No one can deny we have an opiate problem in America.
We can debate how that came about but we cannot deny it. The drug companies no doubt are the root cause. But drug companies are big and powerful, and like the cigarette companies, for decades, they have bought and paid for the people in politics with campaign contributions. The net result is that millions of Americans got hooked on pain killing pills. The government tightened up on the pills but now the pills have been replaced with heroin and fentanyl. Addicts need money to support their habit.
This is where the pawn shops come in.
Addicts, when they have burned through their money and relatives, turn to stealing. They steal from everybody and anybody. They steal from grandparents, employers, friends, relatives and often during burglaries. They convert the stolen goods to money at the pawn shops. The pawn shops get the goods for pennies on the dollar and sell them at a huge profit. They have to know they are buying stolen goods if the same addicts come in day after day, often with new items, still in the box.
Here in Sarasota and in Bradenton, the police and the State Attorney never go after this link in the crime cycle. They charge the addict with dealing in stolen property and defrauding a pawnbroker, but they never charge the pawn shop operator. I had a case where an addict pawned over $100,000 worth of items stolen from his employer. He went to the pawn shop almost every day during lunch break and pawned brand new items still in the original box. There is no possible way the pawn shop operator cannot know he is buying stolen goods. But who gets prosecuted? The addict does. Under the Florida Sentencing Guidelines, the addict will always “score” for prison because of the multiple transactions. The pawn shop guys turn a blind eye to the obvious, and so do the police
Internet providers have the ability to simply block child porn, as do the law enforcement agencies. Instead, they let it come through and make arrests. Here in Sarasota and Manatee County, over and over, the police make child pornography arrests. Law enforcement gets information from the Internet companies every time a known child pornography image is transmitted. Law enforcement has an “inventory” of known child porn hash values for millions of images and videos. Each video or image has a unique fingerprint called a hash value. They have a special application that tracks each image when it is transmitted. They then get a report identifying the address it goes to. After identifying the IP address, they get a search warrant for the address, execute the warrant, and in many instances coerce a confession.
If law enforcement has an application that identifies the contraband image, why not simply have the providers block it. In a microsecond, the transmission would be blocked and no crime would be committed. In a matter of days, law enforcement could block 99% of all known child pornography.
Don’t they have an obligation to the victims to block it if they can?
Instead, law enforcement lets it go through, simply to be able to make an easy arrest. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech, freedom of the press or censorship. If the image or video is per se contraband and per se illegal, why not just block it. It seems only logical that one of the missions of law enforcement should be to prevent crime. Detecting and prosecuting crime is time-consuming and expensive. It ties up law enforcement as well as the courts. Why not just prevent it with a simple application? I guess that makes too much sense.
In the meantime, here in Sarasota, the child pornography arrests continue. It makes good press for the State Attorney and the Sheriff. I have always thought that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The other sad reality is that most of the people that look at child pornography were at one times victims themselves. That is why they do it. Often our criminal justice system grinds up and punishes people who need help.
A blind policy of 50 years in prison does not address the problem.
As if life was not already tough enough for anyone designated a sex offender, there is now an all-out push to find another reason to re-arrest sex offenders on Halloween.
The police are going to every registered sex offender warning them that on Halloween night, they cannot have their porch lights on, they cannot open their doors to anyone saying “trick or treat” lest they be arrested. If you are a sex offender and are onsex offender probation, my advice is to totally darken your house, cut off porch lights, have no decorations and do not answer the door. The police will be looking for any possible reason to arrest your and violate your sex offender probation. It was reported on television, here in Sarasota and in Bradenton that the police would be coming to sex offender’s houses checking to see if the sex offenders were passing out candy or wearing a costume.
The law is a ridiculous “feel good” law that serves no purpose.
Do not give the police any reason to arrest you.
If it means totally shutting down the house for one night, do so.
The simple fact is, life is not fair.
The police are not fair and the criminal justice system is stacked against anyone charged with any type of sex crime.
Make sure that you do not fall victim to a police trick or treat crusade.
The opiate arrests continue here in Sarasota and Manatee County. Drug addiction can destroy your life. It not only affects your health, but eventually, it will lead to your arrest and prosecution.
As a criminal defense attorney, my first advice is to seek help immediately. Do not wait until you are arrested for one of the collateral crimes that follow addiction. Many people end up getting busted for dealing in stolen property or defrauding a pawn broker. Addicts end up stealing and pawning stuff after they have already sold or pawned everything they have of value. Don’t end up with a second degree felony and time in State prison, simply because you could not face your addiction
The “pill mills” and the pain management clinics are still alive and well and writing scripts when often they should not. Just because a prescription is written by a doctor, does not mean that it is legitimate. Was there a real medical need or is your body just saying you need it?Opiate addiction is a terrible medical problem that leads to legal problems. People end up writing bad checks, stealing from relatives, stealing from employers and betraying their own families to feed the habit.
