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Fort Myers Criminal Law Blog

Do you have the right to refuse a search of your car?

When you leave your driveway and head out onto the open road, you usually do not have to worry about encountering the police. If you do find yourself pulled over beside the road, however, how you act may affect your future. That is, you may need to assert your legal rights to protect your liberty. 

Police officers want to search vehicles for a variety of reasons. Once you consent to a search, though, officers may use anything they find in your vehicle to allege you have committed a crime. As such, perhaps the best way to avoid criminal exposure is to refuse a search altogether. Before you do, though, you should understand the legal intricacies of motor vehicle searches. 

White collar crimes: What makes money laundering illegal?

For Florida residents to avoid being pulled into money laundering schemes, they need to understand its concept. Money laundering activities are white collar crimes that involve moving criminally derived funds through financial institutions or other businesses to hide their origins. The people involved then reclaim the money, which is now clean because it has been laundered. These acts are criminalized to stop people profiting from them.

Money launderers typically receive a percentage of the proceeds of crime or another form of benefit for facilitating the services to launder the money. Authorities say financial institutions launder billions of criminally derived dollars every year. However, financial institutions are not the only way through which criminals can make funds appear legitimate.

What is Disorderly Intoxication?

There is a common misconception that when it comes to alcohol consumption, the only risk involves getting behind the steering wheel. Unfortunately, some Fort Myers area tourists and residents learn the hard way after receiving a disorderly intoxication charge. There are limits to what they can legally do, especially with the involvement of alcohol. 

For someone to receive a disorderly conduct charge after consuming alcohol, she or he must show signs of impairment and act in a manner that endangers public and property safety or causes a disturbance. Even if slightly impaired, you could still end up in criminal court. 

White collar crimes: Beware of unsolicited emails and job offers

Being tricked into becoming a money launderer can happen to anyone in Florida. An unsuspicious person could agree to the tricks of scammers without realizing that they are committing white collar crimes. Money mules are typically conned into processing money that was illegally obtained through legitimate sources to prevent law enforcement linking it to crimes.

An example of using innocent citizens to launder money is an international drug ring that wants to move significant amounts of capital across borders without drawing attention. They target unsuspecting people via emails and trick them into allowing large sums of money to be paid into their personal bank accounts. They then ask that third party to pay it into one or more other accounts. The third parties are often promised a percentage of the money as a sign of gratitude for their assistance.

Figuring out damages in a Florida car accident case

When thinking of filing a personal injury case after a car crash, many people want to know what their case will be worth. Having an approximate idea of this figure can help in planning strategy, dealing with insurance companies and deciding whether to accept a settlement offer.

The following outline explains the general approach to calculating damages. An experienced attorney can give you a more detailed estimate based on the facts of your case. However, no one can ever guarantee a specific figure. In addition, an initial estimate can later change based on new facts that develop over the timeline of the case.

DUI manslaughter charges follow 2 Christmas Day deaths

Despite the increased presence of law enforcement on the Florida highways during the holidays, lives continue to be lost in crashes that involve drunk drivers. A West Palm Beach resident was charged with DUI manslaughter while he was fighting for his life in a medical center. This followed a fatal crash on Christmas Day.

In an accident report, the Florida Highway Patrol indicates that the driver was heading north on Interstate 95 at approximately 3 p.m. on Christmas Day when he lost control of his SUV. The vehicle came to a halt after rolling over several times. It is unclear how many passengers were in the car, but officials reported that two passengers died at the crash scene.

Two nuns accused of embezzlement to fund gambling

When times are tough, some people in Florida and elsewhere might succumb to the temptation to take funds from their employers with the intention of putting it back when times improve. However, in some embezzlement cases, it is not so easy to explain the motivation. People in Florida might be interested in a case in which two nuns in another state face criminal charges for allegedly misappropriating funds of a Catholic school to finance their gambling habits.

Although initial reports indicated that the archdiocese did not plan to file criminal charges against the two Sisters, this decision was changed after a meeting with parents. This was when the school community learned that the two nuns allegedly embezzled approximately $500,000 and that the money was used for personal matters -- suspected to be gambling. Parents were outraged, and the archdiocese announced that it would seek restitution from the religious order to which the nuns belong and cooperate with the police department in the criminal investigation.

Sobriety checkpoints in Florida

When driving down the road in Florida, a police officer needs reasonable suspicion of DUI or another breach of law to stop you. However, this is not the case when it comes to sobriety checkpoints, where officers can stop any driver and DUI charges may ensue.

Sobriety checkpoints are legal in Florida, as they are in most states. Drivers, therefore, have the obligation to stop and comply with instructions. Law enforcement officers who operate checkpoints also have to comply with certain legal requirements; if they fail to do so, a defense attorney can later challenge the stop and any evidence officers gather in its course.

Drug crimes: 3 arrested after search of "drug house"

Three Florida residents were recently arrested at a house in Clearwater. Police officers say the arrests were made after they discovered a drug house run by the three individuals. The three are accused of multiple drug crimes after a search warrant was executed at the property.

According to authorities, the search yielded over 27 pounds of marijuana, said to be high-grade. Furthermore, they alleged that the suspects offered several marijuana-related products for sale from the house. The seized merchandise that was displayed in a showcase included oils, wax and edibles along with various blends of marijuana such as Cream Soda, Girl Scout Cookies, Train Wreck, Green Crack and Orange Cookies.

Alleged drunk driving teacher faces criminal charges

In Florida and across the country, it is unacceptable to drive while impaired. Those in certain professions -- teachers, for example -- may find that being accused of drunk driving may threaten their professional livelihoods. With so much on the line, a teacher facing such accusations should waste no time in securing legal counsel.

A middle school teacher in Polk County finds himself in such a situation after his recent arrest. According to the sheriff's office, a pickup truck operated by the 29-year-old was seen striking another vehicle. Reportedly, he was driving erratically at about 8 p.m. on a recent Tuesday. They say the driver attempted to flee the accident scene. The police report indicates that the driver raced away, but he lost control of his pickup truck.

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