Posted On: July 30, 2012

Angry Mom’s Revenge – 11th Circuit Florida Judge Dismisses Excessive Force Charges in Case of Butler v. Sheriff of Palm Beach County and Dorethea Collier

A pistol-packing mom -- who flew into a rage upon finding a nude young man carousing with her teenage daughter -- has been acquitted by an 11th Circuit Florida judge of the Florida crime of excessive use of force.

The incident that kicked off the legal firestorm occurred in early November 2009. 19-year-old Uzuri Collier invited a friend, Larry Butler, over to her house to "watch TV." Shortly after Butler's arrival, the young adults started to engage in sexual relations. But their liaison was short-lived. Collier’s mother, Dorothea, arrived home to find them en flagrante. Her reaction was, to put it mildly, displeased. Here's how the court's decision described what happened next: “Collier discovered Butler stark naked in her daughter’s closet. She yelled at him and punched him one time. Then Collier picked up her utility belt, put it back on, and drew her gun. She told Butler that if he moved or did not follow her commands, she would shoot him.”

Collier, who worked as a corrections officer for Palm Beach County, then called her husband and ordered to him to come home. Then she forced Butler to get down on his knees and handcuffed him, still while at gunpoint. She called her supervisor to ask whether she could file charges against her nude guest. The supervisor said that since Butler had been invited over by her daughter, there was no way she could press charges.

Eventually, Collier relented and allowed Butler to go on his way, humiliated and shaken.

After the incident, Butler filed a lawsuit against Collier and the Sheriff of Palm Beach County, Ric Bradshaw. Collier was arrested and hit with charges of aggravated battery and false imprisonment, but a Circuit Judge dismissed the excessive force allegations, comparing Collier to a character in the lyrics of a famous song by folk singer Jim Croce: “If the allegations are true, Collier’s treatment of Butler was badder than old King Kong and meaner than a junkyard dog…she might have even acted like the meanest hunk of woman anybody had ever seen. Still, the fact that the mistreatment was mean does not mean that the mistreatment was [illegal].”

Lessons for your Florida criminal defense

Even if you acted in an extremely aggressive or negligent manner, you may still have significant defensive options available to you. Understand, however, that time may be of the essence. The quality of legal representation you retain (or fail to retain) can powerfully impact your ultimate sentence – and the course of the rest of your life. The experienced Florida criminal defense team here at Seltzer Law, PA, would be happy to provide a free case consultation to you and give you the peace of mind and perspective you need to move forward with your life.

Call today for your free consultation: 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).

Posted On: July 25, 2012

Florida Computer Crime News Update -- Nigerian Accused of Illegal Email Scheme Will Serve 151 months: The Curious Case of U.S. v. Diamreyan

If you or a loved one has been accused of a computer crime in Florida or elsewhere, odds are that your actions (or alleged actions) involved many people from around world – whom you may never have met in person.

Computer crimes are often global in their scale. They're thus complicated not only logistically but also legally. Consider, for instance, the case of Okpako Mike Diamreyan, who was recently convicted of violating wire fraud laws (18 US Code 1342 and 1343) and hit with a sentence of 151 months behind bars. That roughly translates to nearly 13 years in jail.

The defendant allegedly managed and participated in a long running Nigerian email scam, in which he and coconspirators persuaded victims via email to send money to him in exchange for the promise of additional money later – or sometimes prizes or other valuable assets. After being indicted on November 23, 2009, the defendant successfully appealed his case in 2011. The charges were dismissed because he "objected that the government had presented certain protected testimony from his spouse to the grand jury, in violation of his spousal privilege."

Diamreyan, who married a woman he met on the internet in 2003 and moved to Boston shortly thereafter, used the email address “milkymyx@yahoo.com” for a decade to fish for victims and plan and execute what the government called a “large scale, Nigerian fraud scheme.” But his successful appeal was not long-lived. Immediately after the reversal, the government brought a second case against Diamreyan on three counts, leveraging evidence of wire transfers and a telephone call made by victims in Connecticut and elsewhere.

The government argued that Diamreyan and his coconspirators sent emails to victims promising millions of dollars to anyone who would assist third parties, foreign dignitaries, etc. Diamreyan’s scheme caught the attention of the global media in the early 2000s. His and other so-called “Nigerian email scams” gave birth to a diverse array of strange and creative computer crimes.

