A motorcyclist was arrested this month on two serious felonies, charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide in an August crash that killed a pedestrian.  The driver is accused of going between 70 and 80 mph on a road with a 30 mph speed limit, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A 23-year-old pedestrian, who police think was trying to cross the unlit road, was hit and killed, the newspaper reported. The driver was also injured in the crash and had a blood-alcohol level of .089 and .091 on two tests – above the legal limit of .08 on both.

Vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter are both second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison. In both cases, the charge can be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the driver leaves the scene without rendering aid, which did not appear to be the case in this Clay County Traffic Case. So, in this Clay County DUI Case, the man is facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted on both counts and sentenced consecutively. And while the two charges seem identical, there are differences – the major one related to sentencing. A conviction in a DUI manslaughter case comes with a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. The vehicular homicide case does not have a minimum mandatory sentence attached to it. The elements needed to prove the crime are different, too. In vehicular homicide, the state has to prove the driver was reckless when he or she caused the accident. For DUI manslaughter, all that must be proven is the driver was intoxicated and caused, at least in part, the accident.

In many Clay County Traffic Cases, defendants do not have a lengthy criminal record prior to the arrest, different from what you may see when someone is arrested on a Clay County Drug Charge. That can make a four-year minimum mandatory sentence the impetus for a defendant to get working on a plea agreement. In this Clay County Felony Case, while the driver doesn’t have serious charges on his record, the newspaper reported the 27-year-old had 36 traffic citations over the past 10 years. Those would not be part of the evidence should this Clay County Traffic Case end up going to trial – the information would not be presented to a jury. However, a person’s record is relevant and known to the prosecutors and the judge, and will be part of the consideration in terms of any plea negotiations or sentencing from the judge if the driver chooses to plead guilty without a deal in hand from the state.  Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people with minor criminal records who suddenly find themselves facing serious prison time. Our Clay County DUI Attorney can thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and explain all of the consequences so you 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 Clay County DUI Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Prosecutors and law enforcement held a big press conference two years ago, announcing what appeared to be the beginning of a major statewide gambling bust – with dozens arrested and more supposedly to follow.  As it turned out, those 57 arrests were the only arrests ever made and only one person was convicted and sentenced to time behind bars, according to analysis by the Florida Times-Union. In fact, only one other person was sentenced to house arrest and the other 55 cut deals with prosecutors that included no jail time at all, the newspaper reported. Many of those 55 had their charges dropped outright, but not before they were paraded in front of the cameras in what prosecutors claimed was a $300 million racketeering and money laundering case.

Many of the key people arrested in the case were from Jacksonville, including the attorney for the alleged gambling centers and police union officials who had a role in some of the centers. The state alleged that the gaming centers were illegal gambling, but accepted plea deals to probation in many of the cases.  This case is a prime example of why there is a balance in the judicial system and people are innocent until proven guilty. At the outset, the public was led to believe that more than four dozen people were involved in this elaborate scheme to rip off millions of dollars. But as the cases came together, the holes must have been apparent to prosecutors as offers for probation were being made – including some that included dropping many of the charges.

The key in these Florida Felony Cases was that people were offered these deals without having to agree to testify against the co-defendants in the case. Typically, how Jacksonville Felony Cases with multiple defendants work is, prosecutors start offering deals to people charged with the less serious crimes – on the condition they testify against some of the ringleaders. This is a common tactic in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases, where the state looks to solidify its charges against the drug supplier by flipping people buying drugs or some of the lower-level dealers.  But that didn’t happen in this Florida Felony Crimes Case. Only one case went to trial, that of the attorney for the nonprofit running the internet cafes who was accused of being the mastermind of the gambling operations. He was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to six years in prison, but is out of custody while the case is being appealed.  Not all cases are as airtight as police present them to be when they are announced. The state has the burden of proving all criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt, and not all cases that are charged meet that standard.
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 Felony Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Prosecutors have changed course and are now charging a 15-year-old boy as an adult in four fires police say were deliberately set in a Jacksonville neighborhood.  Fire officials were investigating the fires to three vacant homes and a car in a Jacksonville neighborhood and told police a person had been seen near all of the fires, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A suspect matching the description was spotted by an officer and the boy was allegedly carrying a can of gas, the newspaper reported. The boy was taken to the juvenile detention center, where most teens are taken following an arrest. However, in this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case, the boy has been transferred to the county jail and charged as an adult, the newspaper reported.

