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O’Mara Law Group is the private law practice of Mark O’Mara. Mark O’Mara has been practicing law in Central Florida since 1983.

​We Specialize in Complex Property Division Knowing It’s Often a Contentious Issue in Divorce

Mark O'Mara - Thursday, June 30, 2016

 

The O’Mara Law Group knows what a difficult time your divorce is for you. We know the countless nights you’ve spent thinking about it. Why add another worry to your list? If the daunting prospect of dividing your properties keeps you up late at night, talk to an Orlando divorce property division attorney.

 

We know that financial assets aren’t easy to split up. You may have life insurance policies, retirement plans, pensions, stock options, brokerage accounts and more to be inventoried and evaluated. More than that, consider the wine collections, sentimental gifts, home furnishings, and antiques that are now suddenly up for grabs. Determining a value for these assets can be difficult, and costly. It's hardly ever the best indicator of how much these sentimental items are worth to you. How do you determine, not which item is worth more financially, but emotionally?

 

When discussing equitable division of property, there are some terms you need to understand first. You need to understand the difference between Separate (non-marital) Property and Marital Property.

 

We define Separate Property as a few things:

 

  1. Property owned by a spouse before marriage
  2. A gift received from a third party
  3. An inheritance (whether received before or after marriage) as long as it is kept separated
  4. Money from some sort of personal injury judgment given to either spouse for their pain
  5.  

Now, if you give your husband or wife access to your inheritance and deposit it into a joint bank account, this will most likely no longer be considered separate property. Do you see where the line begins to gray?

 

Marital property, on the other hand, is all the rest of the “stuff” you acquired during the actual marriage. This is where it can get confusing, because even though assets are either in your name or your spouse’s name, it does not mean it belongs solely and completely to you. It is still considered marital property, and will be considered for equitable division.

 

The gray areas get more complicated the longer the marriage, and/or the more diverse the assets. Separate property can also be considered marital property if it increases in value during the marriage. For this, you’ll need to know two terms: Active Appreciation and Passive Appreciation.

 

Active appreciation means that the increase in value came in part from your efforts or those of your spouse. So if your husband helped you out with your own business by giving you advice, working late and taking care of household duties, and of course, the kids, and your business flourished, that might be an argument used as marital property.

 

On the other hand, passive appreciation is really all about your separate property asset increasing in value due to some sort of outside force. So if you or your wife made no improvements to a piece of land and it simply increased in value, you might not have an argument that this piece of land should be in the mix with marital property.

 

When dividing assets, courts consider how long the marriage was, how much each of you earn, your age and health, your earning potential, and more, which is why you need to speak to a divorce attorney from the O’Mara law group. We know that these battles can get personal and complicated, but we are willing to fight for you. We don’t just deal with bank statements—we look at the overall value of your assets, and how they can be divided to benefit you best. When it comes to dividing assets, know that you’re not alone, and that we use all of our resources to work for you and towards a successful resolution of a difficult matter.

 

We Provide Criminal Defense Against State and Federal Charges

Mark O'Mara - Friday, June 03, 2016

We live in a world where background checks can be easily discovered with the click of a button. A criminal record can ruin your future. If you are charged with a crime, remember that it is not the end and you are not alone. With the help of experienced criminal defense attorneys in Orlando fighting in your favor, the result of your trial will have the best possible outcome.

 

Drug Charges

Employers take illegal drug usage very seriously. A majority of employers often ask their employees to take random drug tests. Failure to pass the drug screening results in automatic job suspension. A drug charge on your personal record is even worse. No matter what type of drug is involved; bottom line, drug charges are not taken lightly and will have severe consequences.

"Drug paraphernalia"  describes any equipment that’s used to prepare, inject, inhale, or conceal illegal drugs. It is against the law for anyone to sell, import, or export any of this equipment. The problem that blurs the line of legality of certain drug paraphernalia is that many of these look as they are designed for legal purposes to be used with legal drugs, such as tobacco.

Law enforcement has been incredibly tough and aggressive when it comes to drug possession. If you are found to be in the possession of cocaine, heroin, meth or any other illegal drug (besides marijuana), you are in danger of facing a felony charge that could range from heavy fines and imprisonment.

