Former NBA player Lamar Odom recently ended up in the news for two reasons. He took on Aaron Carter in a celebrity boxing match, reportedly bringing in a $40,000 paycheck, and he was ordered to pay more than $380,000 in child support to the mother of his two adult children.

So, how did Odom end up owing so much in child support for his two grown children?

Odom’s Child Support Agreement

It may seem surprising that Odom owes so much in child support for two grown children. Destiny Odom is 23, and Lamar Odom Jr. is 19. But, the details of the situation explain why he was ordered to pay such a large sum to the mother of his children.

In May 2021, Liza Morales sued Odom for failing to pay child support. She alleged that he hadn’t paid support since June 2020. 

Morales’ lawyers said Odom owed $91,000 in child support and that he was behind on paying for college costs and rent for the apartment Morales shared with the children in Lower Manhattan. Morales claimed the lack of funds put her in a position where she owed $83,000 in rent and was facing eviction.

Odom is required to make child support payments to Morales as part of an original agreement made in 2015. At that time, it was agreed that Odom would pay roughly $6,000 a month in child support, along with the children’s college fees and a premium for a $9 million life insurance plan, according to Page Six.

The agreement wasn’t a spousal support agreement. Odom was never married to Morales. The agreement was a child support agreement.

The agreement stated that Odom would pay support until his youngest child graduated from college. Both of Odom’s kids are over the age of 18, but he is still required to make his support payments.

At the hearing, Morales pointed out that Odom has the money to pay. She claims he has an NBA pension and a financial stake in a CBD company, and he just was paid $40,000 for participating in the celebrity boxing match against Aaron Carter.

After the virtual hearing in Manhattan, Supreme Court Judge Matthew Cooper agreed that Odom needed to pay.

He ordered Odom to pay Morales $380,549 for child support, back rent, college costs, and her legal fees, according to a new report by Page Six. The judge also ordered Odom to fund a life insurance policy worth $1 million and name his ex as the beneficiary.

Related: Types of Child Custody and What They Mean for Your Family 

Understanding How Child Support Works

Odom is legally bound by his child support agreement and is therefore required to make payments. Odom’s family law matter was held in the New York state court system and must abide by the laws of that state.

In Florida, the situation would have likely ended in the same result.

When it comes to child support, Florida follows an “Income Share Model” when determining how much child support a parent must pay. It is defined in Florida Statute 61.30.

  • The court considers how much money the parents would have spent on the children if they had remained married.
  • They divide the amount between the two parents based on income.
  • The court may set the amount 5% above or 5% under the amount determined through this formula.
  • If the court wants to set an amount that is more than 5% above or less than 5% lower, they must submit a written finding that explains why.

In Florida, if Odom had the funds to pay the amount determined by the Income Share Model, he would be required to pay.

Some child support cases are closed once children turn 18. But in the Odom case, his agreement stated that he would pay until both children graduated from college. He is required by law to make the child support payments.

Related: The Legal Implications of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s Divorce 

Get Support for Your Child Support Claims

The most important part of a child support case is the children. It’s important that they have what they need to be safe and cared for.

If you are dealing with a child support case and want to ensure that your children get what they deserve, talk to an experienced family law attorney who can help you navigate child support and custody agreements.

Get family law advice today. Schedule a free consultation with TJ Grimaldi. See how TJ and his team can help you and your family get what you deserve. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Jared Drake Bell is known to many families and kids as one half of the “Drake & Josh” duo from the hit Nickelodeon show which began airing in 2004. Drake Bell was known for entertaining kids. Now, he may be known for endangering them.

The now 35-year-old actor recently plead guilty to felony attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.

How did Bell go from entertaining kids to endangering them, and what does that mean for his future as a free man?

The Case Against Drake Bell

In October 2018, a 15-year-old girl contacted police in Toronto, Canada to report an incident that happened between her and Bell in December 2017.

The victim, who is now 19-years-old, told investigators that she and Bell had engaged in sexual conduct at a concert venue in Cleveland, Ohio. She told investigators she had a relationship with Bell that started when she was just 12. She believed Bell had been “grooming” her since she was a child, keeping in touch with her until eventually sharing explicit photos and becoming “blatantly sexual” with her after she turned 15.

The information that Toronto investigators uncovered led them to forward their findings to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office in Cleveland, Ohio.

Under that jurisdiction, Bell, who is a California resident, was eventually charged for the incident occurring at the Cleveland concert. He was charged with felony attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.

Drake Bell’s Changing Pleas

Bell originally pleaded not guilty to the charges. His attorney Ian Friedman disputed the girl’s claims that Bell sent her explicit photos and engaged in sexual conduct with her. Bell seemed to want to fight the charges with Friedman stating, “All facts will be revealed in a courtroom.”

But, Bell eventually changed his plea.

Bell plead guilty to felony attempted child endangerment and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles.

“I accept this plea because my conduct was wrong,” Bell said. “I’m sorry the victim was harmed. It was not my intention. I have taken this matter very, very seriously, and again I just want to apologize to her and anyone else who may have been affected by my actions.”