Diamreyan ultimately lost his second appeal. Since the judge found that he managed/supervised the criminal activity, extra points were added to his U.S. sentencing guideline score. This "boost" elevated his sentencing score to level 34, which mandates a punishment of 151 to 188 months in jail.

What can Diamreyan’s story teach you, if you've been accused of a computer crime in Florida?

Whether you collaborated with dozens of other people overseas in an elaborate scheme, or you simply got arrested for trying to hack into a corporate or private website, the time to develop your defense is now. Look to the experienced lawyers at Seltzer Law, PA, for timely, crucial guidance. Call now for a free consultation: 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).

Posted On: July 23, 2012

Excruciating Florida Criminal Case: A Man Hits and Nearly Kills His Girlfriend’s Son

20-year-old Joshua Carter is behind bars – being held on $500,000 bond – per Florida criminal charges that he hit and nearly killed his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son. Carter faces charges of upgraded child abuse with great bodily harm and neglect of a child. According to a statement from Florida’s Assistant State Attorney, Gary Beatty, “the baby…is in surgery and may not survive…this may very well be a first degree murder case.” The 3-year-old’s mother, Breanna Janae Love, also stands accused of a Florida crime – child neglect.

According to the Titusville Police Department, Carter hit the child last Saturday. Love initially pretended that the assault never happened -- or perhaps she got trapped in the haze of denial. In any event, instead of taking the child to get immediate medical assistance, Love went out to a club. The child had been continuously throwing up -- he could not keep the food down.

Eventually, Love took the boy to her mother’s house. Love’s mom immediately called 911 for help. When paramedics arrived, the child was unresponsive but still breathing.

Horrific Florida Crime: Who Would Hit a 3-Year-Old?

If you stand accused of a crime like assault, burglary, robbery, or possession of drugs or weapons, you are probably pretty scared about what prosecutors might have in store for you. But you are also not without your own moral code. Even if you committed criminal acts – and even if you harmed someone, in so doing – you probably find the idea that a grown man would hit a 3-year-old child abhorrent. Or at least hopefully you do!

The problem for many defendants is that it can be very challenging to get a sympathetic response, even from friends and family members who might otherwise be supportive. When you feel alone and isolated – perhaps more than a little self-hating – you might fail to take actions that you know you need to take to protect your freedom and ensure fair treatment.

Moreover -- and more complicatingly, from a legal point of view -- you might defer talking to a lawyer (such as a member of the team here at Seltzer Law, PA) out of fear of being punished or even out of a subconscious desire to postpone facing reality.

When you defer getting good legal help, you can lose valuable time preparing your case as well as valuable evidence that could help to create or bolster your defense. Moreover, if you flee from police or resist arrest – or do other “dumb things” after your initial alleged crime – you can massively complicate your already likely complicated defense situation.

Your best bet is to find a reputable, compassionate, experienced law firm ASAP and strategize. The team at Seltzer Law, PA, can discuss your Florida crime in full confidence, at any hour of the day or night: Call us at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-843-3333).

Posted On: July 18, 2012

Heartbreaking Florida Crime: Palm Bay Man Confesses to Killing Dad by Pushing Him Down the Stairs

The journey of a Florida criminal defendant can be a rough one, both logistically and psychologically.

If you or a close friend or a family member stands accused of a crime in Miami, like burglary, robbery, assault, or even homicide, you likely understand the visceral fear and other distressing emotions that arise when you contemplate your future.

In that context, let’s consider the story of 38-year-old Michael Whilby of Palm Bay, FL, who confessed last Tuesday to police that he killed his father back in 2008… by shoving him down a flight of stairs.

Authorities have not yet said why Whilby confessed, but according to a lieutenant in Connecticut (where the crime occurred) “[Whilby] sought out police in Florida and told them that he had killed his father.”

Whilby’s father, Evans Whilby, passed away in 2008 at the age of 66. At the time, the younger Whilby reported the death and told police that he went to his dad’s home, after the dad had failed to show up for a Las Vegas business meeting. The police said “the evidence at the scene and the lack of anyone confessing led us to no other conclusion [than to believe Michael’s story].”

The motive for the killing remains unknown. Whilby, meanwhile, has been extradited from Florida to Connecticut; he's being held on a $1 million bond to face his arraignment.

