BARTOW, FL — Boswell & Dunlap, LLP, established in 1900, is pleased to announce that Jillian T. Spangler has joined the firm. Ms. Spangler, a 2018 recipient of the Polk Emerging Leader Award, past president of the Rotary Club of Winter Haven and current chair of Endeavor Winter Haven, brings to the firm a diversified transactional practice in business law, corporate governance, commercial and residential real estate, estate planning and equine law. Jillian earned a bachelor’s degree in international business from Rollins College in 2010, a Masters of Business Administration, with a focus on international business, management, and marketing, from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in 2012, and a Juris Doctorate from the Stetson University College of Law in 2014. The firm, Polk County’s oldest, is thrilled to welcome her.
Boswell & Dunlap, LLP, is pleased to announce that on July 1, 2019, Governor DeSantis appointed Frederick John Murphy, Jr. to a four-year term on the 10th Judicial Circuit’s Judicial Nominating Commission (“JNC”). JNCs select nominees to fill judicial vacancies within the Florida court system. They are charged with recruiting, investigating and evaluating applicants for judicial office, and then, for each vacancy, submitting three to six of the most highly qualified applicants to the Governor, who must make a final selection from the list.
Summer months provide ample opportunity for residents across Florida to cool off and enjoy the water in swimming pools. While pools can be a great source of entertainment or exercise, they do pose risks, especially to children. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4. Many of these preventable deaths occur in swimming pools.
If you and your loved ones are enjoying the summer months with time by the pool, it is important that you make safety a top priority. Our legal team at Boswell & Dunlap, LLP wants to provide you with a few important safety tips to help you do just that:
- Supervision – Supervision is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to swimming, as children face the greatest risks of injuries and drownings when they use pools unsupervised. Whether you’re at a backyard pool or a public pool, be sure that children are supervised at all times when near or in the water.
- Swimming skills – Unintentional drowning and near-drowning events can be prevented when children and adults have adequate swimming skills. During the summer, there are many swimming classes available at local youth programs, as well as many swimming instructors who advertise their services. Ensuring that your children and anyone using the pool knows how to swim is critical to ensuring their safety, but it still does not eliminate the need for supervision.
- Emergency response – When accidents happen in or near swimming pools, it can take time for emergency medical crews to respond and administer aid. As such, you can protect your loved ones by learning CPR and other emergency response techniques that can make the difference when it matters most.
- Pool fencing – If you have a pool, installing a barrier or fencing around its perimeter can prevent unsupervised access, especially by children. Safety experts recommend four-sided fencing around pools, which can reduce drowning risks by as much as 80 percent.
- Alcohol use – Summer pool parties commonly involve celebrations and alcohol, but it is important to ensure that alcohol is used responsibly. Alcohol is a contributing factor in up to 70% of injuries and deaths involving water recreation, according to the CDC, which is why it should be consumed wisely when swimming and supervising others.
Making safety a priority can help you protect yourself and your loved ones from being harmed in preventable swimming pool accidents. Unfortunately, not everyone takes reasonable measures in protecting the safety of others. When homeowners, public pool facilities, and operators of private pools fail to provide safe premises for visitors and guests who suffer injuries as a result of their negligence, they can potentially be held liable for their damages when victims file personal injury claims.
At Boswell & Dunlap, LLP, our Polk County personal injury attorneys are available to help victims and families protect their rights following preventable injuries. If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of a swimming pool accident, of have suffered injuries while on another’s property, we can help you better understand your rights and learn whether you might have a valid claim for compensation. To discuss a potential case, contact us for a FREE consultation.
Being arrested and charged for any criminal offense can cause great disruption in your life. When that charge is for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol, there are a number of consequences and penalties that can accompany the fines and possible terms of imprisonment accused individuals face. As such, it becomes important for anyone charged for DUI in Florida to take the right steps as soon as they can.
At Boswell & Dunlap, LLP, our Polk County criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience representing clients charged with a range of DUI offenses. When arrests take place, we always advise that local residents seek legal counsel and assistance as soon as possible. Not only can this ensure the right steps are being taken and any timelines met, but it can also provide the experience and insight needed to create an effective defense that seeks to mitigate or eliminate the charges and penalties defendants face.
