Various crimes and patterns cycle in and out as the "hot" crime for police to make arrests for. It's been drugs, lately child porn has been popular, it often depends on what's in the headlines. In recent years, Jacksonville police brass have made a big public push to concentrate on stolen and illegal guns and, as is often the cases, smaller suburban counties like Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties have jumped on board. They are after cases that can make a splash in the media - and hold up in court. Often times, that leads to the low-hanging fruit ending up in the headlines.
Last week it was Gary Huskey, a second-hand dealer in Middleburg who sells items like coins, jewelry and other valuables. Including guns. Problem is Huskey is a two-time convicted felon, having run afoul of the law in Virginia, according to a report on First Coast News. No doubt Clay County police knew that when they sent undercover officers into Huskey's store and asked him if he would be interested in buying stolen guns. It is a key element in their case - essentially a fallback plan that could almost guarantee Huskey will face some time behind bars. Cases where police wear wires and ask people to buy things from them - be it drugs, guns, sex, etc. - can be dicey for the state in court. Entrapment issues almost certainly come up, which can make it more difficult to get a conviction.
But for Huskey, it won't matter if he is found guilty or not of actually dealing in stolen property with the guns. The state has its hammer: Florida possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. At least four counts on the guns he bought from undercover officers. And likely more, since police seized more than $200,000 worth of merchandize from the store, according to the television news report. One would assume there are a few more guns to be found.
Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. More importantly, it carries a three-year minimum mandatory sentence - which ties the hands of judges and has a crippling effect on plea negotiations. The state is using it more and more - especially when the rest of its case is shaky at best. The burden of proof for the system is simple: 1) The person must be a convicted felon and 2) They must have actual possession of a firearm. In Huskey's case, it is cut and dried. His only shot at leniency might be if police are interested in who else is selling him stolen guns - and who's buying them. But those records may have been part of what police seized from his store, so police may not even need his help.
Before anyone speaks with police about a crime they are charged with, they should speak with an experience Jacksonville criminal defense attorney who can outline the options. Our Jacksonville gun crimes lawyer has defended hundreds of clients on firearms charges and knows when to start negotiating and when it might benefit a client to start talking to police.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Middleburg or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Clay County gun crimes lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.