Many people are now stuck on heroin. When the pills got hard to get they switched to the cheaper more available substitute. That puts them at great risk of death.As a criminal lawyer, it does me no good to get a client probation if they are addicted and destined to fail. You have to get to the root of the problem, the addiction itself. If you have been arrested on drugs here is Sarasota or busted for weed, pills or cocaine in Bradenton, you need a lawyer that understands addiction. My goal is to get a client help, both in and out of court. The best way to not need a lawyer is to not get arrested.
The best way to not get arrested is to not commit a crime.
There is life after addiction and sometimes an arrest is a wake up call. If you use heroin and ignore the wake up calls, someday, you just won’t wake up.
You need help quitting cold turkey and sometimes it takes a few days in jail to help. Don’t look at that as the end, look at it as the beginning of a new life.
As a parent, just because you have a son and not a daughter, do not feel safe. Boys don’t get pregnant but they do get arrested. If you have a son headed for college, the true danger is the combination of alcohol and the sexually promiscuous aggressive coed. Many times, a coed will get drunk or stoned, have sex, and then the next day claim she was raped because she was too drunk to consent. The girls do not want to take responsibility for their own actions or decisions. I have defended lots of college boys in these “date rape” allegations. Many times the kids will videotape or digitally record their sexual encounter. Depending upon their age, this can also be a crime. Many times kids sitting at a computer will Skype or use Instagram to exchange videos of them masturbating. This can also lead to child porn charges. Everyone always assumes it is the boys fault….but that is not necessarily the case.
Educate your sons and daughters about the dangers of Internet Sex….
Getting locked up is sometimes worse than getting knocked up.
The simple solution is, even though it is hot, just don’t lose your cool.
If someone cuts you off in traffic, honks at you, takes your parking place, or gives you the finger, remain calm. It does no good allow something silly to escalate into an arrest. Most road rage arrests can be avoided. Here is another piece of good advice. In Florida, there
are over two million people with concealed weapons licenses. Almost every one of them carries a gun either on them, or in their car. Do not get provoked into getting out of your car to argue with someone, and never go up to someone in a car and reach in or confront them.
Florida is a stand your ground State and you just might get shot.
Does it really matter who was right, if you are dead? Don’t lose your temper…..Don’t get arrested
Never, no never, take out your gun and waive it, unless you are in fear of imminent bodily harm. You can get arrested and prosecuted foraggravated assault with a firearm for pointing a gun at someone. You can get arrested for “improper display of a firearm” for simply showing it. If you fire a warning shot, you may find yourself facing a minimum mandatory prison sentence. Remain calm. Never argue with an idiot. People watching cannot tell which one is the idiot.
Weekly I get calls from people arrested for domestic violence.An argument with a spouse or girlfriend goes too far. Alcohol and jealousy are a bad combination. Sometimes it is money problems or “kids gone wild” that sets things off. If you think you are about to “lose it”, take a deep breath, step back, think twice and walk away. Being “right” doesn’t really matter and getting arrested is expensive. You end up having to post bond, hire a lawyer and take off from work all as a result of something that could be avoided.
Many times, particularly in domestic situations, the man gets arrested when in fact the woman hit or struck or scratched him first. Guys, don’t get pushed into over responding. Keep your cool, walk away.
If you have been arrested for domestic violence (battery) and a no contact order has been entered, you need a good lawyer right away. Sometimes as a criminal defense lawyer I have been able to get the charges dropped before the next court date.
The best way to not need a lawyer in Sarasota is to not get arrested
I have suspected for months that local law enforcement is putting up links in adult porn sites encouraging people to download particular file sharing programs to view adult porn.
Most people do not know or understand how these programs work. If you download a file sharing program to your computer, it appears that law enforcement can come into your computer without your knowledge and extract files. This is because most of the peer to peer file sharing programs default to “share” and allow law enforcement to secretly access your computer. They can do this at the exact moment you are viewing something on your computer. No one should view child porn intentionally. The danger is that child porn files and videos are not necessarily identifiable until you click on the thumbnail or the file title. You can accidently view a child porn video by simply clicking on it to find out what it is. If at that moment, the exact time, you are out of curiosity trying to find out what it is, it is possible for the Sarasota Sheriff’s detective to download it from your computer and charge you with “transmission of child pornography”, even though you neither intentionally viewed it or “transmitted” it. Even if you delete it once you find out what it is, it is too late. Once in your computer, a video is difficult if not impossible for a non-computer savvy person to completely delete short of wiping clean the entire hard drive.
Do not get charged with possession of child pornography by accidently accessing it.
The simple answer is “Do not use peer to peer (ptp) programs like Bit Torrent for anything. Peer to Peer file sharing is dangerous. Here is the real danger. Once someone can come into your computer, they can change your “settings” and plant something on your hard drive. In the perfect world, the police would never plant evidence. We do not live in a perfect world. All too often we hear about police planting guns on suspects or planting drugs.