An Emotionally Confusing Case: Like So Many Florida Criminal Cases

It seems pretty clear that Whilby’s case is fraught with emotional and psychological implications. Strict Freudians would likely be tempted to reference the legend of Oedipus, the Greek figure, who killed his father and had sexual relations with his mother. But without knowing the details of the situation, it’s really not appropriate to play armchair psychologist.

The case does, however, illustrate how complex Miami criminal cases can be. Even cases that seem relatively “cut and dry” when you see them in the news often hide a lot of “stuff” going on underneath. It’s important to recognize this inherent complexity, since that complexity can influence your legal strategy.

You must prepare effectively to face down and thwart what the prosecutors might throw your way. That might mean surfacing painful memories -- getting really honest about what drove you to commit the crime or about what put you at risk for getting arrested in the first place.

No matter what you did – or what police allege you did – the time to get thorough help is now. Call the Seltzer Law, PA team at any time of day or night at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for a free and confidential evaluation of your criminal defense case.

Posted On: July 16, 2012

Miami Cyber Crime News: Could “Predictive Policing” Algorithm Alter Police Approach in Miami? And What of the 4th Amendment?

The battle over how to thwart cyber crimes in Miami and other U.S. cities has reached a fever pitch. For decades, police and investigators have been locked in a Cyber Crime Arms Race, if you will, against hackers, spammers, and other criminals.

Each side constantly tests the other’s tactics and strategies. It’s like an ongoing, three-dimensional, high complex game of high stakes chess.

A new weapon has entered into the fray.

It's called the "predictive policing" algorithm. A computer generated system, called CompStat, alerts law enforcement officers to investigate potential crime scenes before criminal acts even occur! The system uses past and present data to identify potential criminal hot spots. Thusfar, the algorithm has been a roaring success in places like Santa Cruz, California and Los Angeles – enough to inspire Time Magazine to call predictive policing one of the top inventions of 2011.

The Florida cyber crime defense attorneys at Seltzer Law, PA, have mixed feelings about the initiative. On the one hand, everyone wants our streets to be safer. On the other hand, the predictive policing scheme raises 4th Amendment questions.

The 4th Amendment, as you likely recall from civics class, says that police cannot engage in illegal searches and seizures.

In that context, consider this hypothetical. Say a police officer learns about a potential burglary in a neighborhood, thanks to CompStat or some other computer algorithm. The officer then stops a man carrying a piece of luggage, finds that he's carrying drugs and weapons, and arrests him.

Was that stop Constitutional or not? If the luggage had not been suspicious -- and the officer had no reason to suspect criminal activity, but for the silicon intuition of CompStat -- well, then we might just have a 4th Amendment issue.

People who live in "hot spot" areas, as designated by systems like CompStat, might see their civil liberties infringed upon. So far, no Fourth Amendment cases have stemmed from this policing innovation. But analysts who are deeply familiar with law enforcement’s processes and procedures suggest that such cases could arise.

Andrew Ferguson, a law professor at the University of the District of Columbia, noted the LAPD’s success with predictive policing but warned, “there are real pressures to expand this nationally and see it succeed… I think it’s an important innovation. But like any innovation, it’s not foolproof, and looking closely at the data is important to ensure it doesn’t harm the civil liberties of the people living in those areas.”

Miami Cyber Crime Defense

Whether you’ve been arrested for hacking into a corporate bureaucracy, stealing money from online bank accounts, or phishing or spamming in Florida or elsewhere, the Seltzer Law, PA team is here to provide an aggressive, sympathetic defense for you.

Even small scale cyber crimes have funny ways of evolving into highly complex legal debates. If you want to avoid punishments like jail time, loss of a professional license, massive fines, extradition, etc., you need a team on your side that has experienced with Florida cyber criminal defense. Get in touch with us immediately, any time of day or night, by calling our hotline: 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-843-3333).

Posted On: July 11, 2012

Quartavious Davis v. United States First Time Defendant Gets 1941 Months in Jail: Is This a Fair Punishment for a Florida Criminal Act?

The Florida criminal defense attorneys at Seltzer Law, PA, are always stunned and disappointed to read about overly zealous prosecutions.

Consider, for instance, the case of Quartavious Davis, an African-American charged and convicted of being an accessory in a string of armed robberies in 2010. He and his team robbed Wendy’s, Walgreens, and other establishments around the Miami area.

At the time of the robberies, Davis had been living on a less than $700 a month in Social Security Disability benefits in a low income area of Miami. Five men in total were charged in connection with the armed robbery spree, but only David went to trial: his accomplices all testified against him.