Related: What You Should Expect from Your Attorney in Every Case

What Consequences Does Bell Face?

Bell’s case was held in the Ohio court system. Under Ohio law, child endangerment can come with a range of penalties. Depending on the severity of the charges, penalties can range from a few months to a few years in prison as well as resulting in community service hours, fines, and probation.

But, Bell will face no prison time.

He was sentenced in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court by Judge Timothy McCormick to two years probation, 200 hours of community service, and have no contact with the victim.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

Taking a Plea Deal But Not Accepting Full Responsibility

While Bell may have faced less serious consequences by admitting fault and acknowledging some wrong-doing, his attorney continued to state that the charges weren’t warranted.

In a statement to NBC News, Friedman said, “The victim’s allegations that went beyond that which all parties agreed, not only lack supporting evidence but are contradicted by the facts learned through extensive investigation. As the court made clear, this plea was never about sexual misconduct or sexual relations with any person, let alone a minor.”

Regardless of what Friendman said after the hearing, Bell admitted to wrong-doing by making his guilty plea and will face the consequences laid out by the judge.

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

How Serious Are Child Endangerment Charges?

In Bell’s case, it was said that he “violated his duty of care” for the young fan.

Child endangerment laws punish behavior that can endanger a child’s life, health, or emotional well-being. They refer to a range of activities that put a person under the age of 18 at risk. Child endangerment charges can relate to activities such as:

  • Driving a car while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle
  • Exposing a child to drug transactions
  • Failing to secure a child in a car seat properly
  • Having unsecured firearms near a child
  • Leaving a child without supervision

There does not need to be intent in child endangerment cases. If a child is harmed or could have been harmed by the adult’s actions, the adult can face legal consequences. Child endangerment is a serious charge and can lead to serious consequences. If you have any questions about a criminal case, talk to an experienced defense attorney who can help you understand the full scope of the charges and potential outcomes.

Get answers and advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney. Schedule a free consultation with T.J. Grimaldi. Request your free consultation or call 813-226-1023.

Many people were confused on June 30, 2021, when Bill Cosby walked out of prison a free man. After dozens of allegations of sexual assault and a guilty verdict, it seemed impossible that Cosby would be able to leave prison so fast. What happened?

What Was Cosby Convicted Of?

Cosby was one of the most visible men accused of sexual misconduct and assault during the early days of the #MeToo movement. More than 45 women have come out to talk about their experiences with Cosby.

While dozens of women publicly shared their harrowing stories — many of them accusing Cosby of drugging and raping them — only one case led to criminal charges and a guilty verdict.

Andrea Constand accused Cosby of coming to her home in 2004 and drugging and sexually assaulting her. During the trial, five other accusers testified that they had similar experiences with Cosby.

Cosby denied all allegations and maintained his innocence, but the courts sided with Constand.

In September 2018, Cosby was convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting Constand. Cosby was fined $25,000, required to cover the costs of the prosecution (at least $43,000), and sentenced to three to ten years in state prison.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

Why Did Cosby Get Released Early?

So, why did Cosby walk free less than three years from the date of his conviction?

Cosby wasn’t released early due to serving his time. While Cosby was coming up on three years of his three to ten-year sentence, he wasn’t released due to serving his time.

Cosby wasn’t released early due to parole or good behavior. Cosby had an opportunity to participate in a sex offender program that could have helped reduce his time in prison. Cosby refused to participate in the program, reportedly saying it would require him to admit wrongdoing, and he wasn’t willing to do that even if it meant serving the full ten years.

Cosby was released because his conviction was thrown out of the court. Pennsylvania’s highest court ruled that Cosby should have never been charged in this case.

Related: What Does It Take to Be an Attorney for a High-Profile Case? 

Why Was Cosby’s Case Thrown Out?

In 2005, the district attorney of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Bruce L. Castor Jr. released a press release stating that he was not going to charge Cosby in the criminal matter related to Constand.

Constand pursued a civil case against Cosby. In that matter, Cosby sat for depositions, at which he admitted that in the past he had given quaaludes to women in an effort to have sex with them, as reported by the New York Times.

The civil case led to Cosby paying a $3.38 million settlement to Constand. The civil matter ended there, but the criminal matter did not.

A new district attorney in Montgomery County, Kevin R. Steele decided to reverse the previous district attorney’s decision. Steele proceeded with charging Cosby in criminal court in the Constant matter. The deposition Cosby gave in the Constand civil case was used during the criminal proceedings.

These are the details that led to Cosby’s early release.

Cosby’s criminal defense team argued to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that Cosby’s rights had been violated. The district attorney’s office promised not to charge him, then eventually did charge him and used testimony that Cosby gave when he believed he could not be criminally charged.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with Cosby’s defense team.

