August 2011 Archives

Casey Anthony and Florida Probation

August 30, 2011

Casey Anthony is easily one of the most notorious figures in Florida this year. After being acquitted of first degree murder charges, Ms. Anthony is now on probation in Florida for check charges. Ms. Anthony was placed on probation while her murder case was pending and the department of corrections in Orlando started the probation while she was still incarcerated. Technically, her probation should be over because the clock began running when jail officials made the mistake of not waiting until she was released from jail. Despite the error, the appeals court is making Ms. Anthony complete the probation sentence now that she has been released.

Ms. Anthony has been sentenced to 1 year on Florida probation and is supposed to look for a job or go back to school. When you are placed on probation in Jacksonville or anywhere in Florida, there are certain requirements and prohibitions. You have to report to probation on a monthly basis and must pay for the cost of your supervision. The cost is around $60.00 per month. When you are placed on probation in Jacksonville, you have less rights than the normal citizen. The probation officer can come to your home at any hour and search it. You are also subject to drug tests and prohibited from being around anyone who is or could be committing any crime. You are also restricted on where you can go. Usually, you cannot leave the county you are on probation to without the permission of your judge.

In addition to the previous standard conditions, "special" conditions can be imposed on your probation depending on the crime you plea to. For example, if you are put on probation for a first DUI in Jacksonville, there are certain minimum mandatory conditions you must complete on probation. Some special conditions of DUI probation in Jacksonville are that you must complete DUI school level one, complete the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel, and impound your car for ten days. If you are placed on Domestic Battery probation in Jacksonville, you will be required to complete the Batterers' Intervention Program, which is a 26 week class.

If you have any questions about probation in Jacksonville or anywhere in Florida, call our Jacksonville Probation Attorney at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

JSO Officer Smells of Alcohol After Causing Accident, but No Arrest for DUI in Jacksonville

August 28, 2011

An officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office who reeked of alcohol after hitting another car was not arrested for DUI in Jacksonville, surprisingly. According to an article in the Florida Times Union, Officer Michael Rolison was driving around two in the morning and hit another car causing injuries to the other driver. A Florida Highway Patrol Trooper took Rolison to the hospital where he refused to give blood for it to be tested for alcohol content. A police officer who enforces the law of our city and arrests people daily for breaking it refuses to take a test he has most assuredly asked others to take. What is even more amazing is that this police officer was NOT arrested for DUI in Jacksonville. Our Jacksonville DUI Law Firm has represented clients who were arrested for DUI in Jacksonville with less evidence than the trooper had with Rolison. A normal citizen who caused a traffic crash, smelled of alcohol and refused an alcohol test would have been taken to jail, would have to bond out and would be fighting a DUI. In addition to this incident, this officer had previously tested positive for drugs in his system while on duty after being accused by a suspect of stealing pills. Perhaps this alcohol incident will convince the powers-that-be that this officer should not have the power to arrest and sometimes even shoot citizens.

If a regular citizen is involved in a traffic crash at 2 in the morning and has the odor of alcohol coming from their body, they will be a suspect in a DUI investigation. In order for a police officer to ask you to perform Field Sobriety Exercises, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are driving while impaired by either alcohol or drugs. In order to have reasonable suspicion, the officer will look for clues of impairment, such as odor of alcohol, bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred or stuttered speech and the inability to stand or walk straight. The Florida trooper in this case had to have reasonable suspicion because he took Rolison to get a blood alcohol test. After refusing an alcohol test, a normal citizen would be arrested for Driving Under the Influence in Jacksonville and that refusal to submit to a lawful blood test would be used against him or her in a court of law.

7 From Jacksonville Indicted in Major Drug Case That Spans Two States

August 26, 2011

Twenty one people -- including seven from Jacksonville -- were recently indicted in Georgia for allegedly conspiring to distribute cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy throughout Jacksonville and into southeastern Georgia during the last four years, The Florida Times-Union reports.

Drug charges in Jacksonville, have become increasingly commonplace. Even a minor amount of marijuana can get a person charged with a misdemeanor and these are the types of cases that clog our criminal justice system.
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But even a misdemeanor should be taken seriously and can result in jail time and problems on a person's criminal record. That's why hiring a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney to fight marijuana drug charges is important. Don't allow the state to unfairly punish you if they can't prove the charges. Fight for your rights.

