September 2013 Archives

Airport police officer arrested accused of sexual battery in Clay County

September 30, 2013

A police officer at Jacksonville International Airport was arrested on a sexual battery charge in Clay County and has been placed on leave from his position. Police said the defendant molested her for nearly a year and the two had "non-consensual sex" several times, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The report does not say how old the woman is that the 46-year-old man is accused of sexually battering, but the accuser appears to be an adult and not a child - based on the charges. It's unclear if there is any sort of work connection to the relationship, but police said the incidents happened in a home and not on airport property, the newspaper reported.

An accusation alone in a Clay County Sex Crimes Case can be enough to tarnish a reputation and be extremely difficult to recover from. Perhaps more than any other type of crime, our society tends to immediately convict someone when a sex crime claim is brought out. In reality, Clay County Sex Crime Cases can be among the most difficult for the state to prove. In many cases, there is little, if any, physical evidence to draw on. And there are generally only two people who know what really happened - the defendant and the alleged victim. In most Clay County Sex Crimes Cases, sexual battery involving two adults is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The charge can vary based on other factors, including if the defendant is accused of using force or a weapon during the alleged crime. Clay County Sex Crimes Cases like this one are usually the types of cases that tend to end up in trial more frequently. The way Florida Sex Crimes laws are established, many defendants are reluctant to plead guilty to a sex crime because of the lasting implications. Though trials can be risky, many Clay County Sex Crime defendants end up taking that gamble.

If someone pleads guilty to a Clay County Sexual Battery charge, he or will be designated a sexual offender. That means restrictions will be placed on where the person can live, including how close he or she can live to a church or school - even if the case does not involve a child. Moreover, any time the person changes residences, neighbors are notified that a sex offender has moved in and the nature of the crime is listed. More than any other crime, including a murder, sex crimes are extremely difficult to recover from. And any plea deal or agreement will come with lifelong consequences. Our Clay County Sex Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of defendants accused of sex crimes and can explain the provisions that come with being classified as a sex offender to let you or your loved one decide the best way to proceed with a case.

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

Bricks of cocaine wash ashore in St. Johns County

September 27, 2013

Heavy rains not only flooded local streets, but they also washed more than a dozen bricks of cocaine from the Atlantic Ocean onto beaches in St. Johns County. A man found two individually wrapped packages about 30 feet from one another near a St. Augustine boat ramp and called police, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police fanned out and conducted their own search, finding a total of 16 packages between St. Augustine Beach and Crescent Beach - each weighing about two pounds, the newspaper reported. The drugs have a street value of about $500,000, the newspaper reported.

Similar bricks of cocaine washed to shore in St. Johns County earlier this year and police haven't said if they are related, the newspaper reported. In that St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case, $7.5 million in cocaine was found. Proving the source of the drugs in this case to the point of actually being able to make arrests and bring St. Johns County Drug Crimes charges could be difficult, but it's the next step in the case. St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case can be very serious and, as in all drug cases, the charges and penalties are based on two main factors: the type of drug and how much of it the suspect is accused of having. A person can be charged with drug trafficking even if there is no evidence of the suspect selling the drug or arranging to have it sold. In this St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case, even one of the bricks would be enough to face a trafficking charge, which is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. Because the amount falls between 400 grams and 150 kilograms (about 330 pounds), there is a 15-year minimum mandatory prison sentence that would apply. Again, that penalty is for just one of the bricks in this St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case, not all 16 of them.

Trafficking amounts vary based on the type of drug and, with cocaine, start at 28 grams. Compare that with marijuana, which is a misdemeanor possession up until 28 grams, when possession becomes a felony. Trafficking penalties start at 25 pounds - more than 400 times the amount where trafficking begins in St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases involving cocaine. Cocaine charges are very serious and often trigger minimum mandatory sentences - even with what may seem to be a minimal amount of the drug.

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.


Jacksonville man sentenced to 10 years for DUI manslaughter in crash that killed his friend

September 25, 2013

A 20-year-old Jacksonville man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the traffic crash that killed his friend in 2012. David Gallagher was sentenced on the DUI manslaughter charge that he pleaded guilty to in June, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Gallagher lost control of the car he was driving about 3:20 a.m., swerved off the road, hitting a mailbox and a parked truck, the newspaper reported. Gallagher suffered non-life threatening injuries. His passenger, though, died at the scene.

