Days after a school system report named three male former employees accused of having sex with students, one of the men was arrested and charged with a felony.  The former part-time coach is accused with having a months-long sexual relationship with a high school senior and football manager who was 17 at the time the relationship began, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man had already resigned from the coaching position once he was interviewed by school district investigators and allegedly admitted the relationship, the newspaper reported. After the school allegations were made public, the alleged victim gave a sworn statement to prosecutors, which led to the arrest the next day.

The man is charged with unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. This Jacksonville Sex Crimes law is specifically for people 24 years of age or older that are accused of having sexual contact with someone who is 16 or 17 years old. As soon as the man turned himself in to be arrested, he resigned his job as a corrections officer, which he had held for almost five years, the newspaper reported. Police are still investigating allegations against two other former school employees – a former teacher and the former dean of students. Both resigned following the district investigation, the newspaper reported.

Duval County Sex Crimes often have lifelong consequences that defendants must answer for long after any prison sentence is completed. In many Jacksonville Sex Crimes, especially those involving minors, if someone pleads guilty or is convicted, he or she will be classified as a sexual offender. Registered sex offenders are required to check in with police at least twice a year – depending on the severity of the crime they pleaded guilty to or were convicted of. Also, any time a sex offender moves residences, he or she must notify police and then the person’s neighbors are notified with the new address and the charge that caused the person to become a sex offender. There are also restrictions on where some sexual offenders can live, including proximity to schools, parks and other areas children congregate.  Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney knows all of the requirements associated with being named a sexual offender and will thoroughly explain those to you or your loved one so you can determine 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 Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A man charged with second-degree murder is the death of a party host was convicted of a lesser charge this month.  Jurors instead chose to find the defendant guilty of manslaughter for hitting a man with a baseball bat during an argument, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The victim had asked the defendant to leave his house as a party was winding down, but the man instead grabbed a bat and swung it at him, the newspaper reported. The man died from his injuries a day after the incident, the newspaper reported.

The jury’s decision for manslaughter instead of second-degree murder is very significant for the potential sentence in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case. While both charges are first-degree felonies, the sentencing requirements are very different. If the defendant in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes case was convicted of second-degree murder, he could be sentenced to up to life in prison. However, because the charge was reduced to manslaughter with a weapon, the maximum charge is now 30 years in prison. The defendant in this case, 36, is young enough that he could expect to be released from prison even if he is given the maximum sentence by the judge.

There are varying degrees of manslaughter, and this was among the more serious charges the jury could have chosen. The baseball bat, in this case, was deemed to be a weapon by the jurors, which made the charge a first-degree felony and the maximum penalty 30 years in state prison. In many other Jacksonville Manslaughter Cases, the charge is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. This type of charge is used, for example, when people are in a fistfight and a punch or a person hitting their head on the concrete results in a death. While this Jacksonville Manslaughter Case was also a fight, the bat was used in the fatal blow that led to the man’s death, which made the case a first-degree felony.

This decision by the jurors shows the importance of the balance in our criminal justice system. While the defendant was still found guilty in the man’s death, his punishment can now be much different because of the findings of the jury. He will be sentenced this fall.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will fully investigate any criminal charges against you or your loved one so you can make an informed 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 Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

One person was arrested after police found a methamphetamines lab in a Clay County hotel this month.  Police were called after someone reported a suspicious smell and detectives then found the materials used to make meth inside a hotel room, according to a report on News4Jax. One person was arrested, though the exact charges were not reported in the media.  In any Clay County Drug Case involving meth, the charges are undoubtedly felonies. The type of charge – felony or misdemeanor – and the degree of the charge in Clay County Drug Cases is primarily based on two main factors: the type of drug the person is accused of having and the amount of the drug in question. When it comes to methamphetamines, there are rarely any misdemeanor charges. They are other circumstances in Clay County Drug Crimes Cases that can lead to enhance penalties, which are addressed below.