“We hold that, when a prosecutor makes an unconditional promise of non-prosecution, and when the defendant relies upon that guarantee to the detriment of his constitutional right not to testify, the principle of fundamental fairness that undergirds due process of law in our criminal justice system demands that the promise be enforced,” wrote Justice David Norman Wecht.

With that ruling, the criminal case against Cosby was dropped, his sentence was vacated, and he was released from prison.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

What Happens Next?

There will be no new trial. The ruling includes language that makes it impossible for the district attorney to bring new criminal charges against Cosby in the Constand matter.

Prosecutors could appeal the decision and ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case and overturn the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision. It’s not clear whether prosecutors will pursue this option.

This ruling doesn’t impact other cases that could be brought against Cosby.

The immunity from the recent ruling only applies to the Constand matter, and charges related to Cosby’s other accusers could still be filed and tried. Yet, due to the statute of limitations, it is unlikely that other accusers will be able to bring their cases against Cosby to criminal courts.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

Cosby Case Highlights the Importance of Following Court Procedures and Processes

Cosby’s case reflects how important it is to have a legal team that follows legal rules and standards. A failure to follow procedures can lead to major consequences in a case. A good criminal defense attorney understands and adheres to proper legal procedures to the highest degree.

Are you in need of the advice of a highly trained and experienced criminal defense attorney? Request your free consultation with TJ Grimaldi. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

The controversies and criminal charges against “19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar have led to two canceled television series. But, will the recent charges also lead to a prison sentence? What can we expect in the trial of Josh Duggar?

What Are the Charges Against Josh Duggar?

At one time, Josh Duggar represented wholesome, middle America as the eldest child in a family of 19 living in Arkansas. Starring in the TLC reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting,” Duggar showed America what it was like to live a life filled with faith and close family ties and values. But, not anymore.

In April 2021, Duggar was arrested on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.

Back in 2019, the Arkansas car dealership where Duggar worked was raided by Homeland Security. At the time, there wasn’t much information about the raid. Homeland Security only said it was a part of an “ongoing investigation.” It took almost two years for the results of the raid to lead to the arrest of Duggar.

A press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Arkansas stated that Duggar used the internet to download material that depicts the abuse of children under the age of 12. Prosecutors estimate that Duggar had more than 200 images of children on his computer.

Related: What Does It Take to Be an Attorney for a High-Profile Case? 

A History of Bad Behavior

This isn’t the first time Duggar has made the news for bad behavior.

In May 2015, an uncovered 2006 police report revealed that Duggar had been investigated for inappropriately touching five underage girls when he was a teenager. Two of his sisters later came out as two of his victims.

A few months later, in August 2015, it was reported that the married Duggar appeared to have active accounts on Ashley Madison, a website designed to help spouses cheat on their partner.

Following both of these allegations, Duggar made a public apology on the Duggar family website and confessed to having a pornography addiction and cheating on his wife.

Duggar’s statement read, “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have secretly over the last several years been viewing pornography on the internet and this became a secret addiction and I became unfaithful to my wife.“

Duggar faced no legal consequences for these incidents, and shortly after these reports, the TLC show “19 Kids and Counting” was canceled after airing from 2008 to 2015.

Shortly after the flagship Duggar show was cancelled, TLC launched “Counting On,” a show which continued to follow Dugger’s family and focused on his sisters. After the recent charges against the eldest Duggar, TLC also canceled the “Counting On.”

What’s The Current Status of Duggar’s Case?

Duggar was arrested for a crime, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and has been released on bond.

The father of six, with another child on the way, is said to be staying with family friends. Under the terms of his bail, he is not allowed to be around minors and can only see his children under the supervision of his wife, Anna Duggar.

He is now awaiting an upcoming trial.

The trial was scheduled for July 6 but was pushed back to November 30 at the request of Duggar’s attorneys. Duggar’s team said they need more time to get computer forensic experts to review the case evidence.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

What Are the Potential Outcomes for the Trial of Josh Duggar?

As of now, Duggar is standing by his statement that he is not guilty. This statement means he will likely go to trial in November.

Duggar faces two counts, each coming with a potential sentence of up to 20 years of imprisonment and $250,000 in fines. When combined, the charges mean Duggar could be facing up to 40 years behind bars.

One option for Duggar is to make a plea deal to try and get a reduced sentence. If Duggar aims to make a plea deal, he will need to:

  • Admit that he understands the charges against him
  • Admit that the conduct is punishable by law
  • Give up his right to a jury trial
  • Admit that he understands the consequences and accepts his sentencing

It remains to be seen how Duggar’s criminal defense team will approach his case. With the trial extension, they may be working on creating a defense to the charges. Or, they could also be working on making a plea that will try to limit Duggar’s time in prison.

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

Awaiting Duggar’s Day In Court

Public cases like this are difficult. The circumstances are disturbing, and the case is often tried in the media and public opinion before a trial takes place. But, Duggar will get his day in court to have a fair trial to get to the truth and face the consequences of his actions.

