November 24, 2014

Sealing or expunging your record

798528-sealing-and-expungement.jpgPeople make mistakes, and sometimes we make mistakes that have consequences we are not able to comprehend or appreciate at the time frame. It does not matter if it was a minor drug crime or theft. However, the mistakes we made years ago should not continue to haunt us in the future. In addition, having a conviction record or an arrest as part of your history can make it difficult to obtain grants for schooling, it can hinder a number of employment opportunities, it might make it difficult to find housing, and it has a wide variety of other drawbacks.

Yet even those with a checkered past will be happy to note that there is a legal procedure that can help you get your records expunged. Even though this may not work for all criminal records, it is possible to expunge certain felony and misdemeanor charges from your record.

The benefits of getting your records expunged

The truth is that it takes considerable time and effort to have your criminal record expunged, but there are many different advantages that make it worth the effort. Remember that you can have a criminal record in your name, whether you were arrested for a DUI or a minor charge.

Regardless of how minimal the charge was, you might find that it costs you a great deal of opportunities and potential finances for the foreseeable future. To help make it even clearer why you should get your records expunged, we have listed some of the most important benefits benefits.

1. Your arrest is no longer a public record

Before we get into any of the other benefits, the biggest benefit of having your records expunged is the fact that your record is no longer available to the public. This means that legally you are allowed not to bring up your arrest in a job interview. Additionally, even though this is not automatic, the mere possibility of liability is often enough to ensure that private companies will remove your information, as well.

2. Easier loans and college grants

If you have a criminal record, chances are that you will have a hard time applying for college grants or getting a loan. Having a criminal record expunged means that you will have a much easier time getting both of these benefits. Then, you can pursue your education with more ease and convenience.

3. Better job opportunities

Whether you consider it fair or not, few employers accept candidates who have past arrest records. Perhaps the primary reason that people seek to expunge their records is that they want to find good paying jobs. Unfortunately, they find that their criminal records makes it virtually impossible for them to do so. Especially now that jobs are at a premium, a thorough background check has become the norm. As a result, if you have your records expunged, you will be able to say "No," the next time a potential employer asks you whether you have ever been convicted of a crime before.

4. Better housing prospects

Unfortunately, employers are not the only individuals who will run a background check before going into business with you. If you want to live somewhere, property owners are going to look at your criminal record history before approving you. In many different states, routine background checks have become the standard.

What the court has to do

If you have your records expunged, the Clerk of Court will have to remove all access to your record. This means that the Clerk of Court will no longer have to provide access to your record, whether it would be available for inspections at the Clerk's office or available for search on the Clerk's website. You can also request a Record History Check after you have your records expunged. This certified letter (which you are able to keep) indicates that no record exists.

What law enforcement must do

The county's Sheriff's Office and arresting agency will have to remove all access to the files that are to be expunged. A case becomes a public record after law enforcement ends an investigation. If you are able to have your records expunged, it means that the agency will have to destroy any physical record of your arrest. If they receive a sealing order, it means that it is no longer a public record, meaning all records have to be made confidential. In both cases, the information cannot be disclosed to third parties.

Get the ball rolling

If you have found the information here interesting and believe in the benefits of having your own records expunged, get a professional criminal defense lawyer to help you take the right steps in doing so. As you can see, the benefits far outweigh the financial costs or lengthy time that it might take.

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November 19, 2014

Seeking Justice after Being Injured on the Road

Florida car accident attorney.bmpIn 2012, there were over 10,600 road-related deaths in the US for every 100,000 of the population. This meant that there were 33,561 deaths in total and 2.36 million injuries linked to the road. In fact, it's said that there is a road accident every 14 seconds on average in the US. The most common reasons for road crashes include alcohol, (driving under the influence), speeding and using cell phones while driving.

