What to Do If Domestic Disputes Become Aggravated Assault

Unfortunately, when tensions are high as they are during the coronavirus pandemic, cases of domestic disputes and domestic violence are on the rise. In fact, according to recent research, instances of domestic violence have increased by as much as 33% in some areas where stay at home orders have been in effect. Before Covid, the National Statistics Domestic Violence Fact Sheet claims that approximately 20 people are “physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States” every minute.

These altercations can start mild and quickly turn violent and may result in accusations or charges of aggravated assault. In this article, an aggravated assault attorney in St. Petersburg with The Rickman Law Firm shares what you need to know and need to do if a domestic dispute becomes an aggravated assault.

What is Aggravated Assault?

If one partner threatens to commit an act of violence against the other and the threat is found to be credible, or they use a deadly weapon, a spat can turn into a case of aggravated assault.

But what is the definition of an 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

It is important to remember that intent is key. Regardless of whether the defendant actually planned to harm another person, the threat of violence is considered sufficient. In other words, the defendant does not need to make physical contact with another person to be charged with aggravated assault as long as the belief that the defendant intended to seriously harm the person was present during the exchange. For example, if a husband threatens his wife with a gun without actually shooting her, that is an aggravated assault.

Keep in mind that a deadly weapon doesn’t have to be a knife or a gun. In loninger v. State, 846 So. 2d 1192 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003), the use of a beer bottle to strike a victim on the head was regarded as the use of a “deadly weapon.”

What are Penalties of Aggravated Assault in Florida?

Aggravated assault is a felony of the third degree with penalties including:

  • 5 years imprisonment
  • 5 years probation
  • $5,000 fine

These penalties can increase significantly based on the nature of the crime. For instance, if a firearm was discharged during an act of aggravated assault, the aggressor could face a mandatory prison sentence of up to 20 years.

What To Do If You are Accused of Aggravated Assault During a Domestic Dispute

Domestic disputes which turn violent often happen in the heat of the moment when tensions are high. If you have been charged with aggravated assault during a domestic dispute, you should refrain from speaking with the victim or the police without an attorney present. 

To ensure that you are properly defended, contact the best aggravated assault lawyer in St. Petersburg with The Rickman Law Firm to handle your case. A free consultation with Anthony Rickman is just a phone call away.

For a free consultation with the best aggravated assault 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.

Common White Collar Federal Crimes

There is a common idea of what a white collar crime is because of movies like Wolf of Wallstreet and The Insider. Or perhaps you only know the term “white collar crime” because of celebrities like Martha Stuart or other famous CEOs caught with their hands in the cookie jar, so to speak. These crimes, although certainly high profile, only shed light on a few crimes and fail to distinguish the line between state and federal charges.

White collar crime is defined as non-violent criminal acts in which the perpetrator deceives a victim for financial gain. These crimes, while not involving physical pain or property damage, can lead to financial ruin for victims and are taken seriously by prosecutors. White collar crime cases have a high profile because of the amount of money and people involved and are typically featured in local and national news. Due to this heightened profile, prosecutors will utilize their extensive resources to win the case.

If you have been accused of a white collar crime, you need the best federal criminal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg with The Rickman Law Firm. Your attorney will have specialized experience in dealing with white collar cases and understand the complex nature of the prosecutor’s investigation. In this article, an attorney shares the most common federal white collar crimes that happen in Florida.

Ponzi Schemes

The technical definition of a ponzi scheme is “a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a nonexistent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors.” In other words: a ponzi scheme is a pyramid scheme.

This form of fraud lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors with funds from more recent investors. The scheme leads victims to believe that profits are coming from product sales or other means, and they remain unaware that other investors are the source of funds. In many instances, these schemes are veiled as legitimate businesses or “multi-level marketing” companies. Running a ponzi scheme is a federal crime and is investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Corporate Fraud

Corporate fraud is one of the most common crimes to be investigated by the FBI because it is inherently damaging to the U.S. economy and investor confidence.

According to recent FBI reports, the majority of corporate fraud cases pursued involve accounting schemes designed to deceive investors, auditors, and analysts about the true financial condition of a corporation or business entity. Through the manipulation of financial data, the share price, or other valuation measurements of a corporation, financial performance may remain artificially inflated based on fictitious performance indicators provided to the investing public. Charges of corporate fraud are very serious and can result in major fines and long-term prison sentences. It is in your best interest to retain a federal criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg if you are approached or questioned by any federal agents due to your business dealings.

Money Laundering

According to the FBI, the definition of money laundering is the process by which criminals conceal or disguise their proceeds and make them appear to have come from legitimate sources. This allows guilty parties to hide wealth they have accumulated from untoward or illegal means and avoid taxes, prosecution, and other consequences of reporting while giving them a way to illegally increase profit and the ability to invest in other illegal activities.

Put simply, money laundering is turning “dirty” money into “clean” money.

