June 2013 Archives

Jacksonville Beach man now charged with attempted murder, seven months after assault

A Jacksonville Beach man already jailed on charges of attacking police with a sword is now facing an attempted murder charge in the beating police were investigating in the first place. Maximillan Michaels was already facing three counts of Duval County aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer for swinging a sword at police when they came to check on someone in a Jacksonville Beach home, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police were called by a neighbor to check on a woman who had not been heard from in days, the newspaper reported. Police were met by Michaels and officers had to use a Taser to calm him down and arrest him, the newspaper reported.

Police found the woman who lived in the home in a bedroom with severe injuries to her head and face, the newspaper reported. Police have not released information on why Michaels was in the home, nor if he and the victim knew each other. The attempted murder charge was added so late because the victim needed months of rehabilitation before she was able to identify the man who attacked her, the newspaper reported. The new charges against Michaels also include false imprisonment. Felony murder, or attempted felony murder, can be charged when someone is killed or police believe someone was left for dead, in the commission of another felony. In this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, the state appears to be using the false imprisonment as the felony that Michaels is accused of committing as the grounds for attempted felony murder.

Attempted felony murder is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. In order to be convicted of attempted felony murder, the defendant must be convicted of the underlying felony - false imprisonment in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case. On its own, false imprisonment is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. That's less severe than what Michaels was already facing. Aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, so he is facing 45 years on those charges as well. A person does not have to be the person involved in the actual killing or injuries to be charged with felony murder or attempted felony murder. In one recent Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, the getaway driver and mastermind of a series of armed robberies was found guilty of felony murder after her accomplice was shot and killed by police.

The timing of the attempted murder charge against Michaels is understandable, given the injuries to victim and the fact police had time to investigate with little fear Michaels would be going anywhere. In many Jacksonville Violent Crimes Cases, if a suspect is already in custody on another charge, police will continue to investigate the more serious charge and then add the new charges while the person is in jail. Michaels was originally held on $150,000 bond, meaning he'd need $15,000 to get out, and the state likely figured it had time to get its case lined up and that Michaels would not be able to post bond. Michaels no longer has a bond, so he will be held in jail until his case is resolved.

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 Duval County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Five arrested in alleged elaborate underground Clay County marijuana growing operation

Five men were arrested in a marijuana growing operation, alleged to include two 40-foot cargo trailers buried in a Clay County bunker. The five were charged with cultivation of marijuana and two of the men were also charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said it was one of the largest grow operations in Clay County in recent years and local, state and federal investigators were all involved in the case, the newspaper reported.

There is one magic number in the case for prosecutors: 300. According to Florida drug statutes, that's the number of plants that triggers a first-degree felony. That means up to 30 years in prison and, if the state chooses to file it, a three-year minimum mandatory sentence. As it stands now, the five men are all charged with cultivation of marijuana, a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and no minimum mandatory sentence. According to the newspaper report, police found 216 plants at one location and 78 at another - bringing the total to 294. Police also seized other items in the raid last week, including three grocery bags of loose marijuana, more than six pounds of processed marijuana and a pick-up truck, the newspaper reported. Police said there were at least four sites used to grow the marijuana, so coming up with an additional six plants does not appear to be too difficult in this Clay County Drug Crimes Case. What may prove more difficult, however, is tying specific plants to individual defendants to reach the 300 plant threshold. In Clay County Drug Crimes Cases such as this, investigators will often focus in on one or two people leading the organization. There are already two men who are facing a possession with intent to sell charge, another third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison. In many cases, police will charge several people, five in this Clay County Drug Crimes Case, and then look for more information from those arrested. Sometimes, there's nothing like some time in jail - and the threat of more time in state prison - to get people to start talking and implicating others.

Police said this Clay County Drug Crimes Case is part of a larger, well-organized operation across Florida, and that the initial tip came during a traffic stop in South Florida, the newspaper reported. Our Clay County Drug Crimes Attorney would expect to see more charges, more arrests and some sort of trafficking charges added as police sift through this Clay County Drug Crimes Case. Our Clay County Drug Crimes Attorney represents people arrested on all types of drug charges - from possession to trafficking - involving all types of illegal drugs - from marijuana to crack cocaine.

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.

20-year-old now charged with DUI manslaughter in fatal New Year's Day wreck

Police arrested a man on multiple Jacksonville DUI felonies this week, six months after a passenger in his car, a 20-year-old University of North Florida student, was killed in a New Year's Day crash. Sean Franke is facing several felony charges, including DUI manslaughter and two counts of DUI causing serious injury, according to a report by Action News Jacksonville. Franke allegedly drove his pickup truck off the road and into a pole, killing one passenger and injuring two others and himself, the television station reported. Franke and the two surviving passengers were hospitalized with injuries.

