Gainesville Personal Injury, Divorce and Alimony Attorney

Alachua County Man Charged with Several Felony Offenses, including Directing Sexual Performance; Possession of Child Pornography; and Sexual Battery

The Gainesville Child Sexual Abuse Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC take note of the highly unsettling nature of reports regarding the recent arrests of an Alachua County School teacher, and part-time swim coach. Most disturbing is the extensive access that the accused had to children, given the positions he held. The alleged perpetrator, according to media reports and county court records, is 31-year-old Joseph Michael Diaz, of 3003 NW 30th Terrace.

News of Diaz’s alleged sexual crimes first surfaced following his arrest on Thursday, April 24, 2014, for charges involving directing the sexual performance of a child and possession of child pornography. The victim described to authorities events in which he was coerced into using Diaz’s telephone to take inappropriate videos and photographs of himself. Diaz was booked into Alachua County Jail Thursday afternoon, but was able to post $65,000 bond, and was subsequently released early Friday morning.

Approximately 10 hours after his release, Diaz was rearrested, on a capital felony charge, extending from allegations that Diaz had molested another child, even younger than the first victim, and over a 3-year period. According to Alachua County Court Records, Diaz was still in custody as of Wednesday, April 30th.

As Personal Injury Attorneys, we recognize that differentiating between the multitudes of potential sexual offenses involving children, can be challenging for many, because most are unfamiliar with complex legal terminology.  It is precisely this reason why media reports will often summarize, abbreviate, utilize alternate terminology, or otherwise incorporate language which the average person could easily use to identify or associate the accused’s conduct with a particular crime.

Unfortunately, the ‘ease of understanding’ method generally used by the media, can often lead to public confusion regarding the severity of a sexual offense. While some sexual offenses may be depicted as less serious in nature, in other cases, the reverse may occur. Most concerning, are the incidents that are not conveyed to the public in a manner that adequately communicates the seriousness of the offense. The following is an overview of the charges Diaz is accused of:

Charges extending by reports from the FIRST victim fall under Florida Statute 827.071, titled “sexual performance by a child; penalties.” Diaz was arrested under sections 827.071(3) and 827.071(5)(a) of this statute, which provide:

(3)A person is guilty of promoting a sexual performance by a child when, knowing the character and content thereof, he or she produces, directs, or promotes any performance which includes sexual conduct by a child less than 18 years of age. Whoever violates this subsection is guilty of a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(5)(a)It is unlawful for any person to knowingly possess, control, or intentionally view a photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, image, data, computer depiction, or other presentation which, in whole or in part, he or she knows to include any sexual conduct by a child. The possession, control, or intentional viewing of each such photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, image, data, computer depiction, representation, or presentation is a separate offense. If such photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, image, data, computer depiction, or other presentation includes sexual conduct by more than one child, then each such child in each such photograph, motion picture, exhibition, show, representation, image, data, computer depiction, or other presentation that is knowingly possessed, controlled, or intentionally viewed is a separate offense. A person who violates this subsection commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

 In interpreting the words and language provided in the statutes, the following definitions apply:

Intentionally view” means to deliberately, purposefully, and voluntarily view. Proof of intentional viewing requires establishing more than a single image, motion picture, exhibition, show, image, data, computer depiction, representation, or other presentation over any period of time.

Promote” means to procure, manufacture, issue, sell, give, provide, lend, mail, deliver, transfer, transmute, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, or advertise or to offer or agree to do the same.

Sexual conduct” means actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, or sadomasochistic abuse; actual lewd exhibition of the genitals; actual physical contact with a person’s clothed or unclothed genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or, if such person is a female, breast, with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of either party; or any act or conduct which constitutes sexual battery or simulates that sexual battery is being or will be committed. A mother’s breastfeeding of her baby does not under any circumstance constitute “sexual conduct.”

Sexual performance” means any performance or part thereof which includes sexual conduct by a child of less than 18 years of age.

Charges extending from reports by the SECOND victim fall under Florida Statute 794.011, titled “Sexual Battery.” Specifically, Diaz was arrested on charges of violating section 794.011(2)a), which provides:

(2)(a)A person 18 years of age or older who commits sexual battery upon, or in an attempt to commit sexual battery injures the sexual organs of, a person less than 12 years of age commits a capital felony, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082 and 921.141.

