Is Drug Paraphernalia Illegal in Florida?

With the opening of medical cannabis shops, vape stores, and other modern smoke shops, it can be difficult to understand the laws of drug paraphernalia. The waters become muddied when we consider that bongs are legally sold at CBD shops, so will you face potential issues if you legally purchase a bong, pipe, or novelty item legally at a vape or CBD shop? Will you be traversing legal terrain if you have a water pipe in your home or vehicle, even if gained by completely legal means?

If you have been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, you should contact a drug defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible. Drug charges may seem confusing, but legal counsel will help you understand the charges and will provide you with the best defense possible.

Drug Paraphernalia Laws in Florida

According to Florida Statutes, drug paraphernalia is defined as “all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, transporting, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance . . .”

So how can vape shops and CBD dispensaries sell these items legally? Because technically, vape shops are not selling drug paraphernalia. They are selling water pipes, glass tobacco, and novelty pipes, and the items don’t technically become drug paraphernalia after people leave the store and employ them in an illegal manner. For this reason, drug paraphernalia charges typically are added when there are drug possession charges — because it is easier to prove that a pipe purchased at a novelty shop is being used for illegal reasons if the illegal substance is nearby.

Possession or use of drug paraphernalia is classified as a first degree misdemeanor, and is punishable by law with penalties that may include up to 365 days in jail or 12 months probation, and a $1,000 fine.

Drug Paraphernalia Defenses

There are several possible defenses to drug paraphernalia charges. Typically, these charges will be accompanied by other drug-related charges, however you may be able to prove that the items in question were not being used, nor intended to be used, for illegal activity.

Another defense your attorney may discuss with you is the legality of the police search and seizure. If the officer did not have a warrant signed by a judge, the search and seizure may not have been lawful.

Do not attempt to handle drug charges alone. Any delay in hiring a drug defense lawyer in Tampa immediately upon being accused or arrested is a big mistake. A free consultation with Anthony Rickman is just a phone call away.

For a free consultation with a drug 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.

Is Forgery a Type of Fraud? How to Defend Yourself if Wrongfully Accused

Florida law treats forgery very seriously. According to Florida Statutes Chapter 831, forgery occurs when someone falsely makes, alters, forges or counterfeits a variety of documents. Forgery often brings to mind forging a check, however there are several types of forgery of which you may be accused. It is important to understand what forgery is and what you can do if you are accused of forgery.

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 fraud defense lawyer in Tampa 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

When Does Forgery Constitute Fraud?

In short, forgery is always a type of fraud in the eyes of the law. As we mentioned earlier, forgery occurs when a document is altered, marked, or counterfeited. This white collar crime can occur on a variety of documents, including:

  • Public record, or a certificate, return or attestation of any clerk or register of a court, public register, notary public, town clerk or any public officer, in relation to a matter wherein such certificate, return or attestation may be received as a legal proof

  • A charter, deed, will, testament, bond, or writing obligatory, letter of attorney, policy of insurance, bill of lading, bill of exchange or promissory note, or an order, acquittance, or discharge for money or other property

  • Money order, checks, or securities

  • An acceptance of a bill of exchange or promissory note for the payment of money, or any receipt for money, goods or other property, or any passage ticket, pass or other evidence of transportation issued by a common carrier, with intent to injure or defraud any person

In short, if a document is falsified for personal or financial gain, it is a type of forgery. These forgeries all constitute fraud, which is a very serious accusation

Is Forgery a Felony?

If found guilty, forgery is a type of fraud which is a felony in the third degree. In Florida, forgery is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. Forgery is assigned a Level 1 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code.

 

With each accusation of forgery, the punishment may increase from probation all the way to prison time. Having an aggressive white collar defense attorney in Tampa will help you prove your innocence and negotiate for a reduced sentence should you be found guilty.

What Should I Do If Wrongfully Accused?

In order to be found guilty of forgery, a prosecutor must prove intent, which means that you knowingly intended to deceive others. If your act of forgery was on someone else’s behalf, for example, signing a check, for which you had their permission which they then denied, a prosecutor must prove that consent was not actually given. Additionally, all evidence against you must be legally obtained.

 

If you have been charged with forgery or fraud, we cannot stress enough the seriousness of this allegation. In order to ensure that your case results in the best possible outcome, our attorneys will closely assess the circumstances of your case, answer any questions, and offer you knowledgeable legal advice.

For a free consultation with a fraud 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.

What is the Difference Between Larceny, Petit Theft, and Burglary or Robbery

Stealing, or intending to steal, someone else’s property can fall into various categories of crimes. Various types of theft are defined in Florida statutes Chapter 812, and depending on the location of the alleged theft, the value of the items being stolen, and whether or not violence is involved, the penalties for these crimes can vary greatly. Although people may use these terms interchangeably, there are a few important differences to be aware of so that you can avoid legal pitfalls.

