Jacksonville Beach police put additional patrols from their department and neighboring agencies on the streets in a 20-hour crackdown on traffic violations and DUIs.  The result was four DUIs arrests and 271 traffic tickets in a span from 7 a.m. on a Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday morning, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said the special enforcement was part of an ongoing effort to reduce unsafe driving and DUIs on major roads in the beaches communities.  In many Jacksonville Traffic Cases like this, police will set up a checkpoint. That’s where every driver has to stop and police check a variety of things with the car, including headlights, brake lights and turn signals. An officer will also speak with the driver, just long enough to know if the person may be impaired or emits an odor of alcoholic beverages. In many cases, police announce the checkpoints in advance as a way to caution drivers and put them on notice not to drink and drive.

In this Jacksonville Traffic Case, it appears police didn’t use a checkpoint, but instead just flooded the area with police who were looking for nothing but traffic violations. In reality, if police were specifically always focused on writing traffic tickets, they could write them all day long. And while traffic tickets are minor compared to a DUI or other Jacksonville Criminal Cases, they can add up in terms of cost and inconvenience if a driver is not careful. Traffic tickets are scored on a points system and, as they add up, they can result in a license suspension. Most speeding tickets are three points, though the punishment can vary depending on the speed and circumstances of the ticket. Tickets for reckless driving carry four points and leaving the scene of an accident are six points. The points can add up as follows:

12 points in a year: 30-day license suspension
18 points in 18 months: 3-month suspension
24 points in three years: 1-year suspension

Traffic tickets can have major consequences when they add up to a license suspension that can hamper a person’s ability to drive and get to and from work. Not to mention the fines and court costs, along with the likelihood that car insurance rates likely rise once the tickets hit a person’s driving record.  But, in many Jacksonville Traffic Cases, points or fines can be reduced with the help of a Jacksonville Traffic Attorney. Remember that by simply paying the ticket, you are admitting guilt and accepting the points on your license. Our Jacksonville Traffic Attorney represents people on a variety of moving violations and can examine your case and assess the situation with points and fines.

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

A robbery that netted less than $20 worth of gas and cigarettes could land a pair of St. Johns County siblings in prison for decades.  The two were caught shortly after the man walked into the gas station and threatened the clerk with a knife, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man told the clerk to turn on the pump and leave it on until the tank was full and also demanded a pack of cigarettes, the newspaper reported. The clerk told the man he had to pay, but he refused and left after his sister pumped $13 worth of gas into the pickup truck.  The clerk gave police a description of the truck and the two were caught and arrested minutes later. Both are charged with armed robbery.

Armed robbery is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. Typically, armed robbery charges that receive life sentences deal mostly with cases involving firearms, not a folding knife like the one police say was used in this case. But it does illustrate the enormous difference the between Jacksonville Robbery Cases and Jacksonville Theft Cases. For example, taking a pack of cigarettes and stealing some gas from a gas station would be petit theft and a second-degree misdemeanor, since the value is less than $100.

But bringing the weapon and essentially holding up the gas station took this Jacksonville Robbery Case to much more serious territory. The newspaper reported the pair was also suspected in a similar robbery earlier in the day in St. Johns County, but they didn’t get the gas they demanded. In that incident, they stole beer and didn’t pump gas. Florida law states that “If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried a firearm or other deadly weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment.” Use of a weapon not deemed to be a deadly weapon would make the charge a second-degree felony, with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison.  In this Jacksonville Robbery Case, both the brother and sister are facing armed robbery charges. Even though the sister did not show the knife or walk into the store where the threat was made, she can still be charged because she pumped the gas and drove the car off. Now, she’s must less complicit and is probably the more likely of the two to have her charges reduced, but is also looking at potentially decades behind bars.

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

Jacksonville police have yet to find a man accused of bringing a gun into a Duval County high school this month.  The man who came onto the high school campus was not a student at the school, according to a report on First Coast News. The person was approached by school staff who saw the gun, the television station reported. The man left and got rid of the gun before he could be detained for police, according to the news report.

