COUNTRY CLUB GOLF BETS BECOME FOCUS OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

Is golf a game of skill or a game of chance? Having played too many rounds of golf I grudgingly admit that skill may be involved. And if on the witness stand, hand trembling on Bible, I would admit to losing more on the golf course from errant unfound golf balls blitzing into water holes, trees, berms, bushes, golf carts and on one occasion an unfortunate man’s head, than I’ve ever lost thru miscalculating my bets. Most golfers would probably agree.

Golfers have a long tormented tradition of making and taking bets while playing. In fact the reason there are handicaps is to facilitate fair bets between players of differing skills.

Golfers should not be prosecuted for making bets while playing because the stakes are small and the tradition of golf embraces bets.
Into the Trap



Florida on the other hand has a long tradition of making private acts of sportsmanship criminal. For example, a few years ago in Clearwater, Florida a friendly small stake poker game being played by retirees was raided by the police. The Poker Five became a nation symbol of Florida’s law enforcement’s absurd priorities and abuse of criminal law. 


The Florida legislature responded by making a specific exception to the gambling laws for poker games with small incremental betting, since poker is after all a game of skill, unless you’ve just won the pot from me, then poker is damned ugly game of chance which should be outlawed. Yet despite that law found at Florida Statutes 849, the Largo Police Department recently folded a Texas Hold’em Poker game by arresting folks who were playing for prizes.


So why are Tampa Bay, Florida police officers wasting their time investigating a Tarpon Springs golf course? The Tarpon Springs police department says their investigation of a possible ‘gambling house’ is necessary and proper under Florida law. 

The truth is they clearly need to refocus their investigations on actual violations of Florida law. At least they haven’t arrested anyone yet. The prosecutors at the State Attorney’s Office should immediately shut down this investigation and let these duffers play.


WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN FALSELY ARRESTED

When Florida law enforcement officers make a mistaken arrest it’s important to take immediate steps to win back your freedom, your reputation and your future. Here are the critical steps you should take to regain control of your life.

1. Preserve evidence. If there is video, audio or other evidence of the incident be sure to keep the original and make copies. Any discrepancies between the police reports or officer testimony and tangible evidence helps to weaken the state’s case against you.


Finding evidence of innocence is the key to establishing that someone has been falsely arrested.
Find Evidence of Innocence

2. Preserve witnesses. In a recent felony Battery on a Police Officer case that I handled a cab driver observed an officer from the St. Petersburg Police Department push my client’s head into the  pavement, which was far different than the officer’s false allegation that my client had tried to take his badge. Finding this witness and exploiting his damaging testimony resulted in the case being dismissed (no filed) by the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office in Clearwater.

3. Find corroborating details. Once in an alleged grand theft and burglary case that I handled the defendant happened to have a time dated ATM withdrawal slip which placed him far from the scene of the crime at the time the crime was committed. Had he not had that evidence of a corroborating detail he likely would have been convicted of the crime. Further, I’ve often encountered situation in allegations of misconduct or violations of probations where traffic ticket, pay stubs, work records or business records readily establish that my client is innocent.

4. Find computer, social media or smart phone trails. Most of our lives are now being tracked in countless ways by our computers, social media, smart phones and apps. Within the search structure and query system lay clues that may convict on exonerate you. It’s essential to have computer experts search the content of your devices in search of helpful evidence.

5. Think outside the box. Think of everything that may possibly help you by retracing your steps that day. Place everything that happened on a flow chart by writing every down event and nonevent that occurred that day chronologically. Then fill in the details of each event. You will find further supporting evidence of innocence. 


If you’ve been falsely arrested in Clearwater, St. Petersburg or Tampa you should hire the best possible lawyer to ensure that these steps will be followed and that you’re provided with an excellent defense.