In interpreting the words and language provided in the statutes, the following definition applies:

Sexual battery” means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object; however, sexual battery does not include an act done for a bona fide medical purpose.

While one incident involved contact (younger victim), and the other did not (older victim), certainly the conduct alleged in both offenses are equally reprehensible. If your child was the victim of sexual abuse, it is important to know that in addition to criminal charges, legal recourse may be available through additional means, such as initiating a child sexual abuse civil action to recover damages for the abuse.

The Gainesville injury Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile want to help you and your family obtain the compensation deserved.  Our legal team has extensive experience in handling cases of this nature and will strive to obtain the compensation any child victim deserves to allow them to recover and move on with their life.

Child Struck and Killed by Truck While Riding Scooter

The Accident & Injury Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC take note of a tragic incident that took the life of a young boy in south Florida. Authorities say that 52-year-old Michael Resnick was backing his pick-up truck out of a parking space in a residential neighborhood, when he struck 4-year-old Xavier Crawford, as he rode his scooter on a shared driveway. The victim was transported to Memorial Regional Hospital for head trauma and other injuries, where heartbreakingly, the child was later pronounced dead.

According to officials, the boy was playing in the area with two other children, waiting for a birthday party to start at the end of the block. Sadly, the children that the victim had been playing with, brothers, ages 10 and 14, witnessed the horrific event as it happened.

Detectives say that Resnick stayed on the scene following the accident, and was cooperative with authorities. Witnesses say that when the driver realized what he had done, he immediately got out of his truck, and called 911. A neighbor, who spoke with Resnick about the incident stated that “he [Resnick] feels bad … he said he wasn’t trying to do it, he wasn’t trying to hurt no child.” As the investigation continues, it is unclear whether Resnick will face any charges.

The Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC send our condolences to the victim’s family as they struggle to deal with this tragedy.

If your child was the victim of an accident, like the one involving little Xavier Crawford, it is important that you understand your legal rights and options. Depending on the circumstances, there may be several potential sources from which to seek compensation for your loss. While every accident is unique, our Gainesville Attorneys provide the following discussion regarding some of the remedies that may be available, in the event of an accident that is similar in nature to the one described above.

One potential source of recovery for a victim’s family is through Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. So long as the victim was not using a type of vehicle excluded under no-fault benefits (i.e. a motorcycle, and some motorized scooters), the victim will generally be entitled to medical and death benefits under PIP. Another potential source for the victim’s family to recover damages, is by filing a Wrongful Death Action. However, the ability to successfully obtain compensation through this means, is generally dependent on whether the driver responsible for the accident is found to have acted in a negligent manner.

In some cases, compensation may be available under one of two theories of premises liability. The first is where an incident occurs on property that is owned by another, such as with residential property accidents, or those involving the liability of a store-owner or business establishment. Here, compensation may be sought directly against the homeowner, or through a liability insurance policy that covers the premises where the accident occurred.

The second type of premises liability action is where an accident occurs on property that is owned and maintained by a municipal entity. For example, liability could result if such entity knew or should have known that the presence of multiple children in a high traffic area made the area unsafe or dangerous for children, yet they failed to install appropriate signage to warn drivers. Likewise, if an accident occurs as a result of a driver’s view being blocked by a tree that the county was responsible for trimming,  the county can potentially be held liable if the victim asserts a claim against the government, particularly if it can be shown that they were aware of the unsafe condition.

In addition to potential sources of recovery for the victim and victim’s family, in some cases, recovery may also be available for persons that were present at the time of the accident, such as onlookers, bystanders, or witnesses, under the theory of negligent infliction of emotional distress. However, recovery under this theory is limited to certain classes of individuals, and only in cases where the factual circumstances involved allow for this type of recovery.

The Gainesville Injury Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC remind victims and their families that the discussion herein is merely provided for explanatory purposes, and that each accident should be assessed on an individualized basis, in order to determine which sources of recovery may be available in a particular scenario.

