Prosecutors say not enough evidence to charge off-duty Jacksonville police officer in parking space argument

April 18, 2014

A Jacksonville man said an off-duty police officer pulled a gun on him during an argument about a parking spot, but prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to charge the officer with a crime. The dispute began when a 20-year-old man got out of a car to stand in a parking spot and hold it for his pregnant fiancé and her family on a busy Sunday afternoon, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Another car, driven by an off-duty police officer, backed into the space and into the man, who then slammed on the trunk of the car, the newspaper reported.

The two men exchanged words, and the alleged victim said the officer pulled out a gun, causing the man to back off, the newspaper reported. The officer said he did not pull a gun, but that the gun was on his backpack and he put it inside the backpack before walking out of the car, the newspaper reported. The officer also said he saw a man walk out of the parking space before he backed in and did not hit the man with his vehicle.
In Jacksonville Gun Crimes cases like this, it can be very difficult for the state when the only evidence comes from the people involved. There are two specific sides to the story and only these two men know what really happened. The state typically likes to have other evidence before it files a case - some sort of independent witness or, even more preferable, surveillance video from a nearby store or something where it can be shown and jurors can see for themselves what occurred. This is a common problem in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases, which has serious penalties, as gun crimes do.

For example, if the officer was going to be charged in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, it would likely be for aggravated assault with a firearm. The charge is a felony and, if the state chooses to file the minimum mandatory portion of the charges, has a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in state prison. Even though many would jump to the conclusion that the state is protecting a police officer by not filing this case, prosecutors should be very careful when filing these serious Jacksonville Gun Crimes charges. There are two sides to every story, and there needs to be more than just the words of one person before filing charges that could significantly alter someone's life - especially when the crime was a threat and no one was injured.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Undercover officers posing as children online leads to 12 arrests on Jacksonville Sex Crimes charges

April 16, 2014

Jacksonville police announced the arrests of 12 men accused of setting up a potential sexual encounter with what they thought was a child they chatted with online. But when the men arrived, they were greeted instead by police and arrested, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Detectives were pretending to be boys or girls, either 13 or 14, depending on the scenario, the newspaper reported. Several police agencies were involved in the sting, a relatively common tool police use that was popularized by the NBC Dateline show "To Catch a Predator." And despite the familiarity with the show and that police routinely conduct these investigations, police continue to make similar arrests in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases such as this one.

There are several potential Jacksonville Sex Crimes Charges that police and prosecutors use in these cases. One is using the internet to seduce or solicit a child. That charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. Prosecutors can charge separately in this case, so each use of the internet, can be it's own separate charge. So, for example, if there were three chat messages sent about setting up a time to get together and the defendant believes the person on the other end is a minor, the person could be charged with three counts. Another common charge for these Jacksonville Sex Crimes cases is traveling to meet a minor. That charge applies when someone travels within Florida or across state lines with the specific intent of meeting a child for sex. This Jacksonville Sex Crime is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison.

Pleading guilty to or being convicted of either charge would require the defendant to register as a sexual offender. In cases such as this were multiple people are caught in a sting on similar charges, usually a deal from the state won't get any better than what the first pleads guilty to. Defendants want to get an idea of the time others are getting before they agree to a deal, but there can sometimes be a benefit to being the first one in. In a similar sting in St. Johns County in 2012, those who took their cases to trial ended up with significantly longer prison sentences. That can be the case, however, in any Jacksonville Criminal Defense case, not just those involving a sting and multiple defendants. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes attorney has represented many clients who are among several defendants in a case, and will help you or your loved one understand the charges and let you decide how to proceed in the case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Nassau County man charged with DUI after colliding with police care

April 14, 2014

A Nassau County man was arrested and charged with DUI this month after he drove into the back of a police car. The driver hit the patrol car driving on Florida 200 about 7:35 p.m. one April evening, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The police officer and his passenger were both taken to the hospital for injuries that were not life-threatening, the newspaper reported. The driver in this Nassau County DUI Case is now facing a first-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of six months in the county jail.