Reasons for Accidents and Fatalities

While many people are injured or killed as a result of their own actions, many people die or are injured on the road due to no fault of their own. If you are the victim of an accident due to someone else being reckless and not taking enough care and attention while driving you maybe be able to make a claim against them to get the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have sustained. Personal Injury lawyers like us here at Blake & Dorsten P.A from Florida and Thomson Snell and Passmore from Kent in the UK specialise in automobile accidents and can both help you if you need to make personal injury claims.

There are many steps that you can take in order to stay as safe as possible while out on the highway however. These include driving at a sensible speed and paying respect to signs, not driving when you're tired and using caution whenever necessary. Distractions such as cell phones are often the cause of road-related deaths and injuries, so you should give your full attention to the road.

Safety Advice

It's also advisable to take a break when you need to. Driving can be tiring and our ability to control a car can be compromised greatly if we don't take regular breaks. If you are driving with a passenger who is legally permitted to get behind your wheel, think about swapping roles every now and again. Don't have a few drinks before getting behind the wheel and make sure that your vehicle is well maintained. Use your lights effectively and if you do need to stop due to a suspected fault with your car, make sure your vehicle is as far away from the traffic as possible.

When Not to Drive
Pinellas personal injury lawyers
Find out what the state of play is regarding traffic and weather before you embark on a long drive. Many deaths have occurred after people started journeys against advice from the authorities. The amount of alcohol-related road deaths has decreased significantly over the decades, falling by 26% per 100,000 people across the United States between 1991 and 2006. However, the National Safety Council recently found that one-in-four road accidents in the US could now be linked to cell phone use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that speeding can be linked to around a third of fatal crashes.

Contact Legal Professionals

Nonetheless, if you have been the victim of a car accident that wasn't your fault, help is at hand. Personal injury lawyers can help you to bring the perpetrators to justice. You may be able to make a claim against a driver if they caused you to be injured via neglect and recklessness. When you're looking for lawyers, you should shop around until you feel you have found someone with a proven track record who you can trust. Anyone who has been involved in car accidents that weren't their fault can contact a lawyer for help. If you are looking for legal help or guidance please contact us here and we may be able to help you.

November 13, 2014

Hazing or murder? Florida man guilty of manslaughter

Florida violent crimes defense.jpg From an Orlando news station, a former Florida A & M bandmember has been convicted of manslaughter for his actions in the hazing death of another man.

Former FAMU percussionist Dante Martin was found guilty of manslaughter and multiple counts of hazing in what the prosecutor is saying sends a powerful message.

"I hope this scares people enough to stop it and to realize it's not tworth it and to just find better ways to show you belong than hitting people ...or endangering their lives" he said outside the courtroom.

After the verdict of "guilty", Martin, who faces up to 22 years in prison and will be sentenced January 9, showed no emotion. Their were audible gasps in the courtroom including from the victim's parents.

Martin's criminal defense lawyers made no statement but said they planned to appeal on behalf of their now 27-year-old client. He was made out to be the ringleader of the band group that performed the deadly hazing ritual aboard the team bus in Orlando.

The trial consisted of three days of testimony, four hours of arguements from the state and defense and ended in a guilty verdict after a mere two hours of deliberations.

The Florida A&M band was well known throughout the state and has performed at Super Bowls, Grammys and presidential inaugurations. The death of one of their own had riled the band, including their tradition of hazing new members.

The victim, a FAMU student for seven years, volunteered to be hazed in a particular ritual known as "crossing bus C" on November 19, 2011.

This particular ritual consisted of him crossing the front to the back of the bus while being pummeled by fellow band members. He was allegedly hit more then 100 times by fists and drumsticks.

The vicitm cooapsed soon after the ritual, which followed the Florida Classic game between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman University. At the trial, the jury heard the cause of death: hemorrhagic shock as a result of the beating.

The defense tried to claim that this was not hazing, rather it was a character competition that had been in place for generations. The jury clearly did not agree.

Martin, who did not testify on his behalf, was also convicted of two misdemeanor counts of hazing two other students, both of whom were not injured.

10 other band members have previously received community control and probation sentences for their participation in the hazing. Three other students are currently awaiting trial and one man received a year in jail.

