Articles Posted in Legal Humor

From the Tampa Bay Times, a recent round up of alleged crooks who did not think through their criminal plans…

Over the past month, a higher number than usual “dumb criminal” arrests have occurred in Saint Petersburg.

It started in May. 58-year-old Michael Reese got drunk and decided to call 911. Telling the police that he needed to resolve some warrants and wanting to go to jail, police arrived at his home in St. Petersburg. Police ran his name through a warrant check and found that he was clean. Not wanting to disappoint the man, police arrested him for misuse of 911.

On the same day in May, Octavis Owens was arrested after giving a false report to a police officer. Mr. Owens called police and told them he was robbed. Police used a total of 11 officers to track down the suspects using Owens’ GPS tracker on his phone. Out of the blue, the defendant admitted that he made up the story about being robbed saying that he didn’t think the police would help him otherwise. This came as no consolation to two men arrested at gunpoint by the police based on Owens’ lies…

Suspect’s ID left behind in robbery

The crooks get dumber…An 18-year-old suspect broke into a house in St. Pete, stealing money and valuables he later sold to buy the drug spice. One problem…he left his wallet and ID back in the house! Brandon Parker was arrested for robbery a few days after the break in based on the incriminating evidence…

Finally saving the best for last…

Lee Ragin, 27, was arrested for his role in a battery against a cab driver last month. Mr. Ragin is alleged to have called a cab in south St. Pete. After it arrived, the cab driver picked up Ragin who robbed and stabbed the cabbie with a knife (aggravated battery with a deadly weapon). Police investigated and found that Lee left his cell phone in the cab. Even nicer, Mr. Ragin called the cab company to retrieve the phone! Police eventually convinced the suspect to meet them with the promise of getting his phone back. Instead he received a pair of handcuffs and a criminal charge.
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Talk about bad karma…Florida native Edward Cocaine was arrested earlier this week on felony drug possession.

Per the Pembroke Pines Police Department report, Mr. Cocaine was stopped for a traffic violation as he had an obscured tag.

The Florida police officer went to speak with the suspect when Cocaine requested a talk outside of the car. This proved to be a bad mistake for him as the officer noticed a Xanax pill (NOT cocaine as one might have guessed) in plain sight, tucked in the vehicle’s door pocket.

Under questioning from the police, the defendant further hurt his case by both admitting to not having a prescription as well as admitting to another alprazolam pill, saying he bought them off a man for $5.00.

With that, Mr. Cocaine, whose prior criminal record is unknown, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony. This is punishable by up to five years in prison though Edward most likely will have other options available. These options may consist of drug court, probation, pre-trial intervention (“PTI”) or a combination of these.

When the ironically named defendant appeared in front of the judge at first appearance, he laughed and released him on his own recognizance (“ROR’ed). This means that he did not have to post bail to be released from jail.
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From the smoking gun website, a Palm Beach man was arrested for burglary after his pants aided the Florida cops in making the arrest…

19-year-old Jordan Bodden was arrested by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies on suspicion of car burglary. This came to light when two witnesses ID’d him as the man who broke into multiple vehicles. One witness saw two males, one matching Bodden’s description pulling on door handles and entering the cars (burglary of a conveyance). Another witness came forward and saw the suspect and a co-defendant enter several cars looking for money and valuables.

Bodden was identified by both witnesses and was handcuffed during the investigation but the suspect broke away from the police and tried to run away on foot.

His pants had other ideas. An Officer grabbed at Jordan’s pants as he began to flee, which might have popped open a button. The result was his pants falling to his ankles and the criminal suspect falling hard on the cement. Apparently he didn’t learn his lesson as once down, he continued to fight the deputies.

Jordan Bodden was charged with resisting arrest without violence, escape and three counts of burglary. As of this writing, the fashionista was still locked up in the Palm Beach County jail on $31,000 bond.
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I am sure that this worked. A Massachusetts man did not give a hoot about logic after he led police on a long chase…

37-year-old Troy Prockett was arrested and charged with multiple offenses this week including felony DUI, resisting arrest, leaving the scene of an accident with property damages and numerous traffic citations. How he got there made for an interesting story…

Per the police report, a state trooper was driving on I-290 in the evening when he saw a car, driven by Prockett, spinning out of control between travel lanes. The car eventually spun out of control, crashing into a snowbank and coming to rest between the first and second lane of traffic.

The state trooper testified that three other vehicles had to swerve out of the way of the suspect to avoid being hit. The trooper responded by turning on his lights and siren.

The suspect, now driving a heavily damaged car, proceeded to pull out of the road into oncoming traffic and drove almost a mile in the breakdown lane…with the trooper in hot pursuit.

The car eventually did stop but only so the suspect could jump out of the driver’s seat and run off into the woods. The defendant was not a master criminal as the trooper found his wallet still in the car and started tracking him thorugh the snow by following his footprints.

With the help of a K9 unit, the man was found after a hour of searching in single digit temperature. The man was found in a tree and gave a very slurred defense to his fleeing and eluding.

