Jacksonville woman avoids chance of death sentence, pleads guilty to shooting and killing ex-boyfriend

January 17, 2014

Rather than face a trial and the possibility of the death penalty, a Jacksonville woman pleaded guilty this month to killing her ex-boyfriend last year. Arianne Myles was accused of shooting her ex-boyfriend outside a Jacksonville post office, shortly after learning the man was engaged to another woman, the newspaper reported. Myles was charged with first-degree murder, which is only punishable by life in prison or the death penalty. Prosecutors were pursuing the death penalty against Myles, and the key element of this plea deal is that it takes the death penalty off the table. By pleading guilty to second-degree murder, the maximum penalty is life in prison. The death penalty can only be applied in first-degree murder cases.

And while it may appear to be a small victory for Myles, this is just another example of the state using the death penalty as a bargaining chip in a Jacksonville Murder Case. The inclination locally has been to charge first-degree murder, seek the death penalty and negotiate from there. It's all part of the process, and the practice of starting a negotiation with one charge and bargaining it down to a reduced charge is not uncommon for many Jacksonville Felony Cases, even Jacksonville Misdemeanor Cases. But the death penalty is reserved for the most heinous of heinous crimes, and literally threatening someone with their life seems to be the new tactic in Jacksonville Murder Cases.

Myles was driving down a Jacksonville road when she saw her ex-boyfriend's car in a post office parking lot, according to a report on News4Jax. She is accused of turning the car around, pulling into the parking lot, getting a gun from her glove compartment and killing him, the television station reported. The premeditation needed for first-degree murder does not need to be days or weeks of plotting, but could be met just in the time that Myles turned around and decided to go and shoot the victim. But would that have qualified this Jacksonville Murder Case as a death penalty case? At the end of the day, we won't know. Myles is scheduled to be sentenced next month in this Jacksonville Murder Case. The maximum penalty is life in prison, but the plea agreement does leave it open that she could receive a sentence that would allow Myles, 23, to be released at some point. A very small percentage of Jacksonville Criminal Defense Cases end up in trial, so a key is often being able to negotiate the best possible outcome for the you or your loved one. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case so you can determine whether it makes sense to try to negotiate or 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.

Shooter and family of slain teen settle civil lawsuit a month before criminal trial

January 11, 2014

The man accused of shooting and killing a Jacksonville teen during an argument about loud music has settled civil lawsuits with the victim's family and the families of other teens in the car at the time of the shooting. Michael Dunn has settled lawsuits with the parents of Jordan Davis and two other teens in the car when Davis was killed in November 2012, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Davis and the others had their music turned up at a Gate gas station when Dunn and the teens got into an argument, the newspaper reported. Dunn shot into the vehicle several times, killing Davis, the newspaper reported. Dunn has said all along that one of the teens pointed a gun out of the car, but police have said there were no weapons found.

Among the claims of Davis' parents was that Dunn contributed to their pain and suffering by suggesting that Davis was violent, the newspaper reported. The monetary terms of the settlement were not made public. It is rare that civil suits would be resolved before the criminal trial. Typically, these cases play out after the criminal trial - partially because a criminal conviction can be used to bolster the civil case. But, in this Jacksonville Murder Case, the chronology is less important. First of all, the civil settlement CANNOT be used in Dunn's criminal trial in his Jacksonville Murder Case. One thing it could do, since the case has been covered extensively by local, state and even national media, is confuse potential jurors about Dunn's guilt, but that could be sorted out in jury selection. Another reason the timing doesn't matter is that Dunn has never denied shooting into the car, has never denied that he was the one that killed Davis.

The criminal issue in this Jacksonville Murder Case is whether or not Dunn acted in self-defense, and that will be the crux of the criminal trial scheduled to begin Feb. 3. The issue will be whether jurors believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Dunn fired into the car on his own and was not defending himself from the shotgun he said he saw out the window of the vehicle. While there is always hesitation to admit any wrongdoing in advance of a criminal trial, there could be a variety of reasons to wrap up the civil case early. Dunn's finances have been contested from the start of the case - his criminal defense attorney has asked the judge repeatedly to order the state to cover investigative costs - so that could be a factor. Another could be to get the dispute with Davis' family cleared up so they are more likely to be on board with a plea agreement for Dunn if there is one in the works. Regardless of the reason, the criminal trial is sure to get plenty of media coverage in this Jacksonville Murder Case. And while readers and viewers will know the civil cases have been settled, jurors will not. And that's what really matters in this Jacksonville Murder 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 Murder Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Legislature looking at making it a crime to loan a car to a sexual predator

January 10, 2014

Florida legislators are considering adding even more to the long list of punishments for someone deemed a sexual predator, now proposing to make it a crime for someone to let a known sexual predator use his or her vehicle. The proposed law would also make the state-mandated curfew for sexual predators from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The curfew is now 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., so this would add four more hours and make it a full 12 hours a day sexual predators would be confined to their homes, the
newspaper reported. Adjustments could be made for individual people based on work hours but the 12-hour curfew would be the baseline, the newspaper reported.

