unsafe sex.” Ultimately, domestic violence puts a strain on the entire health care and social services system. WHO noted that violence against women cost Canada’s national healthcare system almost CAN$1.1 billion. In addition to these direct costs, IPV also frequently “undermines efforts to improve women’s access to education,” limiting their ability to secure better-paying jobs that enable them to escape abusive relationships. Preventing Violence Before the Courts Get Involved IPV generally begins in adolescence or young adulthood. Based on the CDC’s figures, 71 percent of women experience an IPV incident before the age of 25. That is why the CDC and WHO say it is critical for parents and the community at-large to “teach safe and healthy relationship skills” to adolescents. It is also important to identify individuals who are at greater risk of IPV and intervene before legal action becomes necessary. And if the law does have to get involved, remember the accused still has constitutional rights that must be respected. If you are charged with any kind of domestic abuse or violence, you have the right to speak to a qualified Orlando criminal defense lawyer. Call the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, at (407) 377-0150 or contact us online today if you need immediate assistance.

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Domestic Abuse and First Responders

Domestic violence is a complex issue. Many victims are afraid to come forward because they fear being judged. And many first responders train to render assistance, such as firefighters and paramedics, may not be properly trained to identify and properly deal with potential domestic violence situations. Orlando Joins Other Local Governments in Protecting Firefighters, EMTs It is important to remember that domestic violence is a crime. It is not simply a squabble or a “family matter.” Florida law defines domestic violence as any act of assault, battery, sexual assault, kidnapping, or any related crime against a family or household member. Because domestic abuse often involves physical violence, first responders need to be prepared for anything. Recently the Orlando Fire Department announced its firefighters will start wearing bulletproof vests when responding to emergency calls. Officially, this move was prompted by the June 2016 terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub. But according to WFTV, OFD policy will also require use of the vests when its officers “show up to a domestic violence scene” and police “don’t have a suspect in custody.” One Orlando fire chief told WFTV that first responders are at risk in such scenarios because there may be an active shooter. The vests allow first responders to provide medical treatment for a domestic violence victim while still protecting themselves. Orlando is not alone in moving to protect its first responders. Last year NBC4 in Washington, DC, noted there were more than “60,000 domestic disturbance” cases in the national capital region annually. NBC4 said there were a number of cases where “officers responding” to a domestic violence call “were assaulted, injured,” and even killed. Similar to Orlando, many police departments in the area have outfitted their first responders with bulletproof vests. Do Florida First Responders Take Domestic Violence Seriously? But there are also concerns that first responders are not adequately trained to deal with potential domestic abuse cases. According to a January 2016 report on the media website Fusion, “too many EMTs and paramedics buy into the same myths about domestic violence as the public—namely, that the victim is somehow responsible for the abuse.” Fusion cited a study conducted by Florida State University of more than 400 Florida first responders. Of note, 1 out of 5 respondents “were neutral or agreed that ‘battered women secretly want to be abused.’” Similarly, about one-third of respondents thought domestic violence was a “normal reaction to day-to-day stress and frustration.” Protecting the Rights of the Accused Domestic abuse is never acceptable as a reaction to stress or any other provocation. But neither is unfairly charging someone with domestic violence without sufficient evidence. Unfortunately, just as some first responders are too dismissive of victims, some prosecutors and police are too eager to railroad an accused defendant. That is why if you have been accused of domestic violence you need to speak with an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney who will stand up for your rights. Call the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, today at 407-377-0150 if you need immediate legal assistance.

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Florida Woman ARRESTED FOR FART ATTACK