Since David was 18-years-old, and since he did fire off his weapon at least twice during the robberies -- once at a dog, and once at a Wendy’s employee -- prosecutors were able to hit him with multiple counts and treat him as a “habitual criminal” in spite of this being his first arrest and trial.

The other men got nine to 22 years in prison. Quartavious, meanwhile, faces an unbelievable 1,941 months behind bars. That’s about 182 years. For Quartavious to see the outside again, he would first have to become the oldest man of all time and then live another 62 years on top of that… and only then would he be able to get out of jail!

Unsurprisingly, Davis’s conviction is being appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia.

Florida has garnered quite a reputation for aggressively prosecuting juvenile criminal offenders. A survey conducted from 1990 through 2009, found that our state had the dubious honor of being home to the most number of juveniles who had been sentenced to life in prison for non-murder crimes.

Some analysts have suggested that Davis’s conviction mirrors the more high-profile (and more widely reported on) case of Marissa Alexander, who was hit with a two decade prison sentence for firing a pistol in the air during an altercation with her abusive husband. Ms. Alexander was not eligible for protection under the state’s “stand-your-ground” law; thus, the 31-year old mom was convicted of felony aggravated assault and hit with the 20-year jail sentence.

What the Cases of Quartavious Davis and Marissa Alexander Can Teach You, If You’re a Florida Criminal Defendant

Whether you're a youthful offender who committed a violent act, or an adult who participated in a cyber crime scheme, you have some very crucial days and weeks ahead of you.

Consider connecting today with the experienced, respected legal team at Seltzer Law, PA. Call us today at 888-THE DEFENSE (888-843-3333) for a confidential, free consultation regarding your potential defensive options and strategies.


Posted On: July 9, 2012

Miami Computer Crime News Alert: Will Today Be a "Day of Doom" for DNSChanger Malware?

The Florida cyber crime team here at Seltzer Law, PA, is always on the lookout for important breaking computer crime news. Here's today's hot cybercrime news: the FBI suspects that thousands upon thousands of web users in the United States could be cast into the digital dark ages, thanks to the indirect impact of DNSChanger Malware. The FBI believes that 200,000 users abroad and 64,000 computer users in the U.S. may lose service today, in spite of nearly ubiquitous precautions doled out by Facebook, Google, various ISPs, and news commentators.

DNS Changer Malware: As Clever As It Is Nefarious

Last year, 500,000+ infected machines were redirected to sites that the attackers prepared. The goal? To cash in on referral fees and affiliate commissions. They succeeded, big time, to the tune of around $14 million. But the malware doesn’t just redirect web browsers. It stops machines from downloading anti-virus updates and corrective operating system repairs.

FBI traced the malware attack to Eastern Europe, seized 100 servers used in the operation, and charged 7 men with spearheading the scheme. Without getting into the nitty-gritty technical details about how the FBI plans to shut down the operation… the Bureau will need to pull the plug on the internet systems consortium replacement servers today.

The Bottom Line

If your machine had been infected with the malware, you may have trouble accessing certain websites today.

The shutdown will have a wide impact. It will affect two government agencies and over 10% of the Fortune 500 companies.

So 6 Estonians and 1 Russian nearly shut down the Internet. What can this DNSChanger situation tell us about Florida cyber crime. More specifically, how should it inform your potential defense, if you face similar charges in Florida or elsewhere?

The first lesson – and this is a theme that we've reinforced in multiple recent blog posts – is that computer crimes have a way of sparking massive, international impact, even when no such impact had been intended. That 7 men working internationally could cause the commotion they did illustrates the fragility of our computer networks and highlights how closely we're all connected.

The scope of the crime that you committed (or allegedly committed) may subject you to intense penalties, including substantial jail time and massive fees, even if you only “intended” to do something small and minor.

For instance, say one of your associates – whom you never even met face to face – committed additional criminal activities, while working for you. For instance, maybe he completed a drug deal, hurt someone in an armed robbery, et cetera. If that happened, you could wind-up paying dearly for your association in terms of a massively enhanced sentence and other unpleasantness.

The team here at the Seltzer Law, PA, can help you put up a defense and protect your freedom. We have extensive experience with complex computer crime cases in Florida and beyond. We're happy to provide a free consultation to you, any time of day or night.