Part of Gallagher's sentence also includes 300 hours of community service to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the newspaper reported. That could be done during Gallagher's time in prison, for example. If he is transported to local high schools to talk about the consequences of driving drunk and underage, as he was the night of the accident. The penalties and charges in Jacksonville DUI cases are ultimately based on how much damage a person causes to property or to other people while he or she is driving intoxicated. For example, take a common DUI where a person is pulled over for one reason or another and then arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. That DUI is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail. There are other serious consequences that can come with it, including fines, a driver's license suspension and mandatory educational classes, but the jail exposure is only six months on a driver's first DUI. A Jacksonville DUI crash that involves property damage, either another vehicle or running into a fence or building, is still a misdemeanor, but the jail exposure jumps to one year. When injuries to people come into play, stakes increase dramatically. A Jacksonville Driving Under the Influence causing serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A Jacksonville DUI manslaughter, which is a DUI causing a death, is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The charge also carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in prison. In Gallagher's Jacksonville DUI Case, the judge went closer to the maximum, sentencing his to 10 years.

While many misdemeanor charges in Jacksonville DUI cases can be reduced or bring not guilty verdicts at trial, that is far less likely in charges involving injury or death. The biggest reason is people can refuse a breath test in a Jacksonville DUI case. While that comes with a penalty, it significantly reduces evidence in a Jacksonville DUI Case. But, if there is an injury or death, police can take a suspect's blood without consent and test it for alcohol content. If it comes back that the person was above the legal limit of .08, there's not much the defense can do. That's why Jacksonville DUI Manslaughter Cases do not go to trial as often as misdemeanor DUIs and often result in guilty pleas. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged with DUI and knows all of the intricate details police must follow when making a DUI arrest. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney will thoroughly investigative the case against you or your loved one to determine if there are areas to contest, especially in terms of the traffic stop.

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

Police arrest 14 in Clay County prostitution sting

September 24, 2013

Fourteen people, all but two of whom were women, were arrested last week after an undercover police investigation broke up a string of prostitution operations in Clay County. The investigation began after complaints from neighbors and led to three massage parlors and an escort service, all four of which featured women allegedly offering sex for money, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. At the massage parlors, undercover detectives asked for a massage and women later offered to perform sex acts for between $40 and $80, the newspaper reported.

On their own, these prostitution cases would be Clay County Misdemeanor Crimes. Prostitution and soliciting for prostitution are both second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by no more than 60 days in jail. But in these cases, it's not just the prostitution itself that has some of those arrested looking at serious time behind bars and Clay County Felony charges. For example, one of the women arrested also allegedly had cocaine on her at the time. She's charged with a misdemeanor for prostitution, but a third-degree felony for possession of a controlled substance that could land her up to five years in state prison. And, strangely, some of the women arrested at the massage parlor are facing Clay County Felony charges, simply based on the way they went about offering sex acts. Some of the women are charged with unlicensed practicing of a health care professional - essentially offering massages without being licensed as a massage therapist. That charge, too, is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. One of the men is also looking at a Clay County Felony, charged with deriving support from prostitution, a third degree felony also punishable by up to five years in prison. Essentially his role is what's commonly known as a pimp, providing the women for a sex act and taking a cut of the money she earns.

The difference between a Clay County Misdemeanor and Clay County Felony can be huge - even if the crimes seem to be very similar. It is possible that the state could choose to reduce some of the felonies for practicing health care without a license down to a prostitution misdemeanor. But they may be looking to send a message, and felony convictions are certainly one way to do that. Either way, if the women do not have long criminal records, they could be eligible for what's known as a withhold of adjudication, meaning the outcome will not show on the person's record as pleading guilty, provided certain conditions are met. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people on misdemeanor and felony charges, and can explain all of the potential consequences. Our Clay County Criminal Lawyer can negotiate on your behalf to try to get a resolution that you or your loved one is satisfied with, or take the case to trial, however you choose to proceed in the case.

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

Stolen prescription pad has police on the lookout for people trying to get narcotics with fake orders

September 20, 2013

Clay County police are investigating to determine if more people have been using a stolen prescription pad to try to receive narcotic pain medication. Kristina Mosley was arrested last week and police say more charges could be on the way soon, according to a report from Action News Jacksonville. Mosley was charged with making an altered or forged prescription, which is charged in this Clay County Drug Crimes case as a misdemeanor. There's also a felony charge of obtaining a prescription by fraud that, as a third-degree felony, is punishable by up to five years in prison. In this Clay County Drug Crimes case, it appears that the fraudulent prescription was caught before Mosley allegedly received the narcotic, or she would have likely been charged with the felony. Mosley has other serious criminal problems as well, namely, a charged of trafficking in prescriptions drugs. The crime is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