This can be money gained from crimes which have their own serious consequences, including:

  • Complex financial crimes
  • Health care fraud
  • Human trafficking
  • International and domestic public corruption
  • Narcotics trafficking
  • Terrorism

It may have been a financial difficulty that led you down this path, but now you are facing charges for a white collar crime and, unfortunately, it’s serious. White collar crimes carry with them extensive penalties, including fines and up to 30 years in prison. It doesn’t matter if you are considered the ringleader of a white collar scheme or a cog in the machine, you are subject to the same penalties. To ensure that you are properly defended, it’s vital that you contact the best federal criminal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg to handle your case. A free consultation with Anthony Rickman is just a phone call away.

For a free consultation with the best 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.

Potential Sentences for Drug-Related Crimes in Florida

If you are facing charges for a drug-related crime, there are a variety of penalties if you are found guilty. These penalties vary depending on the severity of the crime and the type of charge. However, there are a few penalties that you may face no matter which type of charge is leveraged against you.

If you have been accused of a drug-related crime, you should contact a drug defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible. Your attorney will discuss your legal rights and the best defense for any drug-related crime. In this article, an attorney shares the most common penalties associated with crimes involving drugs.

Monetary Fines

There are several types of drug charges, including:

  • Illegal drug possession (including prescription drugs)
  • Drug possession with intent to sell or deliver
  • Drug cultivation or manufacturing
  • Drug house operation
  • Drug trafficking
  • Sale/Delivery of drugs

In nearly all of these instances there is a fine depending upon the type of drug involved. For instance, a schedule I drug, which is a drug with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use (like heroin or LSD) will have a higher fine than a schedule V drug, which has a lower potential for abuse. Fines begin at $1000 and range all the way to $10,000 or more for the first offense, with higher amounts for subsequent offenses. These charges are not part of bail.

Prison Sentence

Of course, when anyone is arrested the first punishment that comes to mind is a prison sentence. Depending on the type of drug involved, prison time may be as low as one year or as high as a life sentence. In the case of drug trafficking, which is a more serious offense, sentences may range from a minimum of three years in prison and/ or a fine of $50,000 to life in prison without parole.

The biggest factor in prison time is the schedule of drug and the amount involved. For example, if you are found guilty of trafficking 25 pounds of marijuana or one gram of LSD, you can be found guilty of drug trafficking which comes with a minimum sentence of three years. But, if you are found with a larger amount, for example 50 pounds of marijuana or three grams of LSD, your prison time may become much longer. A drug defense lawyer in Tampa will help you understand possible prison sentencing for your specific charges.

Drug Rehabilitation

In some cases, a judge may order that you attend a drug rehabilitation program as part of your sentencing. In this case, your attorney will discuss which treatment options are available, the location where rehabilitation may take place, and any other important details pertaining to your case. This is especially important if your children have been taken into the state’s custody due to drug-related charges.

Drug-related crimes are common, but very serious. Contact a drug defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm immediately to discuss the best defense and how to protect your rights. A free consultation with Anthony Rickman is just a phone call away.

For a free consultation with a drug 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.

3 Times Sexting Becomes a Crime

As technology has evolved, so have the ways people communicate. Texting has become a popular form of communication, and texts of a sexual nature are often termed “sexting”. Sexting between two consenting adults is not illegal in the state of Florida. However, there are some instances when sexting may become a crime which can result in serious charges.

In this article, a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm shares three instances when sexting may lead to criminal charges. It is important to note, if you are accused of a crime of sexual nature, it is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately.

Sexting with a Minor

Sexting with a minor can lead to major issues and criminal charges at both the state and federal level as it may be considered child pornography.

In Florida, the age of consent for sexual acts is 18 years old. However, under Florida Statute 943.04354, the “Romeo and Juliet” provision allows a minor who is age 16 or 17 to legally consent to sexual activity with someone between the ages of 16 and 23. Despite the allowance of older minors to engage in sexual activity with adults under 24, if an adult between 18 and 23 engages in sexting with a minor and receives nude or sexual photos, it can be considered possession of child pornography.

Federal law considers child pornography anything below the age of 18, regardless of the age of consent in any given state. Additionally, the transmission of sexually explicit images sent between minors may also qualify as child pornography, although it may be punishable by a lesser sentence.

The charge of child pornography is among the most serious a person can face and is a federal felony. If you are facing child pornography charges, contact a child pornography attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm immediately.

Taking Photos or Videos Without Consent

Taking photos or videos of someone that are sexual in nature without their consent is illegal and may result in criminal charges. There is a bit of a legal gray area when it comes to saving a screen capture of a photo that was sent to someone, for example, if someone sends you a nude photo on an app like Snapchat and you screencap and save the photo to view or share later, that may be a crime. If someone has accused you of taking a photo or video without their consent, an attorney will discuss the best way to protect yourself against these allegations.

Sharing Photos or Videos Without Consent

If a consenting adult shares a photo with you, that is not the same as giving consent to share that image or video online. In fact, the Sexual Cyberharassment Act (“Act”), enacted on October 1, 2015 as Florida Statute § 784.049 et seq., makes it a first-degree misdemeanor for a person to willfully and maliciously sexually cyber harass another person by sharing sexual photos of them online.