Bringing a gun onto the campus of an elementary school, middle school or high school is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. The same penalty and crime holds for a person who waves or brandishes a knife or any other weapon (not including fireams) in a threatening manner. But in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, the person does not need to pull out the gun, threaten to use it, or even show it to anyone. Possession of the firearm itself is what constitutes the crime. The law goes even further to prevent the possession of firearms at a school bus stop or even within 1,000 feet of a school.  In this aspect, Jacksonville Gun Crime laws are similar to Jacksonville Drug Crime laws. There are many enhancements in Jacksonville Drug Crime Cases related to where the person is caught in possession of or attempting to sell illegal drugs. In many scenarios, the crime would move up one felony degree for being within 1,000 feet of a school. For example, a third-degree felony could become a second-degree felony. That is significant because a third-degree felony has a maximum penalty of five years on prison, while a second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.

As it relates to this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, it will be interesting to see how the case progresses – especially if there is not a gun recovered. Media reports did not indicate school staff found a gun, only that they saw one. That would likely not be enough to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. But, given the presence of cameras in schools today, there could be video evidence that is enough for the state to file the case and think it can prove it in trial.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney knows the rights gun owners have to possess firearms and will fully investigate your case to make sure your rights have not been violated. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will provide you or your loved one with the information you need to make the best possible 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 Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jacksonville police have opened an investigation into a Jacksonville man accused of throwing a cup of liquid at another car during an apparent argument.  This is probably something that happens daily on roads across Jacksonville, but there’s one reason this one has bubbled up to earn media attention: It was caught on video. A woman who said she honked at the driver she said sped through a school zone pulled out her phone to capture what she said was aggressive behavior, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. No charges have been filed, but police said they are investigating a police criminal mischief charge.

Criminal mischief is essentially vandalism, and the crime would be throwing the drink at the woman’s vehicle. Since the value of the damage is likely less than $200, the charge would be a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in county jail. If the value is between $201 and $1,000, the charge would be a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail. If the value was more than $1,000, criminal mischief is then elevated to a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. This is highly unlikely in this Jacksonville Road Rage Case because prosecutors told the newspaper the case was being investigated as a misdemeanor.

None of the actual root causes of the argument are part of the charges, including running a red light and speeding in a school zone. In these Jacksonville Traffic Cases, the alleged acts would have to be observed by a police officer for any charges to be filed. The only exception in traffic cases are red light cameras cases, though those are also subject to their own legal questioning. The woman also accused the van driver of threatening her, but that part of the incident was not caught on video. The only potentially criminal piece that was filmed was the throwing of the drink.  Even that piece of this Jacksonville Misdemeanor Case could be pretty thin if it was brought before a jury of the driver’s peers. The case will eventually become a case of “he said, she said.” If the woman thought far enough in advance to film the man from her cell phone while driving, did she do anything before the filming that might have instigated or escalated the incident? And by following the man to his home, did she continue the incident and then herself become the aggressor?  The video makes for good footage for the evening news, but isn’t as solid when it comes to proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people accused of all types of crimes, including traffic cases, misdemeanors and felonies.

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.

Police searched a Northeast Florida home and found what they described as an elaborate marijuana grow operation and seized plants with a street value of tens of thousands of dollars.  Police said they received a search warrant to look inside the home and found 72 mature marijuana plants and marijuana that had already been picked from the plants, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The drugs found inside the home were worth about $80,000, the newspaper reported. When police eventually left the home, they took two truckloads of lights, irrigation systems and other materials used in the alleged grow operation, the newspaper reported.

The man is charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, the newspaper reported. The cultivation and possession charges are both third-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. The drug paraphernalia charge is a misdemeanor and any time done on that charge would be in county jail, not in state prison. The two felonies are the important charges in this St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case.

Charges and potential penalties in St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases are based on two main components: the type of drug a person is accused of having and how much of it police find on his or her person. And of the common street drugs people are accused of possessing, charges for marijuana are by far the most lenient, meaning the minimum amounts for serious charges are far higher than for drugs that include cocaine and prescription pain pills. For example, when people have more than 300 plants, they can be charged with drug trafficking and the St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case then becomes a first-degree felony. In this case, the man had 72 plants and isn’t even 25 percent of the way there, despite having what police said is $80,000 worth of marijuana. The threshold of 20 grams to constitute a felony is also far higher than for any other drug. With cocaine, for example, there is no amount that constitutes a misdemeanor. Any amount is a felony.  Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney represents people on all types of drug charges. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney will fully investigate your case and provide you with information so you or your loved one can make the best possible 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 St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Georgia man who told police he has three prior DUI arrests was arrested and charged this month for his role in a Jacksonville crash that critically injured a 19-year-old motorcyclist.  Police said the driver was turning left into an apartment complex when he did not stop for a motorcycle that ran into the front of his car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver stopped momentarily, started walking toward the injured motorcyclist, then came back to the car and drove off into the complex, the newspaper reported.