Do you have questions about criminal charges? Talk to criminal defense attorney TJ Grimaldi. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

All across the internet and even in front of California courthouses, people have been fighting to #FreeBritney. The movement to support Britney Spears as she fights to remove a conservatorship held against her goes back a few years. But the story recently gained more notoriety as Spears addressed the court on June 23, 2021, and made startling statements about the strict restrictions held against her.

In the statement, Spears revealed that she has been forced to stay on birth control and take lithium against her will, among other allegations of the trauma she experienced due to the conservatorship.

The topic of conservatorship has also been in the national conversation as a popular Netflix movie, “I Care a Lot” also addressed the dangers and ugly side of a conservatorship — something that is supposed to provide security but can be used in troubling ways.

The Netflix movie “I Care a Lot” is a fictional account. The Britney Spears story is a true story.

What do they both say about what could happen to ordinary people if faced with a conservatorship?

What Is a Conservatorship?

In California, a conservatorship is defined as a “court case where a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the “conservator”) to care for another adult (called the “conservatee”) who cannot care for himself or herself or manage his or her own finances.”

In Florida, conservatorship has a different definition. It is used in cases where a person disappears, and it is unknown if the person is dead or alive. A conservator is assigned to manage the properties and assets of the absentee person.

If the Britney Spears case was in Florida, it would actually be considered a guardianship case.

What Is a Guardianship?

In Florida, adult guardianship is defined as “the process by which the court finds an individual’s ability to make decisions so impaired that the court gives the right to make decisions to another person.”

Whether it is a guardianship in Florida or a conservatorship in California, both perform the same purpose, and the people in charge are often referred to as “guardians.”

Related: 6 Signs You Need a New Attorney

What Can a Guardian Do?

A probate judge assigns a guardian to take legal responsibility for someone who has been deemed incapable of caring for themselves or their property on their own.

Most of these cases involve seniors who cannot manage their personal or financial affairs due to health issues. But, in some situations, such as Spears, a guardian may be assigned to younger people experiencing mental health or physical impairments.

Guardians come in two forms. They may be responsible for managing personal affairs, ensuring that daily needs such as housing, clothing, and meals are met. They may also be responsible for financial affairs, such as managing the conservatee’s money and bills.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

What Happened to Britney?

In 2008, Britney Spears faced a very public mental health crisis. At that time, her father, Jaime Spears became her legal guardian to protect her and her financial assets. Under a court order, he took over control of Britney Spears’ personal and financial affairs. The order was supposed to be temporary but has been extended over time.

In 2019, Jaime Spears stepped down as a guardian of Britney Spears’ personal affairs, but maintained control over her finances. Jodi Montgomery, a care professional, took over as Britney Spears’ guardian over her personal affairs.

According to reports, Britney Spears began to oppose the conservatorship in 2016. She has tried to gain more control over her money and her life. But, she has been mostly unsuccessful.

In November 2020, a judge declined to remove Jaime Spears as her financial conservatorship and instead, named the financial firm, The Bessemer Trust as a co-conservator of her estate instead. A month later, the judge extended Jaime Spears’ conservatorship until September 2021.

Related: What Does It Take to Be an Attorney for a High-Profile Case? 

What Happened in “I Care a Lot”?

The movie “I Care a Lot” tells the story of an older, wealthy, single woman who is surprised to find that her doctor has recommended that a guardian take over her personal and financial affairs.

The older woman is placed in a care facility where she is over medicated, deemed mentally unfit, and not allowed to communicate with her attorney or family members. Her guardian then moves forward with selling the woman’s assets and pocketing the profits.

While the story is fictional, it is said to be based on similar cases that have happened to real people. Stories similar to this do happen and show the ugly side of legal guardianship.

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

So, What Does This Mean For You?

It is fairly unlikely that people will find themselves in a similar situation as Britany Spears or the primary character in “I Care a Lot,” but it is worth understanding your rights.

Conservators are required to follow strict guidelines and provide comprehensive accounting reports. A conservatee can also request more judicial supervision if they feel their rights are being violated. Finally, a conservatee can also ask a judge to terminate conservatorships or replace their guardians.

Britney Spears is going through the process to have the restrictions of her conservatorship removed. We will have to wait and see what happens.

If you or someone you love are in a similar situation, it is key to find an attorney you can trust to represent your interests. A trusted attorney will always be the best way to maintain your rights and get a legal outcome that is fair and just.

Related: What You Should Expect from Your Attorney in Every Case

If you have any legal questions related to family law, personal injury, or criminal defense, find an attorney you can trust. Talk to TJ Grimaldi to see how he can fight for you. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023.

On January 6, 2021, America watched as hundreds of pro-Trump protesters descended on the Capitol building and wreacked havoc. Since then, more than 500 people have been charged with crimes for their part in what is often referred to as the Capitol Insurrection.

While few people were arrested on the day of the incident, hundreds have been charged after the event due to an overwhelming amount of news and social media footage. The camera footage from the incident and an FBI investigation have led to hundreds of arrests. The FBI is still actively working on identifying even more people who were there.

