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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In the past year there have been numerous local undercover operations wherein detectives pose as underage females seeking sex on the internet.  Many of the ads are posted on Craigslist or similar sites.  They typically begin with a posted ad stating the poster is home alone, bored and looking for something to do.  The initial ad sometimes also states the poster is a female anywhere from 12 to 14 years old, although sometimes their purported age is not disclosed until later.

After making initial contact with the poster, a texting dialog usually follows.  It can be brief or run for several hours or even days.  The poster will send and also ask for a photo.  During the dialog, sex is discussed.  A time and place to meet is also established.  When the responder arrives to meet the poster, they are then detained by numerous officers, interviewed without a lawyer present, arrested and their vehicle is then taken and subject to forfeiture.  They are then transported to the jail and face a high bond, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, in order to get out while their case is pending.

According to a recent article in The Florida Times-Union, a few weeks ago yet another one of these stings, designated “Operation Cruel Summer” occurred in St. John’s County.  The operation involved the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State Attorney’s Office, sheriffs’ offices from St. Johns, Putnam, Duval and Okaloosa counties as well as police departments from St. Augustine Beach, Orange Park and Gainesville. It resulted in the arrest Friday of 17 men ages 19 to 60 years old. Continue reading

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In 2002 actor Bill Cosby met Andrea Constand at his alma mater, Temple University in Philadelphia, where she was on the staff of the women’s basketball team.  Later, in the beginning of 2004, Cosby invited Constand to his home to discuss her career options. While she was there, Cosby gave her pills to relax her before lying on the couch with her and engaging in sexual acts. At the time Cosby was 66 and Constand was 30.

About a year later Constand told her mother about the incident with Cosby and that it was non-consensual.  They reported the matter to police, who suggest they record Cosby on a phone call.  In the call, Cosby admitted performing “digital penetration” but refused to identify the name of the pills he gave Constand.  The case was then referred to Pennsylvania authorities.

In February 2005 Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor announced he would not  charge Cosby. In describing the case against Cosby as weak, Castor cited the yearlong delay in Constand’s report to her mother, Constand’s continued contact with Cosby after the incident and the fact that other accusers who had also come forward had never filed formal complaints with law enforcement.

In March 2005 Constand civilly sued Cosby for sexual battery and defamation.  During that case Cosby gave four days of deposition testimony about his affairs with young women over 50 years. The case ultimately resulted in a confidential settlement.  Continue reading

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On May 10, 2017 United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a Memorandum to all federal prosecutors titled Department Charging and Sentencing Policy.  The new policy requires federal prosecutors to charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offenses, i.e., those that carry the longest guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.

The new policy rescinds any previous inconsistent policies of the United States Department of Justice, including the Department Policy on Charging Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Recidivist Enhancements in Certain Drug Cases (August 12, 2013) and Guidance Regarding section 851 Enhancements in Plea Negotiations (September 24, 2014).

Simply put, the new policy generally requires prosecutors to seek whatever charges would lead to the most years in prison for any and all federal offenses.  But, it is expected to have the most impact upon those arrested for possessing or selling drugs. The policy, however, does allow prosecutors to seek permission on specific cases to not strictly follow it if authorized  by supervisors. But, non-adherence to the new policy is expected to be infrequent.  Continue reading

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Together with Arizona and South Carolina, Florida is considered to have some of the more strict DUI laws in the country.  Soon, however, Utah will be the undisputed king of strict DUI laws in the nation.

Currently, all states require a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater for someone to be considered to be driving under the influence.  Recently Utah’s Governor, Gary Herbert, signed legislation giving Utah the strictest DUI threshold in the country.  The law reduces the DUI blood alcohol concentration threshold from 0.08 to 0.05.

Opponents of the law urged the governor to veto the bill, contending it would punish responsible drinkers and reinforce Utah’s reputation as being unfriendly to drinkers.  Governor Herbert, a Mormon, denied the bill was motivated for religious reasons.  Instead, he said the bill’s impetus arose out of concern for public safety. Continue reading

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Capable criminal defense lawyers know there are two major avenues for defending drug possession cases.  The first is to pursue traditional defenses such as investigating search and seizure issues, warrant issues, actual versus constructive possession issues and other similar traditional defenses.  The second major avenue, and one unfortunately oftentimes overlooked, is to fully investigate and develop sentencing phase “mitigation” evidence.  Effective mitigation in a criminal drug possession case, or in any criminal case for that matter, is oftentimes critical in avoiding a conviction and/or jail or prison time.

So what is mitigation evidence?  It is evidence of individual-specific circumstances generally beyond your control that significantly adversely affected your character and behavior which lead to your arrest.

