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A few words about client contact

I like to read articles in legal journals about trends in law firm practice. A fashionable topic is the way in which lawyers have contact with clients. Typically this issue is cast in the light of new forms of technology. You hear about how certain clients (typically younger ones) are not interested in the old school manner of telephone conferences and in-office meetings. On the other hand, I have had clients (or the parents of clients) who require a more personal touch and want to look their attorney in the eye when discussing their case. Simply put, this is not an issue for our firm. We have made a commitment to being a client-centered law firm that will directly meet the needs of each and every client. That requires flexibility and nimbleness. This is one of the advantages of being a smaller firm. Some of my clients require extra hand holding and need to be kept up to date on a frequent basis. Done. Others prefer to put the case in my hands and only hear from me at critical junctures. Also fine. The practice of law is a profession, but it is also a service industry. The needs of our clients must be first and foremost. As these needs vary from client to client, we as attorneys must be willing and able to meet the individual needs of each client. At Zimmerman and Zimmerman we commit to providing you the type and amount of contact that you desire. The matters in which we represent you are often the most difficult and stressful events of your life. Being there for you when and how you need us is the least we can do for you.

Selling Alcohol to Minors in Sarasota

 

Fifteen convenience store clerks were cited for selling alcohol to minors in a crackdown by the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office.   All of the citations took place from June 30 to July 1, 2014.  The charges all stemmed from undercover activities targeting gas stations in Sarasota, Nokomis and Osprey.  These are criminal citations punishable by jail time.  The criminal justice system can be a complex place and should not be navigated alone.  A qualified criminal defense attorney is necessary to ensure that your rights are not violated.  In cases like these where the police are using undercover sting operations there is a real risk that the person charged was the victim of police entrapment.  This occurs when the police create a crime where otherwise one would not have been committed.  The question in these circumstances is whether the undercover agent encouraged the charged individual to commit the offense when they otherwise would not have committed the offense.  In order to protect your rights and make certain that you are treated fairly by the justice system you can contact Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer Mark Zimmerman.    

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?

 

With high gas prices, motorcycles seem like a very attractive alternative to traditional vehicles.  Unfortunately, as traffic in general continues to increase, so do motorcycle accidents.  Unlike a car that is encased in steel, motorcycles offer no protection in an accident.  As a result, approximately 80-90,000 motorcyclists are injured and approximately 4,500-5,000 are killed in accidents each year. 

What can a motorcyclist do to protect themself?

  1.  Before ever getting on a busy road or highway make sure that you have adequate hours of driving and experience on a motorcycle.  Many accidents are due to inexperience.
  2. Wear a DOT approved helmet!  Statistics show that wearing a helmet will make you almost 40 percent less likely to suffer a fatal head injury.  Ironically, despite these statistics many states including Florida do not require that motorcyclists wear helmets.  As a result, motorcyclists cannot get PIP (personal injury protection) insurance in the State of Florida.  So you better have a good health insurance plan!
  3. Wear protective and bright clothing.  Wearing long sleeves and pants can go a long way in preventing serious road rash.  In addition, bright clothing will aid other drivers in seeing you.
  4. Keep a safe distance from other vehicles.
  5. Never drink alcohol or take narcotics before you ride.  You need to have complete control of all of your senses when riding a motorcycle.
  6. Ride defensively.  Be on the constant lookout for threats from other vehicles.  It does not matter if you are in the right and they are not; if you get into a collision with a car you are going to be the one who suffers potentially life threatening injuries or death!
  7. Avoid riding in bad weather conditions.  The threat that bad weather conditions presents to drivers of cars is nothing compared to the threat it presents when you are riding a motorcycle.If you are in a motorcycle accident, get medical attention right away.  Even if you think that you do not have serious injuries you should get checked out.  Get stamp dated photographs of the accident scene, damage to your motorcycle, other involved vehicles and the injuries to you, as soon as possible.

     

    Do not talk to anyone, other than medical providers, until you have spoken to a board certified civil trial lawyer who handles motorcycle accident cases as part of their practice.  In addition, do not post comments or photos on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

VOP (Violation Of Probation) in Sarasota, Bradenton or Venice

VOP’s are one of the most common charges for which people are incarcerated.  VOP’s differ from typical criminal charges because you will not be able to have your case heard by a jury, and the amount of evidence needed by the government to prove the charge is significantly less.  This makes the need for professional legal help that works directly for you very critical.  Properly resolving your VOP in Sarasota, Bradenton or Venice requires the work of an experienced attorney that has extensive experience working with the local judges, prosecutors and probation officers.  VOP’s can be very different from each other, depending on the nature of the violation.  A “new law violation”  requires the prosecutor to prove the new charge in order to prove that you have violated your probation.  A “technical violation” merely requires the prosecutor to prove that technicality.  These can include matters as simple as missing your monthly appointment with your probation  and more complicated matters such as positive drug tests.  Attorney Mark Zimmerman is a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer.  He is rated AV, the highest possible rating, by Martindale-Hubbell.  He is rated 10 out of 10, superb, by Avvo.  He has been designated a Super Lawyer.  Mark Zimmerman has vast experience handling violations of probation in Sarasota, Bradenton and Venice.  Give him a call at 941-364-8503 for a free consultation regarding your VOP.