If you have been charged with any theft-related offense, you must contact an experienced, aggressive robbery defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible.

 

What is Petit Theft?

In the state of Florida, petit theft (sometimes called “petty theft”) is defined as the act of taking or using property valued below $300, with the intent to deprive the owner of a right or benefit in the property. Petit theft of the first degree involves property valued above $100 but less than $300, while petit theft of the second degree involves property of less than $100.

Petit theft is a misdemeanor offense with penalties that may include jail, probation, community service, and restitution. Typically shoplifting falls under the umbrella of petit theft, unless the total value of what has been stolen is above the threshold for petit theft.

 

What is Grand Theft?

People have likely heard of the video game “Grand Theft Auto”, but it is important to remember that you don’t need to steal something as large as a car to be accused and convicted of grand theft. Grand theft is the unlawful taking of property valued above $300, with intent to deprive the owner of a right or benefit of the property.

Grand theft is a felony and may be punishable by up to 30 years in prison, depending on the degree. Grand theft charges may occur concurrently with larceny, burglary, or robbery.

 

What is Larceny, Burglary, or Robbery?

Larceny, burglary, and robbery are also terms used interchangeably, although incorrectly.

Put simply, larceny is the unlawful taking of property without breaking into private property nor use of force or violence. Robbery involves taking money or property from a person through the use of violence, with or without a deadly weapon, while burglary is unlawfully entering into a structure to commit a crime.

If you have been accused of any crime of theft, it is imperative that you contact legal counsel at The Rickman Law Firm immediately. In order to ensure that your case results in the best possible outcome, our attorneys will closely assess the circumstances of your case, answer any questions, and offer you knowledgeable legal advice.

 

For a free consultation with a burglary 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.

What is the Federal Crime of Mail Fraud?

When being accused of a white collar crime, charges of mail or wire fraud may be included. These are federal charges and often occur when crimes of forgery or other types of fraud have been alleged as well. These charges are very serious and it is important to understand every charge being brought against you.

If you have been charged with the federal crime of mail or wire fraud, you should contact the best criminal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible. Federal charges may be confusing but legal counsel will discuss the best defense to help you prevent your record from being permanently marred.

What is Mail and Wire Fraud?

As previously mentioned, mail and wire fraud are federal crimes that are associated with committing various types of fraud, or wrongfully enticing others to give you their money, property, or belongings through mail or wire, and has been a federal crime since 1872. If you use U.S. mail or any interstate delivery service in an attempt to engage in fraud, you run the risk of being prosecuted under the federal mail fraud law.

It is important to note that even if you do not use the United States Postal Service, and instead utilize a private delivery service like UPS or FedEx, you can still be charged with mail or wire fraud. In fact, the law states that this includes items: “…sent or delivered by the Postal Service, or deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or receives therefrom, any such matter or thing, or knowingly causes to be delivered by mail or such carrier…”

An example of wire or mail fraud can be as simple as using the mail to send a forged or fraudulent check. Another example of mail fraud is sending mail that looks like it is government issued in order to trick someone into sending money. Mail fraud can also occur when get rich quick schemes, or fake insurance ads or charity ads are sent via mail in order to gain donations or money.

If you are convicted of mail fraud, you may also be accused and convicted of racketeering. These are felony charges with serious penalties if convicted. 

What are Penalties for Mail or Wire Fraud?

Mail or wire fraud can incur serious penalties. These felony charges can result in up to 30 years of prison time, restitution payments to victims, and a fine determined by a judge which can be upwards of $250,000 to $500,000, depending on whether you were acting as part of an organization or an individual. Because this is a federal crime, prison time would be served in a federal facility.

Defenses for Mail or Wire Fraud

In order to be convicted of wire or mail fraud, it must be proven that the defendant had a scheme or intent to knowingly commit fraudulent acts. The defense can also be made that the misrepresentations made were not material.

If you are being charged with any federal crimes, including mail or wire fraud, it is important to contact an experienced, aggressive federal criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg as soon as possible. The experienced attorneys with The Rickman Law Firm will discuss the best legal strategy possible and will explain the process.

For a free consultation with a federal criminal defense attorney 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.

When Road Rage Becomes Aggravated Assault

Road rage can quickly devolve from frustrated driving to aggravated assault. In fact, according to recent statistics, 37% of traffic fatalities in a road rage incident are due to firearms rather than an auto accident. When road rage becomes an aggravated assault, it is important to understand the charges and find the best defense available.

If you have been charged with a road rage related aggravated assault, you should contact the best aggravated assault lawyer in St. Petersburg with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible.

What is Aggravated Assault?