In this case, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, along with local law enforcement agents investigated the case for more than two and a half years, the newspaper reports. One man recently pleaded guilty in a federal courthouse, bringing the total number of those who have entered into deals with the government to 10. Another 11 people face charges under the indictment.

According to the newspaper report, agents tapped three phones of one of the defendants and listened as he allegedly set up drug buys and told of his intention to sell drugs to distributors in Jacksonville. In exchange for the most recent defendant's guilty plea, drug and gun charges were dropped. As part of his agreement, he must cooperate with federal prosecutors.

The problem with plea agreements for state or federal prosecutors is that these witnesses are automatically less-than-credible witnesses. They were once considered the enemy to the prosecutor, but now, all of a sudden, they're on the side of the law. It doesn't really make sense.

These people were once considered criminals, who would lie their way out of a paper bag if they could. But, after signing their name to a few pieces of paper and agreeing to tell the truth and testify against their co-defendants, they are now star witnesses for the prosecution.

A diligent Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer will use years of experience to see through this trick and show a judge or jury the true score. A person can sign a piece of paper and tell someone they're going to tell the truth, but there are no guarantees here. A co-defendant who flips and turns state's evidence actually has more incentive to lie because they will say whatever it takes in order to get a reduced prison sentence. Whatever makes the deal stand up, they are willing to do.

A jury must see the truth and it is the job of a client's criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville and throughout northeast Florida to see to it that they do. Hard-line questioning, filing motions to reduce evidence and preparing witnesses for a defense plan are all part of the job.

Continue reading "7 From Jacksonville Indicted in Major Drug Case That Spans Two States" »

Argument at Party Turns into Fatal Jacksonville Stabbing

August 23, 2011

The Florida Times-Union reports that an argument at a party recently in Jacksonville led to the stabbing death of a man.

Hiring an aggressive Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney should be the first step for anyone charged with a crime. It becomes even more crucial for someone charged with a crime of violence. Weapons charges in Jacksonville and throughout Florida are punished with harsh prison sentences for those convicted.
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According to the newspaper, law enforcement got a call around 3 a.m. one Saturday and arrived at the corner of North Jackson Avenue and Texas Street in Marietta. When they arrived they found a 21-year-old man inside a truck suffering from a stab wound.

The newspaper reports that the man in the truck backed 100 feet or so down a driveway and into a fence. Police say they don't know if he was stabbed before he got into a vehicle or once he was already inside.

Later that night, a 20-year-old was charged in connection with the death. Investigators said a second person was taken to the hospital suffering injuries, but that person was treated and released. The article doesn't state what charges the 20-year-old faces. Police say an argument broke out at a party and led to the stabbing.

In cases where there is a large crowd of people at a gathering, such as a party, witness credibility can sometimes be the core issue of a trial -- and whether the person on trial is guilty or not guilty of the crimes.

An experienced Jacksonville defense attorney will question witnesses about what their state of mind was at the time of the event. At a party attended by adults, it's highly likely that alcohol is being served. Sometimes, there are even drugs being used and abused. This leads to questionable witness testimony. The state knows it, the judge knows it and it's the defense attorney's job to make sure the jury knows it as well.

If there are a group of witnesses, it's possible that there will be differing accounts about what actually transpired. One witness may say the victim started a fight and the suspect was simply acting in self defense. Another witness may say the complete opposite. It must also be noted that people attending a party together are likely friends or, at least, acquaintances. They have some level of bias and that can be brought out at trial, as well.

In cases where violence is being alleged, it's also possible that people ran away and attempted to hide in order to avoid being a victim themselves. For those witnesses, they must be questioned as to how accurate their memory may be if they were attempting to get away. If they went into a different room or hid, how could they have seen what really happened?

An experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will question everything the state throws at a client accused of a crime. A defendant must be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Continue reading "Argument at Party Turns into Fatal Jacksonville Stabbing" »

Road Rage in Jacksonville Leads to Aggravated Assault Arrest

August 18, 2011

A 35-year-old Jacksonville man was arrested recently after he and another driver got into an argument during traffic on the Fuller Warren Bridge, The Florida Times-Union reports.

The man now faces a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after being arrested following the alleged incident. These type of felony charges in Jacksonville are serious because they involve the use of guns and can be punished with long prison sentences. But a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer is able to try to find ways to keep evidence out of trial and scrutinize all the state's witnesses.
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In this case, according to the newspaper, a man was driving a flatbed wrecker on Interstate 95 northbound across the bridge when a man driving a Honda truck allegedly cut him off.