Injured in a Trucking Accident?

 

Trucking accidents are increasing in Bradenton, Sarasota and Venice, Florida and across the United States.  This is due partially to increased overall traffic on the highways.  Another potential factor is decreased training and less stringent requirements for truck drivers as companies are finding a shortage of available truck drivers.  In addition, due to the lack of truck drivers many of them are on the road for longer hours. 

Trucking accidents make up less than 5% of vehicle accidents involving personal injury.  However, trucking accidents account for approximately 10% of traffic fatalities. This is because there is no such thing as a minor trucking accident.  Trucks are significantly heavier and larger then automobiles, so when a truck hits your car it is not going to be a fender bender. 

Trucking accidents are mostly caused by driver error. The driver was not attentive, was overtired or was under the influence.  Equipment failure such as defective or worn tires and brakes are another cause of these accidents.   Bad weather and poor visibility play significant roles in trucking accidents as well as improper loading.  Lack of training and proper monitoring of drivers are also significant factors.

Due to the great danger that trucks present to automobiles it is best to try to avoid driving too closely behind or next to a truck.  If you are involved in an accident with a truck you should immediately seek medical attention and then call a board certified civil trial lawyer who has experience handling personal injury cases caused by trucking accidents.

What you should not do is talk to anyone before talking to a lawyer.  Trucking companies and their insurers’ are very aggressive and have even been known to send investigators into the emergency room within hours of your accident to attempt to get a statement.  The fact that you are in pain or under the influence of medication will not deter them.  In addition, you should not post pictures or talk about your accident or injuries on social media such as Facebook or Twitter. 

What you should do is accurately report all of your injuries and the cause of your injuries to your medical providers.  You should provide your medical providers with all of your auto and health insurance information. In addition, you should get someone to take pictures with a date stamp of the damage to your automobile, the accident scene and your injuries as soon as possible.

 

Warning to Parents: Be Aware Of Yik Yak

Parents, have you heard of Yik Yak?  If not, you’d better get educated, and fast.  Yik Yak is a new a very popular social media app.  Think of Twitter with anonymity and you’ve got the basic idea.  The other major catch is that Yik Yak is limited to a specific radius, as little as 1.5 miles and, some say, as much as 10 miles.

Why is Yik Yak dangerous?  Because it is the new app of choice for cyber bullies.  It has already shut down schools due to misuse.  Students are hiding behind Yik Yak’s anonymity to make bomb threats, sexually harass others and spread false rumors.  There is no limit to the potential havoc that could ensue.

What can be done?  First, educate yourself.  Go online and read more about this and then sit down and discuss it with your children.  As always, knowledge is power.  Next, encourage your children not to engage in the mayhem.  In my practice I have often seen victims of bullying become accused of bullying when they retaliate.

Where will it end?  The company behind Yik Yak has already agreed to restrict access to a school district in Connecticut.  Encourage the administrators at your school district to do the same.  This won’t stop kids from using the app, but it will stop them from using it at school.

If your child is the victim of cyber bullying or has been accused of this, do not hesitate to contact a qualified attorney.  Whether it is a matter in the juvenile courts or a school disciplinary matter, attorney Mark Zimmerman can help you navigate these complex systems.

12 Men Arrested In Online Sex Sting: Operation Intercept

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has announced arrests in Operation Intercept.  This is the Sheriff’s third online sex sting.  The first thing someone arrested in this sting should do is to consult with and retain a qualified criminal defense lawyer.  What makes a lawyer qualified to handle such a case?  Attorney Mark Zimmerman is a Florida Bar Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer.  Only 5-6% of all lawyers are board certified in any area of law.  The number certified in criminal trial law is much smaller.  Make sure to ask whether the lawyer with whom you consult has handled such cases in the past.   Mark Zimmerman has handled online sex sting cases through trial.  If you are reading this on behalf of a loved one presently incarcerated in jail, make sure that they do not discuss their case with anyone other than a lawyer.  Phone calls from the jail are recorded, and prosecutors routinely listen to them to see if people might make incriminating statements.  Also, do not speak with other inmates about your case.  Jails are filled with snitches that will try to use your statements to help them gain an advantage in their own case.  Defense of these cases involve collection of evidence already in existence with the government, the strategic taking of depositions, an analysis of any and all possible defenses, the filing of motions in an attempt to suppress evidence or dismiss the charges and if necessary the trial of the case.  In the event that overwhelming evidence exists, it is important that your attorney be able to effectively negotiate the best possible outcome for you.