The latest Sarasota Internet Sex Stingis using phone applications like Skout.com to lure unsuspecting men into compromising chat, texting and meetings with undercover detectives.
The police are also using Grinder.com to target gay men. No one should be hooking up with a minor and as a sex crime lawyer, I have always said, the best way to not get arrested is to not commit a crime. Sadly, in Sarasota and Manatee County, the sex stings have resulted in men with learning disabilities or autism being sucked into compromising situations. The police sometimes create crime. Many of the police departments get federal funds from ICACand have to justify the funds with arrests. It is a lot easier for the police to simply create a crime interacting with a “mentally challenged” adult that to go out and actually detect real crime.
For the police, it is all about making an arrest and they could care less if they are arresting a mentally disabled or mentally challenged adult. To them, an arrest is an arrest. Sadly, some of the prosecutors (many of them young) are clueless when it comes to mental disabilities. They simply tow the party line and go forward and try and put them in prison. The sad truth is the most of the real pedophiles are too smart to get caught in the stings and the police are scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to justify agency funding. The State attorney needs to have experts in mental health, particularly experts in the field of intellectual disability and autism, come in and educate the assistant state attorneys so that they will have a better understanding of people with mental disability. A very important part of justice is compassion. To some prosecutors it is more about winning than doing true justice. I personally think that every prosecutor should spend one night in jail as a part of their training. It is similar to the situation with the homeless people here in Sarasota. Maybe if each city commissioner would spend 24 hours homeless and penniless on the streets of Sarasota they would have a better understanding of the challenges faced.
The real truth about the injustice of the Internet Sex Stingsneeds to be told
Hooking up with a minor will land you in State prison.
Is there a sex sting running right now in Sarasota?
It looks like there might be.
You would have thought that when Craigslist shut down Casual Encounters and when the guys that ran Backpage.com got arrested that the stings would slow down. The new law imposing criminal liability on the webpage operators should have taken a real bite out of the Sex Stings making it more difficult for the undercover chatters to entrap men. I am curious and willing to bet that the cops are now targeting the phone applications and the other social media sites like snapchat.com,Facebook.com,Meetme.com , PlentyoFish.com or Grindr.com. They are going to have to start trolling the regular legitimate dating sites with teaser profiles. If anyone ever even hints they are underage, immediately report it to law enforcement. Do not let curiosity get the best of you. There are no real 14 or 15 year old girls or boys that want to have sex with older men. They want guys their age. It is always a cop.
If anyone ever hints they are “inexperienced” or want to “learn about sex” immediately stop chatting and block them. They don’t call it jail bait for nothing. The best way to not get arrested is to not commit a crime. There is no such thing an innocent talk with an underage minor. It is all bad. Do not do it.
As a sex sting lawyer, I run into guys all the time that let curiosity get the best of them. Do not fall for the bait. Do not do it. Over and over I see chats where the man asks “you are not a cop are you”. Typically, the undercover chatter replies “no, are you”. Police do not have to tell you they are the police. That is a myth. Sex with a 15 year old will get you up to 15 years in prison. It is not worth it. Walk away now.
The new Federal law puts escort services that use the Internet services squarely in the sites of Federal investigators. The big sites like Backpage.com and Craigslist.com (casual encounters) have already shut down or been shut down. The Feds are now in the sex business and will be going full speed ahead after the sites that provide links for the prostitutes. The new law makes it a felony with a ten year penalty to “own, manage or operate an interactive computer service with the intent to promote or facilitate prostitution”.
If you go on the Internet and type in “Sarasota Escorts” there are still dozens of sites that the Feds will claim are “promoting” or “facilitating” prostitution. There are some real constitutional problems with the new law. As a sex crime lawyer and former Federal Prosecutor I see a number of huge defects in the law. First, it is an ex post facto law. It makes it a crime to have committed the acts before the law was passed. Secondly, the law is incredibly vague. For example, what does “facilitate” mean? Here in Sarasota, you will see in the near future arrests on both the local and Federal level targeting particularly the local escort sites as well as the State and National ones.
The better answer would have been to make prostitution legal. The new law is going to but the Federal agencies in the “prostitution” business. Hey guys, “there is a new sheriff in town” when it comes to prostitution, and it is the FBI. This is a terrible law. It will put women back on the streets and in the hands of pimps. This law is going to backfire and is a giant step backwards for our society. Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. This will put women back in bars and back on the streets. We would be much better off with legalized houses of prostitution.
The new law can be challenged and will be. There is a First Amendment issue as well as an Ex Post Facto issue and both will be headed for the Federal Courts. I can’t wait to see how the Federal Courts deal with some of the deficiencies in the new law.