Arson is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison on each count. With four counts, this 15-year-old boy could be looking at up to 120 years behind bars. While it is highly unlikely, this appears to be another case of prosecutors using adult charges to try to push a boy around. No one was injured in any of the four fires, and there has not been an estimate on monetary damages in any of the media reports on the incidents.  Even when a Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case is transferred to adult court, it can still be brought back to juvenile court. In many cases, adult charges are part of the negotiations by the state – right or wrong, that’s the reality. If the crime stays in juvenile court, juveniles can still be punished in the same manner as adults – from house arrest and probation on up to what amounts to a prison for teens. Because this boy is charged with first-degree felonies, some of the lower level options are not available to him. Those sentences include house arrest and placement in a low-risk residential facility. Judges have latitude in most juvenile cases, but there are certain punishment standards driven by the type and severity of the crime a child is facing.

The juvenile court system is in place to handle youth and teens differently than adults, recognizing that people make mistakes in their youth that should not completely ruin their ability to be a productive adult. In many Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Cases, there is a one-size-fits-all approach to punish to the highest degree and treat kids like adults.  Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against your loved one and work to have the case addressed in juvenile court – where it belongs.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of juveniles accused of crimes, including very serious crimes, and is well-versed in the law regarding juvenile crimes.

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

A Jacksonville man on trial for murder took a plea deal while the jury was deliberating his plight, in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to seek the death penalty against him.  Instead, the man will be sentenced to life in prison, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He was accused of killing his former girlfriend and setting her body on fire, the newspaper reported. The bulk of the trial had been finished and the jury had been out 11 hours before the man agreed to the plea deal, the newspaper reported.  In first-degree murder cases, there are only two possible punishments: life in prison or the death penalty. The death penalty is designed to be used sparingly and only in the worst of the worst cases. But oftentimes in Jacksonville Murder Cases, however, the death penalty is used as a bargaining chip to encourage people to agree to a plea deal. That appears to be what happened here in this Jacksonville Murder Case.

On life sentences, there is no possibility of parole – which has since been banned in Florida. But people convicted decades ago still have some parole eligibility. In fact, the man on trial in this case was previously convicted of second-degree murder for a 1991 shooting, the newspaper reported. He was paroled and released from prison in 2010 and started dating the woman he just pleaded guilty to killing, the newspaper reported.  But, during the trial, the man’s Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys were successful in keeping the previous murder conviction out of the trial. The attorneys argued it would prejudice the jurors and they would use the previous conviction against him. And they’re right. Everyone charged with a crime has the fundamental right to a fair trial. And only the facts of the current case can be used in that trial. For example, if a driver is on trial for a DUI, jurors would not know if it is the driver’s first time being arrested or his or her third. The same holds true in this Jacksonville Murder Case.

If you were a juror, would you be more likely to convict someone of murder if they’ve already been convicted of murder? Probably so. A person’s history and propensity to commit murder would likely play into anyone’s decision. But it’s the state’s responsibility to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime they are accused of. For example, just because a person has been convicted in the Jacksonville Theft Case of stealing a car doesn’t mean he or she is automatically guilty if charged a second time with stealing a car. There are strict rules on what can be admitted as evidence in a trial and this is precisely why.

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.

Police raided a St. Johns County home this month and removed what they described as a sophisticated marijuana grow operation.  Investigators took dozens of marijuana plants and said they also found what was described as a hash oil extraction system, which extracts the oil from the marijuana plants, according to a report by News4Jax. The couple living in the home was arrested and both are facing three felony charges.  They are charged with producing marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and owning or renting a home with the purpose of manufacturing contraband. All three charges are third-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Both are facing a possibility of 15 years in prison in this St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case, if convicted and the judge choses to run the sentences consecutively. They are both also charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia, but that’s a minor charge compared with the three felonies.

In St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases, the amount of a drug a person is accused of possessing plays a major role in the charge. For example, growing marijuana can be considered drug trafficking if police find more than 300 plants. That would make the charge a first-degree felony, with a potential sentence of 30 years, not to mention minimum mandatory sentences that come into play. Police initially talked about dozens of plants in this St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case, so it appears that threshold will not be met.  There are, however, several different charges that can come into play for growing marijuana, as evidenced in this St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case. On top of the three charges that have been filed, it will be worth watching to see if prosecutors end up filing additional charges related to the hash oil. If prosecutors can prove what it was being used for, prosecutors may be able to charge it separately because it could be seen legally as a separate drug and a separate product. Initial media reports did not indicate the people living in the home were selling the marijuana and neighbors did not talk about people coming in and out of the home as they would typically do if it was a place where people were frequently buying drugs.  Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney represents people facing all types of drug charges, from misdemeanor possession charges on up to trafficking. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney is experienced in investigating drug charges and will thoroughly examine the details of 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 Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Nearly two years after a pedestrian was hit and killed in Nassau County, a woman has been charged with DUI manslaughter in connection with his death. The woman was arrested this month and charged with DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident causing death, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. At the time of the crash, the driver fled the scene of the accident, but later drove back by while the investigation was ongoing, the newspaper report. Police stopped the vehicle then and were able to use it as evidence in the case, the newspaper reported.