For example, manufacturing methamphetamines is a second-degree felony, with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. In this Clay County Drug Crimes Case, the criminal activity was discovered when someone smelled the odor. When people are manufacturing methamphetamines, a distinct odor is produced. That odor can also be toxic, which is why the television station reported that several other rooms in the hotel had to be evacuated. The toxicity of the fumes is also why there are enhanced penalties if the suspect is accused of manufacturing meth when there are children present. If someone is arrested for making meth with someone under the age of 16 present, the charge becomes a first-degree felony and the maximum penalty doubles to 30 years. More importantly, there is a five-year minimum mandatory sentence that kicks in. Minimum mandatory sentences are particularly important because every single day of the sentence must be served, as opposed to the 85 percent of a sentence that inmates often serve, provided they stay out of trouble while they are in prison.

Drug trafficking charges could also apply in this Clay County Drug Crimes Case, depending on how much of the drug was seized by police. A person does not have to be physically selling drugs to be charged with trafficking. Trafficking is based solely on the amount. For methamphetamines, the trafficking threshold begins at 14 grams. For comparison, possession of marijuana is still a misdemeanor at that amount. But for methamphetamines, having between 14 and 28 grams is a first-degree felony with a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in prison.  Our Clay County Drug Crimes Attorney knows how different drugs are treated in the Florida statutes, and can explain the different ramifications and penalties to you or your loved one so you can make the best decision on how to proceed with the 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 Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A man who was driving the wrong way on a Jacksonville freeway and refused to stop for police is now facing several charges, including a felony.  The man was arrested this month after leading police on a four-mile chase before finally exiting the interstate, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was driving on the grass inside the emergency lane and narrowly missed being hit by a police officer, the newspaper reported. Once he finally stopped, police reported the man smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet when asked to perform field sobriety exercises, the newspaper reported.

The man was charged with fleeing or eluding police when asked to stop, DUI, driving with an open container of alcohol and driving on the wrong side of a divided highway. Though it might not appear this way on the surface, the man’s biggest problem is the fleeing and eluding charge. That charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. The DUI charge is a misdemeanor and while there is potential jail time, serious fines and a driver’s license suspension, there is not a possibility of time in state prison. The other two charges are civil infractions and, while they could create points and fines in terms of the man’s driving record, they are not criminal charges.  When police pull a driver over for suspicion of DUI, there are numerous policies and procedures they must follow, including having a reason to pull the driver over in the first place. Clearly that condition would be met in this Jacksonville DUI Case. Once the traffic stop is made, police must have a reason to suspect the person is intoxicated. Some common reasons in Jacksonville DUI Cases include the driver having glassy or watery eyes; the driver emitting an odor of alcoholic beverages; or the driver having slurred speech. Once that determination is made, the officer can asked the person to take field sobriety exercises. Those will be tested that can include asking the driver to walk a straight line; asking the driver to recite the alphabet; or asking the driver to stand on one leg.

If the officer believes the person is impaired, he or she will be arrested and taken to jail. At the jail, the driver will be asked to take a breath test. The driver does not have to take it, but there are penalties that can kick in immediately if a person refuses. But, by not taking the exam, there is not a record of the blood alcohol content, so it can cut both ways.  Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney knows the strict rules and regulations that must be followed in Jacksonville DUI Cases and will thoroughly investigate you case to make sure all of them have been adhered to.

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 Clay County man accused of driving a stolen car into a pedestrian and leaving the scene of the accident has been arrested and is now facing several charges.  An 18-year-old man was in a crosswalk when a man drove into him, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The pedestrian was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, the newspaper reported. Witnesses said the driver immediately drove off and the car was found abandoned in a nearby parking lot, the newspaper reported. The car had been reported stolen two hours before the accident, though it is not clear how police connected the dots between the car and the suspect.

The driver is in this Clay County Traffic Case charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury, grand theft of a vehicle and driving without a license. Two of the three charges are felonies: leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison, while grand theft is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. The driving with a suspended license charge is a misdemeanor. While the charge does not carry any prison time, only a year in the county jail, it could play a major role in the offer from prosecutors and the potential sentence from the judge.