Well-known Florida Resident Dies in Tragic Boating Accident

The Gainesville Boating Accident Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC, along with friends and family of the victim, Gators fans, residents of our community, and beyond, mourn the loss of the well-known UF swimming coach, Donnie Craine, following his death in a boating incident.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is still investigating the incident, which occurred on Thursday, April 24, 2014, off the coast of Bokeelia, Florida. That day, two vessels, one with two occupants, and another with four persons aboard, were being navigated upon waterways near Pine Island. As one boat came around a curve in Jug Creek, thetwo vessels collided head-on with one another. Officials say that apparently both boats had attempted to turn in the same direction. As a result of the collision, Craine was ejected from the boat. Tragically, Craine was fatally injured in the crash. The other five persons involved sustained only minor injuries, none of which required medical treatment.

Craine is well-known for his 37 year career as a diving coach, 30 years of which were spent with the gators, as head coach for University of Florida’s men’s and women’s diving athletes. In addition to coaching five NCAA champions, Craine is also noted for his four-time recognition as SEC diving coach of the year. Craine was known for his compassionate and caring nature, not only towards the athletes he coached, but towards others as well. With two of our firm’s attorneys being graduates of UF, in addition to loyal Gators fans, the announcement of Craine’s tragic death certainly hits home. Our condolences go out to Craine’s family and friends, as they struggle to cope during this difficult time.

As Boating Collision Attorneys, we hope that at least some good can come from this awful incident. While boating accidents are less common than, say, automobile collisions, hundreds of vessel-related accidents, many of which involve catastrophic injury, occur each year in Florida. Unfortunately, such accidents are not always given the media coverage necessary to raise concerns over boating safety issues. Sadly, it has taken the death of a notable Floridian in order for a boating collision to receive the type of widespread media attention that might contribute to a heightened awareness in Florida of the potential dangers associated with boating.

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Boating Accident Statistics, Florida consistently ranks highest in the nation for boating-accident related injuries and fatalities. Although it is also necessary to take into consideration that Florida also has the highest quantity of registered vessels in the nation, this fact in and of itself demonstrates the absolute necessity of promoting awareness of boating safety in our state.

We must all remember that boats, just like motor vehicles, are massive pieces of machinery, capable of substantial destruction. The accident attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC hope that all boaters will take a moment to contemplate the significance of FWC’s adage—Safe boating is a Choice.

Several Injured Following Gainesville Car Crash

The Auto Collision Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC take note of an Alachua County crash, which serves as an important reminder of the benefits of proper use of child safety restraint systems. The accident occurred on April 22, 2014 at the intersection of Newberry Rd and NW 98th St. in Gainesville.

Officials say that the accident occurred as 24-year-old Matthew Stout, of Newberry, along with his 2-year-old and an 11-month-old passengers, were traveling east on Newberry Rd. As Stout approached the intersection of NW 98th St., a 1995 Honda Civic, driven by 26-year-old Mauro Peralta crossed into Stout’s path, thereby resulting in a T-bone collision between the two vehicles. Peralta, who was identified by authorities as the cause of the incident, was issued a citation for making an improper left turn.

All parties to the accident, including Peralta, Stout, and the two small children in Stout’s vehicle, were transported to UF Health Shands for treatment for non-life threatening injuries. Fortunately, both children involved were properly secured in car seats at the time of the collision, according to Florida Highway Patrol, and suffered only minor injuries.

While any injury to a child is certainly concerning, we are also drawn to the consideration that this accident could have been much worse, had Stout not taken the appropriate safety precautions in restraining both children. Young children, in particular, are far more susceptible to sustaining catastrophic injury or fatality as a result of an auto crash.  We must commend Stout, because, our Accident & Injury team has witnessed, far too often, the devastating consequences that can occur in an accident where children are either unrestrained, or have been restrained in an improper manner.

The failure to use child safety restraint systems is a leading cause of death or injury among children involved in motor vehicle collisions. According to, child safety seats can reduce the incidence of fatality by as much as 54% for children between the ages of 1 and 4, and up to 71% for infants. Issues regarding the use of car seats, are such a significant concern, that special language has been specifically included within Florida’s Child Restraint Device Law,  denoting such concern. Pursuant to Fla. Stat. §316.613(4):

It is the legislative intent that all state, county, and local law enforcement agencies, and safety councils, in recognition of the problems with child death and injury from unrestrained occupancy in motor vehicles, conduct a continuing safety and public awareness campaign as to the magnitude of the problem.