DUI Manslaughter is normally a second-degree felony, but because the driver is accused of leaving the scene of the accident, it can be charged as a first-degree felony. That increases her prison time exposure on this charge from 15 years to 30 years. The bottom end of the sentencing is also a serious problem for the defendant in this Nassau County DUI case. DUI Manslaughter charges have a minimum mandatory prison sentence of four years in prison – as do leaving the scene of an accident. If the charges are not ultimately combined, the driver could be looking at a minimum of eight years in state prison.

Typically, in Nassau County DUI Cases like this where a person is killed, charges will come four to six months later, once the toxicology results come back from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that would confirm the driver was impaired. This delay from the April 2013 crash to the charges in February 2015 is certainly longer than usual – which brings into question how much evidence the state has in this Nassau County DUI Case. It’s unclear whether the woman was arrested at the scene for DUI that night. That would have been the point where police have some ability to prove the driver was intoxicated. When drivers are involved in an accident with injuries and alcohol is suspected to be a factor, police can take blood to determine exactly the amount of alcohol in the drivers’ system. While drivers have the right to refuse a breath test or field sobriety test if they are pulled over for DUI, that right is gone when injuries are involved. Blood tests are also seen as being more accurate, which are tougher to argue against at trial.

There are very specific rules and procedures police must follow when making arrests in Nassau County DUI Cases. Our Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorney is well-versed in DUI procedures and will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one to ensure all of those policies were followed to the letter of the law.

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.

The 16-year-old driver has been charged as an adult for his role in the high-speed crash that killed his 15-year-old friend. The state this month filed charges in the August crash, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Three teens were in the car and the driver had rear-ended a car on Jacksonville’s Westside, the newspaper reported. The driver then sped off and, less than a mile later, crashed the car into a utility pole, the newspaper reported. One passenger was killed and the driver and third passenger were both seriously injured in the crash.

The driver is now charged as an adult in this Jacksonville Traffic Case with vehicular homicide, among a handful of serious charges. Vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. The boy is also facing other felony charges that include driving without a license causing death and driving without a license causing serious bodily injury. The boy is facing more than two decades behind bars and the main issue in this Jacksonville Felony Case is whether the case will ultimately be handled in juvenile court or in adult court.

The juvenile court system is designed to address crimes involving youth, with an eye on rehabilitation and not having lifelong criminal records for youthful mistakes. However, in serious felony cases, the state has the ability to “direct file” cases. That means the cases bypass juvenile court and are treated as is the defendant was 60, not 16. That was the procedure followed in this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case. The newspaper reported the teens were skipping school when the crash occurred, but there was no information released on if the driver has a previous criminal record. That piece of information would likely play a large role in the decision to direct file. If, for example, a teen has had several chances and continues to get into trouble, the state may direct file in a Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case to prove a point.

Charging a boy as an adult can also be a negotiating tactic for the state. Juvenile crimes have a similar punishment system as adults, ranging from house arrest to what amounts to a prison for teens. But punishment ends at age 21. So, in this Jacksonville Juvenile Case, the boy would be released in five years, rather than potentially 25 years. Just because a charge against a boy starts in adult court does not mean it will end there. Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney is experienced in juvenile cases and works with clients to try to keep juvenile cases in juvenile court where they belong.

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

Clay County police arrested two men they believe are connected to more than 50 burglaries from vehicles around Clay County. Both men, ages 18 and 19, are facing decades behind bars because of the charges. Police said there were 52 burglaries that occurred between November and December, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Most of the cars were not locked and some of the items stolen included a handgun, the newspaper reported.

One man was charged with 14 counts of burglary from a vehicle and four counts of grand theft, the newspaper reported. The other is facing 10 counts of burglary from a vehicle, two grand theft charges and a petit theft. With the exception of the petit theft, all of the charges involved in this Clay County Theft Case are felonies. In fact, all of the charges are third-degree felonies with a maximum sentence of five years in state prison on each count. So, technically, the first defendant is facing 90 years in state prison and the second is facing up to 60 years in prison and one year in county jail for the misdemeanor. The maximums would be if the judge chose to sentence the defendant consecutively, stacking one sentence on top of the other. In most cases, judges allow the sentences to be served at the same time – called concurrent sentences. But the cumulative penalty is important because it shows just how quickly the penalties can add up in Clay County Theft Cases. For example, let’s say 10 of these burglaries occurred in one night, but 10 different cars were broken into. Prosecutors can charge 10 different counts of burglary, with a potential five-year sentence for each.