Police later found the driver walking in the apartment complex and said he had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, the newspaper reported. Police had to get a warrant to take a blood sample from him because he initially refused. In Jacksonville DUI Cases involving a serious injury, drivers do not have a choice in giving a blood sample. If they do initially refuse, police can quickly obtain a warrant and get it done that way. When drivers agree to a Florida driver’s license, they agree to give a blood draw if police suspect alcohol or drug use in a crash where someone – even the driver – is seriously injured.

In this Jacksonville DUI Case, the man is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a serious injury and not rendering aid to the victim. That charge is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The Florida Legislature made a change to the penalties in 2014, increasing the charge from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony. The crime previously had a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. The new law also strengthened minimum mandatory sentences in hit-and-run cases when people are killed.  One point to note in this Jacksonville DUI Case: Technically, the driver has yet to be charged with the DUI portion of the crime. When blood is drawn for cases like this, typically the results take six to nine months to return from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab. In cases where the driver did not leave the scene, there likely wouldn’t be any charges at all until lab results returned. In this Jacksonville Felony Case, the man can already be charged with a second-degree felony without the blood test, and he has shown a propensity to flee. The case will likely not resolve until those blood test results are back, though that could change in negotiations between the state and the defense.  Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged with DUI and knows the specific procedures police must follow in these cases. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly review and investigate your case to make sure every aspect of the law was followed.

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.

A man who was a teenager at the time he was arrested on murder and other charges, pleaded guilty this month and avoided a potential life sentence.  The man, now 21, pleaded guilty in connection with the shooting death of an 18-year-old man in 2013, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, armed robbery and possession of a firearm by an adjudicated juvenile delinquent, the newspaper reported. Both the murder charge and the armed robbery charge have a maximum sentence of life in prison. He was sentenced instead to 35 years in prison in this Jacksonville Murder Case. The murder charge carries a minimum sentence of 25 years on state prison.

There were two people facing similar charges in this Jacksonville Murder Case and the second has not pleaded guilty. He is still awaiting trial, the newspaper reported. Cases like this always lead to speculation that the person pleading first will be testifying against the second defendant. The man’s Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney told the newspaper the plea does not require him to testify in the case against the co-defendant. One key element in this Jacksonville Murder Case is that the man has already been sentenced. Typically, when the deal is contingent on cooperation, the state will ask the judge to postpone sentencing until after the trial in which the person is supposed to testify. This is done so the state still has some sort of leverage over the defendant. If the sentence that reflects cooperation has already been given, there is no incentive for the person to actually testify against the other person in his or her Jacksonville Murder Trial.

If the person isn’t testifying, or the state does not believe the testimony to be crucial to proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt, it doesn’t matter when the person is sentenced. From the media reports in this Jacksonville Murder Case, it is not clear which of the two men was the shooter. The man who was sentenced was arrested after police received a tip that he was bragging about being involved in the first murder of 2013, the newspaper reported. He was charged with murder after lab results showed a gun found on him matched the one used in the murder.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people charged with all types of crimes – from misdemeanor charges and traffic tickets on up to capital felonies such as murder and armed robbery. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the charges against you or your loved one and provide you with information so you can make the best decision on 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 Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Clay County man was arrested and booked on three charges this week, all stemming from a June traffic crash that killed a 24-year-old man.  The driver was accused of driving into a man who was walking his bicycle across an intersection, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. This month, he was charged with DUI manslaughter, DUI causing property damage and DUI. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in state prison. DUI and DUI causing property damage are both misdemeanors and all punishment in misdemeanor cases would be in the county jail, not in state prison. Punishment guidelines in standard Clay County DUI Cases are based on the number of previous DUI convictions or guilty pleas the person has on his or her criminal record.

The charge to be concerned about in this Clay County DUI Case is clearly the DUI manslaughter. Not just because it is a felony, but because it also carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. In some Clay County Felony Cases, the state will waive the minimum mandatory as part of a plea agreement but, once the case goes to trial, it’s out of everyone’s hands – including the judge. The defendant in this Clay County DUI Case is now out on bail and likely knew he would eventually be charged with serious felonies in this case.