The driver of the flatbed honked his horn and told police he made an obscene gesture (possibly the one-finger salute), after which the driver of the truck alleged slammed on his brakes repeatedly and motioned for the wrecker driver to hit him, a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report states.

The vehicles continued to Interstate 10 and both exited on Roosevelt Boulevard. The flatbed wrecker driver told police that he asked the driver of the Honda truck why he cut him off. The other driver allegedly then pulled out a handgun and slammed on his brakes. The gun wasn't fired.

The wrecker driver called police and led them to a restaurant, which the Honda truck driver manages. The man told police the flatbed driver cut him off on the highway, which was followed by them exchanging obscenities. He said he pointed a drill, not a handgun, at the other driver, though he allegedly told police he does own a loaded handgun he keeps at the restaurant. A report states a handgun matching the description was found at the business.

Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a serious charge in Florida, classified as a third-degree felony and punishable by up to five years in prison. According to Florida Statutes 784.021, aggravated assault is an assault with a deadly weapon without meaning to kill someone or while trying to commit a felony.An assault is simply a threat to do violence that creates a fear in a person.

The problem with road rage type incidents in terms of the prosecution is that people get so worked up in these situations they sometimes will fudge details. If someone says they saw a gun, they may be able to give police a vague enough description to match someone who regularly carries a weapon in their vehicle.

In other cases, the alleged "victim" in a road rage incident may be the person at fault and yet if they call police and accuse the other, it turns into a he said/she said battle that police must sort out. And sometimes, the person who first calls authorities is the assumed victim.

That's why fighting these cases is so critical. False accusations or overblown accusations by victims can lead to unwarranted charges being filed against innocent members of society. A Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will fight these charges aggressively in order to ensure justice is done.

Continue reading "Road Rage in Jacksonville Leads to Aggravated Assault Arrest" »

Atlantic Beach Killer Still At Large, Police Still Investigating

August 16, 2011

The person responsible for killing one and injuring three others on Atlantic Beach still remains at large, as police have released few additional details, The Florida Times-Union reports.

Murder charges in Jacksonville are among the most serious in the criminal justice system. In Florida, they are punishable by life in prison or possibly death by lethal injection, making it all the more important to quickly consult with an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, who is able to defend the charges and preserve the defendant's rights.
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According to the news article, 36-year-old Andrew Larry Swift was transported to Shands Jacksonville, where he died after the July 29 shooting on Atlantic Beach. Three others were injured. Atlantic Beach police don't believe the crime was random, but they haven't discovered a motive.

News4Jax.com reports that the four men were playing cards that afternoon when a man walked up and opened fire.

A neighbor who called 911 said the noise first sounded like firecrackers and then another witness allegedly saw the shooting. Three men were found lying on the ground. Swift, who later died, had run to a nearby house. The three survivors told police they didn't know the shooter.

The difficulty for police and prosecutors with many shooting cases is that witnesses can't correctly identify the perpetrator. If there is a crowd of witnesses around a shooting, most are likely ducking behind cars, buildings or other obstructions as not to get hit. If a person is shooting near a crowd, no one wants to be seen looking at the person to get a description.

And therefore, these types of cases can be difficult to prosecute. That means an advantage for the defendant, whether falsely accused or not. What some people don't completely understand is how important holding the police and State Attorney's Office accountable is to ensuring the credibility and honor of our criminal justice system.

Some people believe that when they see a person is arrested on the news or in the newspaper the person is automatically guilty. Some in the public believe that police never make mistakes and if a person is arrested, they are automatically guilty. This isn't always the case.

Obviously, it may be the case a majority of the time, but they make mistakes. And sometimes if they don't make mistakes, they break the rules in gathering evidence and therefore, the evidence can't be used. A person is either found guilty or not guilty at trial, not guilty or innocent. That's an important distinction to make because the burden is on the state to prove the charges beyond all reasonable doubt.

And that's why hiring an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer to dispute the state's theories and evidence is critical. Accountability for the state and defense for the client is required in every case, regardless of the charge. The faster the consultation with an attorney the better, so that the client is well-informed about their rights and have an advocate standing by their side.

