Articles Posted in Violations of Probation

drug guns.jpgFrom the Tampa Bay Times, an article about the different tactics the HCSO uses to combat crime in a neighborhood…

Thanks in part to the help of a local community watch organizer, Tampa residents in the Clair-Mel area may at last be getting some relief. Hillsborough sheriff deputies, prodded by the neighborhood watch, sprung into action a few weeks ago. The deputies arrested dozens of men and women on warrants, drug violations and other offenses.

To the community organizer it was long overdue. “A lot of folks don’t want to speak up because they’re afraid of what’s happening, of all the violence,” she said. “Am I afraid? Not enough to not stand up and say there’s a problem here.” she stated.

She brought the neighborhood problems to the attention of the sheriff’s office and last Friday morning they conducted a sweep. Starting early in the morning near the neighborhood park, the deputies first initiated a search warrant from a long-time investigation. Inside that house, deputies found three handguns, 16 pounds of marijuana and four men who were arrested on drug and firearm offenses. At the time of this writing, it is unknown as to whether or not any of the men had hired a criminal defense lawyer.

The sweeps continued throughout the day. Thousands of dollars. Over 10 grams of cocaine. The arrests kept adding up. By the end of the day, 25 people were arrested for crimes ranging from drug possession, to driving while license suspended to animal cruelty and outstanding warrants.dwlsr1.jpg

While very few of the arrests were for violent crimes, police said they wanted to send a message to the neighborhood. They wanted the criminals to know that there is no safe place to commit a crime.

At the same time that the HCSO was running their sweeps, code enforcement officers also moved in looking for code violations, litter and abandoned buildings. They left but not before mowing grass in abandoned areas, removing graffiti and thousands of pounds of trash and debris. Besides using the “broken window” theory of crime prevention, officials are hoping that if the area is cleaned up, locals will take more pride in the area.

As for the community organizer? While she has been called a snitch and has recived threats on her life, she could not be happier that her neighborhood is looking better.

Have you or a loved one been arrested or charged with a drug offense or a violation of probation? Then call the experienced St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. today! These former prosecutors are now fighting for your rights! Call them at 727.286.6141 or click on the contact page for a free consultation.

They handle all criminal and auto accident cases throughout the Gulf Coast of Florida including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Polk and Citrus counties.

illegal-drugs.jpgMany Florida residences are often accused of crimes involving the illegal possession of controlled substances defined under Florida Statute section 893.13. Often people accused of these crimes are first time offenders or have often score non-state prison under the sentencing guidelines. Citizens scoring non-state prison are eligible for a term of probation that includes supervision by the Department of Corrections. A term of probation is often a very appealing offer from the State Attorney’s Office because in can used in place of jail or a prison offer or insure that the client is not a convicted felon. However, many people are placed on drug offender probation for drug offenses without knowing the strict conditions imposed during the super vision period. Additionally, people do not fully understand the ramifications of violating drug offender probation. It is essential that people placed on probation understand the requirement and the consequences of the supervision BEFORE he or she agrees to go on probation.

Drug offender probation is defined in Florida statute section 948.20. If it appears to the court upon hearing that the defendant is a chronic substance abuser whose criminal conduct is a violation of Florida statute section 893.13(2)(a) or (6)(a), the court may either adjudge the defendant guilty or stay and withhold the adjudication of guilt; and, in, either case it may stay and withhold the imposition of a sentence and place a defendant on drug offender probation. This allows people accused of drug crimes to plea to the charge and not be a convicted felon. However, strict requirements must be followed. Under Florida Statute 948.20(1) drug offender status shall include surveillance AND random drug testing.

What does this mean? If you agree to a term of probation, the probation officer will have the opportunity to search your house at any time without first obtaining a warrant from a Judge. This means at any time for any reason, your probation office can show up to search for any illegal items. You have essentially waived your rights to unlawful search and seizure afforded by the constitution. Second, under Florida Statutes you are REQUIRED to be randomly drug tested. You can expect to check into a website on a daily basis and if your number is called you must provide a sample of your urine. Failure to do so in a timely manner may violate your probation.

