Defending Against Accusations of Criminal Fraud

The state of Florida defines “scheme to defraud” as the “intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act.” That’s a broad definition, to say the least. There are numerous types of fraud — credit card fraud, identity theft crimes, business-related scams, etc. — and a person could easily find themselves accused of any one or more of them. When that happens, a person is left with the prospect of defending themselves against damaging accusations and state prosecutors eager for a guilty verdict. 

If you’ve been accused of fraud, please remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. In this article, we’ll cover effective fraud defenses that could result in your charges being dropped, reduced, or dismissed. For a legal ally who will stick by your side through this complicated process, contact a fraud defense attorney in Tampa from The Rickman Law Firm today. 

Related: 8 Ways You Can Be Accused of Fraud

Defense Tailored to Your Case 

The tactics employed to defend you will depend entirely on the specifics of your case. We understand that this may not be the answer you’re looking for, but it’s simply the truth. No two cases are alike, and we would be remiss to recommend a one-size-fits-all approach. With that being said, we can discuss common defenses employed by our team at The Rickman Law Firm. 

  • Insufficient Evidence: Unfortunately, innocent people are often blindsided by groundless charges. Our team can review your case and determine if there is insufficient evidence. Just because law enforcement has enough evidence to charge you with a crime doesn’t mean there’s enough evidence to convict you of a crime.

  • Lack of Intent: Remember that fraud definition we talked about at the beginning of this article? It specifically states that there must be an intent to commit fraud. Our team can use this to argue that you did not intend to defraud anyone of their property. The burden of proof rests on the prosecution, and they must prove that you did not accidentally perform the incident that resulted in your case.

  • Entrapment: In their enthusiasm for justice, law enforcement will sometimes pressure an innocent person into committing fraud. Proving that a defendant was coerced into committing a crime is a difficult undertaking, which is why it’s so important to speak with an attorney regarding the specifics of your case. 

Related: Credit Card Fraud: How One Swipe Can Lead to a Felony

When you work with a fraud defense lawyer in Tampa, they’ll start by looking at the type of fraud you’ve been accused of. At The Rickman Law Firm, our team regularly represents defendants accused of: 

  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Telemarketing Fraud
  • Identity Theft Crimes
  • Business-Related Scams 
  • Ponzi Schemes
  • Running Fraudulent Nonprofit Organizations
  • Medical Care Crimes
  • Payroll Fraud

If brought on to represent you, we will work tirelessly to determine the best defense for your unique case. The penalties for committing fraud are severe and can include prison time and large fines. In order to defend yourself against accusations of fraud, schedule a free consultation with an attorney at The Rickman Law Firm. We believe in your innocence, and we’re ready to fight to secure your freedom. 

For a free consultation with a fraud defense attorney in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

Accused of Fleeing the Scene of an Accident? Here Are Your Possible Defenses

You wake up in the hospital after colliding with another vehicle in a serious accident on I-95. You don’t remember much about the accident apart from driving a little too fast on the road — still slick from torrential downpour — and hydroplaning. You remember coming into contact with another vehicle, but it is not until you are notified by the police that you realize you are being accused of fleeing the scene of the accident. 

In Florida, the penalties for leaving the scene of a crash can vary from serious fines to prison time of up to 30 years in prison. That’s why it’s critical that you connect with a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible to defend your rights. In this brief article, we’ll review just a few of the many defenses and strategies available to contest or minimize the potential consequences of a charge of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Florida. 

Related: Leaving the Scene: How a Hit and Run Can Result In a Felony Conviction 

Medical Attention Defense

One of the best defenses to Leaving the Scene of an Accident, and the defense you would likely utilize in the situation we described above, is that you were physically unable to report the crash. Under Florida Statute 316.064, a crash report is not required from any person who is physically incapable of making an immediate or a written report of the crash. 