Now, people are wondering what will happen to the hundreds of people involved in the incident. Let’s look at what charges and potential outcomes await the Capitol rioters.

What Charges Do People Face?

A database by NPR lists 517 people who have been charged in the Capitol insurrection. It includes each person’s name, home state, and charges. The listed charges include a variety of crimes. Most people are charged with more than one offense and have already been arrested for their crimes.

The lesser charges include:

  • Knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds
  • Disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds
  • Parade, demonstrate, or picket in any of the Capitol buildings
  • Theft

The more serious charges include:

  • Obstruction of justice/Congress
  • Engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds
  • Physical violence on Capitol grounds
  • Obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder
  • Commit or attempt any act to obstruct, impede or interfere with law enforcement in performance of his official duties
  • Assault, resisting, or impeding certain officers
  • Forcible assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interfere with law enforcement
  • Assault on federal officer with dangerous weapon
  • Conspiracy to injure an officer
  • Conspiracy

The most serious charge is conspiracy, which at least 40 people are accused of, according to NPR. Another ninety-nine people are accused of committing acts of violence.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect 

Where Will People Face Charges?

In the list of 517 people facing charges for their role in the insurrection, 49 people are from Florida. But, these people will not face state charges in Florida. They will face federal charges.

Because the crimes occurred on a federal property, the charges are Federal. They will be litigated in federal courts.

Can People Be Charged With Terrorism?

One charge that is exempt from the list is terrorism. While some people and politicians look at what happened and see a connection to terrorism, there is no legal ground to make a terrorism charge.

As FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month, there are no federal laws against domestic terrorism. While some states have anti-terrorism laws, there is no federal law that can classify the crimes of January 6th as such.

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

So, What Happens Next?

So far, no cases in the Capitol Insurrection have been brought to trial. Hundreds of people have been charged and arrested, and many have already appeared in court.

Many of the people involved with the Capitol Insurrection have pleaded not guilty. They are hiring criminal defense attorneys and making their case that they didn’t do anything wrong on January 6, 2021. Some are working with the court to create plea deals that could keep their case out of the court system and lead to a sentence reduction.

As far as potential sentencing:

  • As of May 13, 2021, 44% of defendants were charged with low-level crimes that will likely result in no jail time if it is a first-time offense.
  • Those charged with higher-level crimes may face prison time ranging from a few months up to twenty years. Violent crimes, such as assaulting a police officer, could end with eight to twenty years in prison.
  • The length of sentencing will depend heavily on the seriousness of the crime and the person’s criminal history. Those with no record will likely receive lesser sentencing.

People charged with crimes will also likely seek attorneys who can manage a high-profile case due to the newsworthiness of the case. The news has been involved since the rioters broke through the first barricade and will be following the case until its conclusion.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, a proper defense is essential to ensure that your rights aren’t violated and that you get the best possible outcome. If you have been charged with a crime, see how TJ Grimaldi can help. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023.

The past few weeks have brought the Tampa legal system into the national conversation as people watch the bizarre and gruesome trial of Ronnie Oneal III.

Oneal is charged with killing his girlfriend and disabled 9-year-old daughter as well as stabbing and setting his 8-year-old son on fire. Oneal has chosen to act as his own lawyer which has turned the already difficult case into a trial that is at times dramatic and bizarre.

It also highlights the problems that can arise when a defendant seeks to represent themselves in a criminal defense case.

Can You Represent Yourself in a Criminal Defense Case?

Yes, a criminal defendant has the legal right to represent herself or himself in court.

A public defender will be assigned to a defendant who cannot afford to hire a criminal defense attorney on their own, but defendants can exercise their right to self-representation and be “Pro-Se.”

Pro-Se defendants can represent themselves in a criminal defense case if they can show the Judge their decision was made knowingly, intelligently, voluntarily, and with awareness of the general dangers of self-representation. The defendant must also be deemed mentally competent in order to waive the right to counsel.

Why Could Oneil Represent Himself in Court?

Oneal had public attorneys representing him for three years. Shortly before the trial, he decided he wanted to go at it alone.

In 2018, Oneal was declared incompetent. He was removed from jail and spent time in a state hospital. But, more recent mental health exams deemed that he could proceed with the case and represent himself.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Assistant State Attorney Ronald Gale told the Judge that “prosecutors did not believe Oneal was suffering from any severe mental illness based on available psychological reports and evaluations.”

The Judge conducted a Faretta inquiry, which included a series of questions to determine if Oneal was fit to lead his own case. Despite a bizarre exchange during the questioning, the judge approved Oneal’s request to represent himself.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

Should You Represent Yourself in Criminal Court?

Representing yourself in court, especially criminal court where the stakes are very high, is almost always a bad decision.

In almost all cases, you should have an attorney represent you in a criminal case. 

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

The Benefits of a Defense Attorney

Having an attorney on your side during a criminal case has a variety of benefits.