Call Mark Zimmerman at 941-364-8503 to schedule an immediate and free consultation regarding your case.

Four Manatee County School Administrators Charged with Felonies in Rod Frazier Case

Four Manatee County school administrators are charged with felonies for not reporting child abuse.  The charges are related to Manatee High football coach Rod Frazier, who was arrested last week on 7 counts of misdemeanor battery and 3 counts of interference with the attendance of a student.   Frazier was accused of inappropriately touching female students. He has since resigned from his coaching job.  The administrators facing charges include Robert Gagnon, a former Manatee County assistant superintendent; Greg Faller and Matt Kane, both former assistant principals at Manatee High; and Debra Horn, who served as the school district’s internal investigator during the Frazier case.   Click here to read the entire police investigation.

The Administrators Could Get More Jail Time than The Coach

The school district employees could each face a 5 year jail sentence for the charge of not reporting abuse.  However, Frazier only faces the possibility of a 1 year sentence for the simple battery charges.  So why is this?  A big reason is a new law passed in Florida after the Penn State sex abuse scandal.  The law, called the Protection of Vulnerable Persons Act,  says that anyone who fails to report suspected abuse faces a 3rd degree felony charges. The law took effect on October 1, 2012 and is one of the strictest reporting law in the nation.

Law Over-Criminalizes Failure to Report

From a criminal defense perspective, the state attorney’s office may have a difficult time prosecuting this in court.  While the new law is meant to protect children from abuse, it’s untested, with almost no case law behind it,  and it overly criminalizes the situation.  For example, if a high school math teacher notices bruises on a student’s arm and reports it, will the other 5 or 6 teachers who saw the student earlier that day, but did not report the bruises face felony charges? The answer is, probably.  But it’s up to the State’s Attorney to use discretion about which cases to charge.

If you’re being investigated by a school district or by law enforcement, contact Mark Zimmerman, an board certified criminal defense attorney with experience representing school employees in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.    

 

 

2 Arrested in Sarasota Pot Bust Called Operation Hammerhead

Sarasota Police arrest 2 men in a pot bust called “Operation Hammerhead.”  Police charged 66 year old Anthony Snead and 38 year old Andy Charlton with possession of cannabis with intent to sell.  Police Chief Bernadette DiPino says the bust came from an anonymous tip that led to a 6 month surveillance operation, including wiretapping phones.   On April 2rd detectives watched Charlton deliver a box to Snead’s home.  That’s when they executed a search warrant and made the arrests.

Probable Cause, Search Warrants, and Wiretaps

Just because the police spent 6 months watching these men does not mean they have a legitimate case in court.  Wiretapping is one of the most legally complicated ways of investigating alleged crime and that’s why it’s rarely used as an investigative technique.  There are too many loopholes that could lead to dropped charges.  Police must follow very strict rules and regulations about wiretapping or the evidence can be considered ineligible in court.  If the wiretap investigation is flawed, then police may not have probable cause to arrest, search, or seize anything.

If you’ve been arrested in a case involving wiretapping or search and seizure, your best defense is to say nothing and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, like Mark Zimmerman, right away.  Mark has helped clients get charges dropped because the investigation or arrest violated their Fourth Amendment rights.  It’s a complicated area of the law, so it’s extremely important to have a board certified criminal defense attorney like Mark Zimmerman on your side.  To reach mark for a case evaluation, fill out our online contact form or call (941) 364-8503.

 

 

 

103 Arrested in Operation Meal Ticket in Manatee County- Lawyer Explains What To Do Next

Welfare Fraud Arrests in Bradenton

103 people arrested in a welfare fraud sting in Manatee county.  Deputies went undercover to catch people illegally buying or selling EBT cards.  Those arrested are looking at felony and misdemeanor social welfare fraud charges.  It becomes a felony charge if the fraud is over $200.  Starting in January, cops paid cash to people for EBT cards for about half what they were worth.

What To Do If You Were Arrested for Welfare Fraud

The government comes down hard on people accused of welfare fraud.  If you’ve been arrested, it’s important not to speak with anyone until you speak with your attorney first. Defending the people arrested in Operation Meal Ticket is highly technical, so be sure your attorney is qualified to handle this type of complex case.

Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Zimmerman has defended clients charged with welfare fraud in the past and has the experience to aggressively fight these charges.

For more information, contact Zimmerman and Zimmerman at 941-364-8503 or fill out our online case evaluation form.

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