Although the use of a child safety seat is vital to the safety of children, it is also necessary to take into consideration that their effectiveness is also dependent on whether the proper type of seat is being used and in the appropriate manner. In addition to selecting a car seat in accordance with the age and size of the child, the child restraint device must also meet federal approval and crash-test standards. However, choosing the right restraint system is only the first step in the restraint of a child. It is equally important that car seats be placed into use according to the manufacturer guidelines applicable to the specific device being used.

The Personal Injury Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC also remind parents that car seats should always be replaced following an accident. In fact, replacement of child restraint devices is generally covered under the property damage coverage included within an auto insurance policy. As a final note, we also encourage parents to register devices with the manufacturer, so that they can receive notification in the event of a safety recall.

Lake City Car Wreck Kills one, Critically Injures Another

The Automobile Collision Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC take note of yet another fatal collision occurring in Lake City. This accident is one amongst multiple accidents occurring in this community and surrounding areas within Columbia County, over the past few months that has resulted in either death or serious injury.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, 19-year-old Michaela Johnson, of Lake City, was headed westbound on SW Pinemount Rd., on the evening of April 20, 2014. Traveling in her vehicle, a 1996 Chevrolet Corvette, was her 24-year-old passenger, Lamarr Dell, also of Lake City. Officials say that Johnson was traveling at a high rate of speed, when she lost control of the vehicle, and apparently traveled off the road and onto a grassy shoulder. Police say the driver attempted to regain control by steering the car in the opposite direction, which caused the vehicle to begin spinning in the direction of her attempted correction.  Consequently, the Corvette then traveled onto a grassy shoulder on the other side of the road, where the passenger side of the vehicle collided head-on with a large oak tree.

Tragically Johnson’s passenger, Lamarr McCall Dell, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Although Johnson survived the incident, officials say she was ejected from the vehicle, and sustained serious injuries. She was transported to UF Health Shands in critical condition. The Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC send our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Lamarr Dell, as they grieve the tragic loss of a loved one. At the same time, we hope that the driver is able to pull through and recover from her injuries.

While authorities are still investigating the crash, what is known at this time, is that neither the driver nor passenger were restrained by a seat-belt at the time the wreck occurred. Although it may seem needless or inappropriate to reflect upon the ‘what ifs’ of this incident, given the nature of our profession—auto collision attorneys—we are compelled to consider whether the outcome may have been different had the victims been wearing their seat belts.

In this particular scenario, given the facts available following the incident, it seems that, at least in the case of Johnson, the extent of injury may have been significantly reduced if the driver had been seat-belted. For Dell, it would be difficult to even attempt making any conclusory statements as to whether the use of a seatbelt may have saved his life, particularly because the point of impact occurred on the passenger side of the vehicle.

As Wrongful Death Attorneys, we understand the devastation that can occur, when an unexpected event suddenly takes the life of a member of your family. Heartbreakingly, Dell leaves behind an extensive family, as stated in his obituary, including 9 brothers and sisters. His family states that they are drawing comfort from the following scripture: “And He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning, nor outcry, nor pain be anymore. The former things will have passed away.”

If a member of your family was killed as a result of a car accident that was caused by the actions of another, it is important to know that, in addition to death benefits under PIP, the victim’s family may be entitled to compensation through other means as well. While nothing can ever really replace the loss of a loved one, it can certainly help a family to be able to properly grieve, without the added worry over expenses related to the victim’s death. Click here to view more information on Florida’s Wrongful Death Act.

Bicyclist Seriously Injured by Drunk Driver in Hit and Run Crash

The Gainesville Bicycle Accident and Injury Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC, and the members of our community, are pulling for the swift recovery of Ali Lauren Brody, who suffered serious injuries after being struck by a drunk driver. The incident occurred on Saturday, April 122014, as Brody, a UF student, and also a bike-delivery employee for Jimmy Johns, was riding her bicycle along West University Avenue near the 1400 block.