Even though the crash occurred in June, it is not uncommon for it to take several months, including close to a year, for charges to come. In cases where there is a serious injury or a death, police can take a blood sample from the driver without the driver having to consent. This is different than a regular DUI case where the driver can refuse to take a breath test – though are still penalties that apply. A blood test is mandatory in cases with an injury. The results often take between six to nine months to come back from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab. While a breath test could have been taken at the scene to prove the misdemeanor DUI, it makes sense in cases like this for the state to wait for the blood test and charge the entire case at once. Breath tests are often successfully contested in front of juries in some Clay County DUI Cases, but blood test results are generally viewed as significantly more reliable.  Our Clay County DUI Attorney is well-versed in the policies and procedures police must follow when making a DUI arrest and will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one to make sure those standards were followed.

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

A Jacksonville police officer is now facing two charges – including one felony – in connection with allegedly lying about how many hours she worked in an off-duty role.  Investigators had been watching the officer for more than a month and found she only worked about 15 of the 24 hours she was reporting for her off-duty role providing security at an apartment complex, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The problem is, the officer filled out paperwork to indicate she worked all of the hours, but instead was leaving early or arriving late, the newspaper reported.

The officer is charged with official misconduct and petit theft. The official misconduct charge is the one to worry about. The charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. More importantly, pleading guilty to or being convicted of a felony can have a crippling effect on her law enforcement career, as many agencies have specific policies against hiring people with a felony on his or her criminal record. The theft charge is a second-degree misdemeanor, which could include some county jail time, but rarely does.

Jacksonville police officers are allowed to use their patrol car and uniform when they work off-duty security jobs, such as the one the defendant was working at a local apartment complex. In exchange for the use of the uniform and car, the sheriff’s office must approve all of the off-duty work and employees must report their time. When Jacksonville Theft Cases like this occur, they are usually the result of a tip from the agency to police, though it is not clear how the investigation began in this case. In this Jacksonville Theft Case, the officer offered to go on unpaid leave until the criminal investigation is complete, the newspaper reported. Once the criminal case is over, police will conduct their own internal investigation to look at discipline for the officer. In many cases, the internal discipline can be more severe and have a greater impact on the employee than the criminal charges.

Jacksonville Theft Cases involving employees likely happen every day and don’t receive headlines. In this case, the amount of money allegedly stolen was less than $300. But in this case, it is a police officer lying about employment – which always earns attention from the media. There are certain balances people must make in handling a criminal case and making sure it is isn’t something that puts their career in even more jeopardy. Our Jacksonville Theft Attorney can help navigate that balance and look for a solution that minimizes both the criminal and employment consequences in your Jacksonville Felony 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 Theft Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A man from Jacksonville and another from St. Johns County were arrested last week, caught by undercover detectives who say they men were on their way to a sexual encounter with a child they believed to be under the age of 14.  But the person they were accused of chatting with online and arranging to meet was not a child, but instead law enforcement working on behalf of police to help arrest adults looking for sex with children, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. In all, 22 men were arrested in the sting, including the two with ties to Northeast Florida, the newspaper reported.

The men are charged with travelling to meet a minor to engage in a sex act; using a computer to seduce, solicit, lure or entice a child; and unlawful use of a two-way communications device. Traveling to meet a minor is the most serious of the three charges and is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The other two charges are both third-degree felonies, punishable by up to five years in state prison.  So each of the men in these Florida Sex Crimes cases are looking at the potential of 25 years in state prison, if they plead guilty or are convicted and the judge chooses to sentence them to the maximum possible and run the sentences consecutively. That’s unlikely to happen, but the men are likely looking at prison time – especially given the recent local history on these types of stings.

These undercover operations are not uncommon, and there appears to be no shortage of men who end up getting charged in similar stings. They were initially made popular on national television with Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series, when camera crews and detectives would set up in different cities and essentially reel would-be predators in. Police record all of the internet chats and discussions, so there is often a lengthy paper trail when the men appear in court – a paper trail that doesn’t sound good at all when read before a jury.  On top of any prison time, all of the defendants in these Florida Sex Crimes cases are also likely looking at having to register as a sex offender. That requires checking in with police at least twice a year and notifying police whenever the person changes residences. An when a sex offender moves, immediate neighbors are notified of his or her presence in the neighborhood – with the address and a description of the charge he or she was convicted of or pleaded guilty to.  Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney is well-versed in the consequences of defendants being classified as a sex offender and can explain the policies and procedures so you or your loved one can make an informed decision going forward with you 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.