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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.

35 Men Arrested in Manatee County During “Operation Green Shepherd II”

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrested 35 men in the second installment of “Operation Green Shepherd.” During the online sex sting, detectives trolled the internet posing as an underage child in an attempt to set up a meeting at a house. The men who arrived at the house were met at the door by deputies who quickly arrested them with cameras filming the whole thing.

The men arrested are being charged with travel to seduce/solicit/entice a child to commit a sexual act, use of a computer to seduce/solicit/entice a child to commit a sexual act, and attempted lewd and lascivious. With this latest sting, the number of men arrested during the last six months in Sarasota and Manatee County for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor increased to more than 100.

Getting Arrested in an “Undercover Online Sex Sting.”

As we’ve seen with the media coverage of “Operation Green Shepherd II,” the names and careers of those arrested are in the headlines. Now a teacher, U.S. Dept. of Defense employee, a youth choir leader, and a nursing assistant have all been labeled “sexual predators” before getting a chance to fight the charges in court. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney, like Mark Zimmerman, represent you right away. Mark is a board certified criminal defense lawyer and has a successful record of helping clients beat charges in cases like this. He can tell you exactly where to go from here to protect your rights and will work with you and your family through the entire process.

Your Car Was Seized. Now What.

During Operation Green Shepherd II, deputies confiscated seven cars from those arrested. Legally, officers have to show that there’s a relationship between the crime and the use of the car, but that’s all. The link can be circumstantial to seize the vehicle. Eventually, the courts will explain your rights in a forfeiture case, but that still leaves you without a car. Your criminal defense attorney needs to tackle both the arrest charges and the forfeiture of your car at the same time, even though they are two separate cases. Mark Zimmerman has helped clients get back thousands of dollars in seized property while also defending them in high profile criminal cases.

Mark Zimmerman, Board Certified Criminal Defense Lawyer

With criminal charges pending and your reputation on the line, you need a qualified criminal defense attorney. If you or a member of your family has been caught up in an online sting, you need to get help immediately. Contact Mark Zimmerman at (941) 364-8503 or fill out our online contact form.

Drivers Targeted by DUI “Wolf Packs” in Manatee County

The Florida Highway Patrol used roaming DUI “wolf packs” this weekend to target drivers.  A “wolf pack” is when troopers spread out across a neighborhood specifically looking to make drunk driving arrests.  This weekend troopers patrolled streets in Manatee County neighborhoods from 10pm Friday until to 3am Saturday.  In Florida, a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is considered impaired.  For drivers under the age of 21, the BAC limit for DUI charges is just .02.

What should you do if you’re arrested for DUI?

DUI arrests are a big deal, you need to take the right steps now and put yourself in the best position possible to fight the DUI you’ve been charged with.  You need to hire a criminal defense lawyer right away to start defending your case.  Here is a list of things your lawyer can do for you:

  • You only have 10 days to challenge a license suspension.  Your attorney can start filing all the legal paperwork needed to try and get your license back.  Your lawyer can also try to get you a hardship permit, if you had a valid license at the time of your arrest.
  • If you took a breathalyzer or blood test, your attorney can try to challenge that test and the results.
  • Your attorney can also try to challenge the field sobriety test, since the results of this test are subjective and based on the arresting officers assessment.
  • What about the reason you were pulled over to begin with?  Your attorney will look at the basis of your traffic stop and may have grounds to fight the arrest.
  • Did they cross the t’s and dot the i’s?  Your attorney should go over every detail of your traffic stop and DUI arrest.  If the procedure was not done correctly, you may have legal grounds to fight that your DUI arrest was invalid.


Criminal defense attorney Mark Zimmerman fights DUI arrests in Sarasota and Manatee Counties

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Sarasota or Manatee County, it’s important that you act now. Mark Zimmerman is a board certified criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor for the State Attorney’s office who knows the system and who will fight for you.  Contact Mark at (941) 364-8503 or fill out our online contact form today for a free evaluation of your DUI case.  There is no time to waste.

Sarasota Online Sex Sting- Is it Entrapment?

Another internet sex sting leads to 30 arrests in Sarasota. Sheriff Tom Knight called it “Operation Intercept 2” because it’s the second time in less than a year they’ve set up a sex offender bust. Detectives allegedly made contact online by posing as a minor and arranging a meeting at a house. That’s where deputies lured the men one by one, arresting them at the front door, taking a mug shot photo, and searching them. The sheriff’s office then released to the media a video showing the highlights of some of the take downs.

