How are you prosecuted for Mortgage Fraud if there is no Federal Statute?

While there is no federal statute that references “mortgage fraud” directly, recent news articles abound on the subject. In four separate cases in South Florida, the U.S. Attorney accuses 27 of mortgage fraud, according to an August 4th article posted on LoanSafe.org. On the same day, an Arizona builder pleads guilty to mortgage fraud, according to KTAR.com and fox news cited that 14 have been charged in a $60 Million mortgage fraud scheme. The list goes on…

Cases involving “mortgage fraud” are typically prosecuted under existing federal statutes involving conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud, false statements to an FDIC-Insured Bank and others. Ancillary offenses, including tax fraud and bankruptcy fraud can also be charged following a “mortgage fraud” investigation. Depending on the number of properties involved and the dollar amount of the loss, penalties vary widely and can involve real estate agents, mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, title closers, appraisers, and straw buyers. Some of the schemes in the news are fairly elaborate, involving fraudulent mortgage applications, fake W-2s and tax stubs, fraudulent short sells and even arson and insurance fraud.

Sometimes innocent consumers unknowingly fall victim to unscrupulous real estate agents, bankers and brokers and may find that they are under investigation by the government for “mortgage fraud”. When this happens, it is critical to contact an experienced federal criminal defense attorney before speaking to the government.

Man Accused of Murder Will Represent Himself in Court

The jury selection process has begun for a Pinellas County man accused of killing his wife over 10 years ago. Robert Temple is facing first-degree murder charges and has announced that he will be representing himself in court.

With such serious accusations and convictions at stake, Temple is making a very bold move by deciding to act as his own attorney. Temple has no legal background, but according to a TBO article, he is finding encouragement from the recent acquittal of Casey Anthony.

“Nobody believed Casey Anthony, and I see she got found not guilty,” Temple said. “It’s a matter of what the proof shows, and I believe I have enough proof to show I didn’t kill my wife.”

It is not completely surprising that Temple finds encouragement from the Casey Anthony case, but it does seem unreasonable that he is going at this alone. Having the expertise of a criminal defense attorneyis certainly one of the key components that helped make Casey Anthony’s case. Although evidence is the major piece of the puzzle, the knowledge and experience that a defense attorney would provide is essential.

Temple has many forces working against him in this case; no attorney, a “forged” confession document, and his ex-girlfriend, who allegedly helped clean up the murder scene, is testifying against him. Will Robert Temple do himself justice or will he end up regretting the decision to act as his own attorney?

What are the DUI laws in Florida?

In the state of Florida, if you are driving under the influence and have a blood/breath alcohol level of .08 or higher you will be charged with a DUI. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the penalties upon conviction are the same but depending on certain factors such as prior convictions or if there was a minor in the car, the suspect will face heavier consequences.

Referenced from the Department of Highway and Safety and Motor Vehicles, here is an outline of the consequences and suspension laws for a DUI in Florida.

First offense:

  • Pay a fine anywhere between $500- $1000.
  •  50 hours of community service is mandatory; you can either complete the community service or pay $10 for every hour that is required.
  • Probation (should not exceed a year).
  • You will not face more than 6 months jail time.
  • Your license will be suspended anywhere from 180 days to a year.
  • Mandatory DUI school before hardship reinstatement.
  • Your car will be impounded 10 days.

If it is your first offense AND you have a BAL of .15 or higher or have a minor in the car your sanctions will worsen. Your fines will increase to $1,000-$2,000 and you could face up to 9 months in jail.

Second offense:

  • A fine of $1,000- $2,000
  • You will not face more than 9 months of jail time.
  • If it is within 5 years of prior offense, license will be suspended for 5 years.
  • Mandatory DUI school.
  • Your car will be impounded for 30 days.

If you have a BAL of .15 or higher or a minor is present, your fines increase to $2,000-$4,000 and you can face up to 12 months in jail.
Third offense:

  • A fine of $2,000-$5,000
  • You will face at least 30 days of jail time but no more than 12 months.
  • If it is within 10 years of prior offense, license will be suspended for 10 years.
  • Mandatory DUI school.
  • Your car will be impounded for 90 days.

Again, if you have a BAL of .15 or higher or a minor is present, your fines increase to no less than $4,000.

The most important thing you can do after receiving a DUI is to contact a criminal defense attorney. Hillsborough County is one of Florida’s most active counties in cracking down on drunk drivers. Generally speaking, if you are pulled over for DUI questioning, you will be arrested. Unfortunately you must pay the price, but having a Tampa defense attorney present throughout your process will ensure that you are making the right decisions as you go forward. A Board-Certified attorney should know the DUI laws like the back of their hand, so they will be able to educate you on what happens next.

What NOT to do after an arrest…

There are many mistakes made before and after an arrest is made, the biggest behind breaking the law is making statements to law enforcement without a lawyer present. In this video found on myYouTube channel, you will find a sample of the advice I would give to you if I was your criminal defense attorney.

“The singular biggest mistake that everyone makes is they make statements to the police in the hopes of making their situation better and all they’ve done is hurt themselves.”

Although it is hard not to make any statements during this process, remember that anything you say will be used against you in the court of law.

Peer Review Rating on Martindale-Hubbell

I am pleased to announce that I have received a Peer Review Rating on Martindale-Hubbell: AV® Preeminent™ 4.6 out of 5! This was quite an honor and I would like to thank all of my colleagues for their reviews. I’d also like to take a moment to explain how one obtains a review on Martindale-Hubbell and what it means.

The Peer Review reflects a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating. Prior to obtaining a review, a lawyer must get a specific number of responses and based on if those responses meet the criteria, they will move to the next step in the rating process. One requirement is that the lawyer receives a “Very High” rating within the General Ethical Standards measuring the attorney’s conduct, ethics, reliability, diligence, etc.

The next step is the Legal Ability numerical rating. Lawyers are rated on a scale of 1 (lowest) – 5 (highest) based on five performance areas: legal knowledge, analytical capabilities, judgment, communication ability, and legal experience.

With the two ratings combined, the Martindale-Hubbell Peer review rating is calculated and given a rating number and term. The guidelines for what each rating means are explained on the Martindale website) as:

AV® Preeminent™ (4.5-5.0) – An AV® certification mark is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.
BV® Distinguished™ (3.0-4.4) – The BV® certification mark is an excellent rating for a lawyer with some experience. A widely respected mark of achievement, it differentiates a lawyer from his or her competition.
Rated (1.0-2.9) – The Peer Review Rated designation demonstrates that the lawyer has met the very high criteria of General Ethical Standing.

I am proud to say that my rating of 4.6 out of 5 lands me in the AV® Preeminent™ category. Again, I want to thank my fellow members of the bar and judiciary for this Martindale-Hubbell rating.

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.

 

Ratings and Reviews

Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Rated

FL Bar Board Certified

Former Prosecutor