The most serious charges Franke now faces in this Jacksonville DUI case are DUI manslaughter and the two counts of DUI causing serious bodily injury. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, while DUI causing serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison on each count. So Franke could get up to 25 years on those charges alone, and also faces misdemeanor DUI charges. The long delay in charging a DUI manslaughter case is not uncommon in Duval County DUI cases. In any DUI that results in an injury, police can test the blood of the driver without consent as long as certain requirements are met. This differs significantly from a traditional DUI when a driver is pulled over because police suspect a driver is impaired. In a standard Jacksonville DUI case, a driver can refuse to submit to a breath test or field sobriety exercises, though it can result in an automatic one-year driver's license suspension. But when there are serious injuries or a death involved, the driver has no choice. In this Jacksonville DUI case, the driver was hospitalized, too, and may or may not have even been conscious when his blood was taken. Blood tests are also much more accurate when reading blood-alcohol level to determine if it is higher than the legal threshold of .08.

While it may seem obvious that alcohol was involved in a crash with a truck full of 19-and 20-years who were out for New Year's, assumptions alone are not enough to prove a person's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The delay was getting the blood results back from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the television station reported. Franke turned himself into police when the charges were finalized and is being held in jail on a $205,000 bond. Charges and potential penalties in Jacksonville DUI cases increase significantly when people are injured and even more so when someone is killed. Our Jacksonville DUI attorney has represented hundreds of clients on Jacksonville DUI charges and knows the series of specific steps police must follow to properly investigate a DUI so charges can stick. In many cases, they do not.

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.

Beginning July 1, Jacksonville drivers can now be ticketed for driving too slow

A new state law that takes effect July 1 allows police to ticket drivers who are going more than 10 mph below the speed limit in the left lane on the freeway. The new provision didn't get much attention, as it was passed as part of a bill that regulates how cities can ticket drivers using cameras to determine people have run red lights, according to a television news report from News4Jax.

Slower drivers have always been asked to use the right lanes on the freeway, allowing faster drivers to pass. The left lane is known as "the fast lane" for a reason. But now, anyone driving more than 10 mph under the speed limit in the left lane can be ticketed, the television station reported. The new law for Jacksonville Traffic Violation Cases will begin July 1. In theory, Jacksonville Traffic Violation laws are designed to keep drivers safe on the roads, so it will be interesting to see how much emphasis is placed on the new law. The fine is up to $60, but a violation would not put additional points on a person's driving record. Traffic penalties can add up quickly and end up being big trouble for drivers. Traffic violations are scored on a point system. Speeding tickets carry a variety of points, depending on how far over the speed limit the ticket is written for. Other point penalties include six points for leaving the scene of an accident and four points for reckless driving. As the points build, the penalties can quickly result in a driver losing his or her driver's license for a significant amount of time.

 12 points in a year: 30-day license suspension
 18 points in 18 months: 3-month suspension
 24 points in three years: 1-year suspension

And when a driver simply pays the ticket, he or she is admitting guilt and accepting all of the penalties, including the points. That charge then sticks to a person's driving record and the points count toward the total that could be used to suspend or revoke a person's license. Not only can points affect the person's license down the road, it can impact auto insurance rates. In some cases, a Jacksonville Traffic Violation Attorney can assist in having points reduced or even eliminated complete, which can have a dramatic impact on future traffic penalties.

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 Duval County Traffic Violations Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Thirty-two people arrested in St. Johns County meth lab investigation

A massive investigation into St. Johns County meth labs resulted in 32 arrests last week and police say dozens more could be charged in the criminal drug operation. Police dubbed their 18-month investigation "Operation Ancient Brewers" and last week picked up nearly three dozen people on charges of either conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine or conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Police have St. Johns County warrants for 11 other people and said there could be as many as 200 people involved, according to a television report from News4Jax.

Conspiracy to manufacture meth in Florida is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison, while charges related to selling meth can be first-degree felonies punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The police investigation in this St. Johns County Drug Crimes case uncovered three meth labs throughout the county. Police used the logs kept in local pharmacies to track people who have been purchasing medications with pseudoephedrine, an ingredient used to make meth, the television station reported. In 2006, as part of the Patriot Act, a federal law was enacted to require all pharmacies to move over-the-counter medication with pseudoephedrine behind the counter. The law also requires people to show identification and provide a signature when they are purchasing the medications, which are common cough, cold and allergy medications that do not require a prescription.