Authorities say that the driver of a 2003 Honda Element, identified as 21-year-old Kirtley Stephen Davis, of 2777 Archer Road, unit X115, swerved twice prior to striking Brody with his vehicle. Appallingly, Davis callously and unlawfully attempted to flee the scene of the accident, rather than stop his vehicle to check on the bicyclist he had struck. Police say Davis continued to drive south on SW 13th Street, where he then collided with the rear-end of a vehicle that was stopped for a light at the intersection of Museum Road.

Brody was transported to UF Health Shands to receive treatment for her potentially catastrophic injuries. According to friends of Brody, many feel that the initial police report, which stated that the victim sustained minor / non-life threatening injuries, was not an accurate description of the actual extent of her injuries. Friends say that Brody’s suffered a skull fracture, a compression fracture in her spine, broken ribs and bruising. As injury attorneys, we find these types of injuries, particularly those involving head trauma, to be anything but ‘minor.’

Fortunately, officers of the UF Police Department were able to detain Davis, following the second collision at Museum Road. Police say that Davis’ blood alcohol content level registered at .308 and .313, which is nearly four times over Florida’s legal limit of .08. Davis was charged with several offenses, including felony charges for driving under the influence (DUI) and failure to remain at the scene of an accident involving injuries, as well as a misdemeanor traffic offense for DUI-related damage to property.

Davis was booked into Alachua County Jail, where his bond was set at $85,000 for the felony charges, and $10,000 for the misdemeanor offense. According to Inmate records for Alachua County Jail, Davis had not posted the $95,000 bond, and still remained in custody and awaiting sentencing, as of April 19th, more than a week following the incident.

The Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC send our well-wishes to Ali Brody, as she recuperates from her injuries. As Bicycle Accident Attorneys, we understand that with injuries of this magnitude, the victim may be facing a long and difficult road to recovery. Friends of Brody have set up a victim donations page to assist the victim with her $7,500 in living expenses as she recovers.

We do hope that victims of incidents like this one, also consider the importance of discussing the matter with an attorney experienced in handling the personal injury of a bicyclist caused as a result of a hit-and-run crash involving a drunk driver. The Gainesville Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC have decades of practice experience, and remain dedicated to seeking the compensation deserved on behalf of all our clients. Let us—Help you!

Pedestrian amongst Injured in Hit-and-Run Crash

The Gainesville Automobile Collision Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC take note of an incident in Levy County that sent several innocent victims to the hospital with injuries, and caused damage to three vehicles. Most unsettling is that this accident was set into motion by the negligent, reckless, and unlawful actions of a hit-and-run driver.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours on Sunday, April 6, 2014. Authorities say that, the driver of a 1993 Ford F-150 was traveling at an excessive rate of speed, northbound along NW 80th Court. Meanwhile, four vehicles, including a Ford Ranger, Toyota matrix, and a Dodge Dart, were legally parked at 11851 NW 80th Court in Chiefland.  In addition to the multiple persons occupying these vehicles, a pedestrian was also standing alongside one of the parked vehicles.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, the driver of the F-150 struck the parked Ford Ranger, after it went off the road, causing the Ranger to be pushed into three other parked vehicles. As a result of the collision, the body of 29-year-old pedestrian Joshua Mauk, of Chiefland, was thrown several feet. Mauk sustained serious injuries, and had to be airlifted to UF Health Shands Hospital. Also injured in the incident were two occupants in the parked vehicles—Jeffrey Spur, 27 and Brandon Riggs, 22—both of Chiefland. Spur and Riggs were transported to Shands as well, for treatment associated with their minor injuries.

Appallingly, the driver of the F-150, who authorities say was responsible for causing this incident, fled on foot from the scene of the accident. Witnesses say that he was headed in a southbound direction. Although officials were able to identify the hit-and-run driver, his whereabouts were unknown as of the evening following the crash. FHP says that charges are pending.

As Pedestrian Accident & Personal Injury Attorneys, we find this type of incident to be particularly disturbing. While it is one thing for an individual to cause or contribute to an accident, through their negligent actions, it is entirely different when that motorist cowardly and selfishly leaves the accident scene, without any concern for the innocent victims they have left behind.

