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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 or call (941) 364-8503 for a free consultation.

50 Car Crash on I-75 in Sarasota County

Friday, October 5, 2012, at approximately 3:00 PM at I-75 and the overpass of University Drive, Sarasota County there was a massive 50 car pile up.  Drivers reported that they were blinded by a sudden downpour of rain that some described as a wall of rain.  As the drivers struggled to see, they heard the terrifying sound of crash after crash.  There were approximately 50 cars and one tanker involved in the crash, which resulted in 32 people being transported by ambulance to local hospitals; another twenty people being treated at the scene by EMS; and two people being airlifted to Bay Front Hospital for serious trauma. Thankfully, so far there are no reported fatalities.  The scene was not cleared for traffic until after 9:00 PM.

What Do I Need to Do?

Saturday morning the people involved in this accident are waking up overwhelmed, asking themselves, “what do I need to do.”  The first priority for anyone injured should be to seek medical attention.  Do not wait. The laws have recently changed in Florida. This may cause you to lose out on insurance coverage if you do not seek medical attention immediately following the accident.  In addition, insurance companies are more likely to question nbso online casino reviews and deny medical bills that are not, in their opinion, close enough in time to the date of the accident.

Hire an Attorney Now

The second priority if you were injured in this accident is to seek local, qualified legal council.  You want an attorney who has lived and practiced law in Sarasota County for many years and who is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law.  It is critical that you talk to a lawyer before you give any statements to an insurance company.  As former in-house counsel for one of the biggest insurance companies in the U.S., I can assure you that insurance companies are interested in protecting their bottom line. They are not concerned with protecting your interests.  Therefore, it is crucial that you retain a qualified attorney as soon as possible who will look out for your interests.

Laurie Zimmerman, Personal Injury Law

As a local attorney in Sarasota County for over 22 years, who has been Board Certified in Civil Trial Law for more then a decade, I would be proud and pleased to assist the victims of this terrible crash.  Please feel free to check out our firm’s website at call us at (941) 364-8503

Teen Arrested for Making Facebook Bomb Threat at Manatee High

A facebook post leads to the felony arrest of a 15 year old Manatee County student.  Newspaper reports say the male teenager threatened to bomb Manatee High on the first day of school.  A parent saw the post online and alerted police, who began their investigation on July 29th.  According to a police press release, there was no evidence at the boys’ house that he had any type of bomb making materials, other than the threats he posted.  The 15 year old was a student at Manatee High last year but news reports indicate he is not currently enrolled at that school.   Now the teenager faces an investigation between law enforcement and the Manatee County School District.

Bomb Threats: Getting Arrested and Getting Expelled

Anyone charged with making a bomb threat needs to hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately.  But when the charges involve a student and a school system, it’s even more important to hire a lawyer with Education Law experience in addition to Criminal Defense.  Making a bomb threat in Florida is an automatic felony charge, but it can also mean getting expelled from school.

In this case, newspaper reports say the teenager’s status in the Manatee County school system will be decided after the police investigation.  However, these two situations need to be handled simultaneously because one investigation directly affects the other.  It’s important for the parents and family to know that the student still has rights and there are steps to protect his future. An experienced juvenile criminal defense/education law attorney can defend this teenagers’ rights in both investigations.

Education Law and Criminal Defense Lawyer

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.


Sarasota Internet Sex Sting and Vehicle Seizures

An online computer sex sting called “Operation Intercept” charged 31 men with various sex related crimes in Sarasota County. One of the charges facing those arrested includes “Travel to Seduce, Solicit or Entice a Child to Commit Sex Acts.” Because of something called “The Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act,” anyone caught in this sting could also lose their car or truck. Media reports say the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office is initiating forfeiture proceedings for many of the vehicles driven to the sting location. That means the 31 men arrested could be facing civil cases to get their vehicles back in addition to fighting their sex offense criminal charges.

How Does Forfeiture of your Car or Truck Work?

The courts have to show that there’s a relationship between your car and the crime you’re charged with, but they don’t need any hard proof at first. In this case they’ll probably say that you drove the vehicle to the scene of the sting, and that’s good enough for them to seize it. Hearsay and circumstantial evidence are enough at this point according to the law. Eventually the government will have to officially send you a notice of the forfeiture telling you about your rights to a preliminary hearing, but by this point you’ll be stuck finding another way to get around.

What to Do Next? 

Reports in the Sarasota Herald Tribune say, “the team of investigators that conducted Operation Intercept were not inclined to be lenient.” Law enforcement taking such a hard stand means it’s important to hire a tough attorney who has experience in sex offense cases AND in civil law.  Mark Zimmerman has helped get back thousands of dollars in seized property for his clients while successfully defending them in high profile criminal cases. Contact Mark to talk with him about the 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.