The logs can be a potential gold mine for police, and appeared to be one of the foundations of this St. Johns County Drug Crimes investigation. Police analyzed records and targeted people who appeared to be signing for large amounts of the medication. As with many St. Johns County Drug Crimes investigations, police are likely trying to identify and build a case against the people leading the operation. Many of the people arrested last week are likely to receive offers to negotiate and many could have charges reduced or adjudication withheld for cooperating with the investigation. In many St. Johns County Drug Crimes cases, charges can be used as a way to influence people to provide information about the drug ring. It's also possible that some of the people arrested were buying the decongestants for completely legitimate purposes when they did not feel well. Defendants could then be in the position of having to prove their innocence, perhaps through doctor's notes or employment records.

Meth charges carry very serious penalties, including minimum mandatory sentences, should the state choose to pursue them. Charges for making meth are also enhanced if there are children living in the home or apartment because the fumes emitted during the cooking process are toxic. All of these factors put the best cards in the state's hand for these St. Johns County Drug Cases, often leaving defendants feeling they don't have many options in resolving their case. Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged in drug conspiracy cases - from the people near the top to the suspects accused of minor roles. Each case is different in terms of a defense strategy and our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney can examine the case of you or your loved one and help you make the best decision going 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 St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Dismissed Clay County teacher reaches deal to avoid prosecution on child abuse charge

A Clay County middle school teacher accused of putting a student in a choke hold has accepted a plea deal on a Clay County child abuse charge that would end the case, provided he meets certain conditions. Michael Ford was charged in April with child abuse without causing great bodily harm, accused of putting a 13-year-old student in a choke hold and pushing him into a railing, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Ford was fired by the Clay County School Board and was facing a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to five years in state prison.

The state now has agreed to place Ford in a pre-trial diversion program, where he has to meet a variety of requirements. If he does, the state will not proceed with the Clay County Child Abuse Case against him. This is fairly common in drug cases for first-time offenders and seems to be a reasonable conclusion to this Clay County Child Abuse case. Ford does not have a criminal record, according to media reports at the time of his arrest, and was charged with a crime for the first time at age 42. The circumstances that led to his arrest were clearly part of his job as a middle school gym teacher and, quite frankly, may have been handled best internally without getting the court system involved. But, schools do have an obligation to protect students and it was likely with an abundance of caution that they called police.

Ford's obligations in order to have the charge dropped likely include anger management classes and the standard requirements of not picking up and further arrests and passing regular drug tests. Ford is also appealing the school board decision to fire him, the newspaper reported. His job status may have been part of the motivation to take the state's plea offer in an effort to resolve the Clay County Child Abuse Case as quickly as possible. It's highly unlikely the board would reinstate Ford while he still has Clay County felony charges pending. But now, he has the agreement in place to put the case behind him and at least accepted some responsibility, which may help in the minds of the board. Pre-trial diversion (also referred to as Duval, Clay and Nassau County PTI) can be very beneficial for people charged with a crime, especially when they are first-time offenders. It can be a means to quickly resolve cases and get the defendant back to his or her normal life as quickly as possible. Unfortunately in our legal system, getting a case to trial takes time. It's highly unlikely Ford's case would be wrapped up in two months without this plea agreement. From all media accounts regarding the case, Ford will likely have little problem meeting the pre-trial diversion requirements in this Clay County Child Abuse case and can focus on trying to get his job back.

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

State takes Jacksonville lawyer's computer for a second time in alleged theft ring

Three months after they first seized the computer server of a Jacksonville attorney the state has tabbed as a mastermind of an internet gambling theft and money-laundering ring, agents have taken his computers for a second time. But a judge has told police to hold off on looking at the contents until he can determine why the state wanted to see the material again, especially since the state already copied all of the files, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Criminal defense attorneys for Jacksonville attorney Kelly Mathis says the state should not be able to look at the files, which would include trial strategy and other privileged information the state has no business being able to see before the pending trial on money laundering and racketeering charges.

Mathis is one of 57 people charged with diverting funding from a $300 million internet gambling operation that was supposed to be going to charity. Mathis was the attorney for the cafes and has said he was simply advising his clients on the law. The computer issue is critical in this Florida Theft Case because it gets to the heart of the state's power in investigating a case. Police should not be able to just jump in and take files whenever they feel like it - especially when they have already had access to it once.

When Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys depose, for example, a police officer about details of an arrest, the attorneys get one shot at the deposition. The attorneys need to make sure they ask every question they want to ask because, unless something changes significantly in the case, the Duval County attorney can depose the witness once and only once. Further, even if the judge agrees the deposition can be reopened the line of questioning is restricted to the new elements of the case. Jacksonville criminal attorneys are not allowed to play catch-up with questions or angles they did not pursue in the original deposition. The state should be held to the same standard in this Jacksonville Theft Case. The court is still sorting through the original 132 boxes of files printed and seized the first time police raided Mathis' law office. Attorneys for Mathis and his firm say many of the documents are protected by the attorney client privilege and should not be subject to review by the state. There are several key decisions remaining regarding evidence that will likely play a major role in how this Jacksonville Theft Case plays out.

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 Duval County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Juveniles arrested in St. Johns County crime spree

Two teens were arrested last week on a slew of theft and more serious charges after a failed attempt to flee from St. Johns County police. A 15-year-old and a 13-year-old were initially sniffed out by a man who saw the two teens inside his van and pressed the panic button to activate his vehicle alarm and scare them off, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The teens allegedly took off in another car and one of them rammed a stolen car into a police car and also nearly ran over an officer on foot, the newspaper reported.

The Florida felony charges are serious and this will be an interesting St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes case to watch to determine whether the boys will receive punishments that lean more toward adult crimes or juvenile crimes. The 15-year-old is charged with grand theft auto, two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and driving without a license, the newspaper reported. Grand theft auto in Jacksonville is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and driving without a license is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail. So, all told, the teen could be looking at a total of more than 35 years in prison if charged as an adult in these St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Cases. That's highly unlikely, especially since he is 15 years old, but shows how quickly bad decisions can spiral and charges can add up when someone starts to flee from police. In most cases, especially if it is a first offense, teens are punished within the juvenile justice system. Teens can be placed on probation, or sentenced to one of a variety of levels of detention. Those levels are:

• Minimum Risk Non-Residential: The teen must attend this program five days a week, but can continue to go to school or work. Typically teens with less serious offenses are placed here.
• Low Risk Residential: These residential programs provide education and treatment in a campus-style environment in which participants still have full access to the community. Children in this program also present a low risk to themselves and the community.
• Moderate Risk Residential: Juveniles are supervised 24 hours a day and the youth are allowed some supervised release. Education and treatment are both provided as part of the sentence, but handcuffs can be used to restrain juveniles in these facilities.
• High Risk Residential: Children in these facilities are confined here and not allowed to leave. However, teens finishing the program may be granted permission to visit his or her home, enroll in school or go to a job interview during the last days of the sentence.
• Maximum Risk Residential: These programs are essentially prisons for juveniles.
In theory, juveniles are treated differently by the criminal courts so people have opportunities to learn from their mistakes and move onto lead productive lives. Teens make mistakes, as evidenced by this St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes case, but that should not mean a lifetime of punishment.

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

Undercover stings result in 31 arrests on Nassau County drug charges

Thirty-one people were arrested last month on Nassau County drug charges after police specifically targeted illegal drugs in a series of undercover drug operations. Police dubbed the measure "Operation Clean Sweep" and arrested people on a total of 46 counts - 37 of which were felonies in Nassau County, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police recovered a variety of illegal drugs - from marijuana and opiates to prescription narcotics and crack cocaine.

Charges and sentences vary greatly in Nassau County Drug Crime cases. There are two determining factors: the type of drug a person is alleged to have and the amount of the illegal drug the person is charged with possessing. There are three main types of charges in Jacksonville drug crime cases: possession, possession with intent to sell and trafficking. The amounts needed for each of these thresholds is based on the type of drug. Trafficking in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties is by far the most serious and, in many cases, brings with it minimum mandatory sentences, should prosecutors choose to seek them. And not all drugs are created equal in the minds of the American legal system. If a person has 28 grams of cocaine, they can be charged with trafficking - a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison with a minimum mandatory sentence of three years. To reach the trafficking threshold for marijuana, a defendant would have to have at least 25 pounds of cannabis. That's 11,325 grams, more than 400 times the amount of cocaine that qualifies as trafficking in Nassau County drug crime cases.