At Alba & Straile, PLLC, we understand, that following immediate medical attention, accidents like this one, involving pedestrian and vehicle passenger injury, in conjunction with a hit-and-run driver, can leave the victims with a variety of concerns, such as determining the appropriate source from which to seek compensation. It is important for the victims to know that there generally is a means of recovering financial losses associated with injuries and damages, and often times there might be several sources to seek recovery from.

As the victims recover from this awful incident, we hope that time is also taken to reflect upon the measures that should be taken to ensure full protection of all legal rights and remedies.  Contact the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC, and allow us to review your matter and explain and your options.

Head-on Collision Causes Additional Crashes, leaving 2 Dead and 13 Injured

The Automobile Collision Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC take note of a horrific series of events that occurred shortly before midnight on Friday, April 4, 2014, along Interstate 75 in Hamilton County. Authorities say the incident was set into motion with a head-on collision between two vehicles, which then caused several secondary accidents.

According to FHP, 91-year-old Ernest Lee Holmes, of High Springs was operating a 1993 Buick Century in the wrong direction of an inside lane along I-75 North, near U.S. 129. At this same time, and traveling in the proper direction in an inside lane of northbound I-75, was a 2013 Ford Expedition being operated by 55-year-old Peter J. Linek, of Ormand Beach. Devastatingly, Linek, who surely could not have anticipated that he might encounter a southbound vehicle on the northbound side of the highway, collided with Holmes’ vehicle.

Thereafter, three additional northbound vehicles were involved in secondary accidents, as a result of the initial head-on collision caused by Holmes. Traveling in the inside lane was a Honda Odyssey, operated by 35-year-old Laura Baumgart, as well as a Ford SUV, operated by 67-year-old Robert J. Bolt.  In addition, a Greyhound bus with 42 passengers aboard, driven by 62-year-old Alvin A. Gaston, was traveling in the center lane.

In the horrific aftermath of the incident, two were left dead, and thirteen others injured. Authorities say that both Linek and Holmes, the motorists involved in the head-on collision, suffered fatal injuries.  Fortunately, there were no passengers in either Linek’s or Holmes’ vehicles.

Despite the fact that there were 5 passengers, between the ages of 3 and 11, in one of the vehicles involved in the secondary collision, miraculously no one was injured, according to a press release following the incident. Unfortunately more than a dozen passengers aboard the greyhound bus sustained minor injuries, as a result of the subsequent bus accident, and were transported to local hospitals for treatment.

It was unknown as to whether alcohol was a factor in the accident at the time of the press release. However, authorities say that the three motorists involved in the secondary collisions, each voluntarily consented to their blood being drawn at the accident scene.

This accident serves as an eerie reminder of the dangers that motorists face each day as they travel along Florida’s hectic and unpredictable roadways. Consider each unsuspecting motorist or vehicle occupant. It seems fairly reasonable to assume that if you travel in one direction along a divided highway, that no other vehicles on your side of the roadway will be traveling in the opposite direction.

As Accident attorneys, we are drawn to the contemplation of alternate scenarios—even unthinkable events involving numerous children. Though Linek was the unfortunate motorist to meet his demise as a result of coming upon Holmes’ wayward vehicle, this incident could have been very different, if the head-on collision involved either the bus transporting 42 passengers, or vehicle carrying 5 children. This holds true, not only for the individuals involved in the initial and secondary accidents, but also for any other motorist traveling in the vicinity at that time.

The Wrongful Death Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC send our heartfelt condolences to the family members of Peter Linek and Earnest Holmes, as they cope with the tragedy of an unexpected loss of a loved one.

Trafficking and Conspiracy to Traffic

Drug trafficking cases can include a conspiracy to traffic element. In Florida a conspiracy to engage in trafficking is committed when any person agrees, conspires combines, confederates, etc with another person to commit any act prohibited by section 893.135. Generally conspiracies are punished the same as the actual crime charged, such as trafficking, except that they are scored one level lower for purposes of the score sheet. 

Recently the Fifth District Court of Appeal in the case of Hampton v. State broadly interpreted the words “any act” in the context of a trafficking conspiracy. This case stemmed from a co-conspirator having to work off charges instead of a mere traffic stop.  The Defendant argued that he could not be convicted of trafficking in cocaine because he and the co-conspirator did not agree to commit the same act. The Court had previously ruled that in a buy-sell transaction, this position was correct that there was no agreement to commit the same act and that it would be forced to reverse.