This is a great defense because it will prove difficult for a court of law to fault you for leaving the scene when you were going to receive medical attention or were rendered physically incapacitated and unable to report the accident. It is worth noting that this defense may be available under any level of incapacity, including instances where a person may not necessarily have been brought to the emergency room by an ambulance. 

Proof of Damage

Another viable defense is the lack of knowledge that an impact occurred within persons or property. Knowledge of the accident is an essential element of Florida Statute 316.027 because an individual cannot “willfully” leave the scene of an accident without the awareness that an accident has occurred. You must have knowledge that your vehicle has caused personal injuries or property damage. 

Generally speaking, it seems like it would be easy to prove that you willfully left the scene of the accident; however, in reality, the State must be able prove that there is damage to someone else’s vehicle or property.  If there is no evidence indicating what your vehicle collided with, even if your vehicle is damaged, your conviction of leaving the scene could be discarded. 

Related: Leaving the Scene of an Automobile Crash in Florida

The Importance of a Criminal Defense Lawyer

More often than not, a “hit and run” is not a cut-and-dried situation. Other defenses for Leaving the Scene of an Accident include the following:

  • Dispute over the identity of the driver
  • Fear of an incident with the other driver
  • You stopped as close as possible to the scene of the accident
  • The failure to stop was not willful but was dictated by the circumstances
  • The assistance rendered was “reasonable” within the meaning of the statute

Even with this wide variety of defenses in mind, attempting to fight these charges without the help of a criminal defense law firm in Tampa could result in serious penalties, including hefty fines, mandatory driver’s license revocation, and a prison sentence. Don’t let a single mistake define the remainder of your life. If you’ve been involved in a hit and run that involved property damage, serious injury, or death, do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney from The Rickman Law Firm who will review the specifics of your case and get to work on building a defense as soon as possible. 

For a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

It Wasn’t Me: How to Fight Accusations of Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious crime that involves the deliberate use of someone else’s personal information without their permission, usually to obtain money or credit. The State of Florida has several laws that target multiple forms of identity theft including but not limited to the criminal use of personal identification to harass someone, use of a deceased’s personal identification information, and use of falsified or fictitious personal identification information. Any one of these actions can result in serious fines, incarceration, and restitution orders. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can defend against accusations of identity theft in the Sunshine State. If you have been accused of identity theft, consult an experienced, aggressive federal criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible. 

Related: Identity Theft: What You Should Know if You’ve Been Accused of Stealing Someone’s Identity

Consult With a Lawyer to Review Your Case 

Single-handedly, the most important step of developing a defense against accusations of identity theft is to connect with a federal criminal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg to review the specifics of your case. The severity of the crime will determine the severity of your punishment. Before you work to reduce or eliminate these charges, you must understand the weight of the crime. 

Committing credit card fraud two or fewer times in any six-month period, for example, is considered a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one-year prison and a $1,000 fine under Florida Statute 817.61. However, if credit card fraud is committed two or more times, or you obtain goods, money, or services valued at $100 or greater, then you’re considered to be committing a third-degree felony punishable by up to a five-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. Don’t move forward with the defense of your case without the assistance of an experienced identity theft lawyer. 


Related: Credit Card Fraud: How One Swipe Can Lead to a Felony

Begin Work to Develop a Strong Defense Strategy

Once you and your federal criminal defense lawyer understand the specifics of your case, then you can move forward with developing a strong defense strategy. The right strategy for you will depend on the circumstances of your case and make use of any available evidence. For example, let’s say you have the same name as another employee at your company. If you receive some of his or her identifying information and unknowingly use this information to conduct personal and/or professional business, you have enough evidence to demonstrate that you did not intend to steal someone else’s identifying information.

A similar defense strategy can be utilized if you have been accused of identity theft on account of sensitive banking information belonging to another individual that was delivered to your home due to a post office error. If you can prove that this information was sent to your home by mistake, it will be difficult for a court of law to demonstrate that you intentionally committed identity theft. Other defenses for identity theft charges include authorization, lack of fraudulent intent, no intent, and improper search. To avoid being at increased risk of conviction of identity theft, contact a federal criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg with The Rickman Law Firm. 

