Jacksonville police announced that they have arrested more than one juvenile in the murder of a Duval County cab driver late last year, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  The victim was found shot in his vehicle the night of January 30th.

These juveniles will most likely be treated as adults in this case.  Commonly referred to as “direct file”, the prosecutors in the state of Florida have the discretion to treat children as adults.  This means that a child as young as 14 years-old can be sent to prison if certain factors are met.  If a child is 14 or 15 years-old, they may be sent to adult court if the child is charged with certain serious Jacksonville crimes, such as murder, sexual battery, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse and carjacking.  If the child is 16 or 17 years of age, they can be sent to adult court if they are charged with any felony, not just the most serious crimes listed above.  The Florida legislature has elected to give state attorney’s offices across the state of Florida so much power over these Duval County juvenile cases.  With one piece of paper, a child’s life can change forever.

When a juvenile is arrested for a felony in Jacksonville, they will receive a “score” that determines whether or not they must remain in secure detention.  Secure detention is a jail for children surrounded by barbed wire located in downtown Jacksonville.  If the crime is non-violent and the child has little to no prior criminal history, the juvenile may qualify for home detention, which is essentially house arrest, or straight release, which means the child is free to go where they want as long as they return for their court dates.  Once detention or non-detention is determined, the case begins.  In many of the felony juvenile cases in Duval County, the prosecutor’s office will look at the child’s file to determine whether or not to send to adult court.  Often times, the Jacksonville Juvenile Attorney on the case will send mitigation to the state attorney assigned to the case.  Mitigation consists of school records, letters from teachers, family and coaches, as well as psychological testing if appropriate.  The goal is to keep the child’s case in juvenile court.

If a juvenile case is sent to adult court, the child has to get re-arrested and processed through the adult jail. Children are housed in one area at the Duval County Detention Facility and do not have contact with adult inmates.  Once children are in adult court, they are allowed to get a bond or to be released on their own recognizance just as any other adult that has been arrested.  If a juvenile is convicted of a crime in adult court, the court has the option to punish the child in a few ways.  The court can elect to sentence the child as if the child is an adult, which means adult prison and adult probation.  The court can give the juvenile a youthful offender sanction, which is essentially a blend of juvenile and adult punishment.  Finally, the court can sentence the child to juvenile sanctions.

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

 

St. Johns County police have released surveillance video and are looking for two men accused of stealing flat-screen televisions from a local store  Police said two men entered the Walmart about 1 a.m. and then loaded up a shopping cart with four flat-screen televisions, according to a report on News4Jax. When one of the men was stopped by an employee and asked to provide a receipt, he handed the worker the receipt and kept walking, the television station reported. After the worker realized the receipt was for food and not for the four televisions, she went to the parking lot and saw the men driving off with the televisions in the back of a pick-up truck, the television station reported.

Police issued descriptions of the men and the truck in this St. Johns County Theft Case. If the suspects are eventually caught, they will almost certainly be facing felony charges. In St. Johns County Theft Cases, the severity of the charges – and the potential prison time on the table – is based primarily on the value of the property the person is accused of taking. The key threshold in St. Johns County Theft Cases is $300. If the property is question is valued at less than $300, the charge is a misdemeanor. In St. Johns County Misdemeanor Cases, there is no possibility of state prison – only a maximum of a year in county jail. But, once the value crosses $300, the crime can be charged as a felony. Grand Theft is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

One issue that could be of interest if charges are filed is just how many charges are filed. In all likelihood, each of the televisions is worth more than $300. But the act itself was one theft that happened to net four televisions – as opposed to four separate incidents with one television each. That sounds like splitting hairs, but four charges with a maximum of five years on each charge is significantly different from just one charge.

Our St. Johns County Theft Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and provide you with the information you need to make the best decision on how to move forward 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 St. Johns County Theft Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A man who shot and killed another man during an argument in a fast-food drive-thru will not face criminal charges.  Prosecutors ruled, nearly a year after the New Year’s Day 2015 shooting, that the 29-year-old man was acting in self-defense, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He could have faced charges including murder or manslaughter, both of which could have sent him to state prison for decades. Instead, the man will not face any criminal charges.

Police said the 29-year-old man pulled into a drive-thru line and, when the car in front of him did not move, drove around that car, the newspaper reported. A passenger in the car yelled at the man as he drove past, which started a confrontation, and the second driver then pulled out a gun. When the passenger and the 29-year-old driver both got out of the cars, police said the passenger charged at the driver yelling “You want to die?” and the driver shot him one time in the chest, the newspaper reported. The driver called 911, drove home and cooperated with police.