The level of injury to the officer and his passenger are very important in this Nassau County DUI Case. Had either suffered serious injuries, the suspect would be facing a felony charge instead of just a misdemeanor. DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury in Florida is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. In this Nassau County DUI Case, the two victims were taken to the hospital, but primarily as a precaution, the newspaper reported. According to Florida law, serious bodily injury is defined as "an injury to any person, including the driver, which consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ." If there is a crash with serious bodily injury, police can then test the blood of the driver to determine if the driver has alcohol in his or her system. That is not legal in an ordinary Nassau County DUI Case. In fact, if a person is stopped for suspicion of DUI, the driver does not have to submit to field sobriety exercises or to a breath test. Now, refusing the exercises will likely lead to the driver's arrest and there are other specific penalties for refusing to take a breath test - which is typically done at the jail when a person is being booked. The other side of that coin is a breath test is often one of the biggest pieces of evidence in Nassau County DUI Cases, so that would be one less piece of evidence the state has in the case. The problem is that many jurors sometimes think that a refusal is done for a reason and could be taken as a sign of guilt.

Just as Nassau County DUI penalties escalate when a person is seriously injured, they also go up when a person has multiple DUI convictions on his or her criminal record. That can make it imperative to have a Nassau County DUI Attorney representing you. Many people choose to plead guilty at first appearance court to get out of jail and move on, but that is generally not in their long-term best interest. Our Nassau County DUI Attorneys can discuss the consequences of a plea versus fighting the charge, and will make sure you have all of the information you need at your disposal.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Nassau County DUI Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

St. Johns County police sergeant arrested after being accused of lying on time sheets

April 12, 2014

A St. Johns County police sergeant was fired and arrested, charged with a felony after his supervisors say he was stealing money by claiming to be in two places at the same time. The sergeant was arrested after an internal investigation found he was charging for working for the sheriff's office and for an off-duty job on the same days, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He was charged with organizing a scheme to defraud of less than $20,000 and with two counts of filing false documents as a public official. All three charges are third-degree felonies in this St. Johns County Theft Case with maximum penalties of five years in state prison on each count. It's unlikely in a case like this, but the now former sergeant could be facing up to 15 years in prison if the judge chose to run the sentences consecutively.

The sergeant had been with the department for 16 years, the newspaper reported. He was accused of patrolling a neighborhood on-duty and also being paid for patrolling at the same time in an off-duty capacity, the newspaper reported. An audit of time sheets confirmed what police called a "classic case of double-dipping," in this St. Johns County Theft Case, the newspaper reported. Not only would the officer be putting his career and his retirement on the line - public officials in Florida convicted of felonies in connection with their employment can have their pension revoked - the sheriff's office could have some problems with potential cases where this officer is a witness.

If a witness in a trial has even been convicted of a crime of dishonestly, you can bet that a St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney will bring it up at trial. Those crimes include fraud, theft, filing false documents - pretty much any crime involved with lying or stealing. If a witness has, it seriously damages his or her credibility. That rings even more true if that witness is a former police officer fired for a crime of dishonesty. Chances are, the state would not being calling him as a witness anymore, but you can bet a St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney would do so if that former sergeant was in any way, shape or form associated with a case. When police officers are involved in crimes, it does more than just alter their lives. It causes prosecutors and defense attorneys to take a close look at those cases and perhaps reevaluate strategy in terms of pursing or fighting the charges. An experienced St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly examine all of the facts or your case, and the witnesses who will be used against you, and use everything at their disposal to defend you or your loved one.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Theft Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jacksonville man arrested on child neglect and drug charges after toddler found naked near retention pond

April 10, 2014

After a naked toddler found wading in a retention pond was brought to safety, police arrested the father on child neglect and drug charges. Police showed pictures of the boy and neighbors directed them to a home with the front door wide open, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police found the father asleep on the couch and found marijuana and a pipe in the kitchen, the newspaper reported. The man told police he thought the boy was in his crib, which he likely was before getting out, opening the front door and walking out of the house.