This Clay County Drug Crimes Case could be seen as the latest step in the county's continued push to fight the sale and abuse of prescription pain medication, the television station reported. But from the perspective of a Clay County Drug Crimes Attorney, it is also based on a significant opportunity for police to implicate more people in the crime. The pad was stolen from a hospital and if the police now have access to the person who would know how the pad was obtained and who had control of its distribution. Mosley. And now she is looking at up to 30 years in state prison - and a potential minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years. Police are likely banking on her opening up to try to reduce her own sentence and it may work in the state's favor. The news of the stolen prescription pad has pharmacists - at the urging of police - calling doctors to verify prescriptions, just to be sure they are authorized, the television station reported. It would not be surprising if police were working with some of the local pharmacies to allow the customer to purchase the narcotics and then have police waiting outside the door to make the arrest. That way, the felony charge would apply and the person would be facing five years in state prison. As with negotiations of any kind, negotiations in Clay County Drug Crimes Cases are all about leverage. A person looking at prison time is often more likely to work with police than someone facing a misdemeanor and a little time in the county jail. That's magnified when it comes to someone like Mosley looking at 30 years in this Clay County Drug Crimes Case.

Our Clay County Drug Crimes Attorney has represented clients charged in all facets of drug cases. From possession, to those accused of selling small amounts, to those alleged to be the mastermind of the enterprise. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney understands how prosecutors work to secure evidence and testimony in these Clay County Drug Crimes cases, and can advise you on your options and how the case could play 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 Clay County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Four teens arrested in slew of St. Johns County car break-ins

September 18, 2013

St. Johns County police have arrested four teens in a rash of recent thefts from unlocked cars that have become prevalent over the past several months. A family member of one of the suspects tipped police to the location of some of the stolen property, and police are still investigating whom all of it belongs to, according to a report on News4Jax. Two suspects are likely facing more severe penalties than the other two -- and this has nothing at all to do with their involvement in the cases versus the other suspects.
It is based solely on age.

Two of the suspects are 17 and will most likely have their cases heard in juvenile court, whereas the other two suspects - at 18 and 19 - would appear in traditional, adult court. In St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Cases, penalties are often far less severe with an eye toward punishment, but also making sure a youthful mistake does not end up being something that stays with the defendant his or her entire life. Juvenile defendants can be arrested and incarcerated just like adults, but the difference is they are taken to a special youth jail. In St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes cases like this, it would be more common to see the teens put on some sort of probation or monitoring system as opposed to sending them away to any type of prison. Another difference for the 17-year-old defendants in this St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Case is the role of the parents in the resolution of the case. Parent play a major role in juvenile crimes cases and are required to be in court. They are ultimately the ones responsible for any restitution the defendant must pay back in theft cases such as this, and must also pay for any costs to monitor the child, such as probation.

While a person's criminal record plays a major role in all criminal cases, it is especially critical in St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Cases. Judges and prosecutors are far more likely to forgive a transgression of youth and allow a teen to be punished just enough to learn from his or her mistake. But when the same teens continue to end up in court, the powers that be have less incentive to be lenient and are led to believe the message is not getting through. And even though a St. Johns County Juvenile Crime may not sound that serious, it is imperative that it is handled properly to make sure the blemish doesn't continue to haunt your loved one as her or she gets older and enters the workforce. Our St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of juvenile clients and can help your loved one get a mistake behind them and move on to a productive life.

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

After two juries can't decide, third trial begins for Jacksonville man accused of killing pregnant woman

September 16, 2013

A Jacksonville man is on trial for the third time, accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend's pregnant roommate in 2010. Andrew King is on trial facing two counts of first-degree murder -one for the death of 22-year-old Felicia Burney and the second for the death of her unborn child, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. King is also charged with one count of Jacksonville armed burglary with assault or battery, the newspaper reported. If King is convicted on one or both of the murder charges, he will be sentenced to life in prison - there is no other option for a judge in a first-degree murder case, other than the death penalty. The state is not seeking the death penalty in this Jacksonville Murder Case.

The state's argument in this Jacksonville Murder Case is that King blamed Burney for his failed relationship with her roommate, Danielle Butler, the newspaper reported. King had been arrested a month prior for kicking in the door to the home and because he used to live there, prosecutors argued he knew his way around the house in the dark, the newspaper reported. But King's Duval County criminal defense team says King was framed by Butler, who was angry with Burney over an incident with Butler's 2-year-old son, the newspaper reported. Burney allegedly watched the boy while Butler worked and went to school, but Burney was talking about moving to be closer to family and King's attorneys said Butler was upset she would have to find and pay someone to watch her child.

