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Fort Myers Criminal Law Blog

What bad faith tactics might your insurance use against you?

If you get into a car accident, you exchange information with the other driver, contact law enforcement and call your insurance company. After the investigation, your insurer issues you a check for the damage. It really should be that simple, shouldn’t it? Unfortunately for you and many other Florida residents, it isn’t always that easy to get compensation from insurers.

While it’s an insurance company’s job to compensate victims for their medical and property damages, ultimately these companies are in the business to make money. It’s not uncommon for an insurer to drag its feet in paying on a claim or to try any avenue it can take to avoid paying. Your insurance company may wait as long as legally possible to investigate your claim, or it could outright violate the terms of your policy. Unfair, dishonest and illegal practices to keep from paying are known as insurance bad faith.

Drug charges filed against alleged drive-thru operators

Police in Ocala became suspicious when four people suffered drug overdoses in a particular area. An investigation ensued that ultimately led to the arrest of a Florida couple who is now facing several drug charges. Reportedly, an undercover police officer made a controlled substance purchase at the house that was suspected to be the origin of drugs that led to the overdoses.

A spokesperson for the Ocala Police Department says officers searched a mobile home toward the end of August. A police report indicates that the search yielded prepackaged fentanyl in foil, a digital scale and plastic bags. Officers allege the couple who occupies the mobile home had signs that were used to indicate when they were open for business.

Is a drug rehabilitation program more effective than prison?

Millions of Americans are affected by drug abuse, and some of those addicted turn to illegal activities to obtain the drugs they need. Imprisonment is often the penalty someone faces for involvement with illicit drugs—but there may be another option, especially for a first-time offender: drug rehabilitation.

Recognizing the problem

Alleged DUI driver hides under bridge after jumping into ocean

A 31-year-old Florida man was picked up by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boat from where he was allegedly hiding from deputies after he jumped into the ocean. A spokesperson for the sheriff's department says this incident took place after a high-speed chase in the early morning hours of a recent Friday. The man was taken into custody, and he now faces several charges, including DUI, resisting arrest and property damage.

According to an incident report, a high-speed chase followed after a deputy saw a suspected drunk driver pulling off at high speed after leaving a bar. The man's pickup truck struck the median, but he allegedly raced away at speeds exceeding 100 mph with the deputies giving chase. Law enforcement attempted to put an end to the erratic swerving of the suspected impaired driver on the Overseas Highway by deploying tire spikes, but even that did not stop the pickup truck driver.

White collar crimes charges follow alleged SNAP fraud

A Florida woman recently pleaded guilty to federal charges of SNAP fraud. A program that was previously known as the Food Stamp program and later changed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federally run program to assist individuals and families with low incomes by providing money to buy food. The Florida Department of Children and Families says the funds are strictly redeemable on essential food products only, although some white collar crimes cases involve SNAP fraud.

The 34-year-old woman was indicted for allegedly defrauding the SNAP system of about $3,000 over a period of 11 months between March 2015 and Feb. 2016. Court documents indicate that, of the seven counts of SNAP fraud, the accused woman pleaded guilty on only three counts, although she pleaded guilty on both counts of government fund theft. Reportedly, she agreed to pay restitution in full to the department that oversees the SNAP program.

Juvenile crimes: Don't let the term petty theft fool you

Regardless of background or upbringing, teenagers in Florida could become involved in unsavory activities. Peer pressure could be powerful, and many young ones have faced charges of juvenile crimes because they were conned into the belief that stealing something like a Snickers bar is petty theft, which is as insignificant as it sounds. However, the consequences can be all but petty. Any type of theft is a crime that society considers as immoral or unacceptably dishonest, and as such, it can count against a suspect of petty theft in many ways -- including having to reveal this record in job applications in the future.

When it comes to convictions, even first offenders can be harshly punished. Circumstances will determine whether a lenient sentence -- such as a juvenile diversion program, community service or probation -- will apply, or a fine and a possible one-year jail sentence. However, when it comes to repeat offenders, even of the same petty theft crimes, punishment can be significantly more severe.

DUI: Suspected drunk driver caught with magic mushrooms and pot

Florida drivers whose driving seems erratic or reckless stand the risk of being reported to authorities. What follows could have an adverse impact on their lives. This was what happened when a 46-year-old Plantation man took to the Overseas Highway on a recent Saturday and he was pulled over for suspected DUI.

A Monroe County spokesperson of the sheriff's office says several drivers called emergency services to report near misses of head-on collisions with a reckless driver. Reportedly, this happened at approximately 4 p.m. Deputies soon identified the vehicle and pulled the driver over in a DUI stop. They allege the driver had problems when he tried to roll down the car's window, and they became aware of a strong marijuana smell emanating from the inside of the vehicle.

Drunk driving charges come in various levels of severity

Driving while impaired risks not only the life of the driver but also his or her passengers and other road users. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a driver to think his or her blood alcohol level is below the legal limit. While a Florida driver might think a drunk driving charge could be the worst thing that could happen, certain things can aggravate DUI charges to make them even worse.

A driver under the age of 21 years can be charged even if he or she had only one drink -- based on the zero tolerance DUI laws. If any driver commits a repeat DUI offense, punishment will be more severe. For a second drunk driving offense, the fine will be higher, and an ignition interlock device might be ordered. Also, a longer license suspension, community service and jail time might be part of the punishment. When it is the third conviction, time behind bars will be almost a given.

Will your college student drink alcohol?

If you have children about to go off to college, you probably wonder if they will drink alcohol or lots of it. Even "good kids" do it. Drinking is part of the culture at many colleges, and no one likes to feel left out.

The odds are decent that your child will drink alcohol at least a few times. With that in mind, you can help stave off some of the consequences of drinking by planning proactively and talking honestly with your child. These potential consequences include DUI charges, low grades, health risks and falling behind in school, among other issues. Nothing to laugh about - a DUI conviction can follow your children around for life and hinder their employment prospects.

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