In the state of Florida, marijuana is an illegal drug and you will be charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense for any marijuana possession. Prescription drug charges have become increasingly popular. If you are found in possession of prescription drugs not prescribed to you, you will face criminal drug charges. Additionally, if you used another person’s name or identifying information to obtain those drugs, you could be charged with fraud.

 

Drunk Driving

If you are pulled over and asked to take a breathalyzer by law enforcement, a blood alcohol level content of 0.08 or above results in heavy fines, probation, driver’s license suspension, and even possible jail time. A DUI charge is not to be taken lightly.

 

Internet Crimes

The ability to understand and use sophisticated, technological evidence is the key to success in winning cases regarding Internet fraud or other computer crime cases. Examples of illegal Internet crimes include, but are not limited to identity theft, credit card theft, phishing, email fraud, computer network hacking, Internet sex crimes, and child pornography charges.

 

 

Embezzlement

Embezzlement is theft of assets by a person in a position of trust or responsibility over those assets. It is most commonly occurred in employment or corporate settings. A common form of this crime is accounting embezzlement where manipulation of accounting records is used to hide funds. In order for a charge of embezzlement to be supported, there must be a fiduciary relationship between the two parties.

In Florida, embezzlement can be classified as either first, second or third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. Lesser offences include first and second degree misdemeanor embezzlement, which is punishable by fines up to $1,000 and one year in jail.

 

Fraud

Fraud happens when someone gains something of value from a victim by knowingly making a misrepresentation of a matter of fact. Fraud covers a wide array of actions such as identity theft, mortgage fraud or healthcare fraud. Although fraud itself is an independent criminal charge, it can also appear in other charges at a means to commit a crime.

 

Sex Crimes

Sex crimes such as rape or sexual assault convictions have penalties of jail time, in addition to a lifetime of sex offender registration. The stigma of being a registered sex offender is not only having effects on your professional career, but can also make you an outcast to your community.

 

 

Murder and Homicide

Many times murder and homicide are used interchangeably; however, there is a difference. Homicide is an umbrella term used to refer to the killing of one person by another. Murder is a form of premeditated homicide where there was an intent to kill. Manslaughter is another form of criminal homicide where there was not an intent to kill. Excusable or justifiable homicide would be someone killing another person as a means of self-defense.

 

Whether it is a state or federal charge, Orlando defense attorney,Mark O’Mara has the extensive experience and skills necessary to help you overcome adversity from criminal convictions. The O’Mara Law Group will do anything in their power to utilize all their resources to protect you from a criminal conviction that could interfere with your future and freedom.

 

Orlando Contested Child Time-sharing Attorney: One of The Main Disputes Between Spouses During a Divorce

Mark O'Mara - Sunday, May 01, 2016

 

At the heart of many divorce cases is the question of child time-sharing arrangements. You know you want what is best for your child, but your former spouse may disagree with you on how to accomplish that. The O'Mara Law Group is committed to successfully resolving the most complex disputes, in a way that maintains a focus on what serves your children’s best interests.

 

What time-sharing arrangements do you believe would be best for your child? On the surface, there seems to be countless possibilities. The O'Mara Law Group will help you sort through the possibilities, including different variations involving joint time-sharing while considering work schedules, school and activity schedules and available caregivers, such as family members and daycare facilities. They will explain the relationship between time-sharing and child support.

 

After we’ve discussed the possibilities, The O'Mara Law Group will take the time to listen to your situation. We will talk about the relationship between you, your children and your spouse. With that information in mind, The O'Mara Law Group will provide you guidance in determining the right child time-sharing plan for you.

 

With a parenting plan in mind, we will move forward toward resolution. In many cases, these matters become quite complicated. Mark M. O'Mara, a family law attorney in Orlando, focuses on contested child time-sharing disputes and is up for the challenge of fighting to see that your needs are met. They will not back away from taking your case into the courtroom to see that you get the results you expect. As an Orlando contested child time-sharing attorney, Mark and his team have what it takes to excel in the courtroom.

 

Orlando Divorce Attorney: How Divorce Could Be Better for Children

Mark O'Mara - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

 

There has been no shortage of researches and studies on the long-term effects of divorce on children.  Most of them boil down to the same thing: divorce could have a lasting impact as the child develops to adolescence. There are also resources, however, that show the benefits of a good divorce for the child.

