The Firm Success Stories
The results that you see may not always be typical. Every case is unique and can have entirely different results. Every case must be evaluated on its own merits
An 18-year-old from Maryland decided to hitchhike to the Florida Keys to work construction following a hurricane in 2018. When he got as far as the Astor area, he was picked up by 65-year-old man who turned out to be a sexual predator. The older man bought food and alcohol for the young man and after drinking to intoxication, offered to rent a motel room for the night so that the young man could take a shower, get a good night sleep and then head south in the morning. The young man agreed. Because of his alcohol consumption, he passed out on the bed only to be awakened by the older man who was on top of him grabbing his genitals. He was pushed off only to return but this time with his hand over the young man’s nose and mouth so that he could not breathe. Unable to get the older man off of him because he was 50 pounds heavier and 4 inches taller, he reached for a knife on his belt that he used for camping. In a gesture of self-defense, he stabbed the older man 29 times until the older man was no longer attacking him. He died on the bed. Not knowing what to do, the younger man took his car keys, wallet, watch and cell phone and left. That same day, he left the car after driving south for hours, and flew home to Maryland. He was indicted for premeditated murder in the first degree and the case went to trial after he spent four years in jail dealing with Covid delays. A 12-person jury found him not guilty of murder and he was released to his parents.
Client had driven his Wave Runner to a beach bar and left to go home with another boat that ran aground on the way. The client took one of the passengers on the boat with him but when they got home, the passenger realized that he had left his wallet on the boat and wanted to go back and get it. The client tried to persuade him to wait until the morning because it was now dark and everyone had too much to drink. The man pleaded with the client to go back because he did not want anyone to take his wallet. They went and got the wallet but, on the way, back, in the dark, he hit a channel marker and the passenger flew off the Wave Runner and hit it. The client was able to put him on the Wave Runner but when they returned home, he was dead. The client’s blood alcohol level was over the legal limit and he was charged with BUI manslaughter. We worked with the prosecutor and the family of the man who died and came to a resolution that the client would be charged with simple BUI and given probation.
In another BUI manslaughter case, a group of underaged teens bought beer and went to a spoil island in Clearwater Bay by boat. They drank all day. When it was time to leave, they realized that the boat was aground as the tide had gone out. In an effort to get the boat afloat, several of the boys began to push the boat from the back. In order to help them, the client started the engine in an effort to propel the boat into deeper water. Another person who had been on the island came to help but was impaired. As he began to push the back of the boat, he slipped and fell into the propeller. Another boat took him to shore but he was dead from the incident. Although the client was driving the boat and was himself impaired, there was no proof that he saw or asked for the man’s help in pushing the boat. We were able to keep charges from being brought against the client.
A past client (Mr. C) had a friend who felt revenge toward another man. The client and his friend went to another man’s property and dug a grave. The landowner later testified that the men told him not to call the police if they returned late that same night. The following day, the landowner saw that the grave was covered up and dug down until he felt a body. The police were called. While the police were conducting their investigation, Mr. C pulled up in his car. In the trunk, were trashbags filled with the bloody headliner from the car used to transport the dead body. He was arrested along with his friend. At trial, he testified that he had loaned his car to his friend and had nothing to do with the murder. The other man did not testify. There was no motive for the client to have committed the murder and the jury found a reasonable doubt as to his involvement. They found him not guilty but found his co- defendant guilty.
Date Rape Crimes
A past client (Mr. I) dated a girl who became pregnant. She wanted to get married. He did not. They agreed to terminate the pregnancy but to stay together. Ultimately, he broke off the relationship. She was sad and angry. Late one night, months later, he showed up at her door wanting to resume their physical relationship. After staying the night with her, he left the next morning but did not indicate that he would call. She called the police and told them that she had been raped. The case proceeded to trial and Mr. I testified that everything that happened that night was consensual. After the jury learned about how their previous relationship ended and how the woman continued to have strong feelings for Mr. I, they came to the conclusion that she was not a victim but rather a woman scorned who wanted to even the score. They returned a verdict of “not guilty”.
Mr. A went out to dinner with his wife. Upon returning to his vehicle, he began to back out of the parking place onto the road. He pulled back in when he saw traffic approaching. As he did, the engine raced and the car took off. It struck a woman who was sitting on the curb, killing her. A traffic investigation was conducted and it was determined later that he had an unlawful blood alcohol level of .16 (twice the legal limit). He was thereafter charged with DUI manslaughter. He contended all along that he did not cause the accident but rather the vehicle experienced “unintended acceleration”. He went on to state that the car did something similar within the past year when his wife was pulling into the garage. The vehicle smashed into the back of the garage after it accelerated without her touching the gas pedal. The prosecution hired an expert in forensic engineering who stated that there was nothing wrong with the vehicle. Rather, it was due to “driver error”. The defense hired its own expert who conducted a far more intensive examination of the vehicle and in particular the throttle control module. After disassembling and testing with sophisticated computer and bench testing equipment, the part was proven to be faulty with unintended acceleration as a consequence. The charge was reduced to misdemeanor DUI and the client was placed on probation.