The school itself has not escaped blame. FAMU is being sued for wrongful death with the plaintiffs saying this "culture of hazing" has been encouraged for decades.

Continue reading "Hazing or murder? Florida man guilty of manslaughter" »

November 6, 2014

What next for marijuana in the Tampa Bay area?

Clearwater marijuana defense.jpg This past Tuesday, America went to the polls. In Pinellas County and throughout Florida, amendment two was on the ballot. This allowed for the legalization of medical marijuana. Supporters claimed it was compassionate and the right thing to do. Opponents said it was full of loopholes and was a backdoor to legalization. As it was a constitutional amendment it needed 60% support to pass. It fell short at just over 57%.

While the TampaBay Times did not support this amendment, it did a series of articles showing both positive and negative aspects of marijuana legalization. While we wait for 2016 and perhaps another try, individual human stories often don't get told.

For Pasco jail inmate Amanda Gould, it was another day, another violation of probation. She had already spent 60 days in jail for her VOP. She felt confident that the judge would release her.

Two months prior, Ms. Gould had violated her DUI probation for failing a drug screen by smoking marijuana.

On her court date, the probation officer recommended she continue on probation. The judge examined her medical records and disagreed. He saw her extensive drug history (both prescription and non-prescription) and thought her staying on probation was a waste of time and taxpayer money.

Her criminal defense lawyer disagreed. He claimed that she was chronically ill and all her drug use was related to her sickness. The lawyer even argued that her marijuana use was part of her self medication. Her attorney further argued that she would be a prime candidate for medical marijuana.

The judge disagreed and was looking at sending her to prison (confinement for over a year).

Doctors have diagnosed 36-year-old Ms.Gould with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, Lyme disease, Sjogren's syndrome and two dozen more illnesses. She has been prescribed oxycodone and other addictive drugs. These prescriptions caused her to throw up and changed her personality. When she found marijuana, she noticed no side effects.

She was doing fine until she picked up a driving under the influence charge six years ago. She was pulled over, found to be drinking and had a zanax pill in her pocket. She was charged with DUI, possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance and introduction of contraband into a detention facility (a third-degree felony).

Due in part to her medications and her illnesses, she was not found competent to stand trial until 2013. She accepted a plea bargain of two year's probation, and 50 community service hours for the DUI and marijuana possession.

Her health continued to deteriorate. She was now on more medications and often confined to a wheelchair. Due to her drug screens, she was no longer allowed to smoke marijuana.

One night, she felt extra sick and smoked a joint. Her drug tests came up positive and her probation was violated. For most probation violations in Pinellas, your bond is revoked and you sit in jail until your court date.

Ms. Gould was not an exception, sitting in jail all this time. She tried to stay positive and was happy that jail made her kick her prescription drug addiction. She also started thinking of moving to Colorado, where marijuana is legal.

A few days after this article was first published, the court heard her case and decided to keep her on probation. The judge gave her one year of drug offender probation with the condition of NO prescription drugs or marijuana.

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LEGAL ANALYSIS

While everything appeared to have worked out for Ms. Gould in this particular case, she was very fortunate. There is no marijuana legalization coming until at least 2016.

Possession of marijuana, found under Florida statute 893.13, is a first-degree misdemeanor. This means that she can be sent to jail or put on probation for up to 12 months.

Prescription pill offenses, found under the same Florida statute number, are considered third-degree felonies. Those pills, if no prescription, are considered the same as cocaine or heroin under Florida law.

A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years prison or probation in Florida.

Continue reading "What next for marijuana in the Tampa Bay area?" »

October 30, 2014

Halloween party-goer arrested for DUI twice in three hours

St. pete DUI defense lawyers.jpgFrom the smokinggun website, it looks like this zombie should have had more bra-ains and less sho-ts...

26-year-old Catherine Butler donned her make-up and prepared to have a great time at a halloween party. A few hours later, the sloshed zombie was facing two DUI charges that took place a few hours apart!

