A Jacksonville man convicted of killing a firefighter’s wife will spend the rest of his life in prison.  The man was facing the possibility of the death penalty, but the judge issued the life sentence last week, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was convicted in April of first-degree murder, rape and armed robbery, the newspaper reported. Days after the conviction, the jury reconvened to address the issue of the death penalty.

In Jacksonville Murder Cases, and across Florida, there are only two possible sentences when someone is convicted of or pleads guilty to first-degree murder: life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. If the state is seeking the death penalty, once the trial is over the jury reviews the case and then makes a decision one way or the other on the sentence. Jurors vote individually and the results are then read in court for the judge. This is the most prominent circumstance where a jury does not have to be unanimous. To convict a person of a crime, or the completely exonerate a person, all of the jurors must be in agreement. If a jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, the judge declares the case a mistrial. From there, prosecutors must decide if they want to take the case to trial again, or continue negotiations with the defense.

But, at the death penalty phase in a Jacksonville Murder Case, jurors just take a vote and let the chips fall where they may. In this Jacksonville Murder Case, the jury recommended life in prison, not the death penalty. The judge chose to follow the jury’s recommended, which happens in virtually every Jacksonville Murder Case involving the death penalty.  A case that will head to the U.S. Supreme Court next year could require all states to have the jury make a unanimous decision on the death penalty before a person could be sentenced to death. Florida is one of only three states that only requires a majority vote from the jury to recommend the death penalty.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people accused on any type of crime, from misdemeanors on up to murder charges. Our Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney knows the various sentencing laws and the minimum mandatory requirements, and can explain those to you or your loved one so you have a better understanding of what to expect and can make an informed 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 Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A St. Johns County Commissioner was cleared of a felony charge brought against him in North Carolina.  He was charged with obtaining property by false pretense, accused of taking $500 from an account he used to share with his ex-girlfriend and former business partner, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man said he mistakenly transferred the money from the wrong account and fixed it right after he realized the mistake, the newspaper reported. A warrant for the man’s arrest was issued Monday and, by Thursday, after the man drove to North Carolina to talk to police and turn himself in, the charge had been dropped. The man’s attorney said the arrest warrant was issued without police even trying to get the man’s side of the story, which would have explained that the transaction was a simple mistake, the newspaper reported.

But, instead, the man had to go prove his innocence – the complete opposite of how the criminal justice system is supposed to work. Police and prosecutors are supposed to have a good idea they’ll be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt before they get an arrest warrant. That was clearly not the case here. Felony degrees and potential sentences vary from state to state, but any St. Johns County Felony in Florida has a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. The case made headlines in Northeast Florida because of the man’s public position, but it is something he’ll now have to explain – even though the arrest warrant should have never been issued in the first place.  The case sounds like a personal dispute between the man and his former girlfriend and business partner – a fight that the criminal justice system has no place in. Prosecutors and police are supposed to be able to recognize that and not allow the criminal justice system to be used like this. Presumably, if the decision to drop the charges was made this quickly after the arrest warrant was issued, it could have been handled just as quickly by picking up the phone and calling the man or his attorney before issuing the warrant.  Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people on all types of criminal charges. Oftentimes, arrest warrants are issued for people to turn themselves in on, rather than police hunting someone down and arresting them like you’d see in the movies. A St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney can go with you to turn yourself in – and help drive the conversation about what you say to police, if anything.

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

A Jacksonville man who shot into a home and accidentally wounded a 3-year-old boy was found guilty on multiple charges.  The man was found guilty on four counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of shooting or throwing deadly missiles. Attempted second-degree murder is punishable by up to life in prison. Shooting or throwing deadly missiles a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. Because of the Florida’s 10-20-Life Law, his sentencing is predetermined in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case.

If a person is convicted of or pleads guilty to showing a gun during the commission of a felony, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in state prison. If the gun is fired, that minimum sentence becomes 20 years. If someone is hit, it can become life in prison. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, police said the man had an ongoing dispute with someone inside the home and fired several shots into the residence. Because there were four people inside the home at the time, the man was charged with four counts of attempted second-degree murder. The man will be sentenced later this month to at least a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence on each of the four attempted murder charges. With four counts, the man is looking at a minimum of 80 years in state prison. That amounts to essentially a life sentence for the 30-year-old defendant.

Interpretation of the minimum mandatory sentencing law changed in recent years. While in most Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases, the judges would issue the sentenced concurrently, appellate courts have ruled the sentences should be issued consecutively. For example, four 20-year sentences served concurrently would mean the person serves the sentences at the same time and does a total of 20 years. But, if they are served consecutively, the person would be required to serve four 20-year sentences, for a total of 80 years in prison. That is a significant difference in the punishment and could be a major deterrent in taking a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case to trial. Prosecutors can waive the minimum mandatory sentences when negotiating a plea agreement, but one the case goes to trial there is no discretion. Judges are bound by the sentencing law and cannot legally give a different sentence.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes attorney knows when minimum mandatory sentences apply and will provide you or your loved one with that information and fully investigate the case so you can make a 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 Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Georgia man is now facing up to 30 years in prison, following his arrest for allegedly selling methamphetamines.  Police received a tip the man would be meeting someone at a store in Nassau County to make the transaction and detectives watched as the deal was conducted, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man had twice delivered methamphetamines to an informant who was working with police, the newspaper reported. Because there are multiple sales involved in this Nassau County Drug Case, and likely audio or video recordings of more than one crime, the potential sentence in this case could be severe.

