Police and prosecutors statewide are cracking down on sexual offenders and predators who are not complying with registration requirements.  The targeted enforcement, dubbed by the cops as Operation Summer Heat, has already led to 42 arrests, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Of those arrests, five men live in Jacksonville and a sixth is from Clay County, the newspaper reported. All are charged with failure to register as a sex offender, a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison.

But that may not be all of the possible prison time these men are facing in these Jacksonville Sex Crimes. For example, the sexual offender registration may be part of the probation that has yet to be completed as the original sentence for their Clay County Sex Crime. And that is one more reason Jacksonville Sex Crimes stick with a person for as long as any crime, including murder. In a different scenario, a Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case for example, a person pleads guilty to a third-degree felony with a maximum of five years in prison, and is sentenced to two years in prison followed by a year of probation. If that person completes the prison sentence but then flunks a drug test and violates probation, the can be arrested on that violation. But the most they could be sentenced to is the original maximum minus what they have already served. So, in this example, three more years in prison.

But, in Clay County Sex Crimes Cases, failing to register as a sex offender is its own separate felony. So the person could get five years on this charge alone, and whatever is remaining on the original charge for violation the terms of probation. Once someone pleads guilty to or is convicted of a Jacksonville Sex Crime, he or she must register as a sex offender. That means checking in with police at least twice a year, depending on the severity of the crime the person was charged with, and notifying authorities any time the person moves. There are also restrictions on where certain sex offenders can live, in terms of proximity to schools, playgrounds and other places where children congregate.  Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney knows how severe the consequences can be and will explain them in detail to you or your loved one so you can make an informed decision on 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 Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A 13-year-old boy was charged as an adult this month in the murder of one man and the attempted murder of a second person.  Police said the boy and two others, and 18-year-old and a 17-year-old, met two men at a Jacksonville gas station to exchange guns, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. After the trade was complete, one of the men was shot dead and a second was shot and injured as he tried to run away, the newspaper reported. The 13-year-old is now charged with first-degree murder in the death of the man, attempted murder in the shooting of the other man, armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted juvenile delinquent.

Typically, a first-degree murder charge only has two possible sentences – life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. Because the defendant is a juvenile, neither life in prison nor the death penalty are options in this Jacksonville Murder Case. If he is convicted, the judge would then issue a sentence of life in prison, but add a date for the defendant to be eligible for a hearing on being released. Typically, that term is about 40 years.  The both is among several boys recently charged as adults with murder, including a 12-year-old charged with killing a homeless man last year. Of the three people police suspect in this Jacksonville Murder Case, two have been arrested and the 17-year-old is still on the loose. There is often some room to have the charges reduced for providing information in the case, but that’s if the person is on the periphery of the case. From what has been reported in the local media, police think the 13-year-old is the one who pulled the trigger, so it’s unlikely he’ll be able to work much of a deal with the state in this Jacksonville Murder Case.  There is a completely separate court system designed to deal with juveniles. But the state has the option to charge youth accused of serious crimes as adults. That is common practice locally in cases where the charge is far less serious than murder, so it is highly unlikely this case will be anywhere but adult court.

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.

A Jacksonville police officer was arrested this month on felony drug charges, accused of bringing pills to an acquaintance who said she was in pain.  The woman sent the officer a text message asking for pills and the officer brought her a bag with six pills, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The pills were painkillers and a muscle relaxer – and all but one would need a prescription, the newspaper reported. The officer is also accused of making sexual advances on the woman but she told him to stop, the newspaper reported. In all, he is facing two different felony charges for sale or delivery of a controlled substance, as well as a battery for touching the woman, the newspaper reported.

Police said there was not enough evidence to charge the man with sexual battery but, because a battery is any unwanted touching, that’s what he was charged with. That charge is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail. The drug charges are the real problem – both are second-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison on each count. Not only do felonies open up the possibility of state prison, for law enforcement officers it can mean the end of their career. Most police agencies will not allow someone to be a sworn officer if they have been convicted of or have pleaded to a felony. The officer is now on leave without pay while the Jacksonville Drug Crime investigation is completed. If the officer had prescriptions for the medication, that could make a big difference in the state’s willingness to discuss a plea agreement to something other than a felony.

