When you or a loved one stands trial for a crime, it is important to put up the most vigorous defense possible, even when the crime in question is only a misdemeanor. Even misdemeanors can have serious consequences, and the difference between, say, a first-degree misdemeanor and a second-degree misdemeanor can be substantial. In a recent case of theft from a Walmart, the state managed to secure a conviction of first-degree petit theft, even though it lacked hard proof that the goods allegedly stolen were worth more than $100. Because of that shortage of evidence, the Fourth District Court of Appeal threw out that first-degree petit theft conviction.
If you or a loved one faces criminal charges, the first objective, obviously, is to attempt to secure a “not guilty” verdict. This is not, however, the only objective. Even after a “not guilty” verdict is out of reach, it is still important to have counsel on your side to ensure that the sentence the court hands down is not unjustly long. This was the case for a man accused of burglary and theft crimes, who successfully appealed a trial court’s decision to impose a statutory enhancement to his sentence.
Theft can cover just about anything, but as a quick article in the Orlando Sentinel shows, this theft had a distinct Florida flair to it…
In nearby Winter Haven, Florida local resident Brad Reiter is accused of a most unusual crime. Think of the plot of Ocean’s 11 but with more vitamin C.
State agricultural investigators are claiming that Reiter unlawfully took over 4 million pounds of oranges and other citrus. These fruits came at an estimated loss of over half a million dollars!
The agricultural commissioner held a press conference in which he explained the details of the grand theft crime. Brad Reiter entered into at least three contracts to harvest citrus groves back in March, 2014.
The grove owners clearly did not do their research as it turned out that the suspect was not even a licensed citrus dealer! That didn’t stop him from harvesting all of the oranges and grapefruits from the groves.
The scurvy-resistant thief made off with over 50,000 boxes full of fruit without paying for it. The estimated amount of the stealing? Over $530,000!
Grand Theft is found under Florida Statute 812.014. Because the amount that allegedly was taken was over $100,000, this would be a first degree theft, punishable by up to 30 years in prison! This does not even take the separate felony fraud cases into consideration.
Common sense will tell you that many times prosecutors are willing to reduce prison time or even agree to probation if the defendant pays back restitution. In this case what was stolen were perishable items. These are not stolen goods that can just be returned and almost certainly the defendant did not sell all the citrus. This means a lot of the fruit he stole became spoiled and worthless. Any fruit he managed to sell would probably not cover the over half a million dollars in loss. In other words, unless he happens to have hundreds of thousands of dollars ready for restitution, he is almost certainly looking at a lengthy prison stay.
Finally, if he had attempted to resell any of this fruit, the state can add second degree felony charges of dealing in stolen property to him.
A breaking story from BayNews9. The suspect is innocent until proven guilty but if true, this is a horrendous crime. People in a position of trust need to be held accountable for taking advantage of the elderly and others who can no longer defend themselves.
For the daughter of a patient at Access Adult Family Care Home on 38th avenue in Saint Petersburg, the news went from bad to worse. She had just found out her elderly mother passed away at the home in late May. Bedridden, she had spent her last few weeks in the home, never venturing out. That was the story the daughter believed until she opened her mother’s credit card bill and noticed over 20 charges worth over $2,000 in May. The credit card was used in restaurants, department stores and gas stations among other places- things that a bedridden woman would not spend money on.
Based on the charges, the daughter went to many of the locations, viewing security footage. What she found broke her heart. The videos showed Matos Infante, the owner of the facility, using the stolen credit card! She reported this to the police who started their own investigation, eventually finding 10 other nursing home victims of either credit card fraud or identity theft.
Meet 29-year-old Ross Crampton. He was transported to Silver Cross hospital after barricading himself in his house in suburban Chicago. At the end of an all-day standoff with the police, Ross was sent to the hospital for a psychological evaluation.
Per the police, Crampton was discharged from the hospital at 5 a.m. Rather then call a friend or Uber, he did the least logical thing possible. The man hopped into an ambulance and sped away.
Officials eventually noticed the vehicle was missing and the GPS located it three miles way at a friend of the suspect’s house. Police were clearly not amused.
Crampton was arrested outside the house and charged with grand theft auto, a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to five years in prison. He was taken into custody where he remains in jail.
Mr. Ice was quick to deny that his arrest had anything to do with his reality TV show “The Vanilla Ice project” and claimed that the whole situation was blown out of proportion.
Per the Palm Beach police, Vanilla was arrested due to a burglary in December near a house that he was renovating. Several of the missing items, such as a pool heater and furniture, were found on Vanilla’s property and later returned.
Police are saying that the ex-rapper is cooperative and as of this writing, it is unknown if the stolen property was part of his construction show.
Vanilla has had a few prior run ins with the law including arrests for domestic violence, drug possesion and driving on a suspended license. These new charges are very serious. The grand theft is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. The burglary can be punishable by up to life depending on how it is charged.
Two seperate police pursuits in Tampa with two stolen vehicles equal four grand theft auto arrests yesterday.
Per police reports, four theft suspects were seen stealing a Lexus in South Tampa. Police attempted to stop the suspects but they fled with the police in pursuit.
At the same time a Jeep that was stolen out of St. Petersburg ended up along Adamo drive in Hillsborough.
Facing hot pursuit, the Lexus crashed near 34th and Adamo. Moments later, the jeep had a roll over on 50th and Adamo!