With the exception of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, most drug charges are felonies immediately - starting with a single pill or a small amount of powder or crack cocaine. But the state also may offer some sort of pretrial diversion especially if it's a person's first offense. The negotiated punishment is called Pre-Trial Diversion, and if the defendant meets a series of conditions, including passing drug tests, attending classes and staying clear of any arrests, the Nassau County Drug Crimes charges are dropped. There is also a similar program that is connected to probation in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties. In many cases, the person pleads guilty to the charge, but the judge withholds the adjudication, meaning the person would not have a conviction on their record if they complete the program. But, if the defendant fails to finish the program, the conditions of the guilty plea, including potential prison time, would kick in. Drug crimes can have serious consequences, even for what may seem like a minor amount of drugs. Our Nassau County Drug Crimes lawyer is well-versed in the laws regarding drug possession and has represented hundreds of clients facing similar 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 Nassau County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Child care operator charged after Jacksonville toddler drowns in pool

A Jacksonville day care operator was arrested on a manslaughter charge last week after a 2-year-old boy drowned in a pool on her property last month. The charges were announced three days after the boy died, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Jan Marie Buchanan was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. She is also charged with operating a child care center without a license, though she was in the process of seeking a license, the newspaper reported. Operating a child care without a license is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in the county jail, so the manslaughter charge is obviously the key charge in this Jacksonville Child Abuse Case. Buchanan was being held in the Duval County jail on a $250,000 bond, meaning it would take $25,000 for her to be released awaiting a trial.

Buchanan told police she had been swimming with the seven children in her care and then brought them all inside, the newspaper reported. She went to go change an infant and, while she did, the boy made it outside through a six or seven-inch opening by a sliding glass door. The lock to the gate to the pool was broken and the alarm that sounds when anyone enters the pool had been turned off due to rain the night before, the newspaper reported. The facts sound as if Buchanan normally took necessary precautions to protect the children in her care, but that this was a perfect storm of events that led to the death of the young boy. This is not a Jacksonville Child Abuse Case where a day care operator is hitting or physically abusing children. And while a license likely would not have prevented the boy's death, the lack of a license was probably a significant factor in the state filing the charges - and could be a reason they may choose not to negotiate.

The boy's parents have been supportive of the day care on their Facebook pages, but did not comment to the newspaper once charges were announced. It will be interesting to see if these charges end up being reduced at all in this Jacksonville Child Abuse Case. While the victim or, in this case the family of the victim, doesn't drive the bus in terms of the level of charges, prosecutors definitely keep their victims' wishes in mind when making filing and charging decisions. As time and reality sets in, the family may be more willing to see her prosecuted. Or the state may decide, as they say in many cases, that they are looking out for the victim and are the only ones who can see to it that justice is served.

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 Child Abuse Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Differing accounts of fight allegedly involving Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew

When National Football League teams and players make national headlines in the offseason, it's generally not a good thing. Such was the case last week when questions were raised about Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew being involved in an incident that left a St. Johns County security guard unconscious, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Initial media reports said Jones-Drew had been arrested, though they were soon corrected to indicate that Jones-Drew was simply a suspect in an ongoing investigation related to a security guard being punched at a St. Augustine restaurant. Police have said they expect prosecutors to make a decision this week on whether or not to charge Jones-Drew, the newspaper reported.

The incident and ensuing media coverage has evolved into a series of conflicting stories and accounts of what actually took place. Jacksonville Attorneys for the restaurant and the security guard both say there is clear video evidence that shows exactly what happened during the May 26 incident, the newspaper reported. Police have not released the video, which will eventually become public -- either as part of the discovery files once the case is filed or once the investigation is closed. Jones-Drew initially denied any involvement and was reported to be fully cooperating with police, though a planned Friday interview with police did not occur, the newspaper reported. Jones-Drew had already left the restaurant by the time police arrived on the scene, the newspaper reported, so police have yet to speak with him regarding this St. Johns County Battery Case.

Jones-Drew is accused of hitting the man with his fist so, if he is indeed arrested, he would likely face a misdemeanor battery. It would be punishable by up to one year in the county jail. When other items, like a baseball bat or a pistol, are brought in and used to injure something, the charges can be more serious - often upgraded to felony charges. In some St. Johns County Battery Cases when the allegations are made against an athlete or celebrity who is well-known and assumingly well-off financially, the issues of settlements and lawsuits inevitably come up. It took one business day for the restaurant and the guard to find personal injury lawyers. Those cases are handled separately, in front of different judges and generally following some sort of resolution with the criminal cases. A person in a St. Johns Battery Case similar to Jones-Drew could be cleared of criminal charges, but then be found at-fault in a civil case and end up on the hook for thousands of dollars in expenses for the alleged victim. The video will likely be the turning point in this St. Johns County Battery Case, and will likely be the evidence upon which prosecutors will make their filing decision. Whenever it is released, if will likely be broadcast repeatedly through various media outlets.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in St. Augustine or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our St. Johns County Battery Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