The facts of the case, as they have been presented in the media, sound pretty thin. The woman did reach out to the officer for the pills and appears to have been offended by the sexual advances and then called police. The officer was arrested two days later and has not been back to work since. When it comes to the felony drug charges, the charge is the same whether someone sells prescription drugs or gives them to someone for free. The difference could come in sentencing, but the law treats both actions the same. This is where the discretion of prosecutors comes into play with the hope that not every Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case is treated exactly the same.  Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney represents people accused of all types of drug crimes, from sale or delivery on down to possession. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one, and give you the information needed to make the best decision on how to proceed.

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.

Jacksonville police charged a man this month with various felony DUI charges in connection with a 2012 crash that killed one of his passengers and injured himself and two others.  The driver is accused of driving his SUV into a guardrail in December 2012 and then rolling the vehicle several times, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The passenger riding in the front seat died days after the crash and the driver and two others in the car were seriously injured. The driver is now charged with vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, DUI causing serious injury, DUI with property damage and driving with a suspended license.

In many serious Jacksonville DUI Cases were someone is killed or seriously injured, there can be a lengthy delay from the time of the crash until the time charges are filed. But that delay is typically six to nine months, rather than more than two-and-a-half years. Officials from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told the newspaper the delay was because police were waiting on several pieces of evidence to be analyzed by the department. In most Jacksonville DUI Cases such as this one, police are waiting for blood results to come back. When there are injuries in a Jacksonville DUI Case, police can take blood without the driver’s consent – unlike a standard DUI with a breath test.

In this case, it appears the driver was injured to the point he would not have been able to provide consent anyway, so the issue would have been moot.  Police likely could have easily proceeded with some of the other charges in this Jacksonville DUI Case, but likely wanted to proceed with all of them at one time. Many of the charges here are felonies, including vehicular homicide, which is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. DUI manslaughter is also a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. While all charges in this Jacksonville DUI Case are serious, the DUI Manslaughter charge carries a four-year minimum mandatory prison sentence. Unlike most prison sentences in which the defendant can be released after serving 85 percent of the sentence, every single day of a minimum mandatory sentence must be served.  DUI causing serious bodily injury is also a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison. The remaining DUI charges are misdemeanors, which is what most Jacksonville DUI Charges are. But, when serious injuries or deaths occur, the penalties increase severely.

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 DUI Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Nassau County Sheriff’s Office officials fired an officer and charged him with felony drug charges the same day.  The investigation is ongoing, but police said they learned the man was selling prescription medication and they had what they needed to fire him, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man is charged with conspiracy to trafficking hydrocodone and with selling a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a church or a school, the newspaper reported. Both are serious felony charges in this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case. Trafficking in hydrocodone is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and has a minimum mandatory sentence of at least three years in state prison, depending on the amount the person is accused of having. The charge for selling a controlled substance is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison.

And while the two charges in this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case are obviously related, they are not as intertwined as one might presume. Drug trafficking charges are based on the amount of the drug a person has and have nothing to do with whether the person is physically selling drugs. Trafficking charges themselves – and least from the outset – can be much more common in cases involving hydrocodone and other pills because the threshold is so low. Trafficking charges involving hydrocodone start at just 14 grams. For example, Nassau County Drug Crimes Cases involving marijuana are misdemeanors until the amount is 20 grams and trafficking charges don’t kick in until the defendant has 250 POUNDS of marijuana. Depending on how much the person is accused of having, and the amount was not specified in this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case, there are minimum mandatory sentences. For example, if the person is charged with having between 14 and 28 grams, the minimum mandatory sentence is three years. If the amount is between 28 and 50 grams, the minimum sentence is seven years, and it increases to 15 years when the amount is between 50 and 200 grams.

So the actual sale of the drugs carries less of a punishment than the possession, because of the amount. But the sale is likely the biggest issue in firing the officer immediately. Right or wrong, police are held to different standards, and having an officer selling drugs is not going to go over well. The charges in this Nassau County Drug Case may change as the investigation moves on, but the arrest and public release of the facts seem to be a little earlier than normal because of the fact the suspect was an active police officer.  Our Nassau County Drug Crimes Attorney has represented people accused of all levels of drug crimes, accused of having a variety of different substances and will fully investigate the case against you or your loved one so you can make the best decision 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 Nassau County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Prosecutors announced this month that they have charged a 15-year-old boy with first-degree murder in the killing of a store clerk.  The boy is accused of demanding money from a convenience store clerk and then shooting him when the clerk wasn’t moving fast enough, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. After the shooting, the boy got into a stolen car driven by a 16-year-old boy who led police on a high-speed chase into another county, the newspaper reported. The 15-year-old boy is also charged with armed robbery with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm, the newspaper reported. All three are serious felony charges, but the main charge in this case is first-degree murder.