An attorney protects your rights. Even in criminal cases as horrific as the Oneal case, defendants deserve the right to a fair trial. An attorney ensures that all procedures are properly followed and that a defendant’s rights are protected throughout the case.

An attorney ensures court compliance. The court system is made up of specific processes that must be followed. Failing to follow these complicated compliance rules (for things as small as filing the wrong paperwork or filing paperwork at the wrong time) can negatively affect your case.

An attorney can identify compliance failures on the other side. Both the defense and the prosecution must follow compliance rules. An attorney can catch failures to meet compliance on the other side which can help your case.

An attorney can build better arguments and negotiate plea deals. An experienced attorney knows what to expect in criminal cases. They can use their experience to create more compelling arguments. They may also have relationships that can lead to better plea deals and negotiations for lesser charges and consequences.

An attorney protects the story in high-profile cases. Cases like Oneal are often tried in the media before the results are heard in the court. It’s important to have an attorney for a high-profile case as they can stay ahead of the story in the media and ensure that the defendant’s rights are preserved and protected.

An attorney can keep emotions out of the case. It can be very difficult to keep emotions out of a case if you are defending yourself. In the Oneal case, emotions were high as Oneal cross-examined his son he is accused of setting on fire. An attorney can take the reins on a case that is often too close to the defendant.

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

Don’t Go at It Alone in a Defense Case

If you have been accused and charged with a criminal charge, you should seek representation rather than represent yourself. An attorney can fight for your best interest if you have been charged with:

  • DUI
  • Theft and property crimes
  • Traffic citations
  • Drug offenses
  • Sex offenses
  • Violent crimes
  • Weapons offenses

Whether you are innocent or guilty, representing yourself in criminal court is always a huge risk. Don’t take this unnecessary risk and instead, find an attorney you can trust to guide you through the process and lead you to the best possible outcome.

If you have an upcoming criminal case, contact TJ Grimaldi to get a free consultation about your case today. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023.

Since the premiere of Jersey Shore in December 2009, Ronnie Ortiz-Magro has been a staple cast member, regularly causing scenes both on-screen and off. But, on May 13, 2021, Ortiz-Magro announced that he was stepping away from the popular reality show series.

The departure comes after a series of domestic violence incidents dating back to 2019.

The most recent incident, which occurred in April 2021, has prompted Ortiz-Magro to step away from the show and seek medical treatment for mental health issues.

Ortiz-Magro is leaving the show.

Does that mean he is heading to jail?

Let’s look at the legal implications of Ortiz-Magro’s multiple domestic violence incidents.

What Is Considered Domestic Violence?

In Florida, domestic violence is defined under statute 741.28 as, “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”

Domestic violence refers to situations that involve family members. Incidents may involve spouses and people related by blood as well as “persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.”

All but one of Ortiz-Magro’s domestic violence incidents have involved Jen Harley, his on-again-off-again girlfriend and mother of his daughter.

Under Florida law, domestic charges can lead to penalties such as:

  • Probation
  • Jail time
  • Community service
  • Loss of rights such as a concealed carry permit
  • Enrollment in Batterer’s Intervention Program (BIP)
  • No contact orders

Both Ortiz-Magro and Harley have been charged throughout the years in incidents that occurred in California and Nevada. Their cases follow laws of the states where the incidents occurred.

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

Past Incidents

Ortiz-Magro and Harley began dating in 2017, and had their first legal incident in 2018.

In June 2018, Ortiz-Magro was reportedly caught in the seat belt outside of a car driven by Harley. Ortiz-Magro sustained a rash and bruised face from being dragged by the car. Harley was arrested, but the case was dropped due to insufficient evidence.

In January 2019, Ortiz-Magro filed a police report against Harley. He stated that she threw an ashtray at his face. Harley was arrested four months after the incident. Charges were later dropped.

In October 2019, Ortiz-Magro was accused of “striking” Harley and “chasing her with a knife,” as reported by PageSix. It is also reported that while he ran outside after Harley, he was holding his 18-month-old daughter as well as the knife. Ortiz-Magro ran back into the house and locked himself inside with the toddler. Police broke down the door, and after a confrontation with Ortiz-Magro, they tased him before removing him from the house. This incident ended with a plea deal in which Ortiz-Magro received 36 months of probation and 30 days of community service and was required to donate $20,000 to a battered women’s shelter in Los Angeles.

In January 2020, Harley was said to have tried to poke Ortiz-Magro in the eye with eyeliner that she found in the trash can of their home. This led to Ortiz-Magro seeking and receiving an emergency order for protection against domestic violence against Harley.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

The Recent Charges

All of this leads up to the incident that took place in April 2021, when Ortiz-Magro was arrested again. This time for felony domestic violence against a different woman, his new girlfriend, Saffire Matos, as reported by PEOPLE Magazine.

Ortiz-Magro was arrested on suspicion, taken to jail, and later released on $100,000 bail. No details were released on the situation that led to the arrest.