The man is charged with Jacksonville child neglect, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. In Jacksonville Child Abuse / Neglect cases, child neglect is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. Both drug charges are first-degree misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in county jail. While the drug charges are separate charges, the mere presence of the drugs likely also played a significant role in the state choosing to file the Jacksonville Child Neglect Case as well. It is conceivable that the father did fall asleep and did not hear the child climb out of his crib and then open the front door and walk outside. Without the drugs, that sounds like an honest mistake. But add drugs to the equation and people immediately think the father did not wake up because he was under the influence of drugs and the case sounds far more sinister.

In many Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases, a defendant may be offered pretrial intervention where he or she can take some substance abuse awareness courses, pass a series of drug tests, along with meeting a variety of other conditions and have the charges dropped. Whether the state would do that in a case that also includes Jacksonville Child Abuse Charges is unknown, but the additional charge could be the deal-breaker. Obviously, the more important charge for the defendant to address is the child neglect charge, because it is a felony. A felony conviction can restrict a person's right to vote and have a firearm, not to mention significantly narrow the number of professions or employers for whom a person could land a job.

This could be a Jacksonville Child Abuse Case where prosecutors would drop the felony charges if the person agrees to plead guilty to the two misdemeanors, It's highly unlikely the defendant will escape punishment in this Jacksonville Child Abuse case and, in some cases, it's in the client's best interest to plead to a misdemeanor and avoid the chance of a felony conviction. Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney can look at all of the charges you or your loved one are facing, have an idea of how other similar charges worked out in Jacksonville and the surrounding area, and help you make the best decision about how to proceed with your case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Child Abuse Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jacksonville Beach man on trial for murder, accused of intentionally driving over his friend

The trial of a man accused of purposefully running his friend down and killing him is expected to conclude this week. The defendant faces mandatory life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his 35-year-old friend, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The two men were watching a basketball game at a Jacksonville Beach bar and, when the defendant's team lost, he became upset and the victim moved to another table, the newspaper reported. This upset the defendant and the two got into a fight, which got the defendant tossed out of the bar, the newspaper reported.

The victim then went back to his apartment after being told his dog was out and saw the defendant parked across the street. The state says the victim then confronted the defendant, thinking he was the one who let the dog out, and the defendant drove over the victim and never returned, the newspaper reported. The defendant says he was scared when the victim came after him and was just trying to escape, the newspaper reported. The defendant hit a curb the same time he hit the victim, so he said he didn't know he'd hit anyone, the newspaper reported.

This presents an interesting Jacksonville Murder Case a jury must now decide. By charging first-degree murder in this case, the state is saying that the defendant drove at the victim with the sole purpose of killing him or doing great bodily harm. If the state's case was that there was a struggle and the defendant drove off in fear, it could be vehicular homicide, or even manslaughter. In this Jacksonville Violent Case, though, the crime has nothing to do with a vehicle. The fundamental element of the crime is the defendant is accused of using a weapon to kill another person. The car just happens to be the weapon in this case, rather than a gun or a knife. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally tried to kill the victim and it will be interesting to see if the jury looks at other charges outside of first-degree murder in this Jacksonville Murder Case. If convicted, the defendant faces mandatory life in prison. The only two possible punishments for first-degree murder in a Jacksonville Murder Case are life in prison and the death penalty. The state is not seeking the death penalty in this Jacksonville Murder Case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jacksonville corrections officer charged with domestic battery

A Jacksonville corrections officer was arrested last week, accused of hitting his wife during an argument. The officer, a 14-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, was assigned to a desk job while the criminal case works its way through the system. The officer is charged with domestic battery, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the county jail. The woman told police she and her husband were arguing and he pushed her onto a couch several times and then punched her in the arm, the newspaper reported. The woman did not call police at the time, but then chose to make the call the next day, the newspaper reported.

This is the second Jacksonville officer charged with domestic violence in recent weeks. Because officers are typically on desk duty until their case is resolved, the cases can often move a little quicker than a regular Jacksonville Domestic Battery Case. The same can be true for people in other lines of work, where someone is arrested on a Jacksonville DUI Charge or another charge but is not allowed to return to work until the case is finished. Defendants must weigh what is best for them personally and professionally when it comes to fighting a criminal charge - and sometimes those interests are conflicting. An employer may have a policy encouraging a guilty plea, though the suspect may think it is in his or her best interest to take the case to trial.
The opposite can be true for law enforcement. Many law enforcement agencies have a policy that prohibits them from employing people who have been convicted of a crime. In most departments that only applies to felonies, and not misdemeanors such as this Jacksonville Domestic Battery Case, but it could discourage an officer from agreeing to plead guilty and accepting some sort of probation in order to move on.

