Articles Posted in Celebrity Justice

It was only a few months ago when we last wrote of Bobby Brown’s DUI case. At the time, he was saying all the right things about getting better and how this had changed him. Now according to an article in the Mercury news, it looks like the former lead singer of “New Edition” and the ex of the late Whitney Houston has gotten himself in another DUI jam…

It appears that Bobby Brown was arrested for the second time this year for a potential Driving Under the Influence charge. The singer was pulled over in Los Angeles police pulled over the singer early Wednesday morning due to his driving pattern. He showed signs of impairment (which is police talk for things such as smell of alcohol on his person or breath, bloodshot, watery eyes among other “signs”). He was then taken to jail and was released. This is sad for Mr. Brown as he had just pled no contest to a DUI in March of this year and vowed to go to a rehabilitation clinic (obviously with mixed results).In Florida, laws governing drinking and driving can be very complicated. As Pinellas DUI lawyers, we have dealt with 1000s of these cases. In this state, statute 316.193 describes the act and punishment for drinking and driving. A quick look shows that the punishments can be VERY severe. For instance, If Booby Brown received this last DUI in Florida, he would be looking at a MINIMUM mandatory of 10 days in jail and up to one year in county lock up! There would also be a hefty fine, a mandatory drivers license suspension (five years) and possible probation.

In Florida, you can also get felony charges depending on the amount of prior convictions for driving under the influence you may have. A common misconception is that driving felonies are reserved for crimes such as vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter. In reality, if you have three DUIs in 10 years or four (or more) overall, you are looking at a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison! Something to think about before people decline a cab at the next party…
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After a domestic battery allegation in Florida, former NFL player and reality show “star” Chad Johnson has finalized his divorce per an article from The Washington Post.

The former wide receiver finalized his divorce from fellow reality TV star Evelyn Lozada just a month after his arrest on a domestic battery charge against her.

The Ex- Pro Bowler was competing in the Miami Dolphins training camp for a roster spot when Ms. Lozada accused him of battery against her during an arguement over his alleged infidelity. The Dolphins immediately cut the ageing athlete and the former stand out for the Cinncinnatti Bengals has yet to find a football home. In a TV interview Jonson, who is still facing a misdeameanor battery charge, has claimed he is now taking anger management classes.Johnson’s Florida criminal defense lawyer said the divorce was covered by a confidential prenuptial agreement. Chad Johnson, in turn, has become more introspective. He has legally changed his last name back to Johnson from his previous tongue-in-cheek “Ochocinco” and has claimed remorse.

“Chad has to work on Chad,” he says. “Chad has to go deep down inside and figure out where he went wrong. At what point did you lose focus on what’s most important? Like especially the game of football. . At some point I had drifted off track away from that and being one of the best at what I do.”This latest domestic battery allegation could not have come at a worse time for Johnson’s fading career. He had a very disappointing year with the Patriots in 2011 and was not a lock to make the Dolphins roster, even before his arrest.
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South Florida rapper Flo Rida has entered into a deal in his DUI arrest on Miami Beach in June that will net him no jail time.According to Flo Rida’s attorney Daniel Lurvey, the rapper was allowed to enroll in the “Back On Track” program for first-time offenders. The program requires participants to perform community service and take classes. Flo Rida will also have to pay fees and court costs.

If completed, Flo Rida, whose real name is Tramar Dillard, will have his DUI charge amended to Reckless Driving with a “withhold of adjudication.” He will have no points on his license and could be eligible to have his arrest and criminal records Sealed.Dillard was charged with DUI and Driving with a Suspended License June 9 while in his 2008 Bugatti on the 500 block of Washington Avenue.While Dillard was being given a sobriety test, a crowd gathered, some asking that the police let Dillard go, others offering to give him a ride home.

Casey Anthony’s defense team has announced that they will be appealing her four (4) Misdemeanor convictions from her recent First Degree Murder trial.

Friday morning, Casey’s defense attorneys filed their Notice of Appeal for the four (4) counts of misleading law enforcement, for which she was convicted by the same jury that acquitted her of First Degree Murder.It was almost three (3) years ago that Casey told Orange County deputies the following:

(1) That she worked at Universal Orlando Resort in 2008,
(2) That she left Caylee with a babysitter named Zenaida Gonzalez,
(3) That she told Jeffrey Hopkins and Juliette Lewis that Caylee was missing,
(4) That she spoke to Caylee on the phone on July 15, 2008.

Casey was charged and convicted of a separate count for each of the above false statements. She was fined the maximum $1,000 for each count, totaling $4,618 after court costs.Judge Belvin Perry also sentenced Casey to a total of four (4) years in jail, which has already been shortened based on the time she has spent behind bars (awaiting trial), and her good behavior in jail. Casey is due to be released Sunday.