In Clay County Traffic Cases, judges know that accidents happen and the overwhelming majority occur without criminal intent. However, when a person has a suspended license because of numerous traffic tickets, drives anyway, causes an accident and then leaves the scene of the accident to avoid getting caught, judges can tend to lean away from a lenient sentence. If the driver has past convictions for driving on a suspended license, as appears to be the case in this Clay County Traffic Case, prosecutors and judges will be even less inclined to give the defendant the benefit of the doubt. The fact that the crash happened in what is alleged to be a stolen car certainly doesn’t help the driver’s case either.  Even when felony charges are not in play, Clay County Traffic Cases can have serious consequences for drivers. As tickets and point accumulate, they can result having a driver’s license suspended and lead to skyrocketing car insurance rates. Our Clay County Traffic Attorney represents people charged with all types of traffic charges – from speeding tickets on up to serious felonies such as this Clay County Traffic 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.

After his first conviction was thrown out, a second jury this month found a Jacksonville night club security guard not guilty of aggravated battery and another felony charge stemming from a 2012 shooting.  The jury instead found the man was acting in self-defense when he fired a shot at the car of a woman who repeatedly came back to the club, yelling obscenities and threatening the guard, including saying she had a gun, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The woman was intoxicated and had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, the newspaper reported. When she continued to come back and yell racial slurs at the guard, he had armed himself with a shotgun and tried to shoot her car door with a pepper ball shot, the newspaper reported. Instead, he hit her in the eye.

He was initially charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and shooting deadly missiles into a vehicle. Both charges are second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison. There could also have been minimum mandatory charges that applied because the defendant discharged a firearm, but there could be a gray area because his fired pepper ball shots, not actually bullets.  In the first trial, the man was convicted of both charges. However, his attorneys appealed the conviction and it was overturned because of statements prosecutors made during closing arguments that could have hurt the defendant’s ability to have a fair trial, the newspaper reported. Because of the ruling, the man was granted a new trial and ultimately acquitted in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. There are strict rules that govern what evidence can be submitted, what attorneys can discuss in front of a jury and exactly how criminal trials must proceed. These are in place to ensure that every person accused of a crime can receive a fair trial in front of a jury of his or her peers. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, the defendant could have received 30 years in prison because of the first conviction.

Self-defense defenses can be tricky in Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases. One of the determining factors is often whether the person who pulls the trigger plays a role in instigating the incident or is truly defending him or herself. That was likely the factor in both decisions made by two different juries. It can be a risk to take Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases to trial, especially when minimum mandatory sentences of 20 years are also often hanging in the balance when someone discharges a firearm.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate the charges against you, explain what minimum mandatory charges, if any, would apply and provide you with the information you need to make a 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 Jacksonville Firearm Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

After holding a man in jail for weeks, the state finally let him go after prosecutors admitted they could not prove charges against him.  The charges came after a May gun battle at a gas station that wounded two men, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. One man was found shot in a car at the gas station while police were led to another in a nearby apartment, where the man who was arrested lived with his girlfriend, the newspaper reported. The girlfriend allowed police to search the home and found two guns in a child’s toy bin, the newspaper reported. The 23-year-old suspect, who has a prior felony conviction for dealing in stolen property, was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, the newspaper reported. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.

The man said he did not know how the guns got into the bin and also denied that he ran into the apartment after the shooting, as some witnesses told police. Prosecutors dropped the charges because of the lack evidence and they could not prove the case against him beyond a reasonable doubt, the newspaper reported. No other arrests have been made in the case. One tactic police use in cases like these where there are likely multiple shooters and a lack of evidence, is to try to arrest someone and get them to talk in exchange for a reduced sentence. One of the charges police typically use is possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. It’s typically easy to prove – all prosecutors need to prove is that the man is a felon and he had a gun. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, however, proof a possession was the problem.