While our legal team is readily available to help after you or someone you love has been charged for driving under the influence, we still want to provide some important information that can help you navigate the aftermath of an arrest and protect your rights and future. Here are a few important steps to take.
- Write everything down – Following an arrest, it is in your best interests to record as much as you can remember regarding the details leading up to your arrest as soon as you can. This is because memories can become hazy over time. By writing down all details you can remember, including the location for your stop, the officer’s reason for stopping you, any administered tests, and other elements of the investigation, you can provide yourself and your attorney with information that may be important to your defense, and which can be used in your favor.
- Know the charges you face – Understanding the charges you face, as well as the penalties they pose, is essential to knowing what’s at stake. In some cases, drivers may not feel that DUI allegations are serious enough to warrant much attention or the help of a lawyer, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, DUI offenders in Florida face some of the harshest penalties in the nation, as well as related expenses and consequences that can impact them in the long-term. This is true even in cases where drivers are charged with a first-time DUI. In cases involving prior offenses or aggravating circumstances such as high BAC levels, accidents, or injuries, the charges and penalties can be elevated exponentially. In a previous blog, we discussed some of the facts that can lead to felony DUI
charges, as well as the severe penalties they entail. Serious charges, and especially felony charges, demand the attention of proven lawyers.
- Know your rights – It is important to understand your rights when you are under suspicion of a crime and once you have been charged with a crime. Most important to remember is your right to remain silent. You do not have to speak with law enforcement, and you should generally always refuse to do so. Talking to police or investigators won’t help your case, and can only give prosecutors more ammunition to convict you. Another important right is your right to challenge the government’s case against you, and your right to legal representation when doing so. Just because you have been charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty. The government is tasked with proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. There may be evidence that casts doubt on their narrative about what happened during your arrest, and there may have been errors made by law enforcement that could result in outcomes favorable to you, such as police not having probable cause to pull you over. A defense attorney can evaluate your situation and the circumstances surrounding your arrest to ensure your rights are protected and that a solid defense is made on your behalf.
- Know the time limits in place – In addition to knowing when you have to appear in court, you should also be aware of other time limits involved in your case. Most significantly in DUI cases, this involves administrative hearings with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), which is tasked with making determinations regarding your driving privileges. When you are arrested for DUI in Florida, you receive a temporary driver’s license that is valid for 10 days, after which it will automatically be suspended. To protect your driving privileges, you can request a hearing, but you must do so within 10 days of your arrest.
- Consider the benefits of a lawyer – The single most important thing you can do to protect yourself as you navigate the criminal justice system and administrative license hearings is to work with a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Give yourself some time to consider the benefits of working with a lawyer, but remember that because time is of the essence, reaching out to an attorney as soon as possible is important. This means a private lawyer who has the time, experience, and resources public defenders simply do not have. Remember what’s at stake in your case, including the fines, terms of imprisonment, and other short- and long-term consequences, and remember that defense attorneys work zealously to avoid or mitigate these penalties as much as possible. Working with a lawyer can make the difference in your case.
Charged with DUI in Polk County or any of the surrounding areas of Florida? Call Boswell & Dunlap, LLP for a FREE and confidential consultation.
Estate plans are critical documents for anyone, not just those with large estates. An estate plan can give you peace of mind knowing that your assets will be handled how you wish, but there are also some issues that you may run into if you don’t adequately plan. Here are some common issues to avoid while making your estate plans.
1. Not Making an Estate Plan
You may put off making an estate plan for a number of reasons, but forgoing an estate plan means that your assets may not be distributed as you intended. Your family will also have to deal with the additional stress of handling your estate, on top of other final affairs.
2. Failing to Update Your Estate Plan
Life leads to many changes, and you should remember to update your estate plan to reflect these changes. Births, deaths, divorces, new property acquisitions, and other changes can require an update to your will. Review your will periodically with your attorney to make sure that it still fits your needs.