Jacksonville Domestic Battery Charges are typically misdemeanors, unless a weapon is involved or there is serious bodily harm. The cases can be difficult to prove at times because victims can have a change of heart as the cases proceed. They may decide they don't want their husband or boyfriend to be facing a criminal charge and say they want to "drop" the Jacksonville Domestic Battery Charges. But once the case is filed, that decision lies solely in the hands of prosecutors. Now, the state typically does not move forward without the alleged victim in a Jacksonville Domestic Battery Case, though it certainly can if it chooses. Our Jacksonville Domestic Battery Attorney knows the ramifications an arrest can have on a person's career and life. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will work with you and discuss options so you can make the best decision for yourself in regards to your criminal case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Domestic Battery Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Ten arrested when Jacksonville police break up drug ring, seize 24 pounds of cocaine

Jacksonville police announced last month they have broken up two major drug dealing crews, arresting 10 people and seeking more following a yearlong investigation. Police confiscated about 24 pounds of cocaine, which has a street value of about $880,000, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The investigation also netted a pound of marijuana, nine cars and trucks, four guns and $386,000 in cash, the newspaper reported. Many of the arrests occurred in 2013, but police discussed the crimes last week and linked together all of the arrests, possibly for help in capturing the alleged kingpin of the operation, who has not yet been arrested.

Charges include trafficking in cocaine and conspiring to traffic in cocaine, both of which are first-degree felonies punishable by up to life in prison. Police said there are also two suspects who are cooperating with police and have yet to be charged. As is often the case in larger operations in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases, police are looking to people on the inside for information on how the operation works. People aren't going to just give up that information, so what usually happens is police threaten serious charges and offer to help negotiate a lower sentence, depending on how much the person's cooperation helps seal the conviction. In other cases, prosecutors will file charges first, and then try to see who in the group is willing to make a deal and cooperate.

Oftentimes, someone will plead guilty, but not be sentenced until all of the defendants in a Jacksonville Drug Crimes case have had their cases resolved. That gives the suspect who is cooperating motivation to continue to cooperate. Penalties in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases can be severe - especially when the charges get to the level of trafficking. In these Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases, the charges are based on the type of drug and the amount the person has in his or her possession. But in conspiracy cases, as many of these are, police likely have recorded conversations or other evidence that will show or indicate the suspect setting up an actual sale or transaction. Drug trafficking charges can be filed simply based on the amount of a drug a person has, not necessarily based on proof of a sale. Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases are very serious, and penalties can ramp up quickly - especially if a person is caught with cocaine or prescription pain killers. Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney has represented people on possession charges, on up to trafficking and will fully investigate your case to help you or your loved one make an informed decision on how to proceed with the case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Florida Supreme Court overturns death sentence in Jacksonville murder case

March 31, 2014

A Jacksonville man convicted of a 2008 murder should have been sentenced to life in prison, not sent to death row, the Florida Supreme Court ruled last week. The court found that the murder of a convenience store clerk did not meet the standards the state applies when considering sentencing a person to death, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Instead, Michael Yacob will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the newspaper reported.

In Jacksonville Murder Cases, there are only two possible sentences in a first-degree murder case: life in prison or the death penalty. There are 16 types of circumstances that would allow the state to seek the death penalty in a Jacksonville Murder Case, including if it was committed during the commission of another felony. That was the only aggravating factor used to justify the death penalty in this Jacksonville Murder Case and the Supreme Court ruled the case lined up with other cases whether the court has overturned the death penalty when a robbery was the only piece of the crime that was used to pursue the death penalty, the newspaper reported. Other factors that can be used in seeking the death penalty include if the victim was younger than 12, if the crime was committed by a convicted gang member or sexual predator, or if it was especially "heinous, atrocious or cruel," according to state law. By design, what the legislature and courts are saying is the death penalty is reserved for the worst of the worst and should only be applied in extreme circumstances.

