Florida Criminal Defense Law Blog

Opioid abuse continues to be a problem in the Tampa Bay area

Officials with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) admitted that the Tampa Bay region had an opioid problem just under a year ago. At the time, they explained how they had a big problem with residents buying powder-like concoctions off the street then dying from overdoses after consuming them. County officials noted that the number of deaths resulting from individuals doing this was at an all-time high.

The Pinellas County forensic lab's data captured how many of the powder-like substances Tampa residents were purchasing didn't only test positive for the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl, but also methamphetamines (meth) and cocaine. This mixture of ingredients made already-potentially harmful drugs in their own right even more deadly once mixed.

Know what insider trading is to avoid federal charges

Individuals who own stocks know all about strategizing. Investors often like to buy up shares in new companies when they're relatively unknown and the stocks are inexpensive. The hope is that the stocks will increase in value. These individuals are also savvy enough to cash in their shares while their value remains high before any significant value drops.

But investors can quickly end up in legal hot water with federal officials if it seems like they know too much about what's going to happen with the stocks, though.

The penalties and sentences for felony theft in Florida

Some types of petty theft are dealt with by issuing fines. However, more serious organized theft crimes or the theft of property of a high value will likely lead to serious consequences and potential jail time.

If you have been accused of engaging in theft of significantly valued assets, it's important that you understand the potential consequences. If found guilty, you may be charged with a felony that would lead to jail time and a criminal record. The following is an overview of how theft crimes are treated under the law in Florida.

Is it illegal for convicted criminals to possess firearms?

Having a criminal record can affect you of multiple levels. It can affect your ability to secure a job, professional license, student loans, housing or credit. You may be unable to vote with a conviction on your permanent record. It may also adversely impact your ability to possess a firearm.

The 1968 Gun Control Act, or 18 U.S.C. § 921 et seq, permanently bars felons from possessing firearms. It doesn't matter whether an individual's conviction was for either a violent or nonviolent offense. This law applies to virtually any defendant convicted of a crime that typically carries a period of incarceration of one year or more. If a person's conviction is for a felony under U.S. law, then they're permanently barred from ever being able to possess a firearm lawfully within this country's borders.

Do I lose federal student aid if convicted of a drug crime?

Being convicted of a crime can significantly impact your ability to get federal financial aid such as student loans and Pell grants. Current laws make imprisoned individuals ineligible to receive almost any type of federal assistance to attend college. Incarcerated individuals may technically qualify for federal work-study programs, though, provided that they can find a position that allows them to assume employment from behind bars.

You may be eligible for a federal Pell grant but not federal student loans provided that you're locked up in a nonstate or federal institution. You may also qualify for a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) while locked up, but it's highly unlikely due to the limited funds each school has available to them.

Restitution: Understanding what you have to pay

Restitution is a monetary sum that convicted criminals may have to pay to their crime victims. Florida judges will often order a defendant to pay restitution in cases where there's documentable proof that their victim has suffered some financial distress or loss due to the offense that took place. The court's goal in ordering a defendant to pay restitution is to restore the victim to the same economic point that they were at before the crime took place.

A judge can order a defendant to pay restitution instead of sentencing them to prison. The court can also require anyone convicted of a crime to pay restitution and sentence them to probation or incarceration. Federal and state guidelines exist advising judges as to which individuals can receive restitution and how much a defendant will have to pay.

What are signs of human trafficking that police often notice?

Human trafficking can either be sex or labor-oriented and affect both adults and children. Victims can be any age or gender and have any citizenship, residency or immigration status.

A person may be a victim of sex trafficking if someone brings them into the commercial sex act trade by coercion, force, fraud or while they're a minor. Commercial sex acts take the form of prostitution or pornography.

What are Florida's drug courts and do they work?

Drug addiction is a pandemic in the United States. It's so much of a problem that Florida lawmakers created the drug court system as an alternative to incarceration decades ago. In 1989, Miami-Dade County became the first jurisdiction to establish a drug court in the U.S.

American prisons, unfortunately, don't focus on rehabilitation. This country's recidivism rate hovers at around 70% as a result. The chances that an ex-con will wind up back in prison is quite high. Studies have shown that drug courts that focus more on treatment plans and recovery can significantly reduce relapses and the recurrence of criminal activities.

A federal grand jury indicts a Tampa man on weapons charges

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida issued a press release on June 8 in which they announced the indictment of a Tampa man on federal firearms charges. The federal prosecutor's office noted in their statement that the charges filed against the 42-year-old man stem from a nonfatal shooting that previously occurred in the area.

A police report reflects that the defendant allegedly quarreled with another male inside of a Family Dollar store before taking things outside. The victim reportedly departed the premises on foot, but that the defendant chased him in his vehicle and then shot him three times within a residential area.

You freedom is at risk if you fail to register as a sex offender

Once someone is labeled a sex offender, their life changes forever. That individual must register their address with the police in every jurisdiction that they move to here in Florida and anywhere else in this country.

Defendants are given three days to register as a sex offender after having been sentenced in their case. This requirement only applies if they're not facing incarceration. Incarcerated individuals must register as sex offenders before they're released from prison.

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