3. Not Making Plans for Disability
An unexpected long-term disability can drastically change your personal and financial plans. Set aside the time to decide who will handle your finances, care for your children, or make healthcare decisions on your behalf. You should make these choices legally binding by appointing a power of attorney and create a living trust to work on your behalf.
4. Not Transferring Your Life Insurance Policies to a Trust
Your life insurance policies are subject to a heavy estate tax, which can cause your beneficiaries to receive far less than intended. Protect your loved ones by making a life insurance trust the owner of your life insurance policies. This can prevent your policies from being taxed, and will prevent your beneficiaries from waiting several months to receive the payouts from your policies.
5. Not Seeking Advice from a Qualified Estate Planning Lawyer
Many of these mistakes can be avoided with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. They can advise you as to your best options, ensure that your will or trust needs are met, keep your estate plans up-to-date, and help you make other decisions pertaining to your end-of-life plans.
At Boswell & Dunlap LLP, we are passionate about helping our clients find peace of mind in knowing that their wishes will be honored and their loved ones cared for, even after they are gone. Our Polk County estate planning lawyers are backed by more than 100 years of collective legal experience, so you can trust that your case is in good hands.
Divorce can be a painful and emotional event for anyone, but it may be especially difficult for children to understand. If you are planning a divorce, it is important to talk to your kids about the process and what they can expect. Here are some tips to help you with this conversation.
Talk to the Whole Family
Keeping secrets is hard, and being the last one to know can hurt. It may be tempting to tell the older children first or talk to each child individually, but it is likely that you will end up having to deal with stressed-out kids and hurt feelings. Pick a time to sit down with the whole family and talk about the divorce and the changes to come. A good time is a quiet weekend, so your family can have time to think about the news and ask questions as they think of them.
Explain What Changes They Can Expect
Divorce can lead to a lot of changes for your family. Ease some of your kids’ worries by discussing what they can expect to happen, and how these changes will affect them. You should also talk about what will not change. Will they still live in the same house? Will they stay in the same school? You should also remind them that they are still loved and will be cared for.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
Even if you feel your spouse caused the divorce, don’t blame them in front of your kids. Keep a united front for them, and explain that the divorce isn’t anyone’s fault, especially your children’s. Talk about how people change and relationships may not work anymore. Remind your kids that they are not responsible for your marriage or happiness.
Give Them Time
It can take children some time to come to terms with a divorce. Give them what they need while they process the news. Some kids will want space, others will want to ask questions and talk about it, and some will want to be comforted. Do your best to be there for them when they need you, and to answer the questions they have. They are looking to you to lead them through this. You may also help them find a trusted adult to talk about their feelings, such as a mentor, counselor, or family friend.
If you are contemplating divorce, our experienced Clark County divorce attorneys can help. At Boswell & Dunlap LLP, we can call on more than a century of collective legal experience to help you and your family navigate your divorce case. Don’t wait to get help.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and organizations and advocates throughout the country are increasing their efforts to raise awareness about the devastating consequences distraction can have when it takes place behind the wheel. According to the National Safety Council, one of the organizations leading the way in raising awareness this month, driver distraction is playing a significant role in the rising numbers of injuries and deaths on American roadways.
Estimates from the National Safety Council have found some alarming data, the most notable of which include:
- Roughly 40,000 roadways fatalities in 2016 – a 6% increase over 2015.
- A 14% increase in motor vehicle accidents in 2016 compared to 2014, the largest two year increase on record.
- More than 4.6 million auto accident injuries serious enough to require medical attention in 2016, a 7% increase compared to 2015.
- A car-accident injury occurs every 8 seconds in the U.S.
While the dangers of distracted driving have long been known, these statistics paint an alarming picture as to just how serious the problem has become. According to the National Safety Council, distracted driving has contributed to many preventable injuries and deaths on our road. What’s more, this distraction largely involves the use of cell phones. At Boswell & Dunlap LLP, our personal injury lawyers know the serious consequences of driver distraction and cell phone use all too well.
Cell Phone Use & Distraction
Using a cell phone while driving is considered to be one of the most dangerous forms of driver distraction. This is because reading and responding to messages, or navigating the internet and apps, often commands a driver’s visual, manual, and mental attention all at once. As a result, drivers substantially increase their crash risks and are far less likely to see potential dangers and react when driving on the open road.