Continue reading "Atlantic Beach Killer Still At Large, Police Still Investigating" »

Former Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Charged With DUI

August 14, 2011

A former Jacksonville Sheriff's Office officer was recently arrested and charged with DUI, according to First Coast News.

Jacksonville DUI Defense Attorneys sympathize with people charged with DUI because it is such an easy crime to commit. In this case, a police officer, who was sworn to uphold the law, faces a potentially devastating charge because of a mistake. DUI in Jacksonville is a crime, but not one that people typically consciously commit.
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According to the news article, the former law enforcement officer was pulled over on Riverside Avenue on a recent Friday night around 10 p.m. The news station reports he was visibly drunk, just having crashed into two cars and a fence. Police reports of the incident state that as an officer attempted to stop his vehicle, he drove onto a curb and parked the vehicle at an angle.

According to News4Jax.com, when an officer attempted to stop his vehicle, he drove off and was eventually pulled over. The officer noted a "strong odor of alcoholic beverage" on the driver's breath. He allegedly refused a breath test.

The news articles go on to detail previous allegations of abuse and a wrongful death case that happened months and years earlier that have no bearing on whether or not he is guilty of DUI.

The penalties for driving under the influence in Jacksonville has severe penalties, more so than other misdemeanor offenses in Florida. Many people charged with theft, making threats or other misdemeanor-class crimes can serve time on probation and go on with life. But a DUI charge, even a first-time offense, carries much more serious consequences:

  • $500 to $2,000 in fines
  • Mandatory 50 hours of community service
  • Up to 1 year of probation, combined with jail time
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • 10 days vehicle impoundment
  • Minimum of 180 days driver's license suspension
  • Completion of DUI School
  • Possible installation of ignition interlock device

While it's possible a judge wouldn't impose all those penalties for a first-time offender, it's just as possible the prosecutor would push for a majority of the penalties to serve as a deterrent for the future.

But the good news is that a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will stand by the side of the accused and fight all pieces of evidence, including field sobriety tests, blood testing, breath testing, probable cause for the stop, the officer's observations, witness observations and anything else the state throws in as possible evidence.

All areas of a case must be scrutinized because just like anyone else, the police do make mistakes. A driver's breath may smell like alcohol, but they may not have had anything to drink. It's possible that a medical event and not drunkenness caused them to drive erratically, which led to an unwarranted investigation. An aggressive defense attorney will explore all possibilities all while forming a strong defense for the client.

Continue reading "Former Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer Charged With DUI" »

21-Year-Old Jacksonville Man Sent to Prison for Life for Shooting

August 12, 2011

A 21-year-old Jacksonville man was sentenced to life in prison recently, the same week the man's attacker died, The Florida Times-Union reports.

Being arrested on a gun charge or any charge alleging injury to another person can be intimidating for anyone, whether 21 or 61. In Florida, these charges will typically mean serious prison time. That's why a suspect must quickly consult with an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, who will give them advice about whether or not to speak with police upon arrest and what the best strategy of defense is leading up to trial.
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According to the newspaper, the 21-year-old defendant was found guilty recently of attempted second-degree murder for shooting a 29-year-old man in the back and arm as the man was trying to walk away from a fight in 2008.

The newspaper reports that the incident goes back to Sept. 2, 2008, when the victim was escorting his sister to a convenience store around 9 at night in Northwest Jacksonville. The victim told his sister it was too dangerous for her to go out on her own.

The defendant allegedly made a sexist comment about the girl and though they had words, the state says the victim thought better of a fight and turned away when the defendant allegedly pulled the trigger. After being shot, the victim could no longer walk.

As the defendant was sentenced three years after the attack, the man died following surgery that was related to the shooting, the newspaper reports. As a result of the shooting, the man could no longer walk.

In Florida, attempted murder is considered a first-degree felony under Florida Statutes 782.051. It is defined as someone attempting to commit a felony and who performs an intentional act that doesn't cause the death of a person in the process. A first-degree felony in Florida is punishable by 30 years to life in prison.

A first-degree felony in Florida is the most serious class of charge a person can face, so hiring an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney is of supreme importance. The skills of a diligent attorney can lead to evidence being thrown out, the state's theory being scrutinized and proven false and a possible not guilty verdict at trial. Sometimes, it can mean a successful plea agreement to less-serious charges or a weaker penalties.