Ms. Butler was first arrested around 2 a.m. after police noticed that she did not have headlights on while driving. After giving her a traffic citation, they performed a DUI investigation where it was determined that she was under the influence of alcohol. She was arrested and taken to jail.

The police made a mistake when they released her to a friend. A few hours later, at 5 a.m., she was again pulled over for swerving on the road. Another DUI investigation led to another driving under the influence charge for the unlucky party girl.

LEGAL ANALYSIS
In Florida, a first time DUI is a first degree misdemeanor. Even though she received two DUIs, her criminal defense lawyer should be able to plea them concurrently to avoid extra penalties. Unfortunately, the DMV will most likely treat it as her second DUI and she may receive a longer driving suspension.

Typical punishment for her DUI(s) will most likely consist of a large fine, probation, a suspended driver's license, alcohol evaluation and treatment if needed, community service, no drinking (obviously) and she will not be allowed in bars.

Continue reading "Halloween party-goer arrested for DUI twice in three hours" »

October 23, 2014

Impaired driver hit cop car, had a gun

Pinellas battery defense.jpg Mark this under things NOT to do if you are trying to avoid police attention...

43-year-old Tina Wishnevski faces multiple criminal counts after hitting a police car whil intoxicated. Duting their investigation, police found a loaded handgun and ammunition in her car. Ms. Wishnevski is not allowed to own a firearm.

The suspect was arrested and charged with DUI, multiple traffic infractions, firearm charges, and resisting an officer without violence. As of this writing she has not been charged with battery on a law enforcement officer despite the fact that she hit a patrol car with the policeman inside.

The police were called to Ms. Wishnevski's seperated husband's house after midnight because he was complaining that she was outside his home. He told police that she was breaking his windows and was brandishing a gun! Her two sons and her ex-husband were alone in the house at this time.

When she heard police, she got in her car and fled. She hit a patrol car and lead police on a brief chase. As an officer came up to her car, she made such a fuss that he had to hold her at gunpoint until backup arrived.

When questioned by the police, her story was not helpful. She claimed that her ex-husband had called her to come. When she arrived, he was the one with the firearm and he began to beat her. She was unable to tell the police how she came into ownership of the gun however, nor could she explain why she was driving drunk and hitting the police.

At the time of this writing, it was unknown if she had posted bail nor what type of criminal sentencing she was facing.

Continue reading "Impaired driver hit cop car, had a gun" »

October 16, 2014

Dallas Cowboy running back arrested for shoplifting

Pinellas theft crimes defense.jpg From a local CBS news affiliate, a NFL running back was arrested for shoplifting under $500 in small items in a department store.

Running back Joseph Randle was arrested by store security in a Dallas store for the theft of underwear and cologne.

"The items that were stolen were underwear and cologne," Lt. Jason Jenkins told a radio station. This seemed to be confirmed by online gossip site TMZ which reported that the Cowboy had allegedly stolen Gucci cologne, as well as a pair of Polo underwear. At least this shoplifter is a classy sort.

A local sports station confirmed that the NFL player cooperated and did not attempt to run. He was booked into the Frisco City Detention Center and released early the next morning on bail.

Ironically, this man can definitely afford underwear and cologne. The reserve running back is making just under $500,000 this year and is signed to a four-year, $2.35 million dollar contract! He just had his best game of the year, rushing for over 50 yards on just 5 carries. As far as any discipline coming from his team or the NFL, at the time of this writing there has been no word.

LEGAL ANALYSIS

Unlike Texas, in Florida there are only two types of misdemeanors and three types of felony charges for theft. Theft charges can be found under Florida Statute 812.014.

Depending on the value of the items stolen and/or any prior theft convictions for Mr. Randle in Florida this case could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If this was his first theft offense and the items were worth under $300 (as seems likely), this would be a mere misdemeanor. If the items were worth over $300 or he has prior theft convictions, it is possible that the shoplifting would be elevated to a third-degree felony. That is punishable by up to five years prison!

