CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW BREAKING NEWS-
New penalties set for teen “sexting” in Florida
In the recent past, a teen convicted of “sexting” (the sending and receiving of sexual images or content on a cell phone) would face felony charges and be required to register as a sex offender under Florida law.
In October 2011, Florida changed the law and the recommended punishment for teenage “sexting” to be less harsh for first offenders to come in line with the lesser punishments adopted by several other states with regard to teen “sexting”.
Under the new law, teens will be sentenced under a first, second and third strike approach with charges growing more serious with each successive offense. With this approach, the first offense of “sexting” by a teen is a non-criminal offense, the second is a misdemeanor and the third is a felony.
“Sexting” is a popular activity amongst some teens, according to CBS, approximately 20% of teens admit to “sexting” activities (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/01/15/national/main4723161.shtml).
For more information, see the recent survey, Sex and Tech:Results from a Survey of Teens and Young Adults at: http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/sextech/PDF/SexTech_Summary.pdf.
CRIMINAL DEFENSE LEGAL NEWS—
Preventing Drug Overdose Deaths in Florida- The 911 Good Samaritan Act
It is a terrible nightmare for any parent of a child who overdoses on drugs, but perhaps far worse if someone was there who could have called 9-1-1 to get help, but didn’t due to fear of being prosecuted for being in possession of drugs. The 911 Good Samaritan Act changes Florida law in the hope of preventing drug overdose deaths that could be prevented if bystanders would called for emergency assistance.
The bill creates s. 893.21, F.S., entitled the “911 Good Samaritan Act,” and provides that:
- A person making a good faith effort to obtain or provide medical assistance for an individual experiencing a drug-related overdose may not be charged, prosecuted, or penalized for possession of a controlled substance if the evidence for possession was obtained as a result of the person’s seeking medical assistance.
- A person who experiences a drug-related overdose and is in need of medical assistance may not be charged, prosecuted, or penalized for possession of a controlled substance if the evidence for possession was obtained as a result of the overdose and the need for medical assistance.
- The bill states that the above-described protection from prosecution for possession offenses may not be grounds for suppression of evidence in other criminal prosecutions.
The bill also adds the following to the list of mitigating circumstances a judge may consider when departing from the lowest permissible sentence:
- The defendant was making a good faith effort to obtain or provide medical assistance for an individual experiencing a drug-related overdose (https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:rSVH2GPTxLoJ:www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2012/0125/Analyses)
Cell phones, texting and cars: a recipe for disaster?
In December 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the results from a recent phone survey of over 6000 adult drivers (http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/traffic_tech/tt407.pdf). The National Distracted Driving Telephone Survey found that most drivers are still talking on the phone in the car (66% admitted to driving as they talked), regardless of whether or not there was a law against it. 25% of those drivers who admitted to talking on the phone in the car, also admitted to texting while driving. Of those age 21-24, almost half admitted that they had e-mailed or texted while driving.
It is interesting to note that most reported that they didn’t like it when other drivers were seen texting and driving, but they they felt safe when they were the ones texting and driving. 14% of the respondents who admitted to texting and driving also admitted to drifting out of their lane while doing it.
A Jury Must Consider a Criminal Intent to Commit a Crime When Looking at Drug Charges in the State of Florida
Since 2002, Florida’s Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Law, FLA. STAT. § 893.13, as amended by FLA. STAT. § 893.101 made Florida the only state in the nation to eliminate mens rea when considering a drug offense.
As of July 27, 2011, this portion of the law has been found to be unconstitutional and the jury must once again consider whether or not the person had intent to commit the crime in drug-related cases.
A copy of the finding can be found online at: http://www.nacdl.org/public.nsf/newsissues/amicus_attachments/$FILE/shelton_habeas_order.pd
Mens rea: “As an element of criminal responsibility, a guilty mind; a guilty or wrongful purpose; a criminal intent. Guilty knowledge and willfulness.”
If you have questions about Criminal Law or how this finding may affect your case, call attorney at law, John Pangallo for a consultation at (941) 954-3611.
Sealing and Expunging Records
Is your past following you around and ruining your future?
Do you have a criminal or arrest record that is ruining your chances of employment?