In Florida, if someone is threatened with the use of deadly force, the person does not have the duty to retreat and can use deadly force to defend himself or herself. Many have sought protection under the so-called Stand Your Ground Law, but very few times is it granted by a judge. In this Clay County Gun Crimes Case, charges were never filed by prosecutors. The state investigated the case for several months and then ruled the shooting justified because of self-defense, citing the Stand Your Ground law, the newspaper reported.

Self-defense and Stand Your Ground Defenses can be difficult because the person who ultimately uses deadly force cannot be an aggressor, nor can he or she stay around the situation longer than necessary. If the person has an opportunity to exit the confrontation without using violence, but instead continues to be a part of the confrontation and it then turns deadly, he or she could have problems with a self-defense claim.  Our Clay County Gun Crimes Attorney knows the self-defense statutes inside and out and when a person is entitled by law to defend himself or herself. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you, even before charges are filed if there is an opportunity, and advise you on the best steps 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 Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Jacksonville man who is a registered sex offender is on the run, possibly still handcuffed.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the man was at the Jacksonville Re-Entry Center trying to register as required by Florida law and the police discovered that he had failed to register sometime in the past.  Police arrested and handcuffed the man before letting him go to the restroom.  The man allegedly jumped out of the bathroom window and is still at large.  He was required to register because he had been convicted of Lewd or Lascivious Battery in Duval County. There are now two sex crime warrants outstanding for the man.

In Jacksonville and all over the State of Florida, convicted sex offenders and predators must submit all of their information to a registry.  Of all crimes, sex crimes are the only ones that will follow you visibly in the community for the rest of your life.  If you are adjudicated guilty or receive a withhold of adjudication on a sex crime, you must register in the county where you reside.  This requirement also applies to convictions by a military tribunal, including courts-martial by the Armed Forces of the United States.  Some examples of crimes that require registration are sexual battery, lewd or lascivious molestation or battery, unlawful sexual activity with a minor, sexual performance by a child, possession of computer child pornography, kidnapping a child under 13 and false imprisonment of a child under 13 years of age.

If you are required to register, within 48 hours of being released from custody or from moving into Florida, you have to:

  1. Give your date of birth, social security number, race, sex, height, weight, tattoos, fingerprints, palm prints, etc. to the registration site.
  2. Give you current address.  If you live in a trailer or mobile home, in addition to the address, you must give the vehicle identification number, tag number and color of the vehicle.
  3. If employed, in school or a volunteer, you must tell the registry every place you go pertaining to that work, school or volunteer site.
  4. Any changes to any of the above information must be reported within 48 hours.  Even if you are homeless, you must report where you sleep at night.

If you do not comply with any of these requirements, a Jacksonville warrant will be issued for your arrest under the charge of Failure to Register/Comply with Sex Offender Requirements.  This is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  If you are even accused of a sex crime, it is of the utmost importance to consult with an Experienced Duval County Sex Crime Attorney immediately.

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

A Clay County fire/rescue officer has been arrested in Clay County on allegations he sold heroin.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the officer sold the drug to an undercover detective at a meeting site in Clay County.  The officer allegedly sold the detective the heroin for $40.00.  The incident was videotaped by a hidden recording device, according to police.  Even though the sale took place, the officer was not arrested until an arrest warrant was signed and issued.

Clay County arrest warrants are not uncommon in drug deals, buying or selling.  The police will make contact with a supposed drug seller and form a “relationship”.  The police will make one buy and go on about their way. They then proceed to rack up more sales over the next week or so and then ultimately make all of the drug sale arrests at the same time.  Police use this tactic to increase the penalties one is facing to increase the chance of a plea to the charges.  It seems irresponsible to leave a drug seller on the streets for weeks if the police really wanted to protect the community. Even so, this tactic is not only used by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, but is also used by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The officer in this case is facing a second degree drug sale felony.  The sale of heroin is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  In many cases, police receive a tip from a confidential informant, likely working off a case of their own, that someone is selling a drug.  The informant is usually the middleman between police and the suspect.  The informant can conduct the “buy” on their own or simply make an introduction.  Often times, the informant or drug detective is wearing an audio or video recording device.