Additional conditions of drug offender probation may include a curfew from 10pm to 6am. Probationers may not leave the county without permission of his or her probation officer. Client’s placed on probation must pay $55 per month in costs of supervision. All financial requirement including fines and court costs MUST be paid by the end of the term. Failure to do so may result in a violation of probation warrant.
Any violation of these terms of conditions will lead to a violation of probation warrant issued for your arrest. Once the warrant is issued, you will be entitled to a bond and will be held in custody on a zero bond status. This means no matter how much money you may have you are not eligible to be bonded from jail. You may be plucked from your home or car and be sitting in the jail for days or weeks before a Judge agrees to give you a bond. In many cases, if you violate your probation you may do more jail time than originally offered for your sentence.

Before you decide to take a probation sentence, be familiar with the terms and requirements BEFORE you agree to take the deal. In many cases, people serve longer jail sentences on a violation of probation than the jail offer on their original charge. Agreeing to be placed on probation can be a wise decision. It may keep you from being a convicted felon and could keep you out of jail. However, be aware of the strict conditions imposed on probation. Understand that any violation of probation can land you in jail without the possibility of bonding out. It is important to realize that people often serve longer jail sentences for a violation of probation charge than on the offer on the original underlying drug charge. If adjudication was withheld, an admission of the violation of probation will erase all the hard work and effort to keep from being a convicted felon.
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A rather disturbing story was featured in today’s St. Pete Times about a Seminole mother who tried to sell her son for $2,000 because of her addiction to prescription drugs.

The 5-year-old boy was excited to start kindergarten Tuesday in Tampa.

Jim and Betty Gardner, who have helped raise the boy since he was an infant, were working hard to prepare him by establishing a morning routine.

Now, they’re worried how his first school year will begin.

The child was taken into protective custody Saturday after authorities arrested his mother and accused her of trying to sell him to the Gardners for $2,000.

Jessica Mickles Beers, 28, whose last known address was in Seminole, was charged with Felony Sale of Parental Rights along with a Violation of Probation (VOP) on her pending Grand Theft charge. At her First Appearance Hearing on Sunday, bail was set at $10,000.

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Gardner, 58, said he and his wife met Beers when the boy was just a few months old after she called their church for assistance. They took food and diapers to her.

Beers essentially was homeless, but was living with other people. She asked to move in with the Gardners and they agreed, Gardner said.

For the next five (5) years or so, the Gardners, who have fostered numerous children over the years, helped take care of Beers and her child.

About two years ago, Beers began talking about having the couple take guardianship of her son but never followed through with it. Early Saturday, Gardner said, Beers called him and offered to sign away her parental rights if the Gardners would pay her $2,000.

“It was money or else …” Gardner said. “I thought ‘Whoa, that’s illegal.’ ”

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He contacted the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), which arrested Beers at a Seminole grocery store when she came to collect the cash.

The child was not with Beers, but she told authorities where he could be found, Gardner said. Gardner said he believes Beers is addicted to prescription drugs.
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As reported by BayNews9, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is at it again.

In another “cost-cutting” measure, the Polk County Jail will no longer provide free underwear to its inmates.

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Normally, when an inmate is booked in the jail, they are given an orange shirt, orange pants and underwear.

In order to save money, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has proposed making males inmates pay if they want their “tighty whities.”

The cost-saving measure was part of the sheriff’s 2011-2012 budget he presented to county commissioners Thursday afternoon. Judd said it will save the county $45,000.

Although women behind bars will still be provided underwear, the men will have to pay.

“For those who don’t want to pay, they can let the breeze blow up one leg and out the other,” Judd said (in classic Grady Judd fashion).

The idea drew smiles from several county commissioners and laughter from the crowd.

“You and I buy it at the store. So, if they want it, they can buy it,” he said. Judd said they are also cutting eleven (11) positions, including six (6) supervisors.

Judd says while his department is doing more with less, his highest priority remains keeping the people of Polk County safe.

Judd said the new policy will not cause the quality of service from the department to go down.

“None of these cuts will keep us from answering the call,” Judd said.

FYI — As for the underwear, it’s about $2.50 for briefs and $4.50 for boxers. The choice is up to the inmates.

“We give our inmates choices at our jail,” he said.

The new underwear rule will breeze into effect Aug. 1st.
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As we enter another Holiday Season, the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. would like to wish you and yours a Happy and Safe Holiday weekend.