There are enough moving parts in this Jacksonville Murder Case where two juries, so far, have been unable to agree on whether King is guilty. In a Jacksonville Murder Case, as with any criminal trial, the jury must be unanimous in its decision - either to convict someone or to find the defendant not guilty. It only takes one person on either side to hang a jury, and it's not known how far apart the first two juries were, nor do we know which side the majority was leaning toward. King has long proclaimed his innocence and his attorneys said he is not interested in any sort of plea agreement in the case. The only thing the state could do is reduce the charge, seeing that a plea to first-degree murder is a plea to life in prison. The rationale is understandable. King likely feels he's been close to being found not guilty twice by now. The state likely feels the same way. If the trial is not resolved after the third time in this Jacksonville Murder Case, it may be time for the state to take another look at the charges. But, it also seems King is not pleading to anything - and he has the right to take a case to trial.

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

Judge grants order keeping evidence sealed - for now - in murder of young Jacksonville girl

September 13, 2013

Evidence in the murder of an 8-year-old Jacksonville girl will be able to be reviewed by the suspect's Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys before it is released to the public, a judge ruled last week. Donald Smith is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery in the killing of Cherish Perrywinkle, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Smith's criminal defense attorneys have asked that all evidence remain sealed until the trial, the newspaper reported. The concern is that some of the stories will include information that will be ruled inadmissible at trial in this Jacksonville Murder Case, and would severely limit Smith's right to a fair trial. Prosecutors did say there likely would be some items released that the judge may ultimately rule could not be a part of a trial in this Jacksonville Murder Case.

The judge did not grant the entire motion, but did agree for now to let Smith's attorneys review the evidence first and have the ability to then ask the court to keep the evidence sealed until trial. Once the defense receives discovery information in the case, Smith's attorneys will have 10 days to file a motion as to whether or not the information should stay out of the public eye until trial, the newspaper reported. The judge will make the decision outside of open court, meaning there will not be a hearing the media or public can attend, the newspaper reported. All defendants have a right to a fair trial in front of a jury of his or her peers. This Jacksonville Murder Case, as expected, received plenty of media attention after Perrywinkle was abducted from a Jacksonville Wal-Mart when Smith lured her family with the promise to buy the family food and clothing, the newspaper reported.

It is always difficult to seat a jury in high-profile Jacksonville Murder Cases. And the case would certainly qualify. The media coverage of this Jacksonville Murder Case has been intense and will continue up to and through the trial. And as disturbing as the allegations are, Smith is entitled to a fair trial. The goal is to find 12 jurors who can sit in judgment who have not already formed an opinion one way or another in this Jacksonville Murder Case. While this coverage has not been as prolific nationally, everyone saw the difficulty of picking a jury in the case of George Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. Smith's Jacksonville Murder Case has already drawn attention from state legislators and others asking how Smith, a registered sex offender, could have been out of prison and able to commit the crime he is accused of. The judge in this case is trying to protect Smith's right to a fair trial, and it will be interesting to see how much of the discovery is allowed to be released prior to a trial, if Smith indeed chooses to take the case to trial.

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

Man with previous arrests for sex crimes, but no convictions, charged with downtown Jacksonville rape

September 11, 2013

Media and politicians have strong opinions on a Jacksonville man with a history of sex crimes arrests who is now again accused of a rape in downtown Jacksonville. The popular opinion is to question how the man could be out on the streets to be able to commit another crime, according to a report on News4Jax.com. Alphonso Haynes was arrested last week, accused of abducting a woman in downtown Jacksonville and sexually assaulting her, the television station reported.

Haynes was arrested in on a Duval County Sexual Assault charge in 1998 and also charged in 1999 with armed sexual battery and attempted sexual assault, the television station reported. He was found incompetent to stand trial and was sent to a state-run mental health center, the television station reported. He was eventually released, but it is not clear when or why. Because he was never convicted, he was never classified as a sexual offender. People want to blame the system for allowing Haynes to be out on the street, but it must be understood that the "system" also includes prosecutors who are responsible for getting convictions if people can be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And the state is also responsible for making sure people who are incompetent to stand trial and are sent for mental health counseling do indeed stay there.