 

Disagreeing married couples would sometimes dismiss the idea of divorcing, choosing to stay together instead for the sake of their children. At times, however, divorcing with the help of a trusted Orlando divorce attorney is a better option, rather than staying married, especially when the couple has irreconcilable differences. These differences could expose children to a culture of negativity, with the daily arguments, shouting and even a violent atmosphere prevailing around the home.

 

Staying in an Unhappy Marriage

 

While divorce may have negative psychological impacts on a growing child, an unhappy marriage could also have devastating effects. Seeing their parents in a constant state of conflict and tension might make children feel sadder than seeing their parents part ways cordially.

 

Young children, in particular, neither have the tools nor the proper defenses to handle heated exchanges between their parents. A home is supposed to be a place where children can feel safe, relaxed and confident, with the belief that their parents can handle almost everything. Exposing them to an environment of uncertainty and violence can create anxieties in them.

 

Valuable Lessons from Divorce

 

A divorce may not only free children from the poisonous environment of an unhappy marriage, but also instill lessons for both the parents and the children. Imagine this: a positive atmosphere, where the former spouses are both happy with their decision, something that can rub off on their children.

 

Though the children might have to get used to a different kind of lifestyle with two separate homes, it could be the more desired environment than to grow up in one that doesn’t even feel like a home. One of the lessons a parent can learn from divorce is a better way to raise children, while the children can learn to choose the things that make them happy the most.

 

A difficult and combative divorce could make the separation even more difficult for a child, so family experts encourage an amicable divorce. Working with a seasoned divorce attorney in Orlando who can present solutions to peacefully settle the issues related to the separation can help achieve this. A caring lawyer can attend to the nitty-gritty details of the divorce process to help ease the stress on the spouses, and allow them to help themselves and their children make the transition to a new life ahead.

 

(Source: Why a Good Divorce Is Better Than a Bad Marriage for Kids, Huffington Post)

 

Have You Been Charged with Drug Possession? The O’Mara Law Group Can Help

Mark O'Mara - Tuesday, April 05, 2016

 

Let’s face it--unfortunate situations happen to good people all the time. The force with which Florida courts can pursue drug charges could make more of an impact on your life than you’d think. The O’Mara Law Group knows that drug charges can have a significant, devastating effect, and can define the rest of your life. Before you lose hope, talk to a criminal defense lawyer in Orlando from the O’Mara Law Group about your options and possibilities.

 

First, what are the penalties in Florida for drug possession? Although drug possession is multifaceted, here are a few penalties broken down:

 

Possession of 20 or less grams of marijuana is considered a first degree misdemeanor, which has a maximum penalty of a $1000 fine and one year in jail. Even possessing drug paraphernalia, such as bongs, pipes, spoons, needles, or containers could get you up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine. More than 20 grams of marijuana or possession of even a minimal amount of any other controlled substance, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or ecstasy, however, is considered a third degree felony and could result in up to five years in jail and a $5000 fine. Moreover, the penalty for possessing larger quantities of such drugs will increase the penalties significantly, including very severe minimum mandatory penalties.

 

While these penalties can alter the direction of your life significantly, the real problem most citizens face is the resulting criminal record. A criminal record can significantly prohibit your ability to go into law enforcement or other positions that require background checks, and can prohibit you from getting a professional license, such as a medical doctor or lawyer. Don’t let your dream fall to the wayside because of one mistake.

 

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to. Yes, it is actually possible to defeat your drug charges depending on your individual circumstance. The O’Mara Law Group will thoroughly investigate the facts surrounding your situation and listen to your side of the story intently. Following this, there are a few ways in which the charge can be countered.

 

If you’ve been charged with drug possession, chances are that you’ve also been searched by the police in some form. Was your search lawful? This fact can be the difference between five years in prison with a criminal record and your case being thrown out. Imagine pleading guilty to a case where the evidence should not have been admissible. If you speak to the O’Mara Law Group, our skilled Orlando drug charge lawyers could file appropriate motions attacking the evidence, thereby weakening or destroying the state’s case.