Restraining Orders: How to Behave in Court to Help Your Case

Emotions run very high in restraining order hearings. Yet emotions have no place in a courtroom during this type of proceeding. Instead, strategy should dominate. A Judge decides whether or not restraining orders are granted; there is no jury. That”s why it”s critical that the Judge find you more credible than your opponent. Because restraining order hearings usually take place during a divorce, custody battle, neighbor dispute or other heated relationship, it would be easy to lose your cool in court. Nothing could be worse.

Never Get Angry, Emotional, or Defensive.  It”ll Kill Your Case Every Time

You can never ever get angry in court. Ever. Nervousness is fine, but acting upset or difficult will hurt you every time. The Judge doesn”t have time to “get to know you,” so you have only minutes to make a positive impression. Don”t cry or carry on emotionally, either. It won”t get you any sympathy from the judge. Your job is to show the judge that you are reasonable and in control. Stay calm. Stay quiet. Answer questions politely, from both your attorney and the other side”s attorney. Outbursts of ANY kind, from you or friends and family in the courtroom, are going to hurt your case. It”s just that simple. I firmly believe that if the Judge were to describe you with one word, what we are aiming for is “gentleman” or “lady.”

How to Answer Questions That Make You Look Bad

The biggest mistake most people make is trying to “win the case” from the witness stand. If you”re asked an uncomfortable question, answer it honestly. If you think your answer will hurt your case, answer honestly anyway. Never try to dodge a question. Never lie. Let me say that again. Never lie. It will only make you look bad and untrustworthy. Your lawyer will get a chance to question you further and that”s when he or she can help you recover from an uncomfortable, but honest answer. In the end, the outcome of restraining order hearings is determined by the facts and the quality of the strategy employed by lawyers. Winning the case is your attorney”s job, not yours.

Why a Lawyer Experienced in Restraining Order Hearings is Important

The ability to avoid or downplay “bad facts” and highlight favorable points is the key to victory. Make sure that your criminal defense attorney has significant experience in conducting restraining order hearings. While these hearings technically take place in family court, it is critical that your lawyer have experience in criminal court, as the issues often involve criminal law, and the outcome of your case could have consequences in criminal court. Mark Zimmerman is a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer with extensive experience handling restraining orders and violent offenses in criminal court. Don”t leave the outcome of your case to chance. Contact Mark Zimmerman for a case evaluation at (941) 364-8503 or fill out our online case evaluation form and we”ll get in touch with you immediately.

Difficult questions never have simple answers. Like all complex questions, the immediate answer is…it depends.  Is the arrestee still in jail?  If so, it might be necessary to contact a bail bondsman. If the  bond is low then the bail can be posted in full.  It will be returned in full at the conclusion of the case, assuming the arrestee made all of their court appearances. If bond is too large to make in full, then a bail bondsman will require payment, typically equal to 10% of the total bond.  That is the bondsman”s  fee, and  it will not be  returned to you.  The bondsman will also likely require that you sign over something of value as collateral to secure the bond.  This is often the title to a house, car or boat.  If the bond is so large that even paying 10% is not feasible, then effort will need to be made to lower the bond.  This requires the use of a lawyer. There are typically two opportunities to accomplish this.  The first is at a hearing held within 24 hours of arrest, at a courtroom located within the jail.  Unfortunately, family members are unable to attend this hearing.  The technical name for this hearing casino online is a Non-Adversarial Probable  Cause Hearing, however it is commonly referred to as a First Appearance.  If a a private attorney is not retained in time for this hearing, then an Assistant Public Defender will represent the arrestee. Public Defender”s will have little time to prepare for each hearing, so hiring a private criminal defense attorney provides an advantage in preparation and strategy.  If bond is sufficiently reduced at First Appearance, then the process of  posting bail outlined above would be followed.  Be aware that some people arrested in Sarasota are released on their own recognizance, also known as ROR.  In this instance, there is  no bail required and no other conditions of release that must be complied with.  The arrestee must simply show up in court when required.  Sadly, this circumstance has become increasingly rare in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.  More common is that arrestees are given some monetary bond and also placed on a community supervision program known as Supervised  Pretrial Release, or SPR.  In Sarasota, this program is administered  by a government agency known as  Pretrial Services.  If an arrestee released from jail in Sarasota fails to comply with any of their conditions of release, Pretrial Services will forward a warrant for their re-arrest to a local Judge.  Typical release conditions include contacting Pretrial Services telephonically, appearing at their offices, submitting to urinalysis and attending counseling.  If bond is not reduced sufficiently to secure the arrestee”s release, then a Bond Reduction Hearing will need to be scheduled. This can be done as soon as  a few days from arrest, and occasionally could take several weeks. At this hearing, an attorney would present to the Judge the reasons why they should be confident that the arrestee will, in fact, appear for their scheduled court dates, and why they do not pose a danger to our community.  If bond is not reduced sufficiently after this hearing, it is possible that the arrestee will spend the pendency of the case  in jail.  This can occur in very serious  cases involving  certain felony charges, or where the  arrestee has a significant prior record.  In some extreme cases, the Judge will allow no bond.  This means that no amount of monetary bail can secure the arrestee”s release.  In this instance the proper motion to be filed would  be a Motion to Set Bond (as opposed to a Motion to Reduce Bond). Again, this will require the services of an attorney. Stay tuned for my future post on things to consider when hiring a criminal defense attorney in Sarasota.