Locally, however, the state is often using the threat of the death penalty as a bargaining tool in getting people to plead to guilty to some sort of murder charge - usually second degree murder - to avoid a trial and take the death penalty off the table. Yacob is the fifth person in recent years sentenced to death locally who has had his sentence reversed, the newspaper reported. If the state is seeking the death penalty in a Jacksonville murder case, there are two phases to the trial. It starts with the initial trial and, if the person is found guilty of first-degree murder, a penalty phase follows. This is where both sides present their case and the same jury that decided the first phase makes a recommendation on the death penalty. And, unlike any other phase of Jacksonville Criminal Trials, the decision does not have to be unanimous. Ultimately, the judge makes the final decision, but rarely strays from the jury recommendation, which was 10-2 in favor of the death penalty in Yacob's Jacksonville Murder Case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Duval County Murder Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Man arrested in a string of St. Johns County burglaries, police say more charges could be on way

March 28, 2014

Police arrested a St. Johns County man on several charges following a string of car burglaries and a report from a woman that she woke up to an intoxicated man standing in her doorway. A 22-year-old St. Johns County man was arrested last week, charged with crimes ranging from burglary to a dwelling on down to disorderly intoxication, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police were investigating one car burglary about 3 a.m., when they saw a light go on in another vehicle in the neighborhood, the newspaper reported. Once an officer moved toward the second vehicle, the man ran away, the newspaper reported. He was caught after a convenience store clerk reported a rowdy customer and told police where he went, the newspaper reported.

The most serious charge so far is burglary to an unoccupied dwelling, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The car burglary charges are third-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. One victim reported that three of her cars were burglarized, and each of those St. Johns County Theft Charges can be filed separately as an individual charge. The charges can add up quickly in a St. Johns County Theft Case like this and police are asking for other potential victims to come forward, which could certainly lead to more charges. Legally, one night of someone running around a neighborhood getting into 10 vehicles could bring charges that could result in 50 years in state prison. Now, a sentence like that is unlikely, but the charges that many associate with teen-agers can have more serious penalties than many people might think.

Car burglaries can even become second-degree felonies if there is a person in the vehicle at the time of the crime - whether the suspect knows it or not when he or she breaks into the vehicle. In many St. Johns County Theft Cases, prosecutors may look at a pretrial diversion program, which could result in the charges being dropped if the defendant meets a variety of conditions. Those offers are typically only on the table for people with little to no criminal record. The defendant in this St. Johns County Theft Case does have a record, but mostly for traffic violations, so some sort of sentence may be offered, though one condition may be some sort of drug or alcohol treatment, given that he was also charged with disorderly intoxication. Our St. Johns County Theft Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged with a range of theft charges, from misdemeanors on up to felony burglary and robbery charges, and will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Theft Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jacksonville artist arrested on felony charges for painting city utility boxes

March 26, 2014

Rarely do vandalism charges make headlines in the local media, but the arrest of a Jacksonville artist this month is igniting a debate on art versus vandalism. A local artist was painting the utility boxes in the cloak of darkness and went by the name Keith Haring's Ghost, a tribute to a late New York graffiti artist, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police subpoenaed Facebook records and other Internet footprint data to tie the actual person to the Ghost, the newspaper reported. He was charged with felony criminal mischief in Duval County. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. Criminal mischief becomes a felony if the damage or the cost to restore the property is more than $1,000, according to Florida law. The city of Jacksonville is estimating the damages in this Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Case at $1,100, therefore bumping the charge up to a felony.

The artist admitted to police that he was, in fact, the Ghost, the newspaper reported. Police have plenty of evidence against him, the newspaper reported, including his cell phone which contains pictures of his art. Many in the community have taken to social media to come to the artist's defense, even organizing fundraisers to help pay for his defense and his family's expenses, the newspaper reported. They argue that Jacksonville has plenty of violent crime that needs police attention and arresting an artist on vandalism charges is a waste of resources. Others argue that rules are rules and there are other canvases artists can use to exhibit their work. Many of the paintings are political in nature, showing support for Jordan Davis, a black Jacksonville teen who was shot killed by a middle-aged white man in an argument over loud music. The case drew national attention when it went to trial earlier this year and the jury could not agree on the first-degree murder charge, but convicted the shooter on several other lesser charges.