 

Another way to combat drug charges is to combat the state’s constructive possession theory. This theory refers to the fact that the person had actual knowledge that the drug was in their vicinity and he/she had access to it. Say you were caught for 10 grams of marijuana in your car. The prosecution might argue you knew you had access to the drug, but a defense attorney may be able to successfully argue against the little evidence that the prosecution currently holds.

 

The O’Mara Law Group is dedicated to hearing your side of the story and presenting it in the most compelling way. Even if a plea negotiation has to be worked out, the O’Mara Law Group is very experienced at minimizing the damage caused by such a resolution.

 

Don’t plead guilty to a case before you know all of your options—you have more than you think. It’s okay to reach out, and with the help of the O’Mara Law Group, you might not have to say goodbye to your dreams and hello to a future of consistent inconvenience.

 

Marital & Family Law 2016 Review

Mark O'Mara - Tuesday, February 02, 2016

O'Mara Law Group | Marital Family Law 2016

 

 

 

Kelly Eubanks and Susan Staggs represented O’Mara Law Group at the Marital & Family Law 2016 Review. Jointly presented by the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the Review is the biggest gathering for legal professionals practicing family law in Florida. 1600 people attended the two-day conference where a full docket of seminars explored the latest legal developments in child support, timesharing, dependency, taxation, and much more. Mark O’Mara is a Board Certified in Marital and Family Law.


Above: O’Mara Law Group paralegal Susan Staggs poses with Michael Cortes, Lori Caldwell-Carr, Keerstin Martinez and Holly Derenthal.

 

Thoughts on the Sam DuBose Settlement and the Civil Rights Work Still Left to Do

Mark O'Mara - Thursday, January 21, 2016


Sam Dubose Settlement

 

Last week, we won a big settlement in Cincinnati for the family of Sam DuBose. In July of 2015, University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed Sam DuBose during a routine traffic stop. Sam, a Black man, was unarmed. Tensing, a white officer, wrote 81% of his traffic tickets to African Americans, who make up 45% of the Cincinnati population.

 

 

The university settled for $5.3 million -- a figure that includes half million dollars in scholarships to ensure Sam’s children, when they are old enough, can attend University of Cincinnati for free.

 

Eventually there will be a memorial to Sam on campus remembering Sam's love of music, and the family has been invited to participate in Community Advisory meetings aimed at creating comprehensive reform in the university’s police department.

 

By all measures, it is a strong settlement. The pay-out will help ensure a future for Sam’s children, as will the promise of a free college degree. The swiftness of the settlement -- coming just six months after the shooting and before we filed a lawsuit -- shows the university was willing to take responsibility for the actions of their officer, and they’ve already started making changes to the campus police force.

 

But when a reporter asked me if the family was happy with the settlement, I said “no.” The family is not and should not be happy with a settlement -- not at $5 million, and not at $50 million. There is no happy ending here, as no sum can bring back Sam.

 

At this point, it’s not about being happy; it is about using Sam’s legacy to make sure this type of violence doesn’t happen to someone else. It is about sending a message that institutions that permit racial bias to infect their ranks do so at great financial risk. From that perspective, this settlement is an important victory.

Nonetheless, there is more work to do.

 

After this case, I’m more convinced than ever that body cameras are an important tool which, if used properly, can help mitigate racial discrimination in law enforcement. The camera didn’t stop the tragic shooting of Sam DuBose, but it did reveal the truth about what happened. Even with a body camera, Tensing created a web of lies to justify his shooting within seconds of murdering Sam. Almost as troubling, a fellow officer (who, unbelievably, is still employed by UCPD) backed up Tensing's lies, at least at first, until he was confronted with the undeniable truth of the video.

 

Without the camera, there would have been no way to contest the officers' fabricated police report, and I am certain that Sam would have been identified as “the aggressor who forced the officer to shoot in self-defense.”

 

Had the UC police department routinely audited their officers’ video, they would likely have discovered a pattern of racial bias in Tensing’s police work. I have no doubt that departments across the country will look at what happened in Cincinnati and use the lessons learned in the DuBose case to inform their own reform efforts.

 

I will be redoubling my efforts to advocate for police body cameras.

 

And sadly, there are still other fights.

 

In Savannah, Georgia, I’ll be fighting for the memory of Mathew Ajibade who was tied to a restraining chair, tortured, and left to die by Chatham County Sheriff’s Deputies. They also lied about checking on his condition, going so far as to fake log entries to indicate they checked on Mathew when they did not.