Murder / Drugs
A husband and wife had a 13-year-old daughter. She was an only child. They absolutely adored her. She was going through a time in her life when she had braces on her teeth. On one occasion, after she got home from the orthodontist, she complained to her mother that the braces were causing her a great deal of pain. This pain continued into the evening hours. Because regular painkillers did not work, the mother decided to give her one of her prescription pain medications. After taking one, the girl asked to sleep with her parents. Unknown to them, because the pain persisted, she got up and took more of the prescription pills. The combination caused her death. When the parents awoke in the morning, they immediately called 911 and pleaded for help. They were devastated. Their only child was gone.
The investigating detective took a statement from the mother and, knowing the law, sent the case to the state attorney’s office for the crime of felony murder. That is when someone dies during the commission of certain felonies. Distribution of (controlled) drugs is one of those felonies. She was facing decades in prison. After the autopsy was finished, it was learned that the single pill that the mother had given her daughter would not have caused death. That, along with an extensive positive background presentation of the parents, led the prosecutor to conclude that pursuing felony murder charges was not warranted.
A past client (Mr. E) was charged with 10 counts of child molestation. He was a teacher at a local school teaching second grade. He was a big man that could easily have been mistaken for Santa Claus. Equally friendly and involved as a teacher. All the children loved him. As he walked down the hallway, he would have three children on either side of him each one holding one of his fingers. In class, they like to sit on his lap. He was caring and talk to them when they had a problem at home. The accusations surrounded him touching female students as they sat on his lap. He vigorously denied the accusations. Originally, there were 11 little girls involved. The state, however, dropped one of the charges and I became suspicious. I took the deposition of the 11th girl and she said that the only reason that she went along with the accusation was because “all of her friends were saying it”. She began to cry and said that everything was made up. The investigation then discovered that the people who were conducting the interviews were planting statements and leading the children into making false accusations. Fortunately, the jury came to the same conclusion and found him “not guilty”. But his teaching career was over.
The former United States attorney for the middle District of Florida was charged with battery in what became the longest battery trial in the history of the state of Florida. Mr. H was heading home from watching a high school football game with his wife driving and three of their nine children in their family van. His wife needed to get out of a left turn only lane and inadvertently cut off another driver. Angered, the man attempted to force a rear end collision by shooting in front of the van and jamming on his brakes. The van narrowly missed hitting the man’s car. As traffic streamed by both sides, the man got out and headed back to the van. Believing that his wife may be assaulted, Mr. H got out to head him off. The man ran back to his car and began reaching underneath the front seat. Believing he was going for a gun, Mr. H pulled him out and punched him in the mouth. Medical treatment was ultimately required. The incident took place directly in front of a police officer who was standing on a corner. She did not see what led up to the punch however saw the assault and arrested Mr. H for the crime of battery. At trial, the defense established that the man who was assaulted had a history of causing rear end collisions for profit. A use of force expert was also called to establish that Mr. H acted in self-defense when he saw the other man reaching under his car seat as it was reasonable to assume that he was going for a gun. The jury found Mr. H “not guilty” and even wrote on the jury verdict that they all believed he was fully justified in what he had done.
A past client (Mr. D) was a passenger in a car along with two other male friends. They stopped in the middle of the road to look at a boat that was in someone’s driveway when another group of men, in another vehicle, honked their horn to get by. Words were exchanged and the situation escalated. Four men got out of the other vehicle and began to circle around one of Mr. D’s friends. Because they were outnumbered, Mr. D along with the other friend went back to their truck and obtained long handled shovels. When they told the other men to get away from their friend, they felt threatened and struck two of the men in the head with shovels. The men were taken to the hospital and placed in intensive care. They were not armed at the time of the incident. Self-defense and the defense of others was used at trial. After the jury finished deliberating, they found Mr. D and his friend “not guilty”.
Mr. deVlaming handled the first “Romeo and Juliet” motion in the state of Florida after a new statute was enacted allowing for individuals to get off the sex registry if their offense did not involve violence, the age between the accused and the alleged victim was no more than four years, they fell within a certain age category and it was the offenders first (sex) offense. The law was enacted because the legislature realized that there was a difference between two young people who were engaging in nothing more than “high school experimentation sex” and that of the true sex offender. The case that Mr. deVlaming handled was covered by the AP wire services nationally and he subsequently went on to successfully have many qualified offenders removed from the registry. In doing so, the shame, humiliation and “branding” were all removed by court order.