In response to what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has dubbed a “nationwide epidemic,” experts and advocates are calling attention to the critical need for stemming the rising numbers of injuries and deaths on our roads. To achieve this, the National Safety Council is recommending tougher distracted driving laws, particularly when it comes to regulating the use of cell phones and text messaging while driving.
Over the years, increased awareness about driver distraction has led to laws being passed in many states. Unfortunately, not all of these laws are created equally by state lawmakers, and many of them fall short in addressing the underlying issue and protecting public safety. For example, some states still permit experienced drivers to use a cell phone behind the wheel. This includes hands-free devices, which are not risk free. States may also pass distracted driving measures as secondary laws, which limits the ability of police to enforce laws as they cannot cite drivers without another traffic violation taking place.
Florida Laws on Distracted Driving
When it comes to distracted driving laws, many experts believe that Florida’s legislation falls overwhelmingly short in protecting the public. In fact, a recent study published by EverQuote found that Florida is ranked as the second-worst state for distracted driving. Here’s why:
- Although Florida prohibits text messaging while driving for all motorists, the law is a secondary law that prevents law enforcement from pulling over and citing a driver unless they have committed another traffic violation. Florida is one of only five states nationwide to not enforce a texting ban as a primary law.
- Florida joints the majority of states that do not prohibit hand-held cell phone use for drivers. The state does not prohibit all cell phone use for any drivers, as some states do for novice and school bus drivers.
Experts agree that updating laws to primary laws can better allow law enforcement to cite motorists who engage in texting behind the wheel, and set a clear standard for acceptable driving conduct. Passing laws to prohibit handheld cell phone use can also help reduce the number of distracted drivers on our roads.
Tougher laws are certainly part of reducing the likelihood of preventable crashes, but they are not the only measure to be taken. In a world where we are constantly plugged in and engaged in our smart phones, it will take a great deal of work to remind motorists that doing so behind the wheel is a negligent, risky, and extremely dangerous act that can have life-altering consequences. Educating the public and raising awareness will continue to be a critical mission for all states across the country if we want to put an end to distracted driving. Remember, you can do your part by waiting to use the phone.
As long as there are cell phones, there will be distracted driving and, unfortunately, distracted driving accidents. When these preventable wrecks do occur, victims have the right to hold the driver accountable for their negligence and to recover financial compensation for the damages they suffered. Working with a lawyer during this time can ensure victims and families take the appropriate steps toward full and fair compensation.
Our Bartow car accident lawyers at Boswell & Dunlap LLP have helped numerous injured victims across Polk County and Florida after they were harmed in car wrecks, including preventable wrecks caused by a distracted motorist. Our team is readily available to help car wreck victims learn more about their rights and what we can do to help. Reach out to our firm as soon as possible to get started on your case.
Contact us today for a FREE consultation.
Being charged with a criminal offense can make for difficult and frightening times. When there’s a lot on the line, you need to be sure you understand and know how to exercise your legal rights, especially your right to legal representation. No matter the charges, you have the right to have an attorney by your side as your challenge the government’s case against you and fight to defend your freedom and future. Your right to a lawyer is one of the most important rights you have.
In many criminal cases, defendants have the opportunity to work with a public defender, a government employee who represents individuals charged with crimes. While it may seem nice that a government-provided lawyer will be there to help you along the way, the truth is that public defenders generally lack the time, resources, and experience to provide the type of representation needed to address your case and protect your future. In fact, public defender offices throughout the nation have been criticized for falling short in being able to effectively level the playing field for those who stand accused of crimes.
At Boswell & Dunlap LLP, our Polk County criminal defense lawyers have represented numerous clients throughout the region who faced allegations involving a range of crimes. Often, these clients, and others who call our firm, express their interest in possibly working with a public defender. When they do, we typically explain why that’s not always the best idea, and why our firm can provide far more for their case than any public defender can.
