Bill Roelke is dedicated to defending men and women throughout Jacksonville and nearby areas. He understands the tactics necessary to defend against misdemeanor and felony charges.
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Violation of probation is a serious charge.  Judges generally don’t like it when you’ve failed to comply with requirements ordered by them.  And, the punishment can be severe, including up to the maximum penalty you might have received for the underlying charge for which you are on probation.

The good news is if you have been deemed to be in violation of your probation, you often may have some defense to the charge. Two such defenses are that your violation was neither willful nor substantial.  The applicability of these defenses to a charge of violation of probation was demonstrated in a recent Duval County case.

Alfred James Scott, who had no prior criminal record pled guilty to one count of sale of marijuana.  He was sentenced to a ninety-day suspended sentence, followed by twenty-one months of probation.  The suspended sentence was conditioned upon Scott securing a full-time job, which Scott represented he would obtain at Home Depot. Continue reading

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During the phase of a Florida criminal case known as “discovery”, the State discloses the evidence and witnesses it would use against you or your loved one at trial in a document titled “State’s Discovery Exhibit.”  Sometimes in that document, the State lists “jail calls” as some of its evidence.  Whenever I see that, I cringe.

As a general rule, lawyers or loved ones cannot call into a Florida detention facility to speak with an inmate.  Rather, the inmate must initiate the call.  And, inmate calls are recorded.  The parties to the call are warned the call is recorded.  Furthermore, those recordings are reviewed for both security concerns and for incriminating evidence.  And, if you think you’ll avoid scrutiny by speaking a foreign language, you’re wrong.  Foreign language calls are translated and reviewed too.

Despite being warned that all conversations during jail calls are being monitored, in many cases jail calls provide damaging evidence against the caller.  There are several reasons this occurs.  First, the caller may not truly hear or appreciate the warning that all calls are recorded.  Second, oftentimes the caller is upset at being arrested and makes statements they later regret.  Finally, sometimes the caller has been incarcerated for long enough that they let their defenses down and say things that come back to haunt them.  Continue reading

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Have you been served with a Petition for Injunction for Protection against Stalking, sometimes referred to as a “restraining order”?  If so, you nonetheless may be able to avoid entry of a final injunction and the associated collateral consequences, stress and stigma.

Florida State section 784.0485 provides for an injunction for protection against stalking.  Stalking is defined as when a person “willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person.”  To “harass” means “to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.”  A “course of conduct”, in turn, is a “pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, which evidences a continuity of purpose.”  In determining whether an incident causes “substantial emotional distress,” courts use a “reasonable person” standard, and not a subjective one.

A July 11, 2018 opinion from the First District Court of Appeal in Paulson v. Rankart illustrates how a party subject to a temporary stalking injunction may avoid it becoming permanent.  There, Mr. Paulson and Ms. Rankin were neighbors. Ms. Rankin filed a petition alleging Mr. Paulson was stalking her by complaining to code enforcement and animal control about her outdoor lights and barking dogs keeping him awake at night.   She also alleged Paulson was watching her sunbathe on her deck from his property and was examining utility meters on her street.  Rankart further alleged she was afraid Paulson might get angry and drunk and shoot her dogs.  She claimed to suffer from anxiety and depression, which she said was exacerbated by Paulson’s alleged conduct.  Continue reading

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Did you know there is a law in Florida that requires your drug possession / possession of controlled substances case to be dropped under certain circumstances, even if it is undisputed you possessed the drugs?  Well, there is.

In 2012, the Florida Legislature determined it was in the interest of public safety and welfare to provide an incentive to persons aware of another’s drug overdose to seek medical attention for that individual.  As a result, the Legislature enacted the “911 Good Samaritan Act.”  The Act, codified as Florida Statute section 893.21, provides anyone “acting in good faith who seeks medical assistance for an individual experiencing a drug-related overdose” is immune from prosecution for drug possession if the evidence “was obtained as a result of the person’s seeking medical assistance.”

In plain language, this means is if you’re present during, or aware of, another individual’s drug overdose and you call 911 or otherwise seek medical assistance to help them, and during the process of helping them law enforcement discovers drugs in your possession, you cannot be prosecuted for possessing those drugs.  A recent case in Duval County shows the breadth of this protection.  Continue reading

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Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants that affect the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in the brain.  SSRIs are often the first choice of health care providers for the treatment of depression and anxiety.  That class of medicines affect a chemical imbalance in the brain of people suffering from anxiety and other disorders.  The SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), fluvoxamine CR (Luvox CR), paroxetine (Paxil), paroxetine CR (Paxil CR), and sertraline (Zoloft).