If Mr. Randle has no priors, he would seem to be a prime candidate for a Florida pre-trial intervention program ("PTI"). This would consist of a series of things he would have to do (such as community service and a shoplifter's awareness class) that if succesfull, his charges would be dismissed.

As for now, it will be interesting to see what decision he makes and how it affects his professional future.

Continue reading "Dallas Cowboy running back arrested for shoplifting" »

October 8, 2014

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office sets up DUI checkpoint, 8 nabbed

dui 3.png From the TampaBay Times, a DUI checkpoint in Kenneth City last weekend nabbed multiple arrests. While we have previously discussed some irregularities that can take place with Florida DUI checkpoints, this one seemed less about controversy, nabbing eight arrests.

Before bad weather struck early Saturday morning, Pinellas CountySheriff deputies managed eight arrests at their DUI checkpoint.

Starting at 10 p.m. Friday and lasting until 2:45 a.m. Saturday near the Kmart at 66th street in Kenneth City, the checkpoint over 25% of the cars passing through.

Per Sheriff's records, out of 774 vehicles, 216 were pulled over for additional scrutiny by the police.

The eight arrests resulted in multiple charges such as traffic infractions, a no valid driver's license, a DWLSR, two counts of cocaine possession, a possession of marijuana and a possession of alcohol by persons under 21.

Continue reading "Pinellas County Sheriff's Office sets up DUI checkpoint, 8 nabbed" »

October 1, 2014

80-year-old Florida man beaten in a diner

Pinellas elderly crimes lawyer.bmp As first reported in the smoking gun website, an octogenarian was beaten inside a "family" chain restaurant after asking the defendant to stop cursing...

An 80-year-old man was the victim of a battery on an elderly charge after he was repeatedly punched and thrown to the ground by the suspect. The reason? The elderly man asked the suspect to stop cursing!

26-year-old Mikie Sawyer was arrested for battery disorderly intoxication and obstruction for his actions in an Applebees last week.

The victim, Harry Sander, told police he was at the neighborhood bar when he heard the drunk victim repeatedly scream and curse. Sawyer was dropping F-bombs and using slang terms for the female anatomy. Harry approached the defendant and politely asked him to lower his voice per the police report.

The defendant refused, words were exchanged and after a no doubt fascinating conversation of the victim's homeland and customs elsewhere in the world compared to America, the defendant brutally punched the elderly man in the face. Harry was then thrown to the floor and blacked out. He was treated by paramedics at the scene.

There appears to be plenty of evidence in this case. Per the police report, the victim's face and cheek were bruised and discolored as was the defendant's knuckles. There were also multiple eye witnesses to this battery.
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After the fight, the defendant left the restaurant with two friends. A manager followed them outside to write down the license plate number. The defendant reacted by charging the employee and threatening to beat him up as well.

The defendant was arrested following a traffic stop. He was arrested and as of this writing there has been no court dates for him.

Continue reading "80-year-old Florida man beaten in a diner" »

September 24, 2014

No car seat, no problem? Florida woman puts child in the trunk!

Pinellas child abuse defense lawyers.jpgWant to avoid a traffic ticket for not having a car seat for your child? Well for one Florida woman the answer was simple: put your baby in the trunk! Luckily police found this out quickly...

19-year-old Breona Watkins was out driving without a headlight late at night. When a Broward Sheriff Deputy attempted to pull her over, she continued driving for several blocks.

After claiming she didn't stop her car because she has "never been pulled over before", Ms. Watkins then gave a false name to a law enforcement officer. The new mother then admitted that she did not have a driver's license and was arrested for a dwlsr. That is when things took a dark turn...

During the traffic stop, a second deputy heard what sounded like "crying from the vehicle and there was no child in the vehicle". When the deputy opened the trunk they found Ms. Watkin's child inside. The baby was on top of plant cutting shears, surrounded by a rusty coat hanger, a tire iron and several plastic bags among other dangerous objects.