A past client (Mr. B) had a few drinks at a local bar and then left on his motorcycle. He stopped at an intersection waiting for traffic to clear and then pulled out. Unfortunately, behind the last car was another motorcycle occupied by its driver and passenger. The vehicles collided and the passenger died. The client had an unlawful blood-alcohol level and was charged with DUI manslaughter. The case was fully investigated and an animation was made of the accident to prove that alcohol had nothing to do with the crash but rather it was the result of unfortunate circumstances which were unforeseen and unintended. The state ultimately dropped the case down to “not having a motorcycle endorsement” on his license and he avoided a prison sentence.
A past client (Ms. F) was arrested and charged by the state of Florida with trafficking in pharmaceutical drugs. Because of the quantity of drugs in her possession, the minimum sentence under the law was 25 years in state prison. An exhaustive medical history as well as previous attempts at drug rehabilitation were gathered and presented to the state. After it was established and proven to the satisfaction of the prosecution that she was an addict and did not profit from the sale of drugs, the charges were reduced and she spent no time in jail.
A single mother was driving her three young children to a doctor’s appointment. It was a rainy day and temperatures did not get out of the 70s. While taking care of a few errands, she stopped to pick up her cell phone that was being repaired. She parked in front of the front door. Because it was raining, and believing that it would only take a moment or two, she left the three children, ages six, three and 13 days old in the vehicle. It took longer than expected. Approximately 27 minutes. During that time, the six-year-old removed the 13-day-old from her car seat and was responsible for killing her. The actions of the six-year-old were neither expected nor anticipated. Following a police investigation, the mother was charged with aggravated child abuse manslaughter which carried up to 30 years in prison. After presenting extensive mitigation concerning not only the incident but the client, the state ultimately agreed that although it amounted to negligence, it did not rise to manslaughter. The charge was amended to leaving a child unattended in a vehicle resulting in harm to another and the client was left with no criminal record and given a probationary sentence.
Client G went out to dinner with a friend and had a few drinks. After leaving the restaurant, and while obeying all traffic laws, a teenager darted across the street and was struck by the client’s vehicle. The young man was killed. A subsequent investigation showed that the teenager drank an excessive amount of alcohol but it also showed that the client had a blood alcohol level of approximately twice the legal limit. The police investigation was ultimately delivered to the office of the state attorney and a decision was made to charge the client with DUI manslaughter. The client contended all along that although driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level, he did not cause or contribute to the accident or the young man’s death. Ultimately, the state agreed with the defense and dropped the DUI manslaughter charge. The client ended up pleading to simple DUI and was placed on probation.
Ms. Rivellini recently defended two clients who were arrested after being found sleeping behind the wheel. In both cases evidence reflected that the driver was impaired, and in the one case, particularly intoxicated. After legal research, Ms. Rivellini was able to formulate Motions to Suppress and argue to the respective Judges that the law enforcement officer should never have been able to make the arrest. In both cases, her motions were granted and the cases were thrown out. One of those cases was the basis for a serious felony Violation of Probation (VOP), and the Violation of Probation was also dismissed.
A past client (Mr. G) and a group of his friends went to a bar in Tampa. Everyone was having a good time when he accidentally bumped into another man who got angry. Words were exchanged inside the bar and it ultimately ended out on the sidewalk. After the man was pushed down, someone kicked him in the head so hard that he suffered severe brain damage. Mr. G was the person identified (by clothing) as the perpetrator by spectators who also had been drinking heavily. Mr. G denied the accusations and although he did not want to turn in his friend, implicated him as the one responsible. After a thorough investigation it was learned that the friend immediately left the scene and changed clothing. It was alleged by the defense at trial that he did so to keep from being identified as the actual one responsible. He was directly asked at trial, after being called by the defense, if he was the one who did it. His demeanor and response said it all. The jury believed that it was him and not Mr. G. A “not guilty” verdict followed.
Violation of Injunction
Mr. “R” was charged with violating an injunction for repeat violence put in place by a neighbor in his condominium complex. The injunction required that Mr. “R” remain at least 500 feet away from the woman who made the complaint. There had been some ongoing disputes leading up to this charge. Mr. “R” had in fact come within the restricted distance while carrying out his duties as a board member at the condominium. At trial, Ms. Rivellini was able to encourage the sitting Judge to look beyond the wording of the injunction and into the intent of the restriction. Even after the woman, her sister, another neighbor and two police officers testified for the State, Ms. Rivellini won a “Not Guilty” verdict.
Multiple Drug Charges
Ms. “M,” a young woman, was arrested for over 10 drug felonies on different occasions, including Attempted Trafficking, for her contact with prescription pills. Ms. Rivellini, recognizing the severity of the addiction, immediately got Ms. “M” out of jail and into rehab. Ms. Rivellini was able to secure a situation where the 10+ charges were reduced down to two, making the client eligible for Drug Court and the counseling she so desperately needed. Even though the client relapsed on several occasions, Ms. Rivellini stuck with her relentlessly, until Ms. “M” was able to finally successfully complete probation. Ms. “M” is clean and sober with no felony convictions on her record and is in the process of getting them sealed.