However, the Court receded from its prior ruling and instead held both the buyer and the seller agreed to commit the same offense of trafficking. The Court further stated that trafficking in cocaine is an offense that can be committed in a variety of ways; thus, the buyer and seller were, in fact, agreeing to commit the same crime of trafficking, albeit in different ways, one by purchasing, and the other by selling. Therefore, the Court concluded that evidence of a buy-sell agreement is sufficient to establish a prima facie case of conspiracy to traffic in cocaine.

The dissent pointed out that the parties in a buy-sell arrangement are actually on opposite sides, negotiating against each other and are therefore not agreeing to commit the same act.  Further the dissent argued that the rule of liently should have been applied.  Perhaps the Supreme Court will pick this one up.

Drug trafficking cases can be complex, time consuming matters with several witnesses, surveillance, and mandatory minimums applied. If you or a loved on is accused of trafficking in cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone, or any other narcotic, please click or call now for a consultation with a lawyer.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Alternative Dispute Resolution in Child Custody Matters

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has long been a component of our judicial system.

In addition to formal ADR, informal processes, such as attorney assisted negotiation, can be highly beneficial, particularly in cases where both parties remain genuinely focused solely on the child’s best interests. However, this also requires a willingness of each parent to cooperate, interact, and in some cases compromise with one another. It is important to remember that although every case is unique, resolution in the vast majority of disputes is most effectively and efficiently obtained through the assistance of an attorney.

Alternative Dispute Resolution has been defined as “[a] process adopted to end a problem before taking legal action,” and “any means of settling disputes outside of the courtroom.” The most commonly recognized types of formal ADR in family law matters are mediation and neutral evaluation.

Often time, the most significant role that an attorney can play in the resolution process, is guiding an uncooperative opposing party to the realization that the most important issue at hand is—and should remain on—the best interests of the child. For more information on the mediation process, as well as its advantages and disadvantages, see Family Mediation.

In child custody disputes, formal processes of ADR are generally limited to mediation, or neutral evaluation, such as parenting coordination. In some family law disputes, ADR is a mandatory requirement, although ADR can also occur due to permissive authority granted to judges. However, in other matters, such as with some cases involving domestic violence, ADR is entirely inappropriate. Consider this distinction as you view the following statutes:

Florida Statute 44.102(2)(c) provides:

In circuits in which a family mediation program has been established and upon a court finding of a dispute, shall refer to mediation all or part of custody, visitation, or other parental responsibility issues as defined in s. 61.13. Upon motion or request of a party, a court shall not refer any case to mediation if it finds there has been a history of domestic violence that would compromise the mediation process.

Florida Statute 61.183(1), pertaining to ‘Mediation of certain contested issues,’ provides:

In any proceeding in which the issues of parental responsibility, primary residence, access to, visitation with, or support of a child are contested, the court may refer the parties to mediation in accordance with rules promulgated by the Supreme Court. In Title IV-D cases, any costs, including filing fees, recording fees, mediation costs, service of process fees, and other expenses incurred by the clerk of the circuit court, shall be assessed only against the nonprevailing obligor after the court makes a determination of the nonprevailing obligor’s ability to pay such costs and fees.

Florida Statute 61.125(2), pertaining to ‘Parenting Coordination,’ provides:

Referral.–In any action in which a judgment or order has been sought or entered adopting, establishing, or modifying a parenting plan, except for a domestic violence proceeding under chapter 741, and upon agreement of the parties, the court’s own motion, or the motion of a party, the court may appoint a parenting coordinator and refer the parties to parenting coordination to assist in the resolution of disputes concerning their parenting plan.

When the unreasonableness, inflexibility, and/or general obstinacy of an opposing party, requires further intervention to reach resolution, having an aggressive attorney on your side, can make all the difference. We have been representing clients in Gainesville, Ocala, and surrounding communities in child custody and other family law matters for more than a decade. If you are involved in a dispute, or have a question or concern regarding a custodial issue, we encourage you to contact the Law Office of Alba & Straile, P.A. to ensure the protection of the legal rights and interests of you and your child.