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Upon questioning, Ms. Watkins told the police that her baby had been sitting on the lap of a 14-year-old passenger. When police pulled her over, she told the passenger to stash the baby in the trunk through the back seat which folded down. At no time did the mother tll the police this during the more then 15 minute traffic stop because according to the mother, she didn't want to get a ticket for not having a car seat for her baby!

For trying to avoid a traffic ticket the mother was arrested and charged with felony child cruelty, obstruction, multiple tickets and a driving without a license. As of this writing she remains in jail.

Continue reading "No car seat, no problem? Florida woman puts child in the trunk!" »

September 17, 2014

"Weird Florida" strikes again...

953593-domestic-violence-callout.jpg From the Smoking Gun website, two quick police reports that help show how the term "Weird Florida" got its name...

Just last Friday an elderly Florida woman was charged with misdemeanor battery after spraying her mentally ill adult son with Febreze, a cleaning product.

Per the report the 69-year-old mother, Jenny Ellis, claimed she was frustrated with the state's mental health system and wants her son gone. According to the police Ellis told them "Just take him out of here. Make him disappear, shoot him or something."

After posting a bond, the suspect is due in court next month. She was lucky as she could have been charged with more serious offenses such as battery on a disabled person, aggravated assault or other charges. It sounds like she may need a mental health evaluation herself to make sure she can handle the stress of taking care of her son.
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Not to be outdone, 45-year-old Desmond Brownlee was arrested and charged with domestic battery after choking his wife during an arguement over fried chicken! As most thing do, this fight started late night when the defendant began fighting with his wife of over three years? The reason for the fight? Per Desmond, he was angry that there was not enough chicken leftovers!

The victim claimed that she was pushed into the bedroom and repeatedly hit. Finally she said the suspect strangled her to the point that she was not able to breathe!

She eventually broke free and dialed 911. However when the police arrived, she had since changed her mind and no longer wanted to press charges. The report made sure to note that they had a child in common who was sleeping throughout the incident.

Noticing red marks on the victim's face and neck, the defendant was arrested for domestic battery by strangulation (a felony) and tampering with a witness. He was taken to jail where he remained.


Continue reading ""Weird Florida" strikes again..." »

September 11, 2014

Double Standards? Ray Rice vs. Shannen Allen in New Jersey

St. Pete domestic violence attorney.jpg By now this has been the lead story on almost every news cast. We have included a video from CNN that does not show the battery. A copy of that video can be found here. While it is not bloody, it can be disturbing for certain viewers...

As has been previously mentioned, star running back Ray Rice has been suspended indefinitely from the NFL and has been cut from the Baltimore Ravens last Monday. This turn of events occurred only after a new video surfaced showing the football star brutally knocking out his fiancee, now wife in a hotel elevator.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had originally suspended Rice two games for his actions involving the domestic violence. This drew harsh criticism from many people who noted that the NFL was giving out four game suspensions for first-time illegal drug users. Goodell claimed the light sentence was given when he only had access to an earlier video which did not show the actual assault. Rather it showed Rice dragging his unconscious girlfriend out of the elevator.

Back in July, Rice had admitted wrongdoing and he and his wife were in counseling. After this latest suspension, the 27-year-old man may be out of options. Any NFL team that signs him will need the commissioner's approval to proceed. In addition, the Canadian Football League is not allowed to sign him as long as he is suspended by the NFL.

Rice had previously been given probation by a New Jersey judge after a deal was worked out with the prosecutor. This too has come under intense criticism by many for both the supposed leniency as well as the same judge/prosecutor are now involved in a controversial firearm case.
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In that New Jersey case, a Pennslyvania woman was pulled over in New Jersey. She let the officer know that she had a firearm in her car and that she had a valid firearm permit from her state. Unfortunately for her, New Jersey does not recognize these permits and she was arrested. Despite previous cases of people being offered a diversion program for the same offense, New Jersey prosecutor Jim McClain is refusing to budge. His last offer to the woman, Shaneen Allen, a professional with two children, was 3.5 years prison!