State drops DUI charge against former Nassau County Commissioner

Nearly one year after a Nassau County Commissioner proclaimed her innocence while being arrested for DUI, the state has dropped the charge against her. Instead, Stacy Johnson pleaded guilty last month to reckless driving, saying she was texting while driving the night of her arrest, but she was not intoxicated, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Johnson stepped down as chairwoman of the county commission days after her 2012 arrest, but stayed on the commission. She did not seek reelection and is now no longer an elected official.

Johnson was extremely critical of police in video from her Nassau County DUI arrest that was released and broadcast on local news sites, claiming the arrest was a political setup. Johnson said prosecutors offered to drop the charge shortly after her arrest if she agreed to resign her seat immediately, but she refused, the newspaper reported. She eventually pleaded guilty to reckless driving, paid a $208 fine, but did not receive any points on her license, the newspaper reported.

Police received a call about Johnson's car allegedly swerving and almost hitting another vehicle and she was pulled over in her driveway by three officers, the newspaper reported. Johnson said she had one glass of wine, but police said she was unsteady on her feet and that they smelled an odor of alcohol beverages when speaking with her. Johnson refused to perform field sobriety exercises or take a breath test, the newspaper reported. The refusal to take the breath test resulted in a one-year driver's license suspension and mandatory DUI school, the newspaper reported, and prosecutors said those punishments are the reason they agreed to drop the DUI charge.

Either you have enough evidence to proceed with a criminal case, or you don't. In this Nassau County DUI case, it appeared the state did not. Yet Johnson's case dragged out for more than a year before the state finally agreed to drop the charges. There appeared to be very little evidence in the Nassau County DUI Case against Johnson. She sounds coherent and appears to be speaking clearly on the police video, though she is clearly upset by the arrest. Because she refused, there are no results of field sobriety exercises, nor is there a blood-alcohol level to bring into evidence. The refusal did cause her to lose her license for a year. By accepting a driver's license, a Florida driver consents to taking a breathalyzer test and, if he or she refuses, there are automatic penalties that kick in. Even if the charges end up being dropped completely, there's usually some form of negative impact on anyone arrested for DUI. In the end, Johnson was cleared of the DUI charge, but still paid the price in the court of public opinion.

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

Seven years in prison each for two men tied to gun used to kill Clay County detective

Two men who at one point each passed along a stolen gun that was eventually ended up in the hands of a felon who killed a Clay County Sheriff's deputy were both sentenced to seven years in prison last week. Robert Apple II and Jack Lemond both pleaded guilty to dealing in stolen property, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Two other men have the same charges pending, the newspaper reported. Dealing in stolen property in Clay County is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Police said the .38-caliber pistol was stolen in Jacksonville in 2011 and was passed along by four different men in the next year, eventually making its way to Ted Tilley, the newspaper reported. Tilley, a convicted felon, used the stolen gun to shoot and kill detective David White during a raid on a meth lab in 2012, the newspaper reported. Tilley also wounded another deputy with the gun before police shot and killed him. The four men involved in this Clay County Gun charge are among a total of eight people who have been charged since White's death. Three adults in the Clay County home at the time of the raid have been charged with murder, attempted murder and trafficking in methamphetamines, the newspaper reported. A juvenile in the home, 16 at the time, was also charged with third-degree murder in the Clay County Gun Crimes case. Prosecutors have been extremely aggressive in this case, charging everyone they can in connection to the death. The key in the Clay County Theft case involving dealing in stolen property is knowledge of the property being stolen. State law says that someone who either knew or should have known the property was stolen can be charged with dealing in stolen property. In this case, police have said all four men knew the gun was stolen. Two have pleaded guilty and it remains to be seen if the other two choose a similar path.

Now that the sentencing standard has been set in this Clay County Theft Case with Apple and Lemond, it will be interesting to see if the two remaining men end up pleading guilty as well. Typically, sentences are longer after a trial than they are if the person admits guilt and pleads guilty to the charges. All defendants have a right to a trial, but the price of a trial can be expensive in terms of a sentence. It is highly unlikely that a judge will give a lower sentence to someone who takes a case to trial than he or she gave to someone who pleaded guilty.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Clay County 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.