Upset golfer starts a brawl, drives cart full-speed into a group at Jacksonville Beach Golf Course

May 11, 2012

It's not just the repeat offenders and career criminals that find themselves looking a serious time down the road. Sometimes a snap decision - albeit a very bad one - in the heat of the moment can have someone facing decades behind bars. James Alonzo Hines, 61, is in that boat now after an afternoon on the golf course turned violent and ended with Hines driving a cart into two people and smashing clubs over people's heads, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Hines was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in Jacksonville. He is facing up to 30 years in prison on a first-degree felony charge.

Hines foursome was playing behind a group of younger men who hit the course as part of a bachelor party weekend, the newspaper reported. Witnesses said Hines and his playing partners were upset that the group in front of them was playing too slow and horsing around. A witness told the newspaper someone from Hines's group hit a ball into the bachelor partyers and the group threw the ball back at Hines' group. Hines is accused of then driving the cart into two of the men, pinning one against another cart. A brawled ensued and Hines also broke a club over the head of one of the men in the group in front of him, the newspaper reported. Police arrived on the golf course and Hines was arrested in Duval County and taken to jail. It's unclear whether police are looking at the golf cart or the golf clubs as the deadly weapon, but both would qualify under state law. Either way, Hines appeared to do plenty of damage with both, according to the newspaper report. The case is in its infancy, and it's impossible to predict where it will end up. But in some cases you can get an indication of what the judge thinks by where he or she sets the bond. In this case, Hines was released from jail without having to post a bond in Jacksonville - extremely rare for someone charged with such a serious crime. That's certainly a positive from a defense standpoint, though it doesn't guarantee anything.

When Jacksonville's murder rate was at its recent peak about five years ago, the sheriff and State Attorney's Office created an Aggravated Battery Unit to focus on these crimes seen as a gateway to homicides. It's highly unlikely the creators of that task force were thinking about the potential of a golf-course disagreement that got out of control. There will be two main keys to the case. First, how culpable was the group of partygoers in the ongoing dispute that led to the final confrontation? Would the full story lead a jury to sympathize with Hines? Secondly, how willing are the victims to cooperate? Some of the men in the group live out of state, as far away as Hawaii. Would they be willing to come back to Jacksonville to testify in a trial, or are they more likely to just move on with their lives? Seemingly minor details like the location of the victims can seem miniscule, but an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will know the role it could play in negotiations and in a possible trial.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County violent crimes lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.