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Meltzer & Bell in the News

The Office of the State Attorney in West Palm Beach has dropped its manslaughter charge on William Difonzo, a Palm Beach County man accused of murder after a fight broke out at a local bar. Difonzo, through his attorneys at Meltzer and Bell, P.A., filed a Stand Your Ground Motion arguing self-defense.

Stand your ground allows an individual use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. Stand your ground forgoes the typical duty to retreat when the person has the right to be in a place.

Difonzo was facing 15 years in prison. “It was dismissed because he stood his ground,” said Steven Bell, partner at Meltzer and Bell, P.A. and Difonzo’s defense attorney. Bell stated that Difonzo was basically cornered outside a bar and he had the right to defend himself.

Palm Beach criminal defense attorney Steven Bell was quoted in a recent USA Today article discussing Tiger Woods’ possible eligibility for Palm Beach County’s first-time driving under the influence (DUI) offender program. The August 8 article touched on Woods being scheduled for his first appearance in court following a May 29 arrest for DUI. Tests showed Woods had no alcohol in his system, but he told officers that he had taken Xanax and other prescribed medications.

“Looking at the facts of Tiger’s case, I don’t see any reason why he should not be offered entry into the program,” Bell told USA TODAY Sports. “When you look at the probable cause affidavit, the case is very similar to the cases I’ve handled where my clients have been allowed entry into the program.”

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Meltzer & Bell represented John Barrington Kennedy, the 21-year-old man accused of using a gun to threaten a woman on the campus of Keiser University. The alleged victim told the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office that she pulled into a parking spot and noticed Kennedy reach into his vehicle and emerge with a black semi-automatic handgun that he allegedly pointed at her. WPTV-TV reported that deputies recovered a black semiautomatic Glock 27 .40 caliber handgun from Kennedy and charged him with aggravated assault with a firearm and exhibiting weapons on school property.

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Meltzer & Bell defended Matthew Notebaert, the 32-year-old Loxahatchee man charged in a 2014 crash that killed his wife while the couple was having sex. The case drew national attention from such outlets as People magazine, the New York Post, and the New York Daily News. On March 29, Notebaert pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and DUI causing injury and was sentenced to five years in prison after Palm Beach criminal defense attorney Steven Bell was able to get prosecutors—who sought a seven-year sentence—to drop related DUI manslaughter charges.

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WPLG Local10 reported that the Florida Highway Patrol released this dashcam video in the arrest of a 43-year-old South Florida woman accused of driving drunk on Interstate 95 with her toddler asleep in the backseat. The woman’s Kia Sorento was stopped in the northbound emergency lane of Interstate 95 in Fort Lauderdale when a trooper stopped to see if she needed assistance. The trooper wrote in his report that the woman’s breath smelled of alcohol, and her speech was slurred. The police report said Loughman admitted to drinking two beers and taking three Xanax pills and a Zoloft pill before getting behind the wheel of her SUV.

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