For a free consultation with a federal criminal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

What to Do If You Are Accused of Forgery

Florida law is jam-packed with provisions related to forgery and fraud-related offenses, including a whole chapter devoted to the matter in the Florida Statutes. Many of these offenses not only constitute felonies, resulting in prosecution for creating and possessing forged or fraudulent documents, but are also subject to some of the Sunshine State’s harshest recidivist sentencing statutes, able to drastically increase the maximum penalty. Being arrested or charged with a forgery- or fraud-related offense is no laughing matter. 

If you have been charged with a fraud or forgery offense, or if you think you might be in the future, you must contact an experienced, aggressive federal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible. Only prompt intervention by a qualified attorney on your behalf will have the potential to increase the likelihood of these charges being dropped or reduced. Below, we’ll provide a general overview of some of the most common examples of forgery crimes and the possible defenses to these charges. 

Related: Fraud Cases Could Spike Due to COVID-19

Common Forgery Crimes

When you think of forgery, your mind most likely jumps to the white-collar crime of forging check signatures; however, the actual definition of forgery extends much further than that. While checks are perhaps the forged document most people are aware of, many other types of documents are commonly forged and counterfeited, including:

  • Money orders
  • Deeds
  • Currency
  • Court seals
  • Securities
  • Titles
  • Corporate documents 

Any person who falsely alters, makes, forges, or counterfeits a document of this type can be guilty of a felony of the third degree. Simply possessing these forged notes, bills, checks, or drafts can also land you in some pretty serious trouble. These charges change depending on whether or not certain factors or elements are in place. For example, simply falsifying a letter or document does not constitute forgery unless the person has done so in an attempt to defraud a person or entity. The same goes for simply possessing a forged document without the knowledge that the document is false. 

Related: 8 Ways You Can Be Accused of Fraud

Defenses Against Forgery Charges

If you have been accused of forgery, reach out to the best federal defense attorney in St. Petersburg with The Rickman Law Firm who will review your case and immediately get to work on crafting a strong defense. Possible defenses to your forgery charges include the following: 

  • Lack of Intent: In order to be found liable for forgery, you must have intended to commit deception. Some forgery crimes require specific intent, meaning that if you only create the document or the item but do not use it to deceive others, you may have a lack of intent to carry out the crime. This can be a difficult defense to prove, however, in situations in which there is financial gain as a result. 
  • Consent: This is, by far, one of the simplest defenses to forgery. If you can demonstrate that you received consent from another person to sign a document on their behalf, then you have not committed forgery. 
  • Illegally Obtained Evidence: If the police obtained evidence against you in violation of your constitutional rights, then there may be a means to prevent the prosecution from using that evidence in a court of law. 

For a free consultation with a federal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Florida? You May Have Just Committed a Felony

Florida is without a doubt a pro-gun state. The Sunshine State has enacted a number of pro-gun laws designed to protect lawful gun owners — we covered this topic recently in our article on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. But there is an important distinction that must be made: Florida does not support the illegal possession of weapons or firearms. People who misinterpret Florida’s seemingly laissez-faire approach to gun control could end up being charged with a felony. 

Below, we discuss how illegally possessing a weapon could land a person in legal hot water. This article is for educational purposes only. It’s important to understand the laws of the state you reside in, but if you’ve been accused of illegally possessing a firearm, you should consult a felony defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm today. 

Lawfully Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Florida

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has set the bar pretty low for being able to obtain a concealed weapon license in Florida. In order to be eligible for a concealed weapon or firearm license, you must be: 

  • 21 or older
  • Able to demonstrate competency with a firearm 
  • A United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident alien 

A prior felony conviction could result in your ineligibility to obtain a license (more on that below). It’s incredibly easy to obtain a concealed weapon or firearm license in Florida. And as we’ll see below, the penalties for illegally possessing a weapon or firearm far outweigh the small hoops that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services place in your way. 