According to statistics, SSRIs and other antidepressants have been prescribed with greater frequency over the last several years.  The use of these drugs in the United States is approximately three times that of other Western countries.

Many people stop taking their SSRIs for various reasons.  But if you stop your medication, you’re supposed to do so very gradually.  If you don’t, you can suffer major side effects.  And, if you’ve been arrested for DUI after stopping treatment with an SSRI, you may be able to show your behavior and conduct at the time of your arrest were not due to impairment by alcohol, but rather by a phenomenon termed “SSRI Withdrawal Syndrome.”  Continue reading

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In my last blog entry I discussed how to determine whether there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest.  In this entry, I’ll discuss how best to clear, or get rid of, an outstanding arrest warrant.

The Duval County Sheriff’s Office Department of Police Services has a special Warrants Unit.  The Warrants Unit is responsible for the storage and computer entry of all capiases, custody orders, injunctions for protection, arrest affidavits, writs of attachment and warrants issued by the State Attorney’s Office.

Unlike warrants, capias information which generally pertains to warrants issued by a court are electronically provided by Clerk of the Court directly to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s electronic warrant (e-Warrant) computer system on a daily basis. Continue reading

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If you have an outstanding warrant in Florida it is usually a good idea to deal with it sooner rather than later.  It is not only a psychological relief, but it is also much more convenient and less embarrassing to resolve an outstanding warrant voluntarily than to be caught off guard and taken to jail without any forewarning or preparation.

As a threshold matter, you may suspect there is a warrant for your arrest but you may not be absolutely certain.  If that is your situation, you have several options to use in trying to determine your warrant status.  First, you can visit The Florida Crime Information Database website.  The database contains Florida warrant information as reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) by law enforcement agencies throughout the state and authorized for release to the public.

Beware, however, the database does not reflect every warrant pending in the state.  Therefore, if your name does not appear on the database that does not definitely mean there is no pending warrant for your arrest in Florida.  Further, even if your name does appear in the database, you should verify the warrant with your local law enforcement agency, as the warrant may no longer be active.  Also, although unlikely, there is a possibility that a warrant contains your name or other identifying information due to the use of false information by the true subject of the warrant.  Continue reading

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There is good news if you desire to serve in the military, but you have a previous arrest for marijuana possession.  The United States Army is issuing an increasing number of enlistment waivers to those who have smoked pot and also want to serve their country.  These waivers allow previously disqualified applicants to now enter the Army.

The increase in waivers reflects the Army’s difficulty in achieving its ever-increasing recruiting goals.  In 2016 the Army enlisted approximately 63,000 recruits.  That number increased to approximately 69,000 last year.  The Army’s goal in 2018 is to enlist 80,000 recruits.  The need for new soldiers comes as Congress has reversed trends begun in the Obama administration to downsize the military.

And, the number of waivers granted for marijuana users, while relatively small, nonetheless is increasing rapidly as well.  In 2016, there were 191 waivers granted.  That number increased substantially, to more than 500, last year.  While small compared against the total number of recruits enlisted, the increasing number of waivers granted is especially significant considering that just three years ago, no such waivers were granted.  This substantial increase is one way officials are attempting to comply with directives to expand the Army’s size.  Continue reading

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Every year I typically receive numerous inquiries about how to remove internet mugshots posted by commercial entities.  And, every year before this my answer unfortunately was you could try paying a company, oftentimes an affiliate of the posting entity, to remove your mugshot.  Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn’t.

There is good news this year, however, for those wishing to remove their jail mugshots from the internet.  In 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law requiring websites that publish mug shots to take them down upon the request of the person pictured.  The new law, which takes effect July 1, 2018 also prohibits companies from collecting a fee to remove mug shots.

The new law applies only to websites that charge a fee for the removal of jail mug shots.  The law  also requires the removal of mug shots without charge within 10 days of a written request. Continue reading

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I recently favorably resolved a petit theft case with a most unusual fact pattern.  I’m discussing it here to highlight how important it is for your criminal defense lawyer to investigate all the facts to get you the best possible result in your case.

The police report stated my client had gone to a beaches area bar, had some drinks and failed to pay for them.  He was then issued a Notice to Appear for the crime of petit theft.  Seems like a cut and dried case, right?  Not so fast!  Rather, as is often the case, the arrest narrative in this matter omitted several facts extremely helpful in defending my client against his charges.

My investigation of the matter revealed critical facts not contained in the Notice to Appear narrative. To begin with, the day of his arrest, my client was first contacted via text message by a friend who stated he would pay for drinks that night if my client would go out.  My client happily accepted the offer in a reply text message.  What initially looked like the beginning of a fun evening for my client ended with him needing a criminal defense lawyer.  Continue reading