Furthermore, in May 2015, Florida became one of 26 states to criminalize the highly publicized issue known as “revenge porn” due to the increasing common practice of individuals publishing sexually explicit images of another individual over the Internet without the depicted person’s consent. Although sexting with the person may have been consensual and not of criminal nature, sharing them may lead down a dangerous road.

Do not attempt to handle these serious allegations on your own. Contact a criminal defense law firm in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm immediately to discuss the best defense and how to protect your rights. A free consultation with Anthony Rickman is just a phone call away.

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.

What are the Elements of Robbery

The term robbery is often used as a catch-all for any type of theft. However, despite common misconceptions robbery is a very specific charge in the eyes of the law.

Under Florida Statute 812.13(1), the term “robbery” means “the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.” This is a very serious charge and as such, requires a strong defense.

If you have been charged with robbery or burglary, it is imperative to contact a robbery defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible. Your attorney will work with you to understand your charges and will discuss your legal rights as well as the best defense possible. In this post, an attorney shares the different elements of a robbery that prosecution must prove.

Taking

In Florida, a key element of robbery is taking property that belongs to another person. In order to prove a charge of robbery, a few criteria must be satisfied:

  • A victim’s money or property must be either permanently or temporarily taken without their consent
  • The money or property does not have to belong to the victim, it just has be in the victim’s possession
  • It must be taken from the victim’s body, within the victim’s immediate vicinity or from a place which is under the control of the victim.

Use of Force or Threat

In order to be classified as a robbery, there must be an implied or obvious use of force or threat. This can be either intimidation of physical force or the use of a weapon (whether or not it is deadly). It is also important to note that the threat or use of force does not have to take place before the item is taken. For example, if you steal someone’s handbag and they run after you, but you stop and threaten them with a weapon, it becomes an armed robbery.

Intent

In order to be convicted of the crime of robbery, the prosecutor must prove intent. This means that you cannot accidentally rob someone. Rather, there must be a conscious effort to deprive someone of their belonging(s).

Property

When charged with a robbery, it is important to note that there is no set limit on the value of the property being stolen. Rather, any property that is stolen that meets the above criteria may result in the charge of a robbery.

How are Robbery Charges Classified?

Robbery charges are felonies that fall under the following classifications:

  • First Degree: Robbery committed with a firearm or any deadly weapon.
  • Second Degree: Robbery committed without a firearm or any deadly weapon. Also called “Strong Arm” robbery.
  • Sudden Snatching: Taking a person’s property while the victim is aware of the act. For example, stealing a woman’s purse from her person and running.
  • Home Invasion: Entering someone’s home while occupants are present with the intention and the actual committing of a robbery.
  • Carjacking: Taking a vehicle from someone by force, fear, violence, or assault. Whether or not a firearm or deadly weapon is used, this could lead to a first-degree felony conviction.

Do not attempt to handle robbery or burglary charges alone. You should contact a robbery or burglary defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm immediately upon being accused or arrested. A free consultation with Anthony Rickman is just a phone call away.

For a free consultation with a robbery 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.

Why Are Fraud Charges Rising During Covid-19 Lockdowns?

As the cases of Covid-19 rise, so do the instances of fraud charges. According to a recent report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), 77% of fraud examiners observed an increase in instances of fraud since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. This might be due to an increase in unemployment, confusion regarding PPP loans, or technical issues that lead to the appearance of fraud.

If you have been charged with fraud, it is imperative to contact a fraud defense lawyer in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm as soon as possible. Your attorney will discuss the best defense and will help guide you through the legal process. In this post, attorneys with The Rickman Law Firm share why fraud charges are on the rise during the coronavirus crisis and what to do if you are accused of fraud.

Increase in Unemployment-Related Fraud

With an increase in unemployment comes a natural increase in unemployment fraud. In Florida, making false statements to obtain unemployment (also called reemployment assistance) constitutes fraud. Typically, in order to obtain unemployment benefits you must meet very specific criteria — for example, you must have been terminated through no fault of your own, must prove that you are currently actively searching for work, and have earned a specific amount during the previous calendar year.

However, with the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020, many of the traditional requirements for unemployment assistance have been waived. With these changes and the influx of new claims, unemployment fraud has become a widespread issue. Unfortunately, making an error or omission can result in charges of fraud no matter how well-intentioned you may be, which is why it is important to speak with a fraud defense lawyer in Tampa even if you know you are not guilty but have been charged with unemployment fraud.

PPP Loan Fraud

In order to provide economic relief during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was created. This program provides loans to companies meeting a specific criteria in order to reduce layoffs and financial stress. However, in order to receive these funds, businesses must be stringent on how they classify employees and how payroll is documented and represented.

As with any federal program, there are a number of acts and omissions that have the potential to lead to allegations of fraud. This includes inadvertent mistakes, such as accidentally providing inconsistent information in your application or supporting documents, and intentional misrepresentations, such as misrepresenting the number of employees at your company in order to be eligible for the PPP loan.

PPP fraud is investigated at the federal level and can have serious consequences if convicted. It is crucial to contact a white collar defense attorney in Tampa with The Rickman Law Firm if you are contacted by federal agents.

Do not attempt to fraud charges alone. Any delay in hiring a white collar defense attorney 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 white collar 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.

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