Had the paintings been more innocuous, perhaps the charges would have never been filed - particularly as a felony. But police and prosecutors do not take kindly to people openly thumbing their nose at the law and often look to make an example of people in Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Cases like this, showing others that this type of behavior won't be tolerated. It will be interesting to see how far prosecutors take this case, or if discussion ends up centering on reducing the charge to a misdemeanor. Either way, this Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Case is now firmly in the media spotlight and, if attention is what the artist was looking for, he has it now.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jacksonville police officer arrested in Clay County on domestic assault charges

March 24, 2014

A Jacksonville police officer faces three misdemeanor charges, after being accused of assaulting his wife and her father during an argument this month. Clay County police were called to his home after the officer was allegedly threatening his wife and fighting with his father-in-law, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He is charged with two counts of domestic assault, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in county jail and a $500 fine. He is also charged with resisting an officer without violence, a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.

The actual charges do not reflect the headlines and the takeaway from the media coverage on the Clay County arrest. In the police report, the officer's wife claims he has pointed a gun at her in the past, and those details dominate the story. But he is not charged with any crime that involves a firearm. If he was, that would be a felony and he'd be looking at the potential of serving time in state prison. But the state would have difficulty trying to prove a case that the wife was threatened with a gun, but didn't call police. Police did take the officer's gun into evidence, the newspaper reported, so technically there could be the possibility of upgrading the charges in this Clay County Domestic Violence Case, though that charge appears to be more difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Either way, the arrest itself in this Clay County Domestic Assault Case will likely result in at least a placement on desk duty while the case resolves itself and could lead to a suspension or even termination.

Though they are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between assault and battery in Clay County Domestic Assault Cases. An assault is threatening someone - yelling at the person, raising a fist - anything that would indicate there is a serious possibility of violence. Battery is actual physical contact. So in this Clay County Domestic Assault case, the officer is accused of charging at his wife and then throwing punches at his father-in-law once the father-in-law stepped in and brought him to the ground, according to the newspaper report. But the punches never connected, hence the assault charges instead of battery. Domestic battery is a first-degree misdemeanor, like the resisting charge, so it would have opened the officer up to more time in the county jail and a larger fine, but would remain a misdemeanor. Clay County Domestic Violence Cases can be difficult for the state, especially because in some instances the alleged victims end up not wanting to cooperate with police once the dust has settled. The charges, though, are very serious and our Clay County Domestic Violence Attorney can fully investigate the case against you or your loved one to help you determine the best course of action going forward.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Clay County Domestic Assault Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jacksonville man convicted of robbing a McDonald's from the drive-thru window

March 22, 2014

A Jacksonville man faces life in prison after a jury found him guilty of armed robbery and several other counts in connection with a robbery of a local fast-food restaurant in 2012. Police said the man approached the closed McDonald's at drive-thru window and asked employees to let him inside, according to a report from News4Jax. When the employee told him no, the man pointed a gun at him and demanded all of the money in the register, the television station reported. The suspect then fired a shot into the window, reached through the glass, took the money and ran away, the television station reported.

Police found him that evening, with the gun used in the robbery and $700 cash in his pocket, the television station reported. The man was charged with several Duval County felonies, the biggest being armed robbery. He was also charged with armed possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana which is also a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The same marijuana charge without a gun is a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The armed robbery charge, though, is the most severe, and the one for which he could face a life sentence. Often times the two words are used interchangeably, but there is a huge difference between burglary and robbery in Jacksonville Theft Cases. A burglary is taking something from a home or a car without a confrontation. Robbery is taking something directly from a person, with violence or the threat of violence. For example, a Jacksonville Theft Case is a burglary when someone breaks into a car and takes a cell phone, or even just opens an unlocked car door and takes things from the vehicle. Burglary is a third-degree felony - unless the home or vehicle is occupied, even if the suspect doesn't know people are there. Then it becomes a second-degree felony. The basic point in the felony degrees is, the more directly the crime relates to threatening or injuring a person, the more severe the crime and the punishment.