From a strategic standpoint, an appeal could have a huge effect on Casey’s civil case involving Zenaida Gonzalez, which took a bizarre turn Friday morning after a quick end to an emergency hearing.

Once the appeal is formally filed, she can legitimately assert her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in any deposition or interrogation until the appeal is exhausted!

As far as Casey is concerned, there is no downside to this legal maneuver. If she loses the appeal, she will still be released from jail on Sunday. She cannot be punished for appealing.Another bright move by her defense team to, once again, protect her from having to tell the truth about what happened to her daughter Caylee.
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Flavor Flav — real name William Jonathan Drayton Jr. — was arrested in Las Vegas last Friday after a routine traffic stop resulted in police officers finding four (4) warrants out for his arrest. The rapper took to Twitter on Monday to tell his side of the story.Drayton was pulled over by police at 10:57 p.m. Friday for a routine Traffic Violation east of the Las Vegas Strip. When an officer ran his name through the system, the warrants came up; he was arrested and taken to jail, where he was booked, got his mug shot taken and was eventually released, TMZ reported.

The 52-year-old Public Enemy alum’s four (4) separate misdemeanor traffic warrants include driving without proof of insurance, a parking violation and two (2) cases of driving without a license.It was unclear when the warrants were issued, the Las Vegas Sun reported. But in 2002, Drayton served nine (9) weeks at Rikers Island Jail in New York for various auto-related violations including Driving with a Suspended License (DWLSR), numerous parking tickets and being late for meetings with his probation officer.

The VH1 reality television star known for wearing quirky sunglasses and a clock around his neck aired his version of events online Monday, tweeting that he was on his way home from Benihana’s when he was pulled over.

The widely-reported case against former Speaker of the House Ray Sansom came to an abrupt end on Friday when State prosecutors dropped all criminal charges.

In a dramatic end to a Jury Trial nearly two (2) years in the making, criminal charges against Sansom were dropped, in Court, Friday after prosecutors said a judge limited evidence of an alleged Conspiracy to get $6 million in state funding for an airport building a developer wanted to use.Flanked by friends and his lawyers, Sansom, 48, said it was vindication.

“First I want to thank God,” he said, then praised his attorneys. “When I first met with them, they said ‘Ray, the truth will set you free’ and we saw that today.”

Asked if he would have done anything differently, Sansom replied, “absolutely not.”

Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs also dropped the case against Sansom’s co-defendant, developer Jay Odom. Both men had been charged with Grand Theft and Conspiracy to Commit Grand Theft. According to the prosecution, the $6 million was steered to Northwest Florida State College, where Sansom took a job (coincidentally) on the same day he was sworn in as speaker of the Florida House in 2008 .Sansom and Odom agreed to pay about $103,000 each to Northwest Florida State College — two-thirds of the amount the college spent on planning the airport building. The trustees scrapped the project after Grand Jury indictments were handed down in April 2009 and then-Governor Charlie Crist asked for the money back.

The State’s case unraveled on the fifth day of Sansom’s Jury Trial, just before a lunch break.

The jury was out and defense lawyers raised objections to testimony State Attorney Meggs planned to introduce to establish a Conspiracy. He was going to bring up a key witness, former college president Bob Richburg, who was also criminally charged but two (2) weeks ago agreed to testify (otherwise known as “snitch”) against Sansom and Odom.

Richburg, Meggs later said, would have described conversations with Sansom and Odom about the airport project prior to Sansom getting the money. Meggs also planned to introduce e-mails showing conversations about the building.

But the defense mounted a challenge, saying the state had to prove there was an illegal agreement.

“There’s no evidence of conspiracy because there’s no evidence of an illegal agreement,” attorney Larry Simpson said.

After a lengthy discussion, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis said, “I don’t think you have enough to show a conspiracy.” He said several college employees and an architect said they were aware of the private use.

Meggs had argued that college trustees did not (two testified during the trial) and neither did other legislators.

But if he could not lay the ground for the conspiracy — the planning for a hangar and attempts to conceal its nature that he said were clear before Sansom got the money — Meggs said his case was damaged.

What’s more, Meggs said he was limited because the proposed jury instructions would have said, “the passage of legislation, including an appropriations bill, by itself, cannot constitute theft by any of the defendants.”

So during lunch, Meggs offered “a plea deal” to both defendants. He would drop the charges if they agreed to wrongdoing, did community service and paid restitution (otherwise known as buying their way out of the criminal charges?).In the end, Sansom and Odom only agreed to pay the money, and Sansom’s attorney, Steve Dobson, said his client resisted that as well. Sansom blamed Meggs and the news media.