When the stakes are high, you want to place your trust in proven and dedicated defense lawyers, not public defenders. Here’s why:
- Time & Attention – It is no secret that our criminal justice system is severely overburdened, and the impact of this burden can be felt through all aspects of the process, from law enforcement to prosecution to our jail and prisons; and for public defenders as well. Public defenders have massive caseloads filled with defendants, and they simply lack the time needed to fully invest in any one case and defense. Many counties in Florida have tens of thousands of cases each year (nearly 80,000 in Miami-Dade alone). In addition, a study conducted by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers using data from Louisiana discovered that public defenders were so overburdened by their caseloads that they devoted just 7 minutes on average when preparing for a defendant’s court appearance. Limited time also means limited attention, and defendants who work with public defenders often find that a PD isn’t as readily available to their needs as a private attorney would be.
- Resources – In addition to large caseloads, public defender offices are notoriously underfunded. This means that public defenders have limited resources and limited options when it comes to fully investigating, researching, and preparing cases. Based on research collected in 2009, funding for public defenders pales in comparison to funding for the prosecution (equating to only 53 cents for public defenders for every dollar spent for the prosecution). When defendants work with a public defender, the lack of resources alone can tip cases in the prosecutor’s favor.
- Experience – Underfunding has an impact beyond limiting the resources public defenders have available to work on a defendant’s case, it also limits the type of attorneys public defender offices can hire. With limited funding comes limited salaries, which is why public defender offices are typically staffed by young and new attorneys, many of whom may be fresh out of law school and generally inexperienced in handling defense cases and in handling many different types of charges. Whether you have a misdemeanor case or are facing serious felony charges, working with a public defender could mean that your representation simply doesn’t have much, if any, experience handling cases involving the types of charges you face.
The impact of a broken criminal justice system is clearly apparent when you consider the lack of time, resources, and experience common with public defenders. As such, it becomes important to look at how private defense lawyers offer numerous benefits over public defenders. At Boswell & Dunlap LLP, our criminal defense team is led by Partner David R. Carmichael, a Board Certified Criminal Trial Specialist by The Florida Bar – a distinction held by less than 3% of all lawyers in the state. His board certification speaks volumes about his expertise in criminal law, something he leverages for the advantage of clients who face serious charges and penalties. He is also a former prosecutor and law enforcement instructor, a background that gives him unique insight into the other side.
In addition to Attorney Carmichael’s experience and specialization, our firm has decades of combined experience, the resources required of tough criminal cases, and the determination to use them effectively for our clients. Our entire legal team understands that criminal charges can put your future on the line, and we make it a priority to dedicate the time needed to conduct full investigations and prepare cases thoroughly. We also emphasis personalized attention and tailored legal strategies that are designed to secure the best possible resolution. When clients have questions or concerns, they have easy access to our team.
With your future at stake, working with the right attorney can make all the difference. Learn how our criminal defense team at Boswell & Dunlap LLP may be able to make the difference for you when you contact us for a FREE consultation.
Law enforcement and our criminal justice system have completely changed the way they handle matters of domestic violence. Where at one time law enforcement officers would respond to a domestic disturbance call and simply tell the parties to stop, today law enforcement officers nearly always make an arrest. Because of these new procedures, some individuals are arrested as the result of false accusations when they are in fact innocent.
Law enforcement officers who respond to the scene of domestic violence often don’t witness any domestic violence or direct acts for which they can make an arrest. They must put the events of what happened together as best as they can using evidence and statements provided by the parties involved and any witnesses who may be present. When they make an arrest on what can be vague and initial assessments, accused individuals have every right to challenge the case against them and the government’s version of the facts. Effectively challenging a domestic violence allegation demands the attention of experienced attorneys.
At Boswell & Dunlap LLP, our Polk County criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience protecting the rights of clients charged with all types of crimes, including clients charged with domestic violence based on false accusations. We know that even mere allegations have the potential to tarnish one’s reputation, which is why we work diligently to investigate the matter and clearly present an effective defense.
If you have been wrongly accused of domestic violence, here are a few things to remember:
- Your rights – It is critical to understand your rights following an arrest. This includes your right to remain silent and not speak with law enforcement about the case, as it can potentially lead to incriminating statements, or statements that are misinterpreted as incriminating. You also have the right to challenge the government’s case against you, and the right to have legal representation on your side when doing so. Exercising your rights is critical to your case.