Ortiz-Magro’s team says the situation was overblown. In a statement to PEOPLE, Ortiz-Magor’s lawyers said, “initial reports and unreviewed charges are often and in Ronnie’s case, wrong.”

Matos, the woman involved, also said the incident wasn’t what it seemed. She took to Instagram to say, “Ronnie and I are fine. There is a lot of misleading information floating around out there.”

What Does It Mean for Ronnie?

Ortiz-Magro was originally charged with a felony, but the case was downgraded to a potential misdemeanor after the district attorney declined to file felony charges. Because Ortiz-Magor was on probation at the time, he was only charged with a probation violation.

Related: Misdemeanor vs Felony: What’s the Difference? 

In this case, Ortiz-Magor may be leaving Jersey Shore, but he is not headed to jail. Despite what it may have seemed, his recent incident will not lead to substantial legal consequences.

Cases like Ortiz-Magro’s are messy. With many incidents and the media involvement that comes with a high-profile case, it can be easy to jump to conclusions. But, cases can’t be tried in the media; they need to be tried fairly in the court system.

All cases need fair representation and a criminal defense team to get to the truth. If you are involved in a criminal case, make sure you have legal representation.

Contact TJ Grimaldi to get a free consultation to discuss your criminal case. Request your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Florida politician Matt Gaetz frequently shows up in the news. In the past few years, he’s been closely tied to Donald Trump and known to follow Trump’s strategy of making a scene to keep his name in the news.

But on March 30th, 2021, Gaetz made the news in a way he probably didn’t anticipate or enjoy.

On that day, The New York Times broke the story that Matt Gaetz is under investigation for violating federal sex trafficking laws. Since the story broke, Gaetz and his legal entanglements have been steadily making headlines.

The series of events have left many wondering how serious the case against Matt Gaetz is. Let’s look into the possible legal ramifications for the Florida politician.

Who Is Matt Gaetz?

Matthew Louis Gaetz II, 39, represents the 1st Florida District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is currently serving his third term. He previously served in the Florida House of Representatives for the 4th District.

Gaetz is currently under federal investigation for two crimes: sex trafficking and obstruction of justice.

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

Potential Crime #1) Sex Trafficking

According to The New York Times, a federal sex trafficking investigation into Gaetz was opened during the Trump Administration when William P. Barr was acting Attorney General.

The Justice Department’s Citizen’s Guide To U.S. Federal Law On Child Sex Trafficking defines the federal offense as, “to knowingly recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, or maintain a minor (defined as someone under 18 years of age) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the victim is a minor and would be caused to engage in a commercial sex act.”

It illegal to bring someone under the age of 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value.

The investigation is looking into whether Gaetz paid for a 17-year-old to travel across state lines to engage in sexual relations.

Gaetz is being investigated along with his political ally and former Seminole County tax collector, Joel Greenberg, for the incident which is said to have happened two years ago. It is suspected that Greenberg recruited the girl online and that Gaetz paid for her travel.

Greenberg was officially indicted last summer.

On May 17th, 2021, Greenberg resolved his case with a plea deal. As reported by USA Today, Greenberg pled guilty to six of 33 federal charges. The charges included:

  • Sex trafficking a minor
  • Creating a fake ID
  • Identity theft
  • Stalking
  • Wire fraud
  • Conspiracy to bribe a public official

Part of Greenburg’s plea deal says he will provide “substantial assistance” as a witness for other investigations. Since the same girl is involved in both the Greenberg and Gaetz cases, the witness statements Greenberg provides may offer additional insights into the Gaetz case.

Gaetz has denied all accusations and has not been charged.

If charged and convicted, Gaetz could face the consequences outlined by the Citizen’s Guide To U.S. Federal Law On Child Sex Trafficking which states, “If the victim was aged 14-17, the penalty shall not be less than 10 years in prison up to life.”

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

Potential Crime #2) Obstruction of Justice

The second federal crime Gaetz faces relates to obstructing justice.

Federal obstruction of justice is defined under 18 U.S.C. § 1503 as an act that, “corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs, or impedes, or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede, the due administration of justice.” The Justice Department’s Citizen’s Guide To U.S. Federal Law On Child Sex Trafficking also includes language that increases the severity of consequences if obstruction occurs in a child sex trafficking case.

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether obstruction of justice occurred when Gatez reportedly spoke to a girl involved in the sex trafficking investigation. 

Gaetz is said to have talked on the phone to a girl who is a witness, as reported by Politico. If Gaetz told the witness to lie or give misleading testimony, it could be considered obstruction of justice.

Gaetz has denied all wrongdoing and has not officially been charged.

If charged and convicted, Gaetz could face the consequences as outlined by the Citizen’s Guide To U.S. Federal Law On Child Sex Trafficking which states, “Anyone who obstructs or attempts to obstruct the enforcement of this statute faces as many as 20 years imprisonment.”

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

Will Matt Gaetz Face Serious Legal Charges?

Gaetz is still under investigation for both federal crimes. He is not currently facing official charges. If he faces charges will likely depend on what witnesses reveal. Prosecutors will need to find sufficient evidence to indict Gaetz and then convict him.