Related: Firearms Lawyer in Tampa, FL

Unlicensed Carrying of Concealed Weapons or Firearms 

Under Florida law, it is a first-degree misdemeanor to carry a concealed weapon or electric weapon. Exceptions include self-defense chemical spray and a nonlethal stun gun. Those convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor could be fined $1,000 and sentenced up to one year in prison. The penalties for illegally possessing a concealed firearm are far more severe. Carrying a concealed firearm without a license is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. As steep as these penalties may be, they only become more severe if the convicted individual has a prior felony conviction. 

Related: What You Need to Know About Concealed Carry Laws in Florida

Florida Statute 790.23 states that felons who own or have “in his or her care, custody, possession, or control any firearm, ammunition, or electric weapon or device, or to carry a concealed weapon, including a tear gas gun or chemical weapon or device,” commit a second-degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a $10,000 fine (unless their civil rights and firearm authority have been restored or their criminal history has been expunged). 

Keeping You Out of Trouble 

We understand that you may be carrying a weapon to protect yourself, your family, or your property, but it is imperative that you abide by Florida law. Failure to do so can only lead to trouble. If you have been caught with a concealed weapon that you are not licensed to have, consult an attorney from The Rickman Law Firm. Our team will fight to safeguard your rights and your freedom. 

For a free consultation with a felony defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

How Florida Approaches Domestic Violence Cases

Florida’s priority is to keep victims of domestic violence safe. The state has made it incredibly easy for alleged victims to obtain domestic violence injunctions, or restraining orders. The state has also given law enforcement the authority to make an arrest if they suspect that there is an incident of domestic violence. At every turn, the alleged victim is notified of their rights and provided assistance. This is in stark contrast to alleged perpetrators who have yet to be proven guilty of a crime. 

In this article, we want to shed some light on how Florida handles domestic violence cases. As you’ll read below, the odds are stacked against individuals accused of domestic violence. This article is meant to be an educational resource. If you require legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact a domestic violence defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm. 

Investigating the Incident 

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance a law enforcement officer has conducted an investigation and taken a written statement from the alleged victim and witnesses regarding the incident. The law enforcement officer will inform the victim that they may ask the state attorney to file a criminal complaint. It’s important to note, however, that the officer does not require the victim’s consent to make an arrest. Under Florida law, an arrest is the preferred response only to the primary aggressor, meaning that you will likely be arrested if an officer believes that you were the attacker. 

Related: How a Domestic Violence Conviction Can Turn Your Life Upside Down

A Pro-Prosecution Policy 

Under Florida Statute 741.2901, it is stated that:

“It is the intent of the Legislature that domestic violence be treated as a criminal act rather than a private matter. For that reason, criminal prosecution shall be the favored method of enforcing compliance with injunctions for protection against domestic violence as both length and severity of sentence for those found to have committed the crime of domestic violence can be greater, thus providing greater protection to victims and better accountability of perpetrators.” 

It is stated right in the statute that a pro-prosecution policy for acts of domestic violence shall be adopted. Prosecutors are part of special units developed specifically for prosecuting cases of domestic violence. Prior to your first appearance, the State’s Attorney’s Office will perform an investigation into your history and prior arrests, especially those that have to do with domestic violence. 

Related: 4 Common Defense Strategies Used in Domestic Violence Cases

Fighting for Your Innocence 

The laws and rules enacted by the state of Florida are important; they’re there to keep victims safe. But it’s equally important to remember that this is a legal process that must be navigated by the just and unjust alike. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, understand that you will be facing an uphill battle to prove your innocence. For this reason, we strongly recommend consulting a domestic violence defense attorney in Tampa with our law office. Our team can review the specifics of your case to determine the course of action that’s best for you. 

For a free consultation with a domestic violence defense lawyer in Tampa, please contact The Rickman Law Firm today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation. 

