You’ve Received a letter from the FBI about Mortage Fraud, What should you do?

If the FBI contacts you and they want to speak with you about your mortgage, the first order of business is to contact a Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer . One that is experienced and Board Certified is even better. Speaking with the government about mortgage fraud before contacting a criminal defense lawyer is not in your best interest.

The government could be investigating you due to the real estate boom of the early 2000′s. Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer, Lori D. Palmieri explains that,

“Although most people applied for mortgages completely and truthfully, some individuals were mislead by unscrupulous brokers. Some brokers falsified paperwork in order to expedite the loan approval.”

Many clients admit to not reading all of the documents that they signed at closing. Unfortunately, unscrupulous parties can take advantage of this and add, remove or falsify certain documents.

The most important thing you can do when in a mortgage fraudsituation is to contact a Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney before speaking to anyone. It is completely acceptable to tell the government that you would like to wait until your attorney is present before making any statements.

Facebook Aids to Fighting Crime

Facebook is everywhere these days and is not just being used as a personal way to stay connected to friends. Sheriff’s offices around the country have been utilizing Facebook as another way to get information out to the public, and for the public to relay information back to Crime Stoppers.

On Monday morning, the Polk County Sheriff’s office posted on Facebook a video of a man stealing at 75 year old woman’s wallet in a local laundromat. Two hours later an anonymous source contacted Crime Stoppers and reported who the man was and where he worked. Sure enough, it was the right suspect and the man was charged with petty theft. Bay News 9 covered the story and that video can be found on their website.

Although this was a smaller crime, think about the power that Facebook and social networking has. Not only do crimes get solved thanks to fan pages, but since Facebook is so accessible, everyday citizens can act as crime stopping heroes.

Polk County Sheriff’s office updates the page daily and have said that this is not the first crime that Facebook fans have helped them solve. They send all press releases and Crime Stopper bulletins to Facebook where they have over 7,000 fans.

Other Sheriff’s offices also have Facebook pages including Hillsborough County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife commission stated that they made over 100 arrests through Facebook.

If you are looking for Legal advice, Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Lori D. Palmieri also has a presence on Facebook.

Sealing and Expungement- What you need to know.

The outcome of a case can end in many ways: paying fines, serving probation, spending time in jail or prison etc.,

Once you have been convicted or adjudicated guilty, your record is no longer clear. But what happens if your charge was never filed?

Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer, Lori D. Palmieri explains in this videothat although your charge was never filed, your record is still not clear and those charges will show if a background check is conducted.

“That is the reason why, despite having the good fortune of not having those charges filed against you, you still need to go back and go through the formal expungement or sealing process whatever the situation may be.”

The sealing and expungment process allows you to legally deny any arrests covered by the sealed or expunged record. You may only use this process ONCE in a lifetime though, so use it wisely.

The primary requirement for the two processes is that the applicant has never been convicted or adjudicated guilty no matter what state or country. Your record follows you anywhere you go.

There are different requirements for the expungement and sealing processes. Expungement requires that the charge was dismissed by the court/prosecutor while sealing requires that the applicant must serve probation.

However there are crimes that cannot be sealed regardless of the type of sentence. These crimes can include drug trafficking, robberies and aggravated batteries. For a longer list of crimes that cannot be sealed or expunged visit the sealing and expungement tab of the Palmieri site.

Drug Offenses- What you should know.

Drug offenses are both Federal and State statutes. If you have left Florida or your state of residence and get charged with possession, you could be charged with a US Federal statute.

In the drug offense video below, Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer Lori D. Palmieri states that the most recent, serious drug related crime is the possession of controlled substances.

“As we sit here in 2011, the primary focus of law enforcement is the distribution and possession of controlled substances that are prescription drugs.”

But that is obviously not the only type of drug that constitutes for a drug offense. Any type of drug from crack-cocaine to marijuana will land you a drug charge.

Penalties for drug offenses will be determined by any of the following factors:

  • – Quantity of the drug?
  • – Was it simple possession?
  • – Was it possession with intent to sell, distribute, and/or deliver?
  • – Were there weapons involved?

Drug cases are very fact specific. If evidence is wrongfully obtained or there were problems with the search and seizure, the possibility to move the court in motion of suppress is there. Generally, the case will go away.

A conviction of any drug offense can result in the loss of your Florida drivers license and the length of suspension depends on the specific factors of the crime. A qualified attorney will know what can be done to avoid or minimize the loss of a license.

 

I’ve Violated My Probation- Now What?

Unfortunately, there are many ways one can violate probation or community control (house arrest).

When you are under either probation or house arrest, you are placed under demands that limit your freedom including confinement to your home, weekly meetings with a probation officer, random drug tests etc,. (full list of probation violations )

Probation is given either in replace of jail time or following jail time. During this time period it is important to demonstrate to the courts that you are staying out of trouble.

Generally, people violate their probation the follow two ways:

1.) you are charged with a new crime, or

2.) You are given a ‘Technical Violation.’

House arrest is similar to probation, the only difference being that you are confined to your home unless instructed by the courts. Simply put, if you are not home you are violating house arrest.

If you violate your probation or house arrest, it is important to contact a Board Certified criminal defense lawyer to guide you through the next step.

After the violation, your probation officer will issue a warrant for your arrest. At this time officials have the right to arrest you at any given time or you could opt for self arrest. There is generally NO BOND for probation violators but law offices like Palmieri Law can expedite the bond hearing to reduce the time spent in jail.

If you do violate your probation or house arrest sanction, the most important thing you can do is contact a criminal defense lawyer. If you are in the Tampa area, Board Certified criminal defense lawyer Lori D. Palmieri has over 18 years experience with probation violation.

There’s an App for That- US Senators Request to Ban DUI Checkpoint Alert Applications

There is literally an app for everything these days; a food guide, calorie counter, music streamer… DUI checkpoint finder? Applications such as “Trapster”, “PhantomAlert” and “iRadar” are driving alert applications that notify drivers of speed traps, red light cameras, school zones and DUI checkpoints.

These apps are facing scrutiny from US Senators specifically for the DUI checkpoint feature. Senators Harry Reid, Charles E. Shumer, Frank R. Lautenberg and Tom Udall wrote a letter to Apple asking for the applications to be banned unless altered so that the DUI feature is removed.

In the article, Senators Ask Apple to Pull DUI Checkpoint Apps, we are introduced to the argument of whether or not the application helps or hinders the safety of the public. Captain Paul Starks of the Montgomery County (Md.) Police Department fears that the application will not stop people from drinking and driving but will only be used when people have been drinking and want to drive. He remarks,

“They’re only thinking of one consequence, and that’s being arrested. They’re not thinking of ending the lives of other motorists, pedestrians, other passengers in their cars or themselves.”

In the same article, Joe Scott, CEO and founder of PhantomAlert argues that they are doing the same thing police departments are doing to deter people from drinking and driving, the only difference is that the app puts awareness in real time. He stated that

“If they really understood what we are doing and aim to achieve, they would actually support us.”

So what it boils down to is whether or not this app is actually helping the safety of the public, or creating a tool that drunk drivers can use to dodge a DUI checkpoint and possible arrest. Could this be something that police officers and attorneys will have to start considering when investigating a DUI case?

The applications have not yet been removed but it will be interesting to see how Apple and other parties involved will respond.

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Former Prosecutor