Selling all controlled substances is illegal, but there are levels.  If you are convicted of selling marijuana in Clay County, it is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  Selling heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine is a second degree felony in Florida.  If you are accused of selling any drug, it is important to speak to a Clay County Criminal Attorney about your rights, your defense, and your options.  Our Clay Criminal Lawyer has represented thousands of clients on drug charges.

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

A St. Johns County jury found a man guilty last month – but not of the first-degree charge the state indicted him on.  Instead, the man was found guilty of second-degree murder and kidnapping, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said the man and his roommate beat another man to death and tried to burn the body and a car on a deserted road, the newspaper reported. The roommate pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier and agreed to testify against the man who went to trial in the case, the newspaper reported.

The difference between first-degree murder and second-degree murder can be enormous when it comes to sentencing and this St. Johns County Violent Crimes Case is no different. If a person is convicted of first-degree murder in Florida, there are only two sentencing options: life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty. If the charge is second-degree murder, the judge has far more latitude in terms of issuing a sentence. Life in prison is still an option, and many people are sentenced to life in prison on second-degree murder charges, but there is at least a chance now that this 27-year-old defendant will be released.

For a person to be found guilty of first-degree murder, the state must be able to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a premeditated intent to kill another person. In this St. Johns County Murder Case, the jury apparently had an issue with determining premeditation. Second-degree murder, however is defined by statute as: “The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.”  During a St. Johns County Criminal Trial, jurors are informed of the charges against the defendant, but also in most cases given a list of other charges that they could apply. These are called “lesser included charges,” and this St. Johns County Murder Case is an example of a jury choosing that option.

Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people charged with all types of crimes and will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one to provide you with all of your options 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 Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Jacksonville man pleaded guilty to 14 charges related to a 2014 drunken driving incident, but the state backed off the most serious charge he was facing.  The man was initially charged with attempted second-degree murder for driving his vehicle at officers that were trying to speak with him, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He could have faced up to life in prison for the attempted murder charge, but also still faced three other serious felonies among the other charges. The man was accused of fleeing two separate hit-and-run crashes before ramming into a police car and going into a ditch, the newspaper reported.

The series of charges includes three felonies: aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, aggravated fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence. The aggravated battery and aggravated fleeing charges are both first-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on each count. The resisting an officer with violence charge is a third-degree felony with a potential prison sentence of five years. Among the misdemeanor charges are five counts of DUI causing property damage and three counts of leaving the scene of an accident. Police also found marijuana on the 63-year-old defendant at the time of the crash and he was also charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Even with just the charges the man pleaded guilty to, he was looking at up to 65 years in prison and several years in the county jail if he had been sentenced to the maximum on each of the charges. Instead, he was sentenced to a variety of different lengths of sentences on the charges, but the effective length is one year in the county jail. That is because the judge choose to run the sentences concurrently, which means he serves all of the sentences at one time. The other option for judges is to run the sentences consecutively, which means he would serve one sentence and, when that one is completed, move on to the next one and on down the line. Once the man is released from jail, he will be on probation for 10 years. If someone violates probation, he or she can then be sentenced to the maximum time on the charges he pleaded guilty to. So, in this Jacksonville DUI Case, the defendant could be looking at serious prison time if he does not stay out of trouble while on probation.

Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people charged with all types of DUI cases and will thoroughly review the case against you or your loved one to make sure police followed the detailed policies and procedures that govern DUI traffic stops and arrests.

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

While Bill Cosby has certainly been accused by many women of sex charges, only one case to date has been filed. Cosby faces prosecution in Pennsylvania for allegedly giving the woman drugs without her consent and having sexual relations with her. Los Angeles prosecutors have recently decided not to charge the television star in two accusations from two woman in the California city, according to an article in the LA Times.

In one of the cases in California, prosecutors decided there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute this alleged sex crime. In Jacksonville and all of Florida, this alleged crime would most likely be categorized as a Sexual Battery without force. To prove this, the state attorney would have to show that the suspect’s sexual organ penetrated or had union with the victim’s sexual organ. They would also have to prove the victim was physically helpless to resist or that the suspect administered a narcotic or other intoxicant to the victim unknowingly and without her consent that rendered her incapacitated. These Jacksonville sex charges are sometimes hard to prove because the victim admits that he or she was not of sound mind at the time and most likely cannot provide details. Often times, prosecutors will bring a sex case just based on the alleged victim’s word. Sometimes, there is no physical evidence to even prove that a crime was committed at all.  This is a scary prospect because the punishments are so severe if one is convicted of any sex crime in Florida. There are minimum mandatory sentences and a lifetime sentence of becoming a registered sex offender or predator.