In a typical St. Johns County Murder Case, there are two possible sentences if someone pleads guilty to or is convicted of first-degree murder: life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. However, the sentencing possibilities are different in this case because the defendant is only 15 years old. He can still be charged as an adult in this St. Johns County Murder Case, but he cannot be sentenced as an adult would be. For example, the death penalty is not an option when juveniles are convicted of murder. Also, there must be some chance for release, even if it ends up being denied. The state prosecutor told the newspaper it would likely be 40 years before the release would be considered, assuming the boy either pleaded guilty or was convicted by a jury. So he could be sentenced to life in prison, with the condition that he could apply for release in 40 years, or whatever length of time the judge deems appropriate.  Courts have gone back and forth on life sentences for juveniles and the laws have been driven recently by the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices have struck down life sentences for juveniles, but have left it up to individual states to determine the lengths of sentences – even though the federal courts have ruled that 70-year sentences for juveniles are too long and essentially amount to a life sentence.

On serious felony charges, such as murder and armed robbery, it was highly unlikely the state would ever choose to prosecute the case in juvenile court. But even in adult court, there are still sentencing guidelines that differentiate between boys and men.  Our St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of teens on a variety of charges, from misdemeanors on up to serious felonies in adult court, as this boy is charged with. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and provide information so you can make the best 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 Duval County Juvenile Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A man is suing the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, saying police should have known he was not the person they were looking for when they arrested him in a 2013 theft case.  The issue began with a Clay County Theft Case of a man caught trying to steal cologne, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, but it turns out gave police the name and ID of a different man, the newspaper reported. That man was six inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter and had reported his ID stolen to police, the newspaper reported. But when the real suspect didn’t show up for court, an arrest warrant was issued in the name of the man the suspect gave police.

The man went to police, tried to explain the mistake and prove that he wasn’t the guy, but officers wouldn’t listen. The man was promptly arrested and booked into the jail. Clay County Theft Charges were eventually dropped, but it took three months for the man to have his name cleared. This is the third time in the last two years that Clay County officers have arrested the wrong person in a criminal case. Police are supposed to have new policies and procedures in place to prevent this from happening, but this incident appears to have happened before the changes were made.

In many Clay County Misdemeanor Cases, instead of being immediately arrested and taken to jail, defendants are given a notice to appear in court. That’s what happened in this Clay County Theft Case. The defendant was caught with about $200 worth of cologne taken from a store, which would be petit theft, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the county jail. But, instead of giving police his real name and ID, he gave a different one. But, once the warrant was issued and the other man turned himself in to explain himself, police should have checked the warrant and arrest report, which would have told them they had the wrong person. It is human nature for people to try to explain themselves to police, especially when they are completely innocent as the man was in this Clay County Theft Case. But police don’t always listen and, in many cases, assume the person is lying and don’t think that they could be the ones who made a mistake.  There are checks and balances in our criminal justice system for this exact reason. Unfortunately, when mistakes like this happen, the most effective way to have the wrong righted is with a Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney. Once an arrest has been made, it’s often the defendant that has to prove his or her innocence to get out of jail – the exact opposite of how our system is supposed to work.

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 Misdemeanor Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

State and local police say they’ll be out in full force on a well-travelled Clay County highway after a string of serious accidents in recent weeks.  Patrol officers and others are out along the highway, checking speeds and watching for drivers who run red lights in the area, according to a report on News4Jax.com. While nothing has been reported yet in the local news media, expect a news release in the upcoming weeks about the number of violations and tickets issued in the area due to the increased patrols.

Police can’t be everywhere and by no means can they prevent every traffic accident that may occur. But the presence of police officers will undoubtedly make drivers slow down. How many times have you seen a string of brake lights on the highway, only to see a highway patrol officer in the median a few hundred yards up? If drivers do not feel there are consequences for exceeding the speed limit, they likely will.  And while Clay County Traffic Violations are far less serious than misdemeanor and felony crimes, they can have a major financial impact on drivers. On top of the financial considerations, drivers can also lose their license if they continue to get caught speeding or of other moving violations. In Florida, traffic tickets are scored on a point system. When those points accumulate, they can have serious consequences for drivers.

