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Archive for the ‘Criminal Defense’ Category

Drivers Targeted by DUI “Wolf Packs” in Manatee County

Monday, March 25th, 2013

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?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

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

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

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

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

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

Friday, December 21st, 2012

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.

Teen Arrested for Making Facebook Bomb Threat at Manatee High

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

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

Monday, May 21st, 2012

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

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

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.

Important Facts About Burglary

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

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.

DUI Charges in Sarasota are Like 3 Cases in One

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

If  you’re facing a DUI charge in Sarasota,  Bradenton, or Venice,  it’s important that you understand the process that lies ahead of you.  While you might think that you only have one case to deal with, in fact you probably have three.  Let me explain.

  1. First you have your criminal case which will include the charge of DUI and any other additional criminal charges that stemmed from the incident.
  2. Second is any civil infraction which you may have been given during your arrest.  This could include speeding, careless driving, failure to maintain a single lane and a host of other potential citations.
  3. Third is an administrative law case against the DMV for the suspension of your driving privilege if you blew over the legal limit of .08 or refused to take a breath test.

These are complex matters with potentially devastating consequences if not handled properly.  Mishandling these issues could result in further loss of driving privileges, financial consequences and even jail time.  If you or someone you care about is charged with DUI in the Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice area, then call Zimmerman and Zimmerman for a free consultation so we can explain your rights, the legal process you will be facing and how we can fight the system and win.

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