The final kicker? As police were still securing the scene an unrelated driver, in a work truck, crashed into a cruiser as he was distracted by the lights. The man was found to be intoxicated and was arrested for DUI.
As of this writing, one theft suspect is in the hospital and three others remain in jail.
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.
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.
Technology evolves at a rate that has law enforcement and justice officials continually striving to keep pace with emerging tech-based crimes. And as the flow and availability of personal information continue to accelerate, the value of information steadily rises, making it a modern day target for opportunistic criminals.
Cyber-crime, for example, takes several forms, including data theft, identity theft and other breaches. Misrepresentation is a common feature of cyber-crimes, because the vast nature of the World Wide Web conceals the identity of those who move within it. And will physical limitations once helped thwart criminal enterprise, today’s high-tech cyber-criminals operate without such constraints. As a result, cyber-crime is a global concern, which cannot be adequately addressed by any one nation.
It Can Happen Anywhere
Cyber-crime knows no borders, so no user or region is safe from its ill-effects. From individual efforts to steal identity information and sensitive personal data, to large-scale efforts disrupting corporate and government databases, cyber-crime impacts global security. Hackers have shown their ability to infiltrate nearly every aspect of society, including high-value systems in science and industry. Significant commercial disruption took place recently during well publicized breaches at a number of big-name retailers, when hundreds of thousands of personal profiles were accessed and sensitive financial information disclosed. Widespread cyber-crimes carried out against diverse victims illustrate the Omni-present risks of connectivity and electronic information-sharing.
Cyber-Criminals are Growing Bolder
As security computer specialists fortify defenses against cyber-crime, hackers and other criminals find new ways to circumvent such measures. Mobile technology, for example, is exploding as the population takes its needs on the road with smartphones and tablets. So as consumer habits shift in the direction, they are followed closely by the efforts of cyber-criminals, who see the mobile landscape as a fertile new territory to prey on users. Mobile transactions for purchases and with banks are prime targets for data theft and other misdeeds.
Financial Markets are Global
The very advantages of electronic communication also stand as their primary weaknesses. As interactions are shared online and large volumes of supporting data are housed electronically, financial relationships are more and more international in nature, connecting global financial markets in ways that leave them vulnerable. One need only look at the recent meltdown of the United States real estate market and its subsequent ripples across the globe to confirm how one major disruption can interrupt the economies of multiple regions.
Lack of Global Enforcement Leaves the Door Open
Due to the nature of the Internet, policing it and enforcing penalties against cyber-criminals is more difficult than maintaining security within defined territories. Until consensus is reached among the world’s power players and universal security agreements are made, Internet security remains piecemeal and easier to exploit than a unified effort would be.
Cyber-War is Real
A new chapter opened in cyberspace recently, when malicious code was used to interrupt Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The Stuxnet worm targeted Microsoft Windows networks and Siemans software to execute automatic commands that impacted Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, disabling as much as one fifth of the nation’s enrichment capacity. Such large scale intrusion, with a significant physical outcome, underscores the emerging role computer network infiltration plays in international cyber-warfare. With the potential to disrupt infrastructure, financial databases and even military networks, the potential for destruction has never been higher for cyber-criminals.
Cyber-crime targets individuals, organizations and even governments, reaching into every aspect of modern society. To effectively reduce the threat, international consensus must be reached, to standardize enforcement and accountability across the world. Until then, cyber-criminals are empowered to breach prevailing measures, placing global security at risk.
From the BayNews9 website, a local teacher is facing felony charges after going on an alcohol binge…
30-year-old Keesha Graham will not want to bring this up at her next show-and-tell. The St. Petersburg second-grade teacher was arrested by police after what witnesses call “an alcohol-fueled rampage”.
Clearwater police arrested Ms. Graham for burglary and disorderly intoxication after Ms. Graham was walking in and out of traffic and trying to enter a locked vehicle (a potential burglary of a conveyance charge). Police told her to leave the location but she had other ideas…
The intoxicated teacher later walked into a home on Gulfview Boulevard uninvited and police were called after the homeowner asked her to leave.
The suspect refused to leave and sat down on the homeowner’s couch. With that police finally had enough and arrested the defendant.
Ms. Graham is (was?) a teacher at John Sexton Elementary School and parental outcry was quick. One of the parents interviewed by Bay News 9 was shocked that the events occurred and was grateful that this did not happen at the school.
“Your children are supposed to be everything to you and you’re sending them to the most safest place that you think during the day and then you find out stuff like this,” the shocked parent said. “It just makes you wonder.”
As of this writing Ms. Graham has been released on $5,100 bond and charges are pending.
The disorderly intoxication is a misdemeanor but the burglary of a dwelling, Florida Statute 810.02, is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. What makes it worse for Ms. Graham is that because the house was occupied, the charge is now a “PBL” or punishable by life!
It is obviously too early to know what may happen with these charges. Based on just the report, it sounds like Ms. Graham was not attempting to commit a crime when she went into the stranger’s home. If that is correct, the state may be better off filing a trespass charge instead.
This is one of those cases where it is vital to have a criminal defense attorney on this case before charges are filed. A burglary defense attorney would be able to talk with the state before charges are filed and perhaps convince them to lessen these serious cases.
No matter what becomes of this case, the defendant has already suffered embarrassment and possibly the loss of her employment. The last thing she needs is a prison sentence for what appears to be a bad mistake.