In cases involving shootings, there are specific steps that an attorney must take to ensure the client is properly defended and their rights are protected. For one, the identity of the shooter must be iron-clad. This means accessing video surveillance, if possible, shooting holes in the stories of witnesses and scrutinizing what police officers have written in their reports. In cases where witnesses allege to know who committed a shooting, it is important to show a jury that most people are probably ducking for cover during a public shooting and are unable to see who is committing the crime.

How evidence is obtained by police is another matter that must be discussed in preparation of trial. Police will attempt to use search warrants, obtained through the signature of a judge, to look through a person's home, but sometimes the evidence can be eliminated from trial if police don't fully inform a judge of the evidence they have at the time of trying to get the search warrant.

Also, if a suspect provides a statement to police -- which is highly inadvisable -- it's possible that the statement itself could be suppressed from evidence if police didn't inform the suspect of their rights or if they otherwise improperly obtained the confession.

There are many avenues of defense, but an attorney must quickly get on the case in order to be apprised of all details and begin discussing the case not only with the client, but also forge a relationship with the prosecution to best advocate for the client.

Continue reading "21-Year-Old Jacksonville Man Sent to Prison for Life for Shooting" »

Jacksonville Corrections Officer Suspended After Being Arrested on Gun Charges in Nassau County

August 10, 2011

A man who works as a corrections officer for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, who was arrested last December on firearm charges in Nassau County, has been suspended. According to an article in The Florida Times Union, Bailey Wilkerson III has been suspended from his work at the Duval County Jail for five days because he was arrested for Discharging a Firearm in Public Within 1000 Feet of Any Person and Using a Firearm While Under the Influence of Alcohol. Discharging a Firearm near another person is a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. Using a firearm while drunk is a second degree misdemeanor in Florida punishable by up to 60 days in jail.

In his Nassau County criminal case, Wilkerson was placed in the Felony Pretrial Intervention Program, also referred to as PTI. This is a diversion program that is offered in Duval County, Clay County and Nassau County. Typically, people who have no record and are arrested for a non-violent crime qualify for it. It is a type of unofficial probation. You are not technically on probation, but you must report on a regular basis, pay a fee and complete specific conditions. Once all conditions are met, all Florida criminal charges will be DROPPED.

To prove the crime of Discharging a Firearm in Public Within 1000 Feet of any Person in Nassau County, the state attorney must prove the following elements:

1. The suspect knowingly discharged the gun in a public place. OR

2. The suspect knowingly discharged the gun on the right of way of a paved road, street, or highway. OR

3. The suspect knowingly fired the bun over a public paved road, street, highway, or occupied place.

The term, public place, is any place intended to be visited by the public. Knowingly means you did it intentionally.

To prove the crime of Using a Firearm While Under the Influence, the state attorney must prove these elements:

1. The suspect used a gun.

2. The suspect was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and was affected to the extent his or her normal faculties were impaired while using the firearm.

Over $67,000 Worth of Rum Stolen from Jacksonville Warehouse

August 9, 2011

According to an article in the Florida Times Union, a cargo container containing 960 cases of Bacardi rum and a trailer was stolen last Friday from a warehouse. Police say the thieves cut the wire on the fence, broke open the containers, and drove the trailer away from the site.

The people who committed this theft could be charged with several crimes in Jacksonville, Florida. The first obvious crime is Grand Theft, which can be found in Florida Statute 812.014 (1)(c). A Grand Theft in Jacksonville is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. I order to be convicted of a Grand Theft in Florida, the state attorney must prove that the suspects took the property of another with the intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of that property. In order to be considered "grand", the value of the property must be over $300.00.

The suspects could also be arrested for Burglary to a Structure in Florida. Since this was a warehouse complex, it is not considered a dwelling or a conveyance. Under Florida burglary law, a "structure" is defined as a building of any kind which has a roof over it, together with the curtilage. Curtilage is the land or yard adjoining a structure that is within an enclosure. If the suspects entered the warehouse yard with the intent to commit a crime therein, they can be charged with burglary in Jacksonville. Burglary to a Structure in Florida is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

If you have been charged with a burglary in Jacksonville, contact a Jacksonville Burglary Attorney to discuss your case and your rights. At Mussallem & Associates, P.A., our Jacksonville Criminal Attorneys have represented hundreds of people charged with theft crimes in Jacksonville and we are here to help you!