Once someone is convicted of a felony, the person loses their right to own a firearm. There are also other rights that are given up, including the right to vote and the right to work in law enforcement or other places that require a federal or state security clearance.   The case shows the importance of checks and balances in the criminal court system. Police make the arrest, but prosecutors must then take those facts and ultimately proof the case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of the suspect’s peers. A fraction of cases actually go to trial, and it’s also rare for prosecutors to drop felony gun charges once they have been filed.  Much of the work in Jacksonville Gun Crimes cases comes way before trial. Prosecutors typically have strong feeling they can prove the case before it gets that far. Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys can investigate the charges and present evidence or make arguments to the prosecutors about the lack of evidence that could lead to the charges being dropped, as they were in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes 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 Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A months-long undercover operation in Nassau County lead to 23 arrests – predominantly on felony drug charges – and two more suspects have warrants out for their arrest.  Police announced the charges last month as part of Operation Sorry for the Weight, though people have been getting arrested and charged over the past couple of months, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Undercover officers say they caught people selling marijuana, cocaine, prescription drugs and other controlled substances, the newspaper reported. The type of drug is critical in Nassau County Drug Crimes Cases because the charges and potential sentences are based on two factors: the drug the person is accused of possessing or selling, and the amount of the drug the person is accused of having.

In these Nassau County Drug Crimes Cases, the amount does not appear to be the issue. All of the transactions appear to be a small amount of drugs and none of the 23 is facing trafficking charges – which is where far more serious penalties, including minimum mandatory sentences, are in play.   For example, sale of cocaine is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The same second-degree felony charge applies for sale of methamphetamines, as well as hydrocodone in Nassau County Drug Crimes Cases. But sale of marijuana is a third-degree felony and the maximum prison time is only five years. In fact, for even just possession of most drugs other than marijuana, the charges are more than likely going to be felonies – rarely are the charges misdemeanors. In this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case, while most of the charges were for sale of drugs, there were several charged only with possession. Only one person, who was charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, is facing a misdemeanor charge. Others charged with possession of cocaine are looking at third-degree felony charges and a possibility of up to five years in state prison.

In many of these Nassau County Drug Crimes charges, the charges are based on the men and women selling drugs to undercover officers. In most of these instances, police have video and audio recording of the transaction, which can be admissible in court if the police follow all of the proper rules and procedures.  Our Nassau County Drug Crimes Attorney represents people charged with all types of drug crimes – possession, sale and trafficking – involving all types of drugs, from marijuana and cocaine to prescription drugs and methamphetamines.

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.

A Jacksonville man who did not have a driver’s license when he hit and killed a man on a scooter chose not to fight the charges and was sentenced last month to 20 years in prison.  The man pleaded no contest to leaving the scene of an accident causing death and driving without a license causing death or serious bodily injury, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Leaving the scene of an accident causing death is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison and a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. The charge of driving without a license causing death or serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison.

The man is accused of hitting the scooter driver from behind about 12:35 a.m. one early morning in November, the newspaper reported. The driver did not stop at the scene, but did call police later that day and was subsequently arrested, the newspaper reported. The driver ended up pleading no contest to the charges in this Jacksonville Traffic Case. A no contest plea means the person is no longer going to fight the charges, but it is essentially a guilty plea. The only difference is the person is not admitting guilt. It’s essentially a plea where the person decides it is in his or her best interest to end the case, but they are not admitting wrongdoing. Sometimes that happens in cases where a person is being sued civilly, which can happen in automobile accident cases. But as much as it might be beneficial in a civil case, it could backfire just as hard when it comes to sentencing in Jacksonville Felony Cases.

There are numerous factors judges take into consideration when they are issuing sentences in Jacksonville Felony Cases. One of those is whether the defendant is remorseful and accepts responsibility for his or her actions. That can be especially true in a Jacksonville Traffic Case, where accidents happen and someone does not have to be a career criminal to find themselves in this type of situation. Even calling the police hours after the crash didn’t help the defendant avoid a lengthy sentence in this Jacksonville Felony Case.  Our Jacksonville Traffic Attorney represents people accused of all types of moving violations – from speeding tickets or up to first-degree felonies. Or Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly review the ticket or charges against you and advise you of the best path 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 Felony Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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

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

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

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.