Dawn Meikle, aged 55, was arrested in Port St. Lucie, Florida, after law enforcement officials report she got in a physical confrontation with her husband for cutting the cheese in bed. Meikle’s husband alleged that she eventually kicked him out of bed and began another round of elbowing and kicking. Meikle’s husband attempted to restrain her “for his own safety” and he accidently split open her lip. He also alleges he sustained scratches on his chest during the incident. Meikle was taken into police custody and arrested for battery. Confrontations between spouses happen and sometimes they escalate into violence. While this may seem to be an amusing story, the accused could have faced much more serious charges of domestic violence battery under under Florida law. Florida Law Takes Domestic Violence Seriously Under Florida law, Domestic Violence Battery occurs when there is intentional touching or striking of another person without consent or intentionally causing bodily harm to another person, when the other person is a family or household member. While the law obviously applies to spouses, it also applies to other members of a household. This is because Florida law defines ‘family or household member’ broadly and includes the following: Spouses Former Spouses Biological relatives Unrelated people who live together (e.g. roommates) Anyone who has lived together in the past Individuals who have a child in common The statute is clear that family and household members must be currently living in the same home or have lived in the same home in the past. The only exception to this rule is for individuals who have a child in common, even if they were never married. This means confrontations between housemates and other guests that escalate can be covered under Florida’s domestic violence laws. Domestic Violence Battery Carries a Stronger Penalty Domestic Battery is a first-degree misdemeanor. Penalties for domestic battery include up to one year in jail or twelve months probation, and fines up to $1,000. Because the battery happened within the context of domestic violence, the accused may face additional mandatory penalties and requirements which include: A required Batterer’s Intervention Program; Twelve months of probation; Five days in jail when there is a guilty finding and bodily injury occurred (See Section 741.283, Florida Statutes); Mandatory community service hours; Restrictions under a no contact order. Contact an Attorney Domestic violences charges are serious. Without exception, Florida law does not allow anyone who has been convicted of domestic violence to seal or expunge the charge from their criminal records. This means that a domestic violence battery charge will follow you for a life. If a seemingly wacky, or funny, situation got out of control and you find yourself facing domestic violence battery charges, contact Moses & Rooth. We understand that at lot is at stake with this charge and we can advocated for you to ensure you get the best result possible. Contact us today at 407-377-0150 to schedule an appointment.

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When Family Feuds Go too Far

Two sisters were found dead in a house in Orlando recently. Although no one has been charged, the police have suggested that the double homicide was a result of a domestic incident. One woman’s boyfriend was questioned and is considered a person of interest. Although there were no immediate arrests for the shooting of the women, the police used 3-D imaging to document the scene. As modern technology becomes more common in police investigations, more evidence from violent domestic incidents becomes available. This availability of evidence increases the likelihood that someone is convicted of an abuse. Domestic Violence in Florida: What You Should Know In Florida, domestic violence is taken seriously. Even misdemeanors can have a severely negative effect on a person’s future. The Florida legislature defines domestic violence crimes as those that occur when a victim is physically injured or killed by a family member or household member that commits one of the following offenses: Sexual assault; Battery; Aggravated battery; Sexual battery; Assault; Aggravated assault; Kidnapping; False imprisonment; Stalking; or Aggravated stalking. Theses offenses are listed in the statute (Florida Statute §741.28), but any criminal offense that involves a family member who was injured or killed as a result of the crime will constitute domestic violence. These crimes carry severe penalties regardless of whether someone was killed and should be taken seriously. Domestic Violence Consequences Domestic Violence in Florida is a serious crime and th legislatures have included several enhancement penalties for these offenses.  The enhancements for domestic cases include mandatory fines, jail if the court finds that the person intentionally caused bodily harm to another and Battery Intervention Program (BIP).  The BIP is 26 weeks of intensive domestic violence related counseling.  A person who is charged and found guilty of domestic violence may also face jail time, community service, fines, and probation. Domestic Violence and Gun Laws It is being reported that the two women killed recently were shot while they were sleeping. Although Florida has strict domestic violence laws, their laws relating to firearm possession are weak. Most people do not realize that Florida prevents some domestic violence abusers from possessing firearms. To achieve this, Florida has begun conducting firearm background checks to confirm that firearm purchasers do not have domestic violence offenses on their records. In addition, those who are subject to restraining orders are not allowed to possess firearms. If you have been falsely accused of a domestic violence dispute and you would like to ensure that you do not lose your gun rights, then you should contact an attorney today to discuss how the charges could potentially affect your future. Protect Yourself from Family Drama If you have been involved in a violent family feud and would like to speak with someone that cares about your side of the story, contact our firm, Moses & Rooth. We are hear to and can help you better understand the potential consequences of your current situation. Do not hesitate to contact us at 407-377-0150 for your free consultation today.

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