Theft charges and potential penalties are based primarily on the value of the items a person is accused of stealing. Most charges in this Clay County Theft Case are burglary from a vehicle. The grand theft counts come in when the value of the property stolen is more than $300. That’s the threshold for someone becoming a felony. In burglary cases, the charges are also enhanced if someone is in the vehicle at the time of the burglary and the same is true if the break-in occurs at a home or business. The long list of charges and maximum penalties can often be used to apply pressure for a plea deal in Clay County Theft Cases. In this case, with two defendants, the state may be working the two against each other for information to solve more of the cases. Charges appear to be filed in less than half of the burglaries police say occurred, so there may be more coming if there isn’t a plea deal in this Clay County Theft 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 Clay County Theft Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The former police chief in Atlantic Beach, who was facing decades behind bars on serious drug charges, has reached a deal that will keep him out of prison. The deal includes pleading guilty to five charges, including tampering with evidence and possession of illegal steroids, the newspaper reported. He was originally charged last fall with 21 counts, including trafficking in codeine – a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years and a minimum mandatory sentence of at least three years in prison. The state dropped the minimum mandatory as part of the plea deal in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case, the newspaper reported. Instead of prison time, the deal calls for five years of probation, forfeiting his law enforcement license and paying $11,300 in restitution, the newspaper reported. The deal will become official and the remaining 16 charges will be dropped when the man is sentenced next month.

Police intercepted a package sent to the man from overseas that contained anti-anxiety pills, the newspaper reported. The man was also having illegal steroids shipped from other countries. Police raided his home and found more of the same drugs, though the computer used to order the drugs had been destroyed, the newspaper reported. The evidence tampering charge is likely related to the computer. But, overall, police say the man was cooperative during the raid in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case, took police to different parts of his home where more of the drugs were located, including a closet where he took pills out of a shirt pocket, and was forthcoming in the interviews. He did have a prescription for some of the medication, but was illegally buying it online, the newspaper reported.

Charges and penalties in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases are determined by the type of drug a person is accused of possessing, and how much of that drug is found. For example, the police chief in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case was charged with drug trafficking. That’s not because he was selling the pills, as the charge would imply. Trafficking charges are based on the weight of the drug found and, in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases involving pills, a bottle of hydrocodone is enough. It is rare for the state to agree to a deal that goes from drug trafficking charges and 21 charges down to a sentence that has probation and no prison time. Cooperating with police can be helpful in getting a better deal, but that should be done at the advice of a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney. If you know or suspect you are the subject of a criminal investigation, a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney can help with explaining your rights, can be with you during any interview and can help with surrendering a defendant to police without a scene if charges end up being filed.

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.

A man convicted of a sex crime in South Carolina pleaded guilty to failing to properly register when he moved to Florida. The man now faces up to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a minor in South Carolina in 1998. He moved to Jacksonville from Maryland and, when he did, used a false address when applying for a Florida identification card, the newspaper reported.

In Florida, it is a third-degree felony when a sex offender does not register with police as required by the terms of a person’s conviction. In cases that cross state lines, police and prosecutors may decide to prosecute the case in federal court, rather than in state court. In this Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case, the decision was federal court. The punishment in federal court for this offense – a maximum of 10 years in prison – is double the five-year maximum sentence the suspect was facing for a third-degree felony. The charge was initially filed in state court, and then dropped when the federal case concluded. Once a person is convicted of a sex crime, there are very strict laws governing the person and his or her registration after any prison time has been served. Depending on the crime the person was convicted of or pleaded guilty to, the person must check in with police at least twice a year. There are also restrictions on where the person can live, including how close they can live to a school, playground or where children congregate.

Unlike other crimes where this would be a violation of probation, failure to register as a sex offender is a separate felony crime. In this Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case, the man told police he moved to Jacksonville in June, got an ID with a fake address in August and was arrested at his actual address in September, the newspaper reported. If he were to have registered, as required, nearby residents would have been notified that a sex offender was now in the neighborhood. The notification would include his name, address and the charge he pleaded guilty to or was convicted of that qualified him as a sex offender. People who are convicted of or plead guilty to sex crimes have consequences that last longer than the actual prison sentence. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney is experienced in representing people charged with sex crimes. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney can explain in detail the lifelong consequences of a plea or conviction 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 Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.