Prockett began speaking in a slurred speech, claiming that he was an owl. He also asked officers if they caught the guy who was driving his vehicle, even as he started climbing higher up the tree. When police pointed out that there was only one set of footprints in the snow, the man changed stories and claimed that he was carried by the mysterious driver. Per the police report, the suspect then
“continued speaking about what a good guy he was and rambling on about being an owl in a tree. “He continually refused commands to climb down and instead climbed even higher, shaking the branches and saying, ‘Look it’s snowing.'”

Police on the scene received new information that the suspects daughter was riding with him during the accident. The drunken man did not calm their fears, rather he admitted having a daughter but gave false information as to where she was.

Police eventually had to call in the fire department to “rescue” the tree climber as well as cut down tree branches. Police also used a thermal imaging unit in an attempt to search for the girl, only to later learn that she was safe.

This was not Procketts’ first brush with the law. The man admitted running from the police because this was his third DUI. As of this writing, the man had made bail and was released.
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In what police are calling an odd domestic violence case, a Collier County woman is facing aggravated battery charges after police say she stabbed her boyfriend. The reason? Because he allegedly “farted” in her face!

According to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, 37-year-old Deborah Ann Burns was at home watching television with her boyfriend. Without warning, her boyfriend walked by her and supposedly “passed gas in her face”.

Deborah Burns became angry and confronted her boyfriend who told her to “shut up”. The suspect responded by grabbing an eight-inch knife and throwing it at her elderly boyfriend, slicing his stomach. The gassy man was treated at the scene by medical personnel.

It didn’t take long for the police to gather evidence and arrest the defendant for the aggravated battery. Ms. Burns was arrested and bond was set at $50,000. Ms. Burns is no stranger to the justice system as a background search revealed that she is a convicted felon and has spent time in prison for multiple charges including battery on a law enforcement officer and aggravated assault.


An aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, Florida Statute 784.045 is a second degree felony with a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison. An aggravated battery can be one of two things. A person who commits a battery using a deadly weapon OR a person who commits a battery who intentionally caused permanent disability/disfigurement or great bodily harm can both be found guilty of that charge.

In this particular case it does not sound like the man was seriously injured. However, if the defendant’s kitchen knife can be considered a deadly weapon then she can still be convicted of this offense.

Finally, as is often the case in domestic violence cases, the victim may change his mind and no longer wants to press charges. Contrary to popular belief, just because the victim doesn’t want to press charges that does NOT mean the state will stop prosecuting the defendant. In reality, a victim in a domestic violence case is treated as a witness by the state attorney’s office. That is because the state attorney views the state of Florida as the victim and can still prosecute the defendant regardless of the wishes of the “victim”.
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From the “only in Florida” files, a Lake Worth man was arrested after witnesses saw him “doing it and doing it and doing it well” with a local businesses’ door.

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Anthony Berry is charged with indecent exposure and performing a sexual act with a door. Per an article from the sun sentinel, a nearby employee caught the suspect dropping his pants and humping the business door Monday afternoon. The shocked worker reacted to Mr. Berry whipping out his package by whipping out her IPhone, calling the police and recording the passionate door mounting.

The unidentified worker saw 57-year-old Anthony Berry walk to the rear of the business. The suspect then tried to open the locked door and was noticed by the employee. The man then proceeded to expose himself to the woman.

It was at this time that the employee called police and recorded the defendant “humping the door”. Mr. Berry then walked away to a nearby bus station.

That is where police both found and confronted Anthony Berry. Per the police report when asked if he made love to the door, the defendant smiled and said “Yes, I have a mental problem”!

A quick look at the suspect’s criminal history shows that since 1979 he has been arrested at least 32 prior times including at least two previous indecent exposure charges as well as sexual battery, possession of cocaine, and trespassing.
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A quick blurb in the Tampa Times online about how calling the emergency hotline for marijuana and Kool Aid tends to get a person in trouble…

Bored last Sunday, Saint Pete resident Jarvis Sutton, 34, was in the mood for three things: drugs, food and drinks. While that itself is not a crime, what he did next landed him in hot water.

The suspect proceeded to call 911 alomost 80 times throughout the day, requesting Kool Aid, “weed” and various food items. Eventually, police had enough. An officer wrote in his arrest report “The defendant admitted to calling 911 because he ‘wanted Kool-Aid, burgers and weed to be delivered to him,’ “.

The suspect was arrested and charged with “misuse of the 911 system“. To make matters more interesting, on the way to jail the suspect began chewing the metal cage in the police cruiser.

Mr. Sutton has had several arrests in Pinellas for charges such as possession of marijuana, battery on a law enforcement officer, failure to appear, trespassing, and a violation of probation among others.
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A brief blurb from the smoking gun website shows that literally anything can be used in a fight. As a result, a Florida man has been charged with a battery by striking another person with a Taco Bell burrito…

“Fourth Meal” or Felony?

36 year-old Eric Brown smashed the beef and bean concotion into a 16 year-old boy during a domestic violence incident in a Port St. Lucie household on February 15.