As explained under section 784.021 Florida Statutes, aggravated assault is defined as:

(1) An “aggravated assault” is an assault: 

(a) With a deadly weapon without intent to kill;

 or

(b) With an intent to commit a felony.

(2) Whoever commits an aggravated assault shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree.

An example of aggravated assault related to road rage is when aggressive driving goes wrong. You may be stuck in a gridlock or trying to change lanes when another driver cuts you off and begins to tailgate and honk aggressively. If you or the other party attempts to use a firearm, weapon, or even your vehicle to cause harm, charges of an aggravated assault may be brought forth.

Can a Vehicle Qualify as a “Deadly Weapon”?

The definition of deadly weapon is broad, and for good reason. A gun is not the only deadly weapon that can be used in a road rage incident. Any item, including glass bottles you may find on the side of the road can be used as a deadly weapon. In fact, your vehicle may qualify as a deadly weapon if you are attempting to harm another person with it.

If you are found guilty of the charges of aggravated assault, even if it is a road rage incident, you may have to serve a mandatory prison sentence of up to 20 years if a firearm is fired.

How to Avoid Road Rage Related Aggravated Assault?

If another person tries to entice you into a fight on the road, stay calm. Although you may feel that you were acting in self defense, you can still be charged with aggravated assault if you use your vehicle or another weapon in defense. Lock your doors and call 9-1-1 immediately, and do not use your car as a weapon unless you have no other options to protect your life.

If you are being charged with a road rage related aggravated assault, it is important to contact an experienced aggravated assault attorney in St. Petersburg as soon as possible. The experienced attorneys with The Rickman Law Firm will discuss the best legal strategy possible and will explain the process.

For a free consultation with an aggravated assault attorney 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.

Child Pornography Definitions and Prevention

Child pornography is an incredibly serious accusation. Unfortunately, even if you never expected to face child pornography charges, false accusations still may happen. Understanding what constitutes child pornography can help you understand the charges and how to prevent future issues.

If you have been charged with child pornography, it is vital that you contact an experienced child pornography attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible. Aggressive representation is necessary to prevent child pornography charges from following you for the rest of your life.

What is child pornography?

Child pornography is both a federal and staturoty offense, and each carries an equally serious punishment.

Under federal law, any visual portrayals of sexually explicit behavior involving a minor are considered child pornography. This includes drawings or animations of minors in a sexually-explicit nature.

As defined by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, child pornography is “any image depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct,” including photographs, videos, and computer files, among other forms of content involving a person under the age of 18 engaged in any form of sexual conduct. If you are accused of child pornography, a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa will review all of the applicable statutes and charges that may be associated with it on both the state and federal level.

How Can I Prevent Being Wrongfully Accused of Child Pornography?

Through no fault of your own, you may come into contact with child pornography. This can be as simple as loaning one of your devices, such as a cell phone or laptop, to another person who downloads child pornography, or as complex as being hacked on your devices and planted with child pornography. You may also come into contact with child pornography accidentally while engaging in the pursuit of adult pornography.

In order to prevent accusations of child pornography, it is crucial to keep your devices private from those who may use them inappropriately. It is also important to only browse sites that you know and trust to avoid hackers gaining access to your devices and to avoid child pornography in the guise of adult sites.

What are Defenses for Child Pornography?

If you have been accused of possession of child pornography, contact a criminal defense law firm in Tampa. Through careful analysis, The Rickman Law Firm will determine if there are inaccuracies in how your case is being prosecuted. From there, experienced attorneys will use the best defense to fight for your rights.

It’s important to note, that if you are approached in regard to a child pornography allegation that you do not answer a law enforcement officer’s questions without an attorney present. You can invoke your 5th and 6th Amendment right in this case.

If you have been accused of child pornography, contact legal counsel at The Rickman Law Firm immediately. In order to ensure that your case results in the best possible outcome, our attorneys will closely assess the circumstances of your case, answer any questions, and offer you knowledgeable legal advice.

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.

Case Results

DUI CHARGE REDUCED TO RECKLESS DRIVING

The Client was arrested for DUI after being stopped by law enforcement after traveling from Ybor. Even though the Client showed signs of impairment and performed poorly on FSEs, Attorney Anthony Rickman was
Show More

NINE COUNTS OF FELON IN POSSESSION OF FIREARM AND OTHER FELONY CHARGES DISMISSED WITHIN DAYS OF ARREST

The Client arrested for nine counts of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Providing a False Name to a Law Enforcement Officer, and No Valid Driver’s License. Attorney Anthony Rickman immediately contacted the
Show More

CHILD NEGLECT CHARGE ADMINISTRATIVELY DISMISSED

The Client was arrested for Child Neglect after law enforcement received a call from a neighbor who found the Client’s two grandchildren crying outside of their home. The Client and her family members had a
Show More