If you answered ”yes” to these questions it might be time to consult a qualified Criminal Law attorney about getting your records sealed or even expunged.
Right now, all the of details of your case can be seen by the public. This means your employer, your family, even your neighbors can see all the details of your case, often for free online by accessing the public records from their home computer! An attorney can help you petition the court for post-conviction or post-arrest RELIEF! If your record is sealed then all they will be able to see is the date of your case and a case number. If it is expunged, it will no longer be online and no one but law enforcement can see it at all.
Can you imagine what it would be like to leave some of your past behind you and live a real life again?
Attorney at law, John Pangallo, can be reached at (941) 954-3611 for a free consultation on your case. Don’t delay, this could turn your life around!
Books for parents dealing with divorce
John Pangallo, a family law attorney, understands that there are legal and emotional ramifications to divorce. Divorce can be a time of transition and change that is especially hard on families. It is important to care for yourself during the process of divorce and to discuss divorce with your children and answer their questions about what this change will mean for them. John Pangallo recommends books for parents who are divorcing or separating to help them navigate these sometimes difficult and awkward conversations.
Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way
by M. Gary Neuman and Patricia Romanowski (1999)
Books to help children and teens cope with divorce
As a family law lawyer, John Pangallo understands that divorce is a time of change and transition that can be especially confusing and hard for children and teens to cope with. He encourages parents to talk with their children about their divorce plans and to answer their questions in an age appropriate way. In order to help parents have this difficult discussion with their children or teens, he recommends several books about divorce that answer the questions that they may be too afraid to voice themselves.
Books for children
Was It the Chocolate Pudding?: A Story For Little Kids About Divorce
by Sandra Levins and Bryan Langdo (2005)
by Claire Masurel and Kady MacDonald Denton (2003)
Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce
by Tamara Schmitz (2008)
Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two
by Isolina Ricci (2006)
KoKo Doll Divorce Book Package
by Vicki Lansky, Jane Prince and Vicki L. Lansky (1999)
by Marc Brown and Laurie Krasny Brown (1988)
Books for teens
The Switching Hour: Kids of Divorce Say Good-bye Again
by Evon O. Flesberg (eBook, 2008)
Divorce Is Not the End of the World: Zoe’s and Evan’s Coping Guide for Kids
by Zoe Stern and Evan Stern (2008)
FAMILY LAW LEGAL NEWS—
2011 Leads to Major Changes in Child Support Guidelines in Florida
First, any new child support orders are now written to automatically terminate (without an additional visit to court) upon the child turning 18, unless there are extenuating circumstances that would extend the order. Also, if there are multiple children, the child support amount will be pre-calculated and broken out to reflect the amount owed over time as each child turns 18.
Second, a huge is change is how the child support amount itself is calculated. Previously, this was based on a mathematical formula based on each parent’s gross income and how much “overnight” parenting time each parent was responsible for— now, the child support amount will be customized for each parenting situation and a lower number of overnights (as little as 73 per year) will now be considered “Substantial Time Sharing” and will change the child support amount owed. You can look up Florida statutes for free at: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm
These changes could affect how much you owe or receive for child support in the state of Florida. If you are beginning the process of establishing a child support order or divorcing, contact attorney at law, John Pangallo for a consultation at (941) 954-3611.
New Alimony Law Takes Effect in Florida
There is a new alimony law in Florida, Florida Statute §61.08, that took effect July 1, 2011. Basically, the purpose of the new alimony law is to clarify the wording of the previous alimony law.
The new law requires that for “permanent alimony” to be awarded in cases of short-term (less than 7 years) and moderate-term marriages (7 to 17 years) there must be “clear and convincing” evidence of “exceptional circumstances”.
An example of an “exceptional circumstance” might be in a case where one spouse become totally and permanently disabled during the course of the marriage.
New protections have been added to the law to make sure that complying with the alimony awarded does not leave one spouse with significantly less money than the other. You can read the new statute for free online at: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0061/Sections/0061.08.html
If you are divorcing and you or your spouse is likely to request alimony, it is important to seek the counsel of a qualified family law attorney. Attorney at law, John Pangallo, can be reached at (941) 954-3611 for a free consultation.