While speeding tickets have varying point levels based on how much the driver exceeds the speed limit, many other common violations are worth 3 points. Reckless driving carries a 4-point penalty and a person caught leaving the scene of an accident faces 6 points. When the points add up they can lead to:

– A 30-day license suspension for 12 points in one year
– A 3-month suspension for 18 points in 18 months
– A 1-year suspension for 24 point in a 3-year period

If a driver simply pays his or her fine on the ticket, he or she is admitting guilt and accepting the points that come with the violation. Those points are on your driving record and will also likely cause car insurance rates to rise. In some Clay County Traffic Cases, an attorney can appear on your behalf in an effort to get the fine or points reduced.
Our Clay County Traffic Attorney has represented hundreds of drivers on traffic cases and can help you make a decision on whether the ticket is worth fighting – based on the circumstances, including your past driving record.

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 Traffic Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A girl who claimed to have been pulled over by people pretending to be police officers has been arrested, accused of making the entire story up.  The high school student, 18, is now charged with filing a false police report, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail. Even though she is still in high school, because she is 18 her case will go through adult court and not juvenile court. Clay County Criminal Cases can only be handled in juvenile court if the defendant is 17 years old or younger. The state can choose to charge younger people as adults, but the system does not work in reverse, even if the defendant is in high school.

Police said the girl called police about being stopped by two men who had flashing police lights and then tried to get into her car, the newspaper reported. Police investigated the case and continued to ask questions of the girl, who stuck by her story, the newspaper reported. Eventually, at the last of the series of interviews, police said the girl admitted the story was false and shared what really happened, the newspaper reported.

In Clay County Misdemeanor Cases like this, part of the motivation for police in publicizing the case is to let people know there are consequences for lying to police and wasting taxpayers’ time and resources investigating false claims. While the maximum penalty for the Clay County Misdemeanor Case the woman is charged with is the year in county jail mentioned above, that shouldn’t be what to look for in terms of the sentencing. In Clay County Misdemeanors Cases such as this, prosecutors are typically more interested in a sentence that has a form of punishment and also helps make the police department whole for the investigations. Options may be some form of community service, combined with repaying the sheriff’s office for all or part of the tax dollars spent during the investigation.  These types of sentences are common in Clay County Misdemeanor Cases, especially those that involve atypical cases and people who may not have a long history of criminal conduct. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people on misdemeanor cases and knows the types of negotiated sentences that both work for the state and allow the defendant to accept responsibility, complete the assigned punishment and move on with his or her life.

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 Misdemeanor Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

State prosecutors dropped the first-degree murder charges against a woman inside a home where two people were killed when police raided the suspected meth lab.  Instead, the woman pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, one for the detective who was shot and the other for the man who shot the detective and was then killed by police, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The woman also pleaded guilty to two more drug charges and was sentenced last month to a combined 30 years in state prison, the newspaper reported. Had the state not reduced the first-degree murder charge, she would have been sentenced to mandatory life in prison. The only two sentences possible for first –degree murder are life in prison and the death penalty.

The interesting piece of this Clay County Murder Case is that four people were charged with murder but never fired a shot. One was sentenced to two life sentences and another received 50 years in state prison. The fourth, who was 16 at the time and living in the house with his mother (who received 50 years), has not yet been to trial. Florida law, which applied in this Clay County Murder Case, allows the state to charge a person with murder if he or she was committing a felony at the time when a murder occurred. Because the people inside the home were either making, selling or in possession of methamphetamines, the charges could apply. Police said they smelled cooking methamphetamines when they approached the home, the newspaper reported. So the people inside the home were all charged with both the murder of the police detective and the man who shot him, and was subsequently shot by the police.

Felony murder can also be charged in Clay County Murder Cases where, for example, a store clerk has a heart attack when a gunman is robbing the store. The only elements that need to be proven are: the defendant committed a felony and someone was killed. It is unusual for the state to charge first-degree murder, as it did in this Clay County Murder Case, but within the bounds of the law.
Under Florida law, you don’t have to be the one who pulls the trigger to be facing a murder charge. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney can explain the variables that can induce different charges, and fully 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 Clay County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.