In his recent arrest, Haynes is charged with kidnapping with a firearm and sexual battery, the television station reported. The kidnapping charge is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The sexual battery is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison, meaning Hayes could face up to 45 years in prison. The question here will be if Haynes is found mentally competent to stand trial this time. If not, he will likely be sent to a state hospital for a second time. Sentences in Jacksonville Sex Crimes cases, and all criminal cases, are based on sentencing guidelines. These guidelines are essentially a formula that weighs the crime the person is pleading guilty to or has been convicted of, and takes into consideration the person's previous criminal record. That criminal record is for convictions or crimes someone has pleaded guilty to. Arrests DO NOT COUNT. Like the arrests or not, Haynes, just as anyone arrested of a Jacksonville Sex Crime or any type of crime, is innocent until proven guilty. So Haynes's previous arrests on sex crimes would not be a factor in his sentencing guidelines. Now, judges are free to divert from those guidelines - as long as they don't go above the statutory maximum, and prosecutors will likely argue Haynes' propensity to commit further sex crimes if the case does indeed end up going for sentencing. What they won't say is they ultimately bear the brunt of the responsibility for Haynes being back on the street.

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

Two arrested, accused of running St. Johns County meth lab

September 9, 2013

Two St. Johns County residents were arrested last week after police raided a home thought be a methamphetamine lab. Both were charged with manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine and maintaining a drug dwelling, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police had been tipped that there was a meth lab inside, and had been called to the same house before, the newspaper reported.

Manufacturing methamphetamine is a second-degree felony in Florida with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison, and is by far the most serious of the three charges. Possession of methamphetamine is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and maintaining a drug dwelling is a misdemeanor. Because judges can chose to sentence people separately on each crime, both Alison Walsh and Robert Horsley Sr. are facing up to 20 years in prison on the two felonies and one year in county jail on the misdemeanor. Not all drugs are equal when it comes to St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases, and methamphetamine crimes carry more severe penalties than other drugs. For example, possession of ANY amount of methamphetamine is an automatic felony. If someone is accused of possession of marijuana in a St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case, the charge is still a misdemeanor until the suspect has more than 28 grams. There is a huge difference between misdemeanors and felonies. For starters, misdemeanors are punishable only by time in the county jail - not in state prison. And it plays a huge difference for the person when he or she is trying to find a job as many companies and professions prohibit the hiring of convicted felons.

Arrests for manufacturing methamphetamines have been on the rise, and many of those arrests have come in St. John's County. The production of methamphetamine releases toxic chemicals into the air, and many St. Johns County Drug Crimes cases with meth have come from hotels and apartment complexes. Because the fumes are toxic, the penalties increase when meth is being produced in the presence of children. What may seem like a minor amount of a drug can lead to serious consequences - depending on the drug. Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney has represented people accused of possessing all different types of drugs and knows the various penalties that you or your loved one could be facing.

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.

Jacksonville woman sentenced to 15 years for methadone death of infant daughter

September 7, 2013

A Jacksonville woman whose infant daughter died of a methadone overdose was sentenced last week to the maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Jennifer Frazier pleaded guilty earlier this year to manslaughter by culpable negligence, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Frazier told police she used a container that had been used to mix methadone when she was giving ibuprofen and an antibiotic to her daughter, the newspaper reported. But prosecutors painted a much more sinister picture during the sentencing in this Jacksonville Manslaughter Case, which the judge obviously sided with. Manslaughter by culpable negligence is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and the judge gave her the longest sentence allowable under the law.

In this Jacksonville Manslaughter Case, Frazier chose not to go to trial and pleaded guilty to the judge. In many plea agreements, the prosecution and the defense have agreed on a sentence that is presented to the judge for final approval. That was not done in the Jacksonville Manslaughter Case as prosecutors asked for 15 years and the defense was requesting Frazier be sentenced to the time she has already served and probation. In many Jacksonville Manslaughter Cases where a person pleads guilty, the details that would have been used in a trial do not come out until the sentencing. Then, the sentencing phase essentially becomes a trial where the state and defense both lay out their cases for what they feel is an appropriate sentence. Both sides call witnesses, with the state usually bringing law enforcement officers to the stand and the defense calling family members and others who can speak to the defendant's character.