Interlachen Man Arrested on Attempted Murder Charges After Shooting

August 8, 2011

A 21-year-old Interlachen man faces four counts of attempted murder after four people were shot at and another woman was hit outside a home on Lenore Avenue, The Florida Times-Union reports.

Gun charges in Jacksonville can lead to long prison sentences, especially when they are used to commit a crime or are in the possession of a convicted felon. Because of the seriousness of the charges, hiring an experienced and aggressive Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney should be the first step.
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According to the news report, the 21-year-old man is being held without bail in the Putnam County Jail. When deputies arrived on Lenore Avenue after receiving reports that someone had been shot in the driveway, they discovered that the victim was on the way to the hospital in a private car. She was shot in the stomach.

Investigators said a man and two others came to the home in a Ford SUV. After arguing with a resident outside the home, the man grabbed a gun from his vehicle and began shooting. The resident ran away to avoid getting shot, but said his sister was hit.

The article states deputies stopped a Ford SUV matching the description on a nearby street and took the 21-year-old into custody for questioning. They later arrested him.

The article doesn't make clear whether the man confessed to investigators or what led them to make an arrest. Simply driving a vehicle that matches the description of another vehicle -- as common as Ford SUVs are in Jacksonville -- isn't probable cause.

From the little information available, it seems likely the suspect spoke with police and possibly gave a confession. What people being suspected of crimes by law enforcement must understand is that detectives have one job -- to get a confession. They don't care about the person. All they care about is getting the suspect to confess to make their bosses happy, to wrap up another case and move on to the next.

They can lie to suspects -- telling the suspect that a co-defendant has implicated them or saying they have video evidence, DNA evidence or eyewitness accounts that place them at the scene. It may all be false, but the suspect doesn't know the officer is bluffing.

According to Florida Statute 782.051, attempted murder is punishable by up to life in prison. It has several definitions. A person who attempts to kill someone or helps someone else intentionally try to kill someone can be found guilty. If someone is injured while the suspect is committing another felony, the suspect can be charged with attempted murder as well.

Because the charge is punishable by life in prison, it must be defended aggressively. This means scrutinizing all aspects of the state's case, from the actions of detectives, to whether or not they coerced a statement, if one is provided, to cross-examining witnesses before and during trial. If you are being investigated for a crime, the first step should be consulting with an attorney. Don't try to outsmart the police on your own.

Continue reading "Interlachen Man Arrested on Attempted Murder Charges After Shooting" »

Al Pacino's Daughter Arrested for DUI at Checkpoint

August 6, 2011

According to an article on news4jax.com, the daughter of actor Al Pacino has been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in the state of New York.This crime is referred to as DUI or Driving Under the Influence in Jacksonville, Florida. Julie Pacino was stopped by a DUI checkpoint and after police noticed her red eyes, slurred speech and odor of alcohol on her person, she was arrested on the drunk driving charge. After being taken to the jail, Julie Pacino blew .12, which is over the legal limit of .08 in New York and Florida. Police say Pacino admitted to drinking three beers and smoking pot that night before she was stopped.

Pacino was arrested for DUI after being stopped by a DUI checkpoint. DUI checkpoints are fairly common in Jacksonville and police must follow strict rules while holding one of these checkpoints. When the Jacksonville police pick a location for the DUI checkpoint, the choice must be in the interest of public safety. There has to be some link between the location and drunk driving incidents or traffic accidents. After a location is chosen, JSO must adequately warn the driving public that there is going to be a Drunk Driving Checkpoint in Duval County so it can be avoided. The agency arranging the checkpoint has to have standardized procedures to follow written down before conducting the checkpoint. When drivers approach the DUI checkpoint, it must be very obvious that it is in fact a checkpoint. Most commonly, checkpoints in Jacksonville have a large flashing sign.

The police must also utilize standardized investigation techniques. Commonly, officers stop every third car or fourth car. Once they stop the vehicles and speak to the driver and observe signs of impairment (slurred or stuttered speech, odor of alcohol, red and watery eyes), the driver will be asked to perform field sobriety exercises. These exercises are supposed to be administered the exact same way by all police officers. The field sobriety exercises are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (also referred to as the eye test), the walk and turn, the one leg stand, the Rhomberg Alphabet, and the finger to nose.