Expelled From School: Now What?

An expulsion notice starts a countdown ticking. As parents, you have only 10 days or less before the expulsion hearing. That means you have to get ready right away. Here are five steps you should take to prepare your family for an expulsion hearing:

  1. Ask to see your child’s school record. Reading the record will help you understand what the school believes has happened. It should have information about the incident, including names of witnesses that the school might ask to testify at the hearing and documents the school may use as evidence at the hearing.
  2. Talk to witnesses. Try to talk to as many of the school’s witnesses as you can before the hearing to find out what they plan to say.
  3. Make a list of people who can be witnesses to help you tell your side of the story. Talk to these people so you will know what they will say and ask them to come to the hearing. You may also want to find some “character” witnesses. A good character witness would be an adult from outside the family, such as a scout leader, someone from your church, or a coach who knows your child and can say some positive things about him or her.
  4. Plan your strategy for the hearing. Remember the two issues that will be decided at the hearing:  1) whether the child should be expelled and;  2.)how long the expulsion should last.
  5. Ask for help if you need it or contact an attorney. If you have trouble doing things on time or keeping track of paperwork, ask a friend or family member to help you prepare for the hearing. Practice what you would like to say before you’re at the hearing. If you’re nervous about the hearing, ask someone you trust to drive you there and stay with you for support. If possible, talk to an education attorney.


What if My Child has been Arrested and has to Appear in Juvenile Court?

It is not unusual for a child to face expulsion and criminal charges for the same incident. The school can expel the child even if the criminal case is resolved, so the child should be careful not to make statements at the expulsion hearing which could be used against him/her later in the Criminal or Juvenile Court. Be sure to consult with the criminal defense attorney handling the criminal matter about what, if anything, your child should say at the expulsion hearing.

Attorney Mark Zimmerman has been helping to guide students and their families in dealing with school disciplinary matters and related criminal charges in Sarasota and Manatee Counties since 2000.

Contact the Zimmerman and Zimmerman Law Firm today at (941) 364-8503 so that your child doesn’t have to go it alone.

Important Facts About Burglary

How many times do I have to watch a movie or TV show where people come home to find out that their home has been broken into and their valuables stolen and they declare, “we’ve been robbed!”  To criminal law practitioners this is so annoying!  Why? Because it is obvious to us that these unfortunate folks were not the victims of a robbery, rather they were the victims of a burglary.

The Difference Between Burglary and Robbery

So what is burglary?  How does it differ from robbery? And why should you care? Most commonly, burglary is defined as the breaking and entering into the dwelling of “another” coupled with the  intent to commit a crime within that dwelling.  Robbery involves the taking of one person’s property by the force of another.  Acts we commonly refer to as mugging and purse snatching are forms of robbery.

The Elements of Burglary

All crimes have component parts called elements. The elements of burglary include the unlawful entry into the home and the crime committed inside the home.  Be aware, burglary can occur in places other than a home.  This is the distinction between burglary of a dwelling (home) and burglary of a structure (store, shed, chicken coop, etc.) or burglary of a conveyance (car, truck, RV).  Burglarizing a home is a higher level of crime than the other types of burglary.

Burglary Without Theft

What most people don’t realize is that you can still have a burglary without theft.  If someone breaks into a home in order to damage the home (criminal mischief), rape (sexual battery) or to commit assault or battery, these are still burglaries.  You can be charged with both burglary and the specific crime committed inside the home in this circumstance. Burglary can be one of the most complex crimes to defend.  These cases often include matters related to eyewitness identification, the admissibility of alleged confessions, permission to enter, and a host of others.

How Burglary Charges Can Rack Up Fast

In Sarasota, Bradenton and Venice, burglary is treated very seriously in our court system.  Under our current sentencing framework in Florida, persons convicted of burglarizing a home are presumed to go to prison.  It takes skilled legal representation to avoid such a fate.  Locally, the most common burglary scenario typically involves a group of three to four young persons accused of testing door handles to see if a naive owner left their door unlocked.  Because this crime is often committed over a period of time during which dozens of car doors are tested, a person can find themselves facing 10 to 20 counts of  auto burglary from a single night of foolishness.

Contact Zimmerman and Zimmerman at (941) 364-8503 for a free consultation regarding your burglary  charge in the Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice or North Port areas.