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Archive for the ‘Sex Crimes’ Category

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

Friday, August 16th, 2013

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.    

 

 

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

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

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.

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.

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.

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