Anthony Rickman Recognized as Florida Legal Elite

PETERSBURG, FL. (June 22, 2020) – Anthony Rickman of The Rickman Law Firm in Tampa, FL, was recently recognized in the 2020 edition of Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite™. The list of 1,071 honorees represents just over 1% of the active Florida Bar members, including attorneys in private practice as well as top government and non-profit attorneys who practice in Florida. 

Florida Trend invited all actively practicing Florida lawyers to name the attorneys they hold in highest regard – lawyers with whom they have personally worked and would recommend to others. 

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by my peers as a Florida Legal Elite honoree,” said Rickman. “I am especially humbled to be placed in such distinguished ranks as those of the past honorees. This award signifies my commitment to providing the excellent legal representation my clients deserve. Thank you.” 

“The Florida Bar is committed to connecting our members and the public with the legal resources needed to enhance their practices, businesses and daily lives, while also supporting each lawyer’s health and wellness. With so many talented lawyers in our state, Florida Trend’s Legal Elite continues to provide a valuable, credible resource of attorneys evaluated by their peers and representing many types and sizes of practices,” notes The Florida Bar President Dori Foster-Morales.

“Now in its 17th year, the Florida Legal Elite, published in Florida Trend’s July issue, provides its 270,000 readers with a peer-reviewed resource listing of the best lawyers in the state,” says Publisher David Denor. 

View the entire Legal Elite roster, including Hall of Fame inductees and top Up and Comers, at www.FloridaTrend.com/Legal-Elite.

ABOUT THE RICKMAN LAW FIRM

A graduate of the Florida State University College of Law, Mr. Rickman began his career as a prosecutor, which has contributed to his success as a criminal defense attorney. The Rickman Law Firm provides superior representation to individuals arrested or accused of crimes in State and Federal Court. Mr. Rickman, an AV Rated Lawyer, has a 10.0 star rating from AVVO, has been named as a Florida Super Lawyer, been selected as a Top 40 Trial Lawyer under 40 by the National Trial Lawyers Association, and has received a “Superior” ranking by the National Advocacy for DUI Defense organization. The Rickman Law Firm, with its main office in Tampa, is dedicated to representing clients throughout the state of Florida. For more information, visit https://therickmanlawfirm.com/

ABOUT FLORIDA TREND’S FLORIDA LEGAL ELITE

Published in Florida Trend magazine, one of America’s most award-winning business publications, Florida Legal Elite presents a prestigious roster of attorneys chosen for recognition by their peers. The lawyers selected for this honor exemplify a standard of excellence in their profession and, by so doing, have garnered the respect and esteem of their colleagues. The selection process requires lawyers to name the attorneys they hold in the highest regard or would recommend to others. After voting, the ballots are processed and verified by a third-party vendor and the attorneys selected receive a cumulative score based on the number of votes they received. Only attorneys that are actively licensed and practicing in Florida may qualify.   

www.FloridaTrend.com/Legal-Elite.

 

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MEDIA CONTACT

Anthony B. Rickman, Esq.

The Rickman Law Firm

(813) 999-0502 

ARickman@therickmanlawfirm.com

Case Results

NO CONVICTION FOR SOLICITATION CHARGE IN POLK COUNTY

The Client was arrested in Polk County for Soliciting Another to Commit A Lewd Act and Offer to Commit Prostitution after being involved in an undercover operation where an officer posted an add on Craigslist
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POSSESSION OF COCAINE, POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE AND DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE CHARGES DISMISSED

The Client was arrested and charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of a Controlled Substance and Driving Under the Influence. As the Client was a Veteran, Attorney Anthony Rickman succeeded in having the Client enrolled
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NO CONVICTION FOR CLIENT CHARGED WITH AGGRAVATED ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON, AGGRAVATED BATTERY WITH A DEADLY WEAPON AND SHOOTING IN OR AT A VEHICLE

The Client was charged with 2 counts of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon,2 counts of Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and 1 Count of Shooting at or into a Vehicle. Attorney Anthony Rickman
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