BREAKING IMMIGRATION LAW LEGAL NEWS-
Florida immigration law fight to heat up again in 2012
Earlier in his term, Governor Scott signed in the act that required state agencies and companies with contracts with state agencies to use the federal E-Verify program to check the employment eligibility of their workers during the hiring process.
The larger Federal debate regarding immigration policy in the United States is ongoing with three immigration bills being discussed this session: a movement for a mandatory federal E-Verify requirement, indefinite detention for those illegally in the United States and a measure called, HALT (“Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation”).
To visit the E-Verify site for more information, visit: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offers an in depth article regarding fair detention practices and the proposed legislation for indefinite detention at: http://www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights/analysis-immigration-detention-policies
For more information about “Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation” (HALT), read: http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/dissecting-halt-act-impact-eliminating-discretion-our-immigration-system
IMMIGRATION LAW LEGAL NEWS—
New Florida Immigration Law Goes Into Effect July 2011
In May 2011, the Florida Senate passed the controversial immigration bill called SB 2040. This bill aimed to copy the Arizona bill widening the powers that officers and state workers had to identify illegal immigrants and to check their work status using the e-verify employment system. This law went into effect as of July 1, 2011.
You can read more about this bill for free online at: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/2040
Basically, the law requires that all one-stop career center staff verify the employment eligibility of workers referred to employers by using electronic verification of employment eligibility, it also requires that notice is given to employers. It requires an agency to verify the eligibility of applicants for public benefits using the Federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program and prohibits certain aliens from receiving public assistance benefits.
John Pangallo can help you understand the laws concerning your immigration application and status and help you to understand the immigration law and process in the United States. Attorney at law, John Pangallo’s offices offer language services in Spanish, Portuguese and Russian, as well as English. He may be reached for a consultation at (941) 954-3611.
New Policies Announced to Make it Easier for Immigrant Entrepreneurs to Qualify for Permanent Residency in the U.S.
On August 4, 2011, the federal government announced some policy changes and clarifications that will make it easier for immigrant entrepreneurs to qualify for permanent residency in the United States. These are not new laws, but clarifications to previously existing policies effecting employment-based visa programs for the EB-2 and the EB-5 visa.
A clarification was also given offering more details on who qualifies under the H-1B specialty visa program for foreign workers in occupations that require expertise in a field, such as science, engineering and computer programming.
You can read the announcement online for free at: http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/20110802-napolitano-startup-job-creation-initiatives.shtm.
If you are seeking a visa in the United States, it is important to seek guidance and counsel from a qualified Immigration lawyer. Attorney at law, John Pangallo is available for a free consultation concerning your needs at (941) 954-3611.
PERSONAL INJURY LAW BREAKING NEWS-
New laws go into effect January 2012 for tattoo and body piercing shops in Florida
In order to protect consumers, new Florida laws require tattoo and body piercing shops to change the way they do business. Due to concerns about the handling of blood-born pathogens which can transmit diseases such as HIV, these shops must now register and maintain a license with the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). The FDOH will require tattoo artists to complete classes concerning blood-borne pathogens. These licensees must be renewed annually.
All tattooing must take place in a facility licensed for tattoo artistry by the Florida Department of Health (FDOH)- meaning tattoos are not allowed to be done at the tattoo artists home or a setting outside of the licensed facility.
The new Florida law stipulated that no individual under age 16 may be tattooed, except for medical reasons by a doctor or dentist. There are also stricter rules in place for minors between age 16 and 18 who are accompanied by their parent or guardian.
In these cases, the minor and their parent or legal guardian must each submit proof of identification; the parent or legal guardian must provide written and notarized consent; and the parent or legal guardian also must submit proof of being the parent or legal guardian to the minor.
For more information on the new law, visit the Florida Department of Health website at: http://www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/community/tattoo/index.html
Check out this additional article:
PERSONAL INJURY LAW LEGAL NEWS-
The end of drop side cribs and a new era of safety
After 32 confirmed infant deaths and dozens more suspected from broken parts on drop side cribs, tough new laws have been put into place by the federal government to protect parents, children and consumers.