The other California case was not brought because of the expiration of the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations is a bar on the prosecution of crimes because of too much time lapsing. In Florida, there are several categories with different time limitations. There is no time limit for the state to prosecute life felonies or capital felonies. These cases consist of murders and certain sex crimes, such as capital sexual battery. A first degree felony must be prosecuted within four years after the offense date. A second and third degree felony in Florida must be commenced within three years. First degree misdemeanors hold a two year time limit and second degree misdemeanors hold a one year time limit.

If accused or arrested for any sex crime in Jacksonville, it is of the utmost importance to consult with an Experienced Sex Crime Attorney that has not only handled sex cases, but has defended sex charges in trial.

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

At the very end of 2015, a bill was introduced in the Georgia legislature that would make possessing any amount of marijuana a misdemeanor. As the law currently stands in that state, and many other states, possession over a certain amount constitutes a drug felony charge. In Georgia, if you are found to have over one ounce, or just over 28 grams of pot, it is considered a felony charge. If this new law passes, it doesn’t matter how much pot you have. All Georgia marijuana possessions would be a misdemeanor and if convicted, you would face up to 12 years in jail, no prison.

One of the primary reasons this bill was introduced, according to the article in the Florida Times Union, is to avoid making so many citizens convicted felons over possession of this drug. When you are a convicted felon in Georgia, Florida or any other state, you lose many rights we enjoy in the United States. You will not be allowed to vote in any election, you may not be able to travel to many countries, you will never be allowed to possess a gun or even be around guns, you cannot sit on a jury panel and you cannot receive several governmental benefits. Perhaps above all, being a convicted felon will limit your employment options for the rest of your life.

In Florida, it is some level of crime to possess any marijuana. If found in possession of less than 20 grams of pot in Jacksonville, you are facing a first degree misdemeanor. If you have no criminal history, the officer who finds the pot may issue you a Notice to Appear. This piece of paper is given instead of an actual arrest where you are put in handcuffs and taken downtown. A court date will have to be made and the case will be handled in County Court in Duval. It is important to consult with a Jacksonville Marijuana Possession Attorney before you make any decisions on your case because if convicted of possessing even a little amount of marijuana, you are facing up to 12 months in jail and losing your Driver’s License for 2 years. If you are found in possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, this is a third degree felony in Duval County, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. If you even have one marijuana plant in your possession, that is also a third degree felony. If you possess large amounts of pot, there is a marijuana trafficking charge in Florida that can send you to prison for years.

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

A man set for trial this month on charges that he killed three people in 2013 will have his case heard in St. Johns County, a judge ruled.  The man is accused of killing his wife and his two children in Central Florida, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel. Police said the man has admitted to killing his wife but has denied any involvement in the death of their children, who were last seen in 2013 and are believed to be dead, though they have not been found, the newspaper reported. As one might imagine, the case has generated a plenty of attention from newspapers and television stations in the area.

The defendant’s criminal defense attorneys filed a motion to have the trial moved outside of Central Florida, arguing that the media attention would harm the man’s right to a fair trial in front of an impartial jury. These requests are made frequently in high-profile Florida Murder Cases, but are not often granted. Moving the trial can be expensive and cumbersome, and prosecutors in most cases will argue against moving the trial.   In this case, however, the judge agreed to move the trial from Deland in Central Florida to the St. Johns County Courthouse in St. Augustine, the newspaper reported. The two cities are about 75 miles away. When trials are moved for the purpose of being able to convene an impartial jury, the move is often made to the closest city where the sides can agree jurors wouldn’t know about the case. They key is moving it outside the media market. Jurors in St. Johns County residents may have heard of the case, but likely would not be aware of the intense media attention that was given to the case in the Daytona Beach or Orlando media markets.

Another issue is whether the media attention has been concentrated to a particular region. For example, defense attorneys sought to move the trial of a Jacksonville man eventually convicted of shooting a teen in a dispute over loud music at a gas station. The judge decided to keep the trial in Jacksonville, at least in part because the case had generated so much national and statewide media attention that moving the trial 75 miles as in this Florida Murder Case would not make that much of a difference.  The right to trial in front of a fair and impartial jury is essential to our criminal justice system. Defendants are innocent until proven guilty and it the state’s responsibility to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people accused of all types of crimes and will thoroughly investigate the case against your or your loved one 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 St. Johns County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.