For now, he is free and clear of all charges.

Have you been involved in a criminal case? Do you need help understanding how serious the case against you is? Get answers and advice from a criminal defense attorney. Schedule your free consultation to talk to T.J. Grimaldi. Request your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Most of America was shocked to see images of golf legend Tiger Woods’ damaged SUV rolled over at the bottom of a small hill. This wasn’t the first time Woods and a roadside incident made the news, and after people realized that Woods would survive, many wondered how this incident would impact him legally.

What Happened?

Investigators revealed that on the morning of February 23, 2021, Woods approached a curve in the road at a high speed. The data reporter in his 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV shows he may have hit the accelerator instead of the brake and collided with a tree going an estimated 75 mph.

Prior to the collision, Woods was going as fast as 87 mph, more than 45 mph over the legal speed limit, and investigators say the accident was caused by Woods driving in an unsafe manner, according to reporting by CNBC.

So, what does that mean for Woods?

Considering Tiger Woods’ Past Roadside Incidents

The February 2021 accident is the third time Woods has been in the news for incidents that occurred with him behind the wheel.

The first incident occurred in 2009 when Woods hit a fire hydrant outside of his driveway in Orlando, Florida. The incident was the first in a series of scandals related to Woods’ extramarital affairs. It is believed that he wrecked the vehicle after an argument with his wife.

In that case, Woods was issued a traffic citation for careless driving and a fine of $164. 

In May 2017, Woods faced more serious charges. Officers found him asleep at the wheel of his running car. The car had minor damage to the tires and bumper, and Woods appeared to be impaired.

In that case, Woods was charged with driving under the influence (for the use of medication, not alcohol), and he pled guilty to a reckless driving misdemeanor as part of a first-time DUI offender program. He was required to submit random drug and alcohol testing, and his license was suspended for ten days, as reported by the Sun Sentinel.

Both previous incidents were in Florida. His recent accident occurred in California and will follow California law.

Related: 5 Reasons to Contact a Car Accident Lawyer After a Crash 

Potential Charges for Tiger Woods

Per the details of Tiger Woods’ accident, three categories could result in legal ramifications. Let’s look at if Woods will face charges in California and what it might mean if his accident had happened in Florida.

Criminal Speeding

In Florida, driving 50 or more mph over the speed limit can be charged as a felony. It can lead to fines, court fees, and a license suspension. Subsequent offenses come with larger fines and longer suspensions.

  • 1st offense: $1,000 fine
  • 2nd offense: $2,500 fine and one-year license suspension
  • 3rd offense: $5,000 fine and ten-year license suspension

Consequences are higher if someone is injured during the incident, if it occurred in a school or construction zone, or if someone was driving under the influence.

Reports say that Woods was driving 45 mph over the speed limit, just shy of what would constitute felony speeding in Florida.

While the data reported in his vehicle shows that he was well over the speed limit, Woods did not receive a fine or charge for speeding. 

Related: Misdemeanor vs Felony: What’s the Difference? 

Reckless Driving

Florida law defines reckless driving as driving a motor vehicle “with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” The driver knows their driving could harm people or property, and they do it anyway.

Reckless driving is more severe than a careless driving charge which refers to unsafe driving that may be committed unintentionally. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor charge, but it can come with heavy consequences.

  • 1st offense: $500 fine and/or up to 90 days in jail
  • 2nd offense: $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail
  • 3rd offense: $5,000 fine and/or up to five years in jail

Consequences are higher if someone is injured or property is damaged during the incident.

Woods pled guilty to reckless driving after his DUI charge in Florida in May of 2017. If the recent accident occured in Florida and Woods was charged with reckless driving, he could have faced fines and up to six months in jail.

Woods did not face any reckless driving charges for the accident in California. Despite his high speed, investigators said they had no proof that he was driving recklessly before the accident.

Driving While Intoxicated

In Florida, drivers can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) can carry the same serious charges as a DUI.

The severity of consequences increases for repeat offenses and if persons or property are injured during the incident. DUI charges may include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • License suspension
  • Potential civil charges if someone is injured

Because Woods pled to a lesser charge for his first DUI, his previous charge may not have impacted this accident. It might have been considered a first offense DUI if drugs or alcohol were involved.

But, investigators said there was no evidence that Woods was impaired or intoxicated in the 2021 accident. Because there were no open containers or signs of narcotics in the car, they did not receive a search warrant to test Woods’ blood for intoxicants. Woods was not charged for driving under the influence. 

Related: Arrested for a DUI in Florida? Here’s What to Do Next 

No Charges for Tiger Woods

As of now, it appears that Woods will not receive any legal consequences as a result of his accident on February 23, 2021. He was not charged with criminal speeding, reckless driving, or driving while intoxicated.

Have you been in a roadside incident and are wondering if you will face charges?

If you need advice about how to handle an accident or DUI charge, contact TJ Grimaldi today. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.