 

In DeLand, Florida, I’ll be fighting for Sean Grant who survived being shot multiple times by a police officer, only to be charged with aggravated assault himself. They were charges fabricated for the purpose of covering up an unjustified officer-involved shooting. Again, we found lies and, we believe, evidence of a destroyed video that would have shown the lack of justification for the officer's shooting. We won an acquittal for Sean in the criminal court, and soon we be fighting to hold the police department accountable.

 

As a criminal defense attorney, over the last 30-plus years, I’ve seen the criminal justice system work disproportionately against Black defendants. In the last few years, due to cell phone videos and body cam videos, it has become increasingly clear to all of us that the bias in the justice system is the same bias that is still deeply rooted in our entire society. I hope the silver lining of all of these tragedies is that we are finally forced to address the problems, rather than ignore them.


I’ve been honored that the families of Sam DuBose, Mathew Ajibade, and Sean Grant have come to me to take on their fight. When I started my career as criminal defense attorney, I had no idea that it would lead to the opportunity to be a civil rights lawyer as well. But now that it has happened, it seems like it is what I’ve always been meant to do.


 

Will an Immunity Agreement Derail Prosecution of Bill Cosby?

Mark O'Mara - Wednesday, January 20, 2016

 

 

CNN Criminal Case vs. Cosby

 

If I was Cosby’s attorney, I would fight hard to enforce the immunity agreement, which could lead to the charges being dismissed. I'm astounded that Cosby's lawyers never got the deal in writing, and getting the court to force the current prosecutor to honor the prior agreement is not a done deal.

 

Even if Cosby's team is successful, an immunity deal is far from ironclad. While the agreement would bar prosecutors from using the precise statement against Cosby in their case-in-chief, the statements could be used as impeachment evidence should the defense make claims that are directly to the contrary.

 

Moreover, an immunity agreement doesn't prohibit prosecution; it excludes his statement alone. If other evidence comes to light, it can trigger a renewed prosecution effort. To date, an enormous amount of new evidence has been revealed. We call it “similar fact evidence” which is evidence of similar acts which can be considered by a jury weighing Cosby’s guilt. The other women who told similar stories can be very compelling in the prosecutor’s case.


Many defendants have been convicted with relatively light evidence because of the admission of such similar fact evidence.

 

 

You can see a clip of my conversation with Smerconish on CNN.com»


 

 

You can also read my CNN op-ed about why Bill Cosby should apologize»


 

 

Ethan Couch recklessly abused court's trust

Mark O'Mara - Thursday, January 07, 2016

As a criminal defense attorney, I’m naturally inclined to give citizens accused the benefit of the doubt, but I get angry when defendants like Ethan Couch abuse the court’s trust. When the court granted Couch probation for a DUI manslaughter charge (which usually carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison), I was surprised. When the “affluenza teen” violated his parole, I was not.

 

Decades of “tough on crime” measures and minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines have limited the discretion judges have, and it’s led to overpopulation of prisons as too many inmates serve longer sentences than warranted by the circumstances of their crimes. Sometimes there are good reasons to soften a sentence, but “affluenza” is not one of them.

 

Now that Ethan Couch violated the terms of his very lenient probation, I’d hate to see other citizens accused, whose cases are less egregious, lose the benefit of the court’s discretion.

 

Read my full opinion on CNN.com.

 

President Obama, close the 'gun show loophole'

Mark O'Mara - Monday, January 04, 2016

President Obama is poised to take executive action to close the so-called “gun show loophole.” In an op-ed for CNN.com, I say, “If the president can legally use his executive powers to require more stringent screenings, he should do it.” There is no reason that, with today’s technology, we shouldn’t require background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands. I know guns will still sometimes get into the wrong hands, but closing the “gun show loophole” will make it more difficult.

 

I’m a gun owner, and I have a concealed weapons permit -- although I do not carry as a matter of course. I consider gun ownership a right vested in me by virtue of my citizenship, but I also fear I could lose that right if we don’t have reasonable good faith measures to keep guns away from those who would abuse their Second Amendment rights.

 

Read the full op-ed on CNN.com


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