With the support of all of our friends, family and clients, 2010 was another excellent year for the Blake & Dorsten, P.A.. And for that, we have much to be thankful for this Holiday Season.

To our family and friends, thank you for your patience and understanding when it was necessary to work late nights and/or weekends.

To our business colleagues and our outstanding network of fellow attorneys, thank you for not only your referrals but for the trust that you have placed in the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. to provide an experienced and aggressive representation to those that you’ve sent our way.

And to both our former and present clients, thank you for the trust that you have placed in the Blake & Dorsten, P.A. to protect your rights and to handle your important criminal and/or traffic-related matters.

As many of you know, 2010 presented some different challenges for the Blake & Dorsten, P.A.. Without your support, we would not have been able to achieve the many successes that came our way.

On behalf of the entire Blake & Dorsten, P.A. team (Pam, Eryn, Oatie and myself), have a Happy, Healthy and Safe Holiday Season.

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As always, attorney Nicholas J. Dorsten will be available throughout the Holiday Weekend. In fact, we were very grateful to sign up a new Client today and make a Christmas Eve trip to the Pinellas County Jail.
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A breaking story on reported that New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards was arrested Tuesday on charges of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) after officers pulled him over because his SUV had “excessive tinting” on its windows, police said.

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Officers on the lookout for minor Traffic Violations like excessive tinting or missing registration stickers pulled over Edwards’ Land Rover on Manhattan’s West Side at about 5:15 a.m. and noticed a “strong smell of alcohol,” chief NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

Edwards was given a breath test at the scene and another at a police station. His blood alcohol level was .16, twice the .08 legal limit. There were four (4) other people in the SUV at the time.

The Jets expressed their disappointment in the receiver in a statement Tuesday from general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

“We are very disappointed in Braylon’s actions this morning. The Player Protect program is in place for our organization to prevent this situation. Braylon is aware of this program and showed poor judgment,” Tannenbaum said.

“We are reviewing the information with the league and will impose the appropriate disciplinary measures.”

The Player Protect program provides a 24-hour driving service exclusively for professional athletes. The company also provides security, if requested, from current or former law-enforcement agents.

If a player wants a lift home, he can call anytime and will be driven home in a luxury SUV or a Mercedes limo or an executive limo van.

The Jets, through their player development program, distributed leaflets on the Player Protect program to every player on the team. It informs them they aren’t charged for the service, and the club picks up the expense.

Edwards caught a touchdown pass as well as a two-point conversion on Sunday in the Jets’ 28-14 victory against the New England Patriots.

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Edwards’ attorney, Peter Frankel, acknowledged that the specifics of the case as laid out by authorities were accurate, saying: “That’s my understanding, yes.” But he quickly added: “I can’t really get into anything that happened.”

Frankel, who represented imprisoned former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress in his attempt to gain work release, said Edwards would not be available to the media. “We just want to get him out,” he said. “I’m sure he’s absolutely exhausted and he wants to go back to his home and his teammates.”

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During his weekly spot on WFAN-AM on Tuesday morning, Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said Edwards attended a Monday night event in support of Cotchery’s nonprofit foundation benefiting underprivileged youth in Manhattan.

Cotchery said several teammates were there, and the event ran from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on Manhattan’s West Side.

It’s not clear where Edwards was coming from when he was pulled over.

Pending the outcome of his New York City DUI case, Edwards may have to return to Cleveland to face a possible Violation of Probation, which could carry jail time.

On a side note: Being a Jets fan is not easy…
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LOS ANGELES – According to a breaking story published by the Associated Press, Grammy-winning rapper T.I., who has a history of Drug Offenses and is on Federal Probation after spending time behind bars on Gun Charges, was arrested along with his wife after police smelled marijuana coming from their car, authorities said.

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The rapper was arrested Wednesday night in West Hollywood during a traffic stop, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Mark Pope told The Associated Press. Authorities said they smelled a strong marijuana odor but would not say if any other drugs were found in the car.

The 29-year-old rapper and his wife, Tameka Cottle, were released from jail at about 4 a.m. Thursday after posting $10,000 bail each, sheriff’s Deputy Luis Castro said.