The fact that this prosecutor and Judge Michael Donio consider a brutal domestic battery less of a concern then legal firearm ownership by a military vet and mother has outraged many people.

Is there a double standard? Ray Rice was famous and given a slap on the wrist for his brutal battery. Meanwhile the exact same judge and prosecutor who excused domestic violence appear almost giddy in their attempts to imprison a woman with no criminal record for a mistake.

One thing for certain, there are no winners in either case. The NFL looks soft on crime and the Baltimore Ravens took heat for both their support of Ray Rice and their tweet from Rice's wife in which it appeared she blamed herself for the incident.

As far as the firearm case, the New Jersey justice system looks weak but especially the judge and the state attorney's office. Many articles have been written nationally including in USA Today, and local papers.

The one possible bright spot in all this mess is that domestic violence victims are getting increased attention. The old question of "why didn't (the victim) just walk away?" has been getting answered and the country as a whole has heard about both tragedies now. With increased awareness will hopefully come increased domestic violence education and perhaps a push for more fairness in prosecution for both innocent victims and even the accused.

Continue reading "Double Standards? Ray Rice vs. Shannen Allen in New Jersey" »

September 4, 2014

In Florida, have prescription pills gone full circle?

798516-drug-offenses.jpg It is an accepted fact that prescription pill abuse is a major problem in Florida. There have been articles mentioning pill mills and talk that cracking down on them has helped fuel the rise of heroin in Florida. Now a great article in the Tampa Bay Times website talks about a growing backlash amongst doctors about "too strict" regulations that are affecting their ability to prescribe these pills to the patients who most need them...

A Tampa doctor who once led the fight to curtail prescription drug abuse and the fatal overdoses that resulted from it, is now on a new crusade. He is wanting to increase the access to the same drugs he once fought to reduce.

Despite an almost 25% decline in prescription pill "OD" deaths in just the past few years, Tampa Dr. Rafael Miguel is now hoping to loosen the same laws he once championed. The reason? Too many pharmacies are now refusing to fill the prescriptions or even questioning the medical professionals as to the necessity of the drugs.

Thanks to the efforts of Doctor Miguel and others like him, the DEA began to fine drug companies and pharmacies for not questioning certain prescriptions. Of course, this has resulted in increased scrutiny towards these prescriptions, even if medically necessary.

This has led to tension between the doctors and pharmacies. The AMA (American Medical Association) has warned pharmacies about refusing to fill prescriptions. Major pharmacies such as Walmart and others have pointed out that they have a duty to exercise care. Said a CVS spokesman "As health care providers on the front lines of health care delivery, our pharmacists use their professional judgment and consider a variety of factors when determining whether a prescription for a controlled substance was issued for a legitimate purpose, which is part of their professional responsibility under state and federal law".

WHile the two groups are arguing, it is the patients that are paying the price. There are horror stories about people with legitimate prescriptions that are being refused service. Stores are using various excuses, such as claiming doctor shopping or that an injured patient lives too far away from the pharmacy.

Now even a Doctor that helped Pinellas County draft an ordinance reducing pill mills thinks things have gotten out of hand. Watching some of her patients who suffer from cancer or severe spinal conditions bounce from pharmacy to pharmacy without success.

"It's crazy," said Dr. Lynne Columbus, the Clearwater doctor who drafted the ordinance. "It's gone way too far to the other side."
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Still pharmacies may not be backing down. After Walgreens was hit with an 80 million dollar fine from the DEA for letting oxycodone hit the black market, other pharmacies became even stricter. After a few CVS pharmacies in Florida had their license revoked, many stores stopped carrying controlled substances or kept them in limited amounts.

Now many innocent patients are suffering in pain and unable to get relief.

According to local pharmacist Larry Golbolm, in Florida, pharmacists do not need to justify refusing to fill a prescription. "Pharmacists did not go to school for at least six years to be drug dealers for the highly suspect 'profession' called 'pain management,' " he said. "The ruse on pain management is fully understood by the majority of pharmacists, especially at the chain establishments."