MEDIA ATTENTION AND A FAIR TRIAL

These arrests are getting intense media attention. It’s a case of appearing guilty before having a chance to prove your innocence. The photos of all 30 men have been blasted on the internet and on TV. Their names and home addresses are listed on websites. The arrest video include sounds of what they’re saying at the moment when several officers are grabbing and cuffing them. It’s very difficult to get a fair shake when you’re facing this type of scrutiny. In this situation, you have to hire a board certified Criminal Defense Attorney, like Mark Zimmerman, who can quickly work to mitigate any damage to your reputation.

WHAT IS ENTRAPMENT?

Entrapment in Florida law is when someone is convinced to commit a crime that they otherwise would not do. Sometimes police use excessive influence or persuasion to get someone to commit a crime. That’s why it’s important for a Criminal Defense lawyer to know what websites detectives were using to communicate with you before the arrest. Your lawyer may find evidence to prove your innocence based on what the undercover detectives specifically said during the chats or communications. What did the detectives do to gain your trust? What did they promise? How did they find you? These questions are important to create your defense. No matter what the circumstances, anyone arrested for an online sex crime will need an attorney who will investigate your case with an in-depth analysis of ALL the evidence.

Mark Zimmerman, Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorney in Sarasota

Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Zimmerman to talk with him about the online sex charges you or a family member are facing. It’s important to get legal help right away, right now. You can reach Mark Zimmerman at (941) 364-8503 or fill out our online contact form.

Operation Bad Apple: 29 People Arrested in Sarasota Prescription Drug Bust

29 people have been arrested in a huge prescription drug sting in Sarasota. Sheriff”s investigators called the sweep “Operation Bad Apple.” News reports say the oxycodone bust stemmed from an investigation into a recently shut down clinic in Ft. Myers called Luxor Industries Physicians Group. That”s where law enforcement say they discovered more than 65 fake prescriptions that were filled at Apple Pharmacy in Englewood. Charges for the 29 people arrested range from obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, to trafficking in oxycodone. Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight says there will be more arrests in the future from this bust.

What to do if You”re Arrested in a Prescription Drug Bust

The first thing people  arrested in this prescription drug bust need to do is hire a board certified criminal defense attorney because Florida”s prescription drug laws are severe.  In Florida you can be arrested for trafficking drugs even if you”re not selling or transporting them. Just having a certain amount of oxycodone in your possession triggers a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 to 25 years. These drug laws were designed to put drug lords in jail, not people with addiction problems. Most of those arrested aren”t bad doctors running pill mills or drug lords trafficking huge quantities of prescription drugs.  Usually the people caught casino up in these broad stings are everyday people who are struggling with an addiction.  You must have an aggressive criminal defense lawyer, like Mark Zimmerman,  because without someone to fight these charges, any of the people caught up in Operation Bad Apple could end up in prison instead of rehab.

Illegal search and seizure is another way to fight your charges. Under the 4th Amendment you are protected from unreasonable search and seizure from police. We make sure law enforcement officers had probable cause to search you. Often if the police don”t follow their own procedures, we may be able to suppress the evidence in your case so that it can”t be used in court. Attorney Mark Zimmerman has extensive experience investigating police procedures to help his clients get a favorable outcome in their criminal defense.

Sarasota Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Zimmerman

If you”ve been arrested for prescription drug crimes, you have an extremely a short period of  time to make the right decisions to preserve your rights.  That”s why hiring a board certified criminal defense attorney, like Mark Zimmerman, immediately after your arrest is important.  Contact Mark at Zimmerman and Zimmerman today to talk about your prescription drug arrest and find out how he can help you.  You can reach Mark at (941) 364-8503 or you can fill out his online contact form here.

Two North Port Students Arrested for Bringing Gun to Imagine School

Police arrest two boys at Imagine School in North Port for bringing a gun on campus. According to news reports, a 12 year old boy gave a 9mm handgun to a 13 year old boy, who had the weapon inside his backpack. Another student saw the gun and told a teacher. Police don’t know where the 12 year old got the gun from yet. Both of these young teenagers are now charged with possession of a firearm on school property. They also face a long suspension and could be expelled from school.