In June 2011, the federal government issued new safety rules changing the requirements that crib manufacturers must adhere to when testing cribs. At the same time, it became illegal to sell, trade or buy any drop side crib though it has been noted that some websites like eBay and Craigslist have been slow to stop listings of drop side cribs from being advertised on their sites.
In December 2011, the federal government added additional requirements that daycare’s and hotels must replace drop side cribs and must purchase only cribs that adhere to the new, stricter safety standards.
For more information you can read additional articles about drop side crib dangers at: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10225.html
Will Florida be the next to ban texting while driving?
As of January 2012, text messaging is banned for all drivers in 35 states and the District of Columbia. In 7 addidtional states there are laws against “novice” or “youth” drivers texting. These states include: Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers a map of states in the United States that have enacted laws concerning texting and cell phone use in vehicles (Graphic: http://www.iihs.org/laws/maptextingbans.aspx).
The Florida Legislature has recently announced plans to hold discussions in 2012 to enact a ban on texting in vehicles for the state of Florida. The National Safety Council feels that cell phone use or texting in a vehicle is a serious threat to public safety that must be taken seriously by lawmakers. They have launched a campaign against “distracted driving” which includes both cell phone use (including using hands-free devices) and texting while in a vehicle. For more information, checkout their “Texting While Driving” brochure online at: http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Employer%20Traffic%20Safety/Pages/TextingWhileDrivingBrochureNational.aspx.
Florida insurers have been struggling with Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance fraud and this type of fraud has been growing in recent years. In 2011, PIP reform measures failed to pass in Florida, but expect for this issue to come up again in 2012 in the Florida legislature.
Florida state law requires drivers to carry auto insurance and a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage in the event that they or any of the passengers in their car are injured in an automobile crash. PIP auto insurance covers 80% of medical expenses and/or 60% of lost wages.
Auto insurance providers have cited the growing problems with insurance fraud as a primary cause of increasing PIP insurance costs in Florida, costs which are being passed on to the consumer who is required by Florida law to carry the insurance.
Healthcare providers, auto insurers and consumers all have strong beliefs about what a “reformed” PIP law might look like, so this is sure to be a debate to watch as 2012 unfolds.
Read more about accident fraud online at: http://i-issues.com/fraud-uncovered/news or at the Division of Insurance Fraud: http://www.myfloridacfo.com/fraud/Newsletters/PIPSource/PIPSourceDec11.pdf
Click It or Ticket in Florida
Did you know that in Florida you can be pulled over and ticketed for failing to wear your seatbelt? The popular belief is that you must also have committed another traffic infraction in order to be pulled over and ticketed for failure to wear a safety belt; however, this is not actually true. Since 2009, the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law has been in effect allowing officers to pull over and ticket motorists for failing to wear a seatbelt without any other infraction present. Fines in most counties are over $100 for this infraction, so failing to wear your seat belt is not only dangerous, but it is also expensive!
You can read more about the law for free online at: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=39880
If you have been in an accident and are in pain, whether or not you were wearing your seat belt at the time, you may wish to consult with attorney at law, John Pagallo about your situation. John handles Personal Injury and Criminal Law cases so he may be able to assist you will all aspects of dealing with a car, bike, or pedestrian accident. He may be reached for a consultation at (941) 954-3611.
Do you have proof that you have been exposed to a sick building or asbestos?
Mesothelioma can show up between 10 to 40 years after the exposure, but it is important to seek out legal advice as soon as possible in these cases in order to PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS.
Different states have different statues of limitations (this limits the amount of time after an incident, accident, or exposure that you have to pursue a claim and file for damages). Some states allow as little as one year to file a claim after a diagnosis of Mesothelioma.
In cases of asbestos poisoning (which can lead to Mesothelioma) a case could be made to ask for damages to be paid by the manufacturer of the asbestos, the insurance company, or a special victims’ trust fund.
Attorney John Pangallo cares about you and your family, if you feel like your or a loved one’s health has been damaged by harmful exposure to asbestos or someone you know if suffering from Mesothelioma contact John today for a free consultation. The John Pangallo Law Offices can be reached at (941) 954-3611.