This "war" between reducing prescription pill addiction and helping legitimate patients has produced a few casualties, including a Pinellas woman who committed suicide rather then face her pain after she was unable to get her prescriptions filled.

In another example a late-stage lung cancer patient elected to enter a hospice instead after she was unable to get her prescription filled.

Per Trinity Pain Center owner Christopher Wittmann "If she underwent chemotherapy, she may actually have been able to extend her life by a year, but the option of having a year and being in miserable pain or living two to three months but having her pain controlled was her choice, because there was no guarantee that we could control her pain."

Another unintended consequence of this crackdown is legitimate patients afraid to talk about their medicine and medical condition as they fear looking like drug addicts. Many patients feel defensive even talking about it.

Is there an answer? Unfortunately corporations, like people, respond to consequences. If a company runs the risk of a large fine or even being shut down, they tend to err on the side of caution. This results in many innocent people being put through unnecessary pain and suffering because they cannot get their prescription pills. Now, many of the same doctors who championed stiffer laws to control these substances are surprised that pharmacies are hesitant to fill their prescriptions. Until Pinellas County finds a "third way" between public safety and patient's rights, we will continue to see both prescription pill abuse and innocents suffering.

Continue reading "In Florida, have prescription pills gone full circle?" »

August 27, 2014

Florida babysitter stabs client for refusing her advances

931789-Crimes-of-Violence-callout-08-20-10.png From the smoking gun website, a Florida woman is arrested for aggravated battery after she stabbed her client for refusing to have sex with her!

22-year-old Shakieria Anquanette Shan Long was arrested by police earlieer this month for stabbing her client in the neck. His crime? Refusing her sexual advances because she was drinking too much!

Per a witness, there was a BBQ at a nearby Ft. Pierce home. Ms. Long and the victim, 32-year-old Eugene Slyvester entered the house. The defendant was screaming at the man that she wanted to have sex with him. The defendant, who babysat the victim's children, was very intoxicated.

Ms. Long proceeded to follow the victim to a back bedroom where she grabbed a knife and began stabbing him. Per the witness, the defendant soon came out asking for help, saying she stabbed Eugene and that he "was leaking".

The witness grabbed a towel and proceeded to put it on the victim's neck while walking him home. That did not last long as the defendant soon came running up to them and proceeded to punch the victim in the face multiple times.
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Police were called and after questioning witnesses, they arrested the defendant for felony battery, public intoxication and misdemeanor battery.

This was not her first brush with the law. At the time of her arrest, Ms. Long was free on abond in connection with an earlier arrest for disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest, and battery on a law enforcement officer. Her bond was quickly revoked and she remains in jail.

As for the victim, Mr. Slyvester received multiple stitches but told police that he did not wish to press charges. As of the time of this writing, no charges had been filed.

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August 21, 2014

Super Bowl Champion Investigated by the Police

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A police department in the state of Washington is investigating Seattle Seahawk running back Marshawn Lynch for assault and criminal mischief allegations.

The local police were quick not to jump to conclusions. Per the police spokesman: "At this point, this is only an allegation. We haven't even confirmed that he was there, so it's very early on in this investigation. Everything that we can confirm is in the news release".

While details are still murky, the incident might have taken place early Sunday morning in a woman's Bellevue apartment. The woman claimed that the football player threatened a battery against her and then damaged some of her things.

The police were quick to note that no sexual assault or domestic battery was suspected.

As for Marshawn Lynch, the timing could not be worse for the three-time Pro Bowler. Lynch last year led the Superbowl champion Seahawks with over 1200 rushing yards. There were many insiders who had hoped that a superbowl ring would mature the trouble-proned running back.

He had previously been suspended three games in 2009 by the NFL commissioner for a weapons charge. Then just two years later, he was arrested for a DUI.

Despite his past, it is important to remember that these newest charges are mere allegations at the time of this writing and he has yet to be charged.

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