Call our hotline now at 1 888-THE DEFENSE (888-843-3333).

Posted On: July 4, 2012

Florida Cyber Crime News: Lessons from Utah’s Massive Data Breach

If you’ve been accused of committing a cyber crime in Florida, odds are that what you did pales in comparison to what some Romanian hackers recently did to the entire State of Utah.

In case you haven’t been tracking the big news… computer criminals from Eastern Europe hacked into Utah’s Department of Health website on March 30 and stole massive amounts of personal data, including many people’s Social Security Numbers. The Utah Department of Technology Services was relatively slow to identify the extent of the problem. On April 4, the Department told the Salt Lake City Tribune that “a few” SSNs had been accessed and 24,000 Medicaid claims stolen. Five days later, after getting clearer on the scope of the problem, Utah’s technology gurus figured out that 780,000 people (!) had had their Medicaid claims accessed – and 280,000 Utahans had had their Social Security Numbers compromised.

This massive act of hacktivism was ultimately traced back to a single default password. Utah's total population is only 2.8 million people; that means that 1 in every 10 Utah residents had their Social Security Number compromised by this breach.

Very serious stuff.

In the wake of all the drama, Utah’s Governor, Gary Herbert, announced the resignation of the Director of the State’s Department of Technology Services on May 15. Utah has also now instituted a draconian new anti-identity theft system called The Identity Theft Reporting Information System (IRIS).

Implications for Your Florida Computer Crime Defense

Perhaps you got arrested after hacking into a Florida government or corporate website and causing havoc. Or maybe you’re being investigated for committing bank fraud or online identity theft in conjunction with a ring of people from Miami and around the globe.

No matter what you did, the Utah situation can be instructive for you.

The big takeaway is this: seemingly small computer crimes can easily spiral out of control and cause way more damage than you intended. For instance, perhaps you broke into some online accounts to siphon money to pay for a vacation in the Cayman Islands or something. You wanted the situation to be contained. But perhaps one of your associates got a little “creative” and engaged in other illegal acts while working under your aegis. And perhaps those acts involved drug crimes or even violent crimes. As a result of your association with that person, you now might face hugely escalated charges, such as multiple felony counts, which could land you in jail for years.

Alternatively, perhaps you intended to do minor damage to a corporation that you didn’t like – an act of “hacktivism,” if you will – but your cyber vandalism got out of control, and you ended up costing the company tens of millions of dollars by accident.

What Should You Do Now?

It’s too late to put the genie back in the bottle. But you still can take effective defensive action. Learn about your rights and responsibilities as a Miami cyber crime defendant here at the Seltzer Law, PA website, or call us any time of day or night for an immediate, free and confidential consultation at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (888-453-3333).

Posted On: July 2, 2012

US Supreme Court’s Decision on Juvenile Life Sentences Could Impact 360 Florida Criminal Convictions

The United States Supreme Court has been in the news a lot recently – and not just for Obamacare. In a recent ruling, SCOTUS ruled that it’s unconstitutional for juvenile criminal offenders in Florida (and elsewhere) to be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole… even for murder and other extremely serious crimes.

The Supreme Court issued a similar decision back in 2010, banning life sentences for juveniles convicted for non-homicides (e.g. robbery, rape, etc). This latest decision has the potential to cause the reopening of 360+ Florida criminal cases. Florida prosecutor and state representative Michael Weinstein (R-Jacksonville) had this to say: “Judges [in Florida] are in a box…because if they sentence the way our statutes require them to, the Supreme Court has said that's unconstitutional. If they sentence the way the Supreme Court wants them to, it violates the statutes."

Do note that the SCOTUS ruling still empowers Florida judges to hand out life without parole sentences to juvenile murderers… it's just that the defendant’s juvenile status must now be considered during sentencing.

Whether or not this ruling has any bearing on your upcoming Florida criminal case, understand the general principal here: Florida criminal law is in a constant state of evolution. The law is a living body of rules, influenced by multiple and diverse entities, including the United States and Florida Supreme Courts as well as the Florida legislature.

To protect your rights, you may need extensive and deeply informed legal counsel.

The Seltzer Law, PA, team is standing by, 24/7, to help you and your family understand what your charges mean and what you might be able to do to minimize your chances of punishment and maximize your chances of rehabilitation. Get a free consultation now by calling us at 1-888-THE-DEFENSE (1-888-453-3333).