In Nassau County Drug Crime Cases, charges and sentences are determined by two main factors: the type of drug the person is accused of possessing or selling, and the amount of the drug found on their person. While some drugs, such as marijuana, have relatively minor penalties until you get into larger amounts, others are felonies from the word go. That certainly applies to methamphetamines, which have among the most severe penalties of any substance in Nassau County Drug Crimes cases. Federal agents were involved in this case, likely because of the drugs crossing state lines, so it may be handled in federal court with different sentencing guidelines. In Florida, drug trafficking is the most severe drug charge – in terms of the amount a person is accused of possessing. And while in this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case there is evidence of an actual sale, there does not need to be any physical transaction for a trafficking charge – that is based solely on the amount.

Trafficking in marijuana begins at having 25 pounds of the drug, according to Florida law. For methamphetamines, trafficking begins at just 14 grams. Trafficking charges in Nassau County Drug Crimes Cases also include minimum mandatory sentences, which guarantee a certain amount of prison time if a person is convicted or pleads guilty to the charges. For example, if a person is convicted of having between 14 and 28 grams of methamphetamines, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in state prison. If the amount is between 28 and 200 grams, it bumps up to a seven-year minimum mandatory sentence. Any amount more than 200 grams of methamphetamines carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in state prison. And while in most sentences, defendants end up serving about 85 percent of the sentence if they stay out of trouble, every single day of a minimum mandatory sentence must be served.  Our Nassau County Drug Crimes Attorney represents people on all types of drug charges, from possession on up to trafficking.

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next year that could drastically change how the death penalty is handed down in Florida.  The case could also result in more than 60 people from Northeast Florida on Death Row having their sentence reevaluated, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The decision will focus on whether or not a jury recommendation for the death penalty must be unanimous. Florida is one of only three states with the death penalty that does not require the jury to unanimously recommend death, the newspaper reported.  In Florida, the recommendation only needs to be a majority of the 12 jurors and then the judge makes the final decision. Rarely, though, does a judge ever decide to go against the recommendation of the jury.  The case was brought by a man in the Panhandle who is on Death Row after the jury recommended the death penalty by a 7-5 vote. Of the 75 people on Death Row from Northeast Florida, the newspaper reported, 62 were put there by a decision in a Jacksonville Murder Case that was not unanimous. The argument for keeping the majority vote is that the jury has to unanimously agree the person is guilty to even get to the penalty phase. So, for example, there cannot be an 11-1 vote to find someone guilty of murder – or of any other charge, from trespassing to drug trafficking to armed robbery. The jury’s decision must be unanimous.  If a jury cannot come to an agreement on a verdict, that is what’s known as a “hung jury,” and the judge must declare a mistrial. From there, the prosecution can decide whether it wants to take the case to trial again, or go back to the negotiating table with the defense to see if a plea deal can be arranged. The same is true if the jury is leaning toward a not guilty verdict. Just because it might be 10-2 in favor of not guilty during plea deliberations does not mean the person will be found not guilty. The jury must come to unanimous agreement in either direction.  The argument to make the death penalty decision unanimous is that the decision for the state to take someone’s life is so critical that if there’s any doubt at all in the minds of the jury – the appropriate sentence is life in prison. The pending Supreme Court decision is an important one and could have a large impact on people sentenced to death in Jacksonville Murder Cases.  Criminal law is filled with technicalities and various procedures that can dramatically affect the outcome in a Jacksonville Felony Case. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney knows the ins and outs of the law and will fully investigate your case so you or your loved one can make an informed 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 Duval County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

After months of investigation, police raided a Jacksonville nightclub and made sweeping arrests on drug charges.  Sixteen people were arrested during the raid and 20 more people had warrants out for their arrest as a result of the investigation, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Of those 36, four worked at the club, the newspaper reported, and police officials declined to say if club ownership was involved in the drug activity. Police began investigating after learning of drug activity in the club, and then made more than 100 drug transactions at the club of the course of the undercover investigation.  So when the arrests were made at the club, it wasn’t just police finding some marijuana in people’s pockets at the club. People were arrested, for example, on five counts of selling methamphetamines or four counts of selling methamphetamines and one count of possession of marijuana. Selling methamphetamines is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. So the person facing five counts is looking at a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison.
Most of the arrests in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case were related to club drugs that come up in the Florida Statutes as methamphetamines. In Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases, the severity of the charge, and thus the potential punishment, is based on the type of drug a person is accused of having or selling, along with how much of the drug is in his or her possession. With methamphetamines and most other drugs, there are no misdemeanor charges – only felonies that have maximum sentences involving some time in state prison. For example, the marijuana possession charge mentioned earlier is a misdemeanor and, generally speaking, marijuana charges are far less severe than with harder drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamines.
The prosecution of these Jacksonville Drug Crime Cases will be interesting, because it appears that police already have some form of evidence on drug sales, based on the more than 100 they’ve been a part of, according to the newspaper. Police generally document these transactions so they are available in court, so there is likely a video or audio recording police can show in court. Also, with this many people involved, expect the wheeling and dealing to already be underway – especially with the four employees who are charged. There’s generally a “big fish” police are after in a case like this, which in all likelihood is one of the people who owns the club. Police and prosecutors will often offer a reduced sentence for people willing to testify to the source of the drugs, or provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction police are really after.
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 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.