In this Jacksonville Robbery Case, the suspect was convicted of firing a gun, which brings the life sentence into play. The life sentence is not automatic, as it is in a first-degree murder case and in some Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases, but it's certainly a possibility, given the facts of the case. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney is experienced in all types of Jacksonville Theft Cases - from misdemeanor petit theft cases on up to burglary and armed robbery.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Theft Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Mobile meth lab bust in St. Johns County leads to three arrests, investigation in Jacksonville

March 20, 2014

Police are expanding an investigation that began when two people were arrested in St. Johns County, accused of making methamphetamine in a truck. The two people found in the vehicle were charged with felonies, as was the man who owned the property where the truck was parked, according to a report from News4Jax. The people in the truck were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, and well as possession of the drug. Manufacturing methamphetamine is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, while possession of meth carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison as a third-degree felony.

The owner of the property is charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. The television station reported that one of the people in the truck also has ties to Jacksonville home that police raided and found chemicals used to make meth, though no further arrests were immediately reported. Methamphetamine is made by cooking a combination of chemicals, including some found in cough medicine and other household goods. The process emits a toxic and distinct odor, which causes problems for those making it in terms of keeping their activity hidden from the public. For example, many people have taken to renting hotel rooms to cook the meth, but the odor often tips off management or other guests, who in turn call police. As a result, mobile meth labs have sprung up as a means to try to conceal the activity.

Criminal penalties related to meth are very severe in St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases. There is no such thing as a misdemeanor methamphetamine charge. Even trace amounts result in a third-degree felony possession charge in a St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case. In all St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases, the amount of the drug a person is accused of having in their possession is directly tied to the severity of the charge. Similarly, the type of drug plays an enormous role, and St. Johns County Drug Crimes laws are extremely harsh when it comes to methamphetamine as it compares with many other drugs. Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes attorney have represented people accused of having various amounts of a range of different drugs - from misdemeanor amounts of marijuana to larger amounts of methamphetamine or cocaine or other more serious drugs.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

St. Johns County teen charged with felony in October crash that severely injured his friend

March 18, 2014

A 17-year-old St. Johns County teen was charged this month in the crash that critically injured his friend and teammate. Charges were filed five months after the near-fatal crash, according to a report on News4Jax. The teen driving was charged with participating in an unlawful race and with reckless driving causing serious injury, the television station reported. The racing charge is a misdemeanor, but the reckless driving count is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. Neither police nor prosecutors have said whether they plan to charge the teen as an adult or as a juvenile.

The crash occurred when the driver lost control of his pickup truck while racing another vehicle, the television station reported. Police said the driver admitted at the scene he was racing and driving faster than 90 mph, the television station reported. A passenger was thrown from the vehicle and suffered severe head trauma in the crash. One complicating factor in the charges is the victim's father saying he was disappointed in the arrest and that the driver and his son are close friends, the television station reported. That adds a layer of difficulty for the state. What could be happening is that prosecutors may know they will be offering probation or another seemingly minor penalty in the case, but felt some charges were necessary because of the admission from the driver at the scene and the severity of the injuries in this St. Johns County Traffic Case.

Ordinarily, careless driving in a St. Johns County Traffic Case is nothing more than a traffic citation that could result in a fine and points on a person's driver's license. But when someone is seriously injured, the case then carries criminal penalties. These St. Johns County Criminal Traffic Cases can be difficult for both sides because, clearly, there was not a criminal intent for the teen to hurt his friend. Cases like these are inherently different from those in which there's a fight or a shooting or some sort of active decision made to intentionally harm someone. That's not the case here, in this St. Johns County Juvenile Case. These are teens making a mistake that ended up having serious consequences, and even the victim's family appears to be against criminal charges. There's no indication that alcohol was a factor in this crash, which will likely be a significant factor in the possibility of a more lenient sentence if the driver is convicted or pleads guilty to the charges.

Our St. Johns County Traffic Attorney knows that many people who find themselves charged in serious traffic charges do not have a lengthy criminal history, nor are they familiar with the system. Our St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Attorney can explain the charges, the potential penalties and the process to help resolve the case in the best manner possible.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.