Jacksonville man sentenced to four years in prison for role in shooting, despite lack of proof he shot anyone

December 21, 2012

Police were not able to prove Toddrick Ashley shot anyone in a Jacksonville mass shooting that injured 11 people in 2011, but Ashley will still serve four years in prison. There were too many people at the shooting scene to prove what exactly happened, though police said Ashley opened fire at a party of about 150 people at a Jacksonville park, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Ashley, who was released from prison just months before the shooting after serving time for Jacksonville Grand Theft, was arrested by a task force two weeks after the shooting and police found a gun inside his home, the newspaper reported.

Prosecutors ended up charging Ashley with two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in Duval County and a jury convicted him of the charges. He was sentenced last week to four years in prison and five years of probation once he is released. The charge is one the state often files in cases like this where there is little proof of the actual crime, but is still trying to punish someone in the case. It is one of the most cut and dried charges the state can possibly file. There are only two elements the state needs to prove: that the defendant is a convicted felon and that he had a gun. That's all.

A convicted felon is not permitted to possess, much less own a firearm. The charge is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. So Ashley was facing 30 years in prison for his connection to a shooting police could not prove. The judge, however, chose to sentence him to a fraction of what he was facing. But as a felon with a gun, there was very little Ashley could do as a defense. As long as he had a gun, the jury has little choice but to find him guilty. Ashley can deny any involvement in the shooting - which he must have or else he would have been charged with attempted murder or another charge that had to do with the physical shooting. Prosecutors often file this Jacksonville Gun Crimes charge as part of several other charges, for example in an armed robbery. In some cases, the jury will come back with a not guilty verdict on most of the charges, but guilty on the possession of a firearm with a convicted felon, simply because the proof is generally there.

And it is a crime. Think of it as a type of permanent probation, just involving a firearm. Much like someone on probation in Duval County has a specific set of rules to follow before the probation can be terminated, a released felon must do the same. The difference is a felon with a gun faces a brand new Jacksonville gun crimes charge with a 15-year maximum penalty - far tougher than simply violating probation.

If you or a loved one needs a gun crimes 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.