Dobson declared, “They were not guilty.”

Meggs maintained there was wrongdoing and attributed the defeat to “fundamental” differences in understanding of conspiracy law with Lewis.

“I agree the State was not able to carry its burden of establishing a conspiracy with the court,” Meggs said. “And so if I can’t establish a conspiracy with the court before the appropriation, I can’t get in statements of co-conspirators after the appropriation. And that’s what all our evidence is about, is what they did after the appropriation was put into place.”

The trial started Monday and more than a dozen witnesses had testified for the State of Florida, leading up to its primary witness, Richburg, who agreed March 11 to testify for the prosecution (“turn State’s evidence”).

Meggs had argued that the three (3) men worked together to accomplish Odom’s goal of getting an airplane hangar then worked to conceal it as an educational facility, contending that college officials scrambled to find a use for the building and even then planned to use half of the space. Meggs presented documents and testimony showing the bulk was for a hangar.

Noting that Meggs first charged the men with Official Misconduct then changed it to Grand Theft after the charges were mostly gutted in court, Dobson said, “I would say the state attorney lost big time.”

As if this wasted prosecution hasn’t cost the citizens of the State of Florida enough already, Florida law allows a public official who is charged with a crime to seek payment of legal fees if he’s not convicted when the charges arose from his public duties. Dobson said he plans to seek payment from the Legislature.

Dobson said he did not know yet what the total fees would be but “because of Mr. Meggs’ dogged pursuit, it’s going to be big.”

Federal investigators have been looking at some aspect of Sansom and Odom’s dealings (an FBI agent sat in on some of the depositions of witnesses in the state case). Asked about that, Dobson said “if they are charged in Federal Court, we’ll fight that, too. If I am retained.”

I particularly love how that last quote was quickly modified…
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Authorities in California say actress Jaime Pressly has been arrested in Santa Monica for investigation of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol.Lt. Darrell Lowe says the co-star of TV’s My Name is Earl was stopped for a Traffic Violation around 11:00 p.m. Wednesday and booked on suspicion of DUI but he’s not releasing any details.

The Los Angeles County sheriff’s website says the 33-year-old actress-model spent the night in jail and was released Thursday morning after posting $15,000 bail.According to an online story several days later on The Huffington Post, Jaime Pressly’s DUI arrest on January 5th was no close call — the My Name Is Earl star registered a .22 blood alcohol level, nearly three (3) times the legal limit.

According to a story on ESPN.com, a Florida International University (FIU) baseball player with a record-setting 56-game hitting streak has been charged with Rape in the Bahamas, court officials in the islands’ capital said Monday.

Garrett Wittels is accused of raping a 17-year-old teenage tourist on December 20th while on a visit to the archipelago east of Florida. The 20-year-old infielder ended last season with the second-longest hitting streak in NCAA Division I history, two behind the 58-game run by former Oklahoma State star and Major Leaguer, Robin Ventura, in 1987..
Two (2) of Wittels’ friends also face Rape Charges, officials said.

Robert Rothschild, 21, of New York, was accused of raping two 17-year-old girls, while Jonathan Oberti, 21, also of New York, was charged with raping one, according to Bahamian court officials.

Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez granted Wittels and the two others $10,000 Bail at their Thursday arraignment in Nassau. The U.S. suspects were not required to enter pleas and returned to the United States.

It is unclear how, or if, the charge would affect Wittels’ status with the FIU program. FIU begins its baseball season February 18th and its first three (3) games are set to be televised while Wittels continues his chase of Ventura’s record.

Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis will begin a preliminary inquiry on April 18th to determine if there is enough evidence for the case to go to Trial. By then, FIU’s season will be more than half over.

Wittels, who set school and Sun Belt Conference records with his streak in 2010, did not respond to a message seeking comment sent to his Facebook account. He posted congratulatory messages on his Twitter feed Sunday night after FIU’s football team beat Toledo to win the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit — the first bowl win for the Golden Panthers’ football program — but no mention of the legal matters.

Wittels tweeted on Dec. 18 that he was going to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas for several days.Wittels’ father, an orthopedist, told The Miami Herald that his son would be vindicated. He said his son was “devastated” by the allegations.

“Anyone can accuse anyone of anything at any time,” Michael Wittels told the Miami newspaper during a Monday morning phone interview. “He’s not doing well, obviously. He’s blown away. He’s devastated that someone would accuse him of this.”

Michael Wittels, whose telephone appeared to be disconnected later Monday, told the newspaper that his son and his friends met the two girls at a casino and they later went to a private party. The girls apparently described themselves as students at the University of Arkansas, he said.

In the Bahamas, the maximum penalty for a first-time rape offender is seven (7) years in prison.
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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.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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