T.I.’s publicist declined to comment.

The arrests follow last week’s detention of socialite Paris Hilton, who is being investigated for Felony Cocaine Possession after a motorcycle officer smelled pot wafting from her car.

The Atlanta-based rapper, whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., is a multiplatinum hitmaker. Known as the “King of the South,” he has emerged one of music’s most profitable stars.

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He also has a key role in the current top box office movie “Takers.” The shoot-’em-up about an armored truck Robbery that goes bad was released last week and topped the box-office chart.

T.I. served seven (7) months in an Arkansas Federal prison and three (3) months in a Georgia halfway house on Federal Weapons Charges and was released in March. He was sentenced to serve three (3) years of supervised release after his prison sentence ended.

He was ordered not to commit another Federal, State or local crime while on supervised release, and also ordered not to illegally possess a controlled substance. He was also told to take at least three (3) drug tests after his release and to participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program.

Patrick Crosby, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in Atlanta, had no immediate comment Thursday on whether Harris violated the terms of the judge’s order.

Since his release, the rapper, who previously spent time behind bars for Drug Offenses, has vowed to live a better life. He spoke to children about the dangers of drugs and guns, and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young was one of his supporters. As he prepared for his most recent sentence, he starred in the MTV reality show “T.I.’s Road to Redemption: 45 Days to Go.”

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, T.I. talked about living a more positive life.

“Right now, it’s all about moving forward and just acknowledging the blessing that are here today. … Just moving past the regrets of yesterday — the things that could’ve been done better,” T.I. said in a July interview.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, it looks like the only forward moving for T.I. is that he is one step closer to going back to Federal prison.
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According to a story just released by the Associated Press, tormer U.S. figure skating champion Nicole Bobek has been sentenced to five (5) years Felony Probation for her role in a Crystal Methamphetamine ring in New Jersey.


The 32-year-old Bobek choked up in court in Jersey City on Monday as she said she was sorry. She pleaded guilty in June to Conspiring to Distribute Methamphetamine.

“Nothing but positive things can come out of this,” Bobek said outside the Jersey City courtroom where she was sentenced Monday. “It’s been a long 1½ years. I’m looking to get back onto that ice.”

She was among twenty eight (28) people accused last year of running a network that allegedly distributed $10,000 worth of methamphetamine per week.

The alleged leader of the group, Edward Cruz Jr., was sentenced last week to sixteen (16) years in prison.

Bobek won the U.S. figure skating title in 1995. But her disappointing 17th-place finish at the 1998 Winter Olympics took a psychological toll on her, according to her lawyer, Sam DeLuca. Bobek had been skating since age 3, forgoing high school and even home schooling for the rigorous, cloistered world of professional training, DeLuca said.


“Here is a girl whose star was shining … and when the star went out, when the star started fading, she was not prepared,” DeLuca said. She then fell into “a sleazy world” of drug addiction and bad influences, he said.

Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Ledoux argued for a sentence of a year in the county jail, saying Bobek was no innocent victim and was not a minor player in the drug ring.

Superior Court Judge Kevin Callahan noted he had received letters on Bobek’s behalf from former Olympic athletes, including JoJo Starbuck, and even rock ‘n’ roll musicians he didn’t name.

Callahan warned Bobek that she was at a dangerous crossroads and that a single Violation of Probation or failed drug test could land her in prison for at least five (5) years.

Bobek, accompanied by her mother, applied to serve her probation near the family’s Jupiter, Florida home. She was also ordered to serve 250 hours of community service and pay a $2,500 fine, plus additional court expenses.
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Sara Lou Kenny, 20, of New Port Richey, needed some clean urine to pass a drug test so, authorities say, she tried to smuggle the urine from her friend’s 4-year-old son past a probation officer and pass it off as her own.

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It didn’t work!!!

Kenney was arrested Friday at a substance abuse program office on Little Road in New Port Richey, according to the St. Pete Times.

Her friend and roommate, 26-year-old Amber Tobeck, was also arrested at the same office for giving her son’s urine to Kenny, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

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Both women are on Felony Probation – Kenny for Drug Offenses and Tobeck for Fraud and Theft convictions – according to the Florida Department of Corrections. Kenny’s two-year drug court probation sentence began Feb. 1st. An arrest report said Kenny had methadone that was not prescribed to her.