- Understand the charges – Domestic violence charges are serious crimes that pose serious penalties, including fines, court ordered classes, and terms of imprisonment. Know what’s at stake in your case, and understand that while you have the opportunity to disprove allegations made against you, you need to do so clearly and convincingly in accordance to the laws inherent to your charge. The government’s case must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which provides the opportunity to show that allegations are unfounded or that there is doubt to whether they truly occurred.
- Know the terms involved – Following a domestic violence arrest, a restraining order may be issued. It is important to know the terms of this order and to comply with them, as violating an order can greatly complicate your case and lead to more consequences. This may include no contact orders with alleged victims, and not being allowed near their place of residence.
- Call a lawyer – One of the most important things you can do following a domestic violence accusation is to bring your case to the attention of a seasoned legal professional as soon as possible. Swift action can help our attorneys at Boswell & Dunlap LLP immediately begin protecting your rights and help you take the right steps moving forward. It also provides the time needed to build a solid defense strategy.
Don’t delay in calling our firm following an arrest for domestic violence. Trust in decades of combined legal experience and attorneys who are dedicated to protecting your rights, reputation, and future. Contact us today to get started with a free and confidential consultation and to learn how Boswell & Dunlap LLP can help.
Sometimes, victims may not be satisfied with the results of their personal injury case. Whether it results from poor legal representation, erroneous details, or a difficult and challenging case, unsatisfactory results can greatly threaten victims and their ability to cover the costs of their damages, including their medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Sometimes, a losing result means no compensation at all.
At Boswell & Dunlap LLP, our Polk County personal injury lawyers always strive to help our clients secure the maximum compensation possible in their cases. However, we know that some injured victims don’t receive the level of representation they deserve, and may be left with results that fail to meet their needs. Fortunately, there may be options for victims who wish to dispute the results of their case, but these options may not always be available.
First and most importantly, your option to appeal a personal injury case will depend on whether you settled the case or whether it was resolved through a verdict or judgment.
- Settlement – Victims who settle their personal injury claims are generally NOT able to file an appeal. This is because settlements are out-of-court negotiations reached between a defendant and a plaintiff, and they typically include terms that bar the consenting victim from pursuing any more claims against the defendant in connection to the incident.
- Trial Verdict – Victims whose cases are resolved though trial DO have the option of filing an appeal. This appeal may challenge the outcome reached by a jury or judge.
If your case was resolved through trial, you certainly have the option to appeal the decision reached in the case. Whether you have valid cause to do so and the time and energy are entirely separate matters. Here are a few things to think about when considering a personal injury appeal as a victim:
- By filing an appeal, you are asking a higher court to review the case and reverse the decision reached in the lower court. The appellate process is much different than that used in the initial case, which is why you need an attorney who has experience filing appeals.
- Appeals are not automatic. You will need to file an appeal, which will likely be contested immediately by the defendant with a motion to dismiss.
- Simply being dissatisfied with the outcome of your case is not enough to file an appeal. In order to file an effective appeal, you will need to demonstrate some type of reversible error in the case, such as that a lower court incorrectly applied the law to your case.
- In some cases, depending on what you are disputing in your case and the decision reached at trial, you may have the option to file a motion for a new trial. This new trial may introduce new evidence critical to your case.
Ultimately, considering whether you have valid cause to pursue an appeal or a new trial is crucial to whether you should move forward with an appeal. Remember, the appellate process can be complex and challenging, and it can also take a long time for the process to unfold. There is no guarantee your case will make it through the process, and if it does not, you may be liable for the fees of pursuing the case.
Boswell & Dunlap, LLP understands the importance of securing full and fair results that provide our clients with the justice and compensation they deserve. This is why we want to stress the importance of choosing the right personal injury lawyer early in the process, as it can make all the difference in the outcome of a case.
If you have questions pertaining to personal injury, or would like to discuss a case with a Bartow personal injury lawyer from our firm, contact us today for a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Polk County and the surrounding areas of Florida.