3 Steps the Family Should Take to Protect Rights

  1. Understand that each of these boys has TWO different cases to deal with: A criminal charge and a school discipline issue. These are VERY different situations and have to be dealt with independently because they are NOT related to each other. An attorney experienced with the school system and in the juvenile justice system can make a complicated case much easier on the family.
  2. Decide whether to cooperate with the investigation or not. That decision is a tough one to make. An attorney can help the family decide when it makes sense to cooperate or fight the cases in court. These boys’ future is at stake here, so it’s important to get advice from an experienced criminal and education law attorney before talking to anyone.
  3. How to deal with the single most explosive issue in the America today: Guns in schools. Because of tragedies like what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, the tolerance for any types of gun related incident in our schools is zero. Public opinion may not have an official role in court or in a school discipline hearing, but it does affect how these cases are treated. In the past there might have been more leeway for a first time offense, but today it’s common for the system to come down hard on every case of guns in schools.



The common thread in all three of these steps is the need for an experienced criminal law and education law attorney. A lawyer experience in both is ideal. These boys are facing serious criminal charges that could keep them in juvenile detention for up to 21 days if a judge orders it during their probable cause hearing in the next few hours. What happens next can turn into a nightmare for a child who’s made a bad decision, but who isn’t a bad kid.

Hiring an Attorney

Mark Zimmerman is a board certified Criminal Defense Lawyer and an Education Law Attorney. He’s been helping families and students dealing with criminal and school discipline hearings in Sarasota and Manatee Counties since 2000. Mark understands how tough these situations are for the whole family and has helped many students successfully get their lives back. Contact Mark Zimmerman for a free comprehensive case evaluation at (941) 364-8503 or fill out our online form at the top left side of this web page.

Arrest in North Port High Facebook Bomb Threat

North Port police say they’ve arrested 19 year old Kyle McMahon of Port Charlotte for making a fake bomb threat earlier this week.  On Monday someone anonymously posted on Facebook that there may be explosives on the North Port High School campus.  Bomb sniffing dogs did a sweep of the school but police said the threat was a hoax. McMahon turned himself in to detectives on Friday morning.  Sarasota County Schools announced that anyone caught making threats to a school would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

What to do After a Bomb Threat Arrest

Anyone arrested for making a bomb threat faces a really tough criminal prosecution.  That’s why it’s important to find a board certified criminal defense lawyer, like Mark Zimmerman, to represent you.  Your attorney should immediately start scrutinizing the police evidence to see if your rights were violated in the arrest.  You lawyer will also begin an independent investigation into your case to help you beat the charges.  Often there’s a lack of real evidence to prove that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If the police arrest you without having probable cause, your attorney can use that to suppress any evidence they’ve collected.

Criminal Defense Attorney Mark Zimmerman

Criminal defense attorney Mark Zimmerman has handled multiple cases involving bomb threats at local high schools, and he’s achieved positive outcomes in every case.  If you’ve been accused of making a false bomb threat, contact Mark Zimmerman at (941) 364-8503, or fill out the online case evaluation form.  His goal is to keep your criminal record clean by getting your case dismissed.

Improperly secured mattresses cause two car crash on I-75

In Manatee County, Saturday, October 6, 2012 a serious accident was caused by two mattresses that were not properly secured.  The accident occurred in the northbound lanes of I-75 near the intersection of I-275 when a pair of mattresses flew off the top of a pick- up truck, directly into the path of oncoming traffic.  One car, in an attempt to avoid the mattresses, swerved and hit two separate guardrails. The other vehicle ended up overturning.  Both drivers were transported to Manatee Memorial Hospital. Thankfully, there were no fatalities.   The driver of the pick-up was charged with carrying an unsecured load.

Increased safety risk

As our interstates are increasingly used for local traffic the risk of accidents caused by unsecured cargo is presenting a greater risk and safety challenge.  It is one thing to be driving on a neighborhood road at thirty miles per hour and respond to something flying into your path of travel, but quite another being on the interstate travelling at least seventy miles per hour.  On the local road, you may have a minor accident or you may avoid the accident all together, however on the interstate you have very little opportunity to avoid the accident and the magnitude of the crash is much greater. Of course, the chance of serious injuries or a fatality is that much higher.

Driver’s responsibility

Therefore, it is crucial that individuals take great efforts to properly secure loads on their vehicles and if possible to avoid taking the interstate on the chance that the cargo will come loose.  In addition, the penalties for unsecured loads should be higher.

What victims should do

If you are a victim of such an accident and are injured as a result, you should first seek medical attention, however your next priority should be to consult with a qualified, local attorney who is board certified in civil trial law.

Laurie S. Zimmerman, Esq.

As a local attorney for over 22 years who has been board certified in civil trial law for over a decade, I have represented many car accident victims in crashes caused by improperly secured cargo.  Please feel free to check out our web site at zimmermanandzimmerman.com or call (941) 364-8503 for a free consultation.

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