Kenny and Tobeck are being held without Bond at the Pasco County jail on charges of Violating their Probations. Kenny is unemployed. Tobeck told authorities she is a waitress at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in New Port Richey. Gotta love their chicken-n-dumplings!
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A story in this morning’s St. Pete Times about the “SCRAM” monitor caught my attention:

For a solid year, Stephen Hulgin knew he could not sneak a drink without getting locked up.

The reason was strapped around his ankle: an alcohol monitoring device he wore 24 hours a day, as part of his sentence for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction. If he took a drink, the device would know it.


“I knew it was there; I knew I couldn’t beat it,” Hulgin said. And he knew what the judge had told him: One more drink and “I go to prison for four (4) years.”

Hulgin, 44, who lives in a Clearwater rehab center and has a paving company, recently had his electronic monitor removed after an alcohol-free year. He says the device helped him and was a “big component of me getting out of jail.”

It also is becoming part of the anti-alcohol strategy for the criminal justice system in the Tampa Bay area. Judges are increasingly requiring monitoring devices for Defendants who need to prove they’re not drinking.

“I think it can be a very effective tool in protecting the public,” said Pinellas County Judge Donald E. Horrox, who has ordered Defendants to wear them.

Week after week, judges sentence people for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and other alcohol-related offenses. While some get jail time, probation usually follows. Others are released on bail as they await their trial.

Judges almost always order these people to stop drinking alcohol while they are on probation or awaiting their trial. But how do you make sure someone doesn’t drink?

There are ways, such as random urine samples, mandatory AA meetings, and visits to probation officers — all with the threat of more jail time looming overhead.

But it can still be possible to cheat, partly because traces of alcohol disappear from the body more quickly than other drugs. Alcohol monitors are designed to take away that possibility.

The Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, or “SCRAM” brand alcohol bracelet, which has been used in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, is strapped to a Defendant’s leg above his or her ankle and can be hidden under a pants cuff.

It samples sweat on the skin every thirty (30) minutes, and detects the presence of alcohol. It records the data and sends results back to a central computer and, eventually, on to the court system.

“It’s a Breathalyzer for your ankle,” said Kathleen Brown, spokeswoman for the Denver-based company that makes them, Alcohol Monitoring Systems.

It also contains anti-tampering technology designed to detect when someone is trying to fool the device — such as the person who wedged a piece of baloney in between his ankle and the bracelet. (Baloney may feel roughly like skin, but it’s cold and doesn’t sweat.)

About fifty (50) of the SCRAM bracelets are in use at any one time in the Tampa Bay area, said local representative and bail bondsman Frank Kopczynski. More than 10,000 are in use nationwide, Brown said.

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Pinellas County Judge Paul Levine said he became intrigued with the alcohol bracelets when he realized they provide a good way to continuously check on serious alcohol offenders, such as repeat drunken drivers. They’re also good for Domestic Violence offenders who get violent when drunk; take away the alcohol, and you often take away the violence, he said.

But over time, he said he heard from Defendants who say “they can’t believe they actually went ninety (90) days without drinking, and it helps their recovery.”

“It’s a tool now to help break the cycle of drinking,” he said.

Hulgin agrees. He said when he was sentenced in Pasco County to wear the bracelet for a full year, the judge told him “If I drank, I’d be in prison. He made sure I understood that if I failed … I’m going away.”

He wore it 24 hours a day, even in the shower. After about three (3) sober months, he said he felt his alcohol cravings subside. Now that he is off the bracelet, he is optimistic that he will also be able to stay off alcohol, with help from his family and the Christian recovery center where he lives, called Center of Hope.

“It helped me,” Hulgin said. And he added, “it’s nice to be able to prove to the Court system and society that I haven’t drank a drop.”

But he does have a reason to be happy to get off of it. It costs $10 a day, and he’s the one who had to pay it.

That $300 a month is a burden that not everyone can afford. But Kopczynski, the Tampa Bay representative for SCRAM monitors, said $10 a day is less than some people spend at bars. He also has a question for people who have been released from jail but are complaining about the cost of the bracelet:

“How much money are you making in jail?”
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