The juvenile victim told police that he was having an arguement with his mother when the defendant, his brother-in-law, asked the mother to bring him the burrito.

The defendant then proceeded to throw the burrito with force, striking the teenager in the face with the quasi-food item. The police report dryly noted that the victim had “burrito cheese, sauce and meat all over his clothing and face.”

The battery suspect told the police that while he “delivered” the burrito, it was deserved because the victim was cursing at and being rude to his mother.

The newly arrested defendant then unwisely told the police that he was going to “knock the victim out” and “take care of him” when he got out.

The charge of battery is found under Florida statute 784.03. It is basically defined as an unlawful touch or strike against another person. In this case, the suspect appeared to have committed a battery by throwing the burrito at the kid. This is because the statute reads that thowing an object that hits the victim can also be a battery. Just because no part of his body made contact with the victim would not allow him to escape this charge.

The article does not say if the defendant had any prior battery convictions. If he did have at least one prior conviction after July 1, 2001 or two prior convictions before that 2001 date, the suspect could now be facing a third degree felony, felony battery. A normal battery as described above (no permanent or severe injuries and no use of a weapon) would qualify as a misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in a county jail). A third degree felony would mean the suspect is now facing up to five years in prison for the crime.

Finally, if the victim heard the defendant’s threats to “take care of him” and that was construed as an attempt to intimidate or influence the victim, the suspect could be facing a Tampering with a Witness charge. Tampering with a witness, Florida statute 914.22 is also a third degree felony with the same potential of a five year prison term.
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Filed under the “any publicity is good publicity” school of thought, a Florida lawyer’s marketing plan backfires when his mug shot is featured next to his legal ad.

According to a blurb in the aba (American Bar Association) journal, Florida DUI Lawyer Thomas L. Edwards was arrested on multiple charges including Driving Under the Influence, Reckless Driving, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident with property damage among others.

In an ironic marketing twist, the lawyer’s mugshot ended up next to his Gainesville law firm ad where he is seen smiling (though in a nice suit instead of jail garb). Making matters worse, this same attorney was interviewed by The Gainesville Sun back in 2007 when the subject of bad-looking mug shots came up.
Mr. Edwards was quoted as saying:

“Mug shots, unfortunately, are never good pictures. They’ve usually got people who are in compromised positions,” said Gainesville defense attorney Thomas Edwards.

“They arrest you and you’re not looking so good. They’re not going to give you a plastic comb. They are not going to concern themselves if you look like crap.”

Short of someone turning themselves in at the jail, most people can’t prepare for getting their mug shot taken, Edwards said.

Legally, he added, there’s nothing a defense lawyer can do about a bad mug shot except make sure it doesn’t prejudice a jury that will hear the case.

Based on his calm, smiling mugshot, this DUI attorney might have practiced looking good for the camera.

LEGAL ANALYSISWhile it is common to read articles about celebrities and politicians getting special treatment when breaking the law, the reality for lawyers, doctors or other professionals is often different. While most people assume that the “good old boys” club protects its own, that is usually not the case.

Here in Pinellas County, if an assistant state attorney or public defender gets arrested, many times the case will be transferred nearby (such as Hillsborough) to avoid the appearance of impropriety. These same lawyers, rather then getting kid glove treatment are often judged harsher then others would be. This is because the media is sure to report on these arrests and the aftermath.

In this case, it is too early to guess what may happen. Mr. Edwards was asked to comment and through his assistant gave the following statement: “Under the American criminal justice system all individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
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According to the Smoking Gun website, a Bradenton man was arrested for petit theft after he shoplifted a bottle of personal lubricant.

Rudy Marenco, 21, of Bradenton, was spotted by a Spencer’s employee examining a bottle of “Orgasmix” personal lubricant inside the store at DeSoto Square mall. The employee then found an open, discarded box that previously contained the “Orgasmix”.

The employee quickly confronted Mr. Marenco who pulled out the $7.99 product and apologized for shoplifting. Orgasmix, described on Spencer’s website as an enhancement gel made to increase women’s pleasure, turned out to be the suspect’s downfall. Despite his regret, local police were called and he was arrested for the theft. To add insult to injury, police found marijuana in his pocket and proceeded to add the drug charge to him.LEGAL ANALYSIS
Petit theft is usually a misdemeanor. What many people are shocked to find out is if one has two or more prior theft convictions, they can be charged with felony petit theft!

Felony petit theft is found under Florida Statutes 812.014(3)(c). Depending on this suspect’s prior theft convictions, the simple shoplifting of a $7.99 product may result in a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison! As a shoplifting defense attorney, I have seen people being sentenced to prison for relatively minor thefts.

A felony petit theft does not score many points in the Florida criminal punishment scoresheet. However, many judges get frustrated with a repeat theft offender and may sentence harshly.

The scoresheet mentioned above is an important way in how the state of Florida determines how long or if a defendant should be sentenced to prison. That will be a subject for the next blog.
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