In the sentencing for this Jacksonville Manslaughter case, a set of facts that had not previously been reported was brought out by the state. Prosecutors alleged Frazier intentionally drugged the baby to get the child to sleep and had done it before, the newspaper reported. Though Frazier denied that claim, the child's father told Frazier in a police interview room that he told her not to use methadone with the child, but he wasn't going to "rat her out." The father later denied saying that, but the judge concluded there was no other way the baby would have had eight times the lethal dose of methadone in her system in this Jacksonville Manslaughter Case, the newspaper reported. Excluding the rare event that prosecutors drop a Jacksonville Manslaughter Case or any other case, the cases will resolve in one of three ways: a trial, a plea directly to a judge or a negotiated plea agreement between the state and the defense. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney has defended thousands of clients over the years and can lay out all of you options to 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 Jacksonville Manslaughter Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Man charged with attempted murder in Jacksonville shooting claims self-defense

September 5, 2013

A man who hosted a Jacksonville house party and ended up allegedly shooting one of the guests during an altercation is now charged with attempted murder. Terrell Drew shot Timothy Davis in the head during a fight that started with an argument over Drew dancing with the Davis' sister, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The two men argued inside the home and were pushing each other before Davis asked Drew to come outside so they could talk, the newspaper reported. Once the men got outside, Davis hit Drew several times and Drew pulled a handgun out of his waistband and shot him in the head, the newspaper reported. Drew told police he "felt threatened" by Davis and that's why he shot the man, who was hospitalized following the shooting, the newspaper reported.

All that's being reported right now is what Davis told police, so there isn't really complete picture out there. But, it does sounds like another Jacksonville Gun Crimes case where elements of self-defense and Florida's now infamous Stand Your Ground law could come into play. In Florida, if a person feels like they are in danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm, they do not have to retreat and can use deadly force if necessary to remove the threat. The law and the requirements have become so ingrained in media coverage and the vernacular, that Drew even used the words in the law by telling police he "felt threatened." One widely reported Jacksonville case involved a woman who fired a warning shot into the ceiling to scare of her abusive ex-husband. A judge ruled there was not an immediate threat because she walked into the garage to get the gun before firing it, concluding the woman started the confrontation again by coming back into the house with the gun.

This Jacksonville Gun Crimes case involving Drew does appear to have more of an immediate threat. Part of the issue will be if Drew really thought he and Davis were going outside to talk and then Davis attacked him. If that is true, Drew may have a more solid defense in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes case. However, if it was clear to both parties that the men were going outside to fight and then Drew pulled out a gun when he started losing the fight, Davis could have a more difficult time with his defense. Self-defense and Stand Your Ground defenses in Jacksonville Gun Crimes cases are analyzed very closely by the court, which is rightfully hesitant to allow people to shoot others unless it is absolutely necessary. But there certainly as circumstances where people have the right to protect and defend themselves and their property, Drew's case will be interesting to watch as it unfolds and more facts become public.

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

Warrant issued for Jacksonville man with history of not registering as a sex offender

September 3, 2013

A Jacksonville man who has been convicted three times for not registering as a sex offender is being sought by police again. Police have an arrest warrant for Davis Batton, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The report does not say what the warrant is for but, given his past and the fact that police have made the warrant public, there's a good chance the warrant is for another Jacksonville sex offense.

Batton was initially classified as a sex offender following a 2001 conviction for lewd and lascivious exhibition of a minor in Clay County, the newspaper reported. Batton, now 31, was sentenced to two years in state prison for that crime, the newspaper reported. Since then, he was convicted in 2005, 2007 and 2010 for failure to report or failure to comply with sex offender requirements, the newspaper reported. For his most recent Jacksonville Sex Crime in 2010, Batton was sentenced to two years in prison. While Batton may be a bit of an extreme case, his plight is not uncommon and shows the cycle of violations that can happen when someone is required to register as a sex offender. Once a person is designated as a sex offender, which is mandatory with convictions or guilty pleas in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases including lewd and lascivious conduct, the defendant is required to update police on his or her living arrangements.

There are requirements that the person not live within 1,000 feet of a school, for example. And when the person moves, a notification is sent to neighbors - with the offender's picture and the crime that qualified he or she as a sex offender. A Jacksonville Sex Crimes conviction follows a person everywhere - more than any other crime. Even if a sexual offender does not move residences, he or she is still required to report to police at least twice a year - once in the month of his or her birthday and again six months later. If more than three weeks passes from the deadline and the defendant has not checked in with police, police will likely seek a warrant for his or her arrest on the charge of failing to comply with sexual offender requirements. This is a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison. Jacksonville Sex Crimes convictions can be the start of a series of arrests and prison sentences, all rooted with one offense. While in many cases there's little choice, it is very important to understand all of the requirements of sex offender probation before accepting a plea in a Jacksonville Sex Crimes case.

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