Jacksonville Man Pleads Guilty to Grand Theft Over Brake Job

August 4, 2011

The Florida Times-Union recently reported about a Jacksonville man who pleaded guilty to two counts of grand theft while he faces charges of bilking investors out of more than $100,000 in a fake investment scheme.

Theft charges in Jacksonville can range from something as simple as stealing a pack of gum from a convenience store to a serious offense such as home invasion robbery, where a person breaks into a house that is occupied and, while armed, demands money and possessions. And as the details of these crimes vary, so do the punishment. The range is jail or probation to years or decades in prison. That's why consulting immediately with an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney is so important.
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The 34-year-old Jacksonville man pleaded guilty to two counts of grand theft and he was sentenced to 175 days in jail -- credit for the 175 days in jail he has already served. He remains in custody, however, because of other pending charges.

In this case, the man allegedly stiffed a car repair shop on a $9,300 brake job, asking for the repairs and then driving off the lot after the vehicle had been fixed. The second grand theft charge stems from him taking a store for $700 on new tires on a different vehicle.

He was arrested last month on charges that he bilked eight people out of $100,000 in a fraudulent investment scheme. In that case, he is accused of luring alleged victims into giving him money by wowing them with luxury cars he drove, including a 2007 Bentley -- the subject of the brake job.

He allegedly told investors he was a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a high-dollar broker with connections to financial institutions. He also allegedly got a woman to send him $10,000 while he was in the Duval County jail through a three-way phone conversation with a co-defendant. He remains in custody on $1 million bail on those charges.

Grand theft charges depend on the amount stolen, which determines what degree felony a person can face. For instance, stealing a gun, property up to $20,000, a fire extinguisher, stop sign or other specific pieces of property as defined in Florida Statutes 812.014 is grand theft of the third-degree. That is punishable by up to five years in a state prison.

If the property stolen is valued at $20,000 to $100,000, cargo shipped between states or in the state, emergency medical equipment or law enforcement equipment, it is a second-degree felony, which carries a maximum of 15 years in prison.

If the property stolen values more than $100,000, is a semitrailer deployed by a law enforcement officer, is more than $50,000 of cargo shipped as business or if a motor vehicle is used as other than a getaway vehicle, it is a first-degree felony, which is punishable by 30 years to life.

And as is common in cases of theft and grand theft, suspects typically face more than one charge. Police and prosecutors like to file a charge per item stolen and they can threaten that every charge will be sentenced one after the other. So, four third-degree grand theft charges could be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

While that is true, it's not necessarily the case all the time. An aggressive Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will fight to break up the evidence lodged against the suspect, including police reports, eye witness accounts and even the alleged "value" of the property taken. All aspects of a case can be challenged.

Continue reading "Jacksonville Man Pleads Guilty to Grand Theft Over Brake Job" »

Outstanding Warrants in Jacksonville Cleared Up

August 3, 2011

The court system in Jacksonville is overcrowded, like much of the criminal justice system in the United States. About 150 to 200 people are arrested in Jacksonville each day for crimes ranging from petty theft to DUI to murder. In an attempt to lessen the burden on our system, the Fourth Judicial Court (the court in Duval County) hosted "Amnesty Day" this past Saturday. According to the article in the Florida Times Union, the state attorney's office, judges, and court staff mailed letters to people who had outstanding warrants in Jacksonville for non-violent misdemeanor crimes. Such crimes included possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, petty theft, and disorderly intoxication. People could come to court and handle their Jacksonville criminal cases without having to turn themselves in on the warrant. Court was held in an auditorium downtown and cases were either dropped or disposed of without any jail time.

If you have an outstanding warrant or capias in Jacksonville, you are subject to being arrested at any time. Even if you are pulled over for a traffic infraction, when the officer runs your name, you will be arrested on the warrant or capias. You should contact a Jacksonville Warrant Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. A Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer may be able to get you on the judge's calendar to address your case without you being arrested. A Duval County Criminal Attorney could possibly take care of the case without you even being present. Warrants in Jacksonville are issued for all kinds of reasons. If you are issued a Notice to Appear in Jacksonville and never make a court date, a capias will be issued for you arrest. If you are accused of a crime in Jacksonville and the state attorney's office thinks you committed the crime, they can ask a Jacksonville judge to sign an arrest warrant. If you have a pending criminal case and fail to appear in court, the judge will most likely issue a warrant for your arrest.