Typical mitigation evidence in drug possession cases involves, among other things, showing your drug addiction arose from you initially being lawfully prescribed pain medications by a licensed physician for a medically documented injury, such as neck and/or back pain from an automobile or on-the-job accident.  The mitigation evidence generally demonstrates you were placed on an extended course of prescribed pain medications such that by the time your prescription had expired you had become addicted, through no fault of your own.  Faced with your addiction and the lack of any further prescriptions for the pain medication, your character and behavior were involuntarily altered to the extent you were left to satisfy your addiction on the “black market” or on the street.  This type of mitigation evidence often is rightfully considered by the State in arriving at a negotiated disposition of your case (in what is oftentimes referred to as “plea bargaining”) that spares you a formal felony drug possession conviction and/or jail or prison time. Continue reading

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Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu , a 60 year old foster father who had previously opened his home to scores of disabled children, was acquitted yesterday  in a New York Supreme Court of endangering or sexually abusing several boys while they were in his care.  The verdict followed a five week trial during which eight of Mr. Mugaburu’s accusers testified against him.  Mr. Mugaburu had been denied bail and was held in jail for a year prior to his trial.

Mr. Mugaburu’s lawyer, Donald Mates, argued at trial that while Mr. Mugaburu was strict, he was not abusive.  Mr. Mates cited to the fact New York City’s child welfare agency trusted Mr. Mugaburu so much that it had placed 95 boys in his care over 20 years.  Mr. Mates further raised doubt about the credibility of the accusers, arguing they were coached.

The jury deliberated the 16 charges against Mr. Mugaburu for more than a week.  According to the The New York Times, jurors reported struggling at times to remain impartial in the case which elicited a lot of emotion.  The jury further organized the case details and created a timeline on a white board in the jury room.  The jurors even debated the definition of “reasonable doubt” and requested the judge to re-read the jury instructions providing the definition.  The case was very stressful for the jury, with one juror noting some of her fellow jurors fainted, became dizzy, developed stomach problems, and experienced insomnia during the trial.  Continue reading

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You meet a woman on an internet dating site or through a dating app such as Tinder.  You subsequently end up having what you understood to be consensual sex.  Later, however, the woman calls you complaining you forced her into having sex with you or otherwise contends the sex was non-consensual.

This is a relatively familiar scenario.  And, it’s a potentially dangerous one.  It’s dangerous because unbeknownst to you, your date may have already contacted police with her allegations and the call is part of an investigative tactic known as a controlled, or pretext, call.

In a controlled call, a sex crimes detective will have already been in contact with your accuser.  The detective will further have coached your accuser  regarding what to say to you prior to making the call.  And, most importantly, the call is recorded to collect and preserve crucial evidence to use against you in a criminal case.

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I’ve had numerous inquiries about registration requirements for those convicted of felonies within the State of Florida.  Many folks, and apparently even some lawyers, believe the registration requirements only apply to those convicted of sex offenses.  That is incorrect.  Thus, while it is commonly known that certain sexual offenders or sexual predators must register with their local Sheriff’s Office, it is less widely known that there are registration requirements associated with non-sex felony offenses as well.

Florida Statute section 775.13 imposes a registration requirement for anyone convicted of any felony in the State of Florida.  That section requires “convicted” felons to register with the sheriff within 48 hours of entering any county within the State of Florida.  The required registration includes being fingerprinted and photographed.   Furthermore, the registration requirement also applies to anyone convicted of a felony in any state or federal court outside the State of Florida.

Failure to register as a convicted felon in Florida is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in prison.  However, if you’ve been convicted of a gang-related offense and fail to register, that is considered a third degree felony, and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Continue reading

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A Polk County teacher was arrested this month for showing pornography to students in his classroom. My review of the facts indicates that as is typical in many criminal matters, there are potential defenses available to the teacher that potentially could absolve him, or at a minimum, mitigate the severity of the charges he faces.

The Arrest Affidavit states that one of the teacher’s students came to his desk during class with a question about her assignment. As she approached, the teacher laid his iPhone on his desk, face up. The student observed “multiple websites depicting adult male pornography” on the phone. After speaking with the teacher, the student returned to her seat. Shocked at what she had just seen, the student returned to the teacher’s desk where she surreptitiously recorded the images displayed on the teacher’s iPhone screen, which included a slide show depicting a nude male’s erect penis and two male subjects engaged in sexual intercourse. Three additional students reported having also seen adult pornography on the teacher’s phone. Continue reading

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car-crash-1451085A little over two years ago, the first of many arrests were made in connection with automobile insurance fraud schemes here in Jacksonville. The schemes involved “staged”, or prearranged, accidents at low speeds to create realistic accident scenarios. The driving participants would then seek medical treatment at select clinics established to milk insurance companies out of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage payments.

The scheme first originated in South Florida, especially the Miami area, and spread here to Jacksonville. To date, there have been in excess of 100 arrests made in these cases locally. There are still suspects at large and many filed cases are still winding their way through the court. Many of the participants are not fluent in English and require interpreters in court and for meeting with their Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, further complicating the process. Continue reading