Though the terms are often used interchangeably, there are significant differences in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases between a sexual offender and a sexual predator. The difference lies in the severity of the crime and the defendant's sexual criminal history. For example, any violent crimes involving a child would classify a person as a sexual predator. As would two convictions of second-degree Jacksonville Sex Crimes in a 10-year period. Crimes such as lewd and lascivious contact with a child between the ages of 12 and 18 would qualify, so two convictions or pleas in a decade could allow the court to deem someone a sexual predator. Sexual predators in Jacksonville have much stricter guidelines than sexual offenders. All have to register and report to police periodically, though the time intervals are much shorter for predators than offenders. There are also more restrictions on where predators can live, in terms of distance from schools, playgrounds and other areas where children congregate. Especially in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases, legislators tend to take every element of a horrific crime and then try to make it illegal.

The new restriction on loaning a vehicle comes from the Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case where Donald Smith borrowed his mother's vehicle and is now jailed, accused of abducting an 8-year-old girl from a Jacksonville Wal-Mart and then raping and killing her. The state senator from Jacksonville who proposed the law referenced Smith by name in the newspaper report. The new law would make it a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in the county jail, to loan a vehicle to someone you know is a sex predator - even though Smith was a sexual offender and hadn't been classified as a sexual predator. If the predator were to commit a sex crime while using the vehicle, the owner could lose his or her driver's license for one year. There's no crime, even a murder conviction that follows a person more than a Jacksonville Sex Crime. And there's also none that elicits less sympathy from the general public, so it's highly likely that any proposal that ratchets up the punishment for those who pleads guilty to or are convicted of a Jacksonville Sex Crimes will receive overwhelming support from the legislature.

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.

Woman convicted of killing Jacksonville man in DUI crash back in prison after son finds her partying on Facebook

January 6, 2014

A woman on a suspended prison sentence for DUI causing a death is now back in prison after she allegedly left a trail of her partying on Facebook and the victim's son called the cops. Alicia Marie Carmack was initially sentenced to 25 years in a Mississippi state prison in 2009, though the judge suspended 15 years of it and she was eventually released after just four years because of good behavior, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. As part of the condition of her release, Carmack was forbidden from leaving Gulfport, Miss., without permission, and was also barred from drinking alcohol or even being in bars, the newspaper reported.

But the victim's son spent a little time on Carmack's Facebook page and found photos of her drinking in bars and on a trip out of state, the newspaper reported. Once authorities were alerted, Carmack was sent back to prison and will be there at least another six months, the newspaper reported. Carmack hit a stopped car from behind, triggering a four-car crash that killed James Harris, a Jacksonville retiree driving to Louisiana to visit his daughter, the newspaper reported. Laws vary from state to state, and may be different from Mississippi to Florida, but one thing holds true across state lines: Judges do not take kindly to people who violate their probation, especially if they feel they gave the defendant a break and the benefit of the doubt in the first place. Carmack has yet to be resentenced in the case, but will be in coming months - and could be in prison another five years.

It is not uncommon to have a long list of conditions when a defendant is put on probation, especially in a Jacksonville DUI Case where the defendant may not have a criminal record, but the judge may feel the person has a drinking problem. In this case, Carmack was not allowed to drink. Could she have been busted without the use of Facebook? Perhaps. But she made it much easier to be caught by posting photos for anyone to see on the popular social networking site. Probation is serious business and it takes a significant amount of discipline and staying out of trouble to avoid a violation. It's a prime reason why some defendants even choose a longer time in prison that doesn't come with probation afterward, because they feel they'll end up back in prison on a violation. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney can thoroughly investigate your case and, should you choose not to go to trial, help negotiate a sentence that you or your loved one can adhere to and more often than not avoid returning to jail or prison.

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.

Woman ticketed for automobile accident that injured Jacksonville police officer

January 3, 2014

A Jacksonville woman was ticketed for careless driving after driving into a police cruiser on Christmas Eve. The police officer had just passed through a green light when the driver drove her minivan into the officer's driver's side door, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The officer was hospitalized with neck and shoulder pain, though the injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, according to the newspaper report.

The driver was given a ticket for careless driving in this Jacksonville Traffic Case, the newspaper reported. Traffic violations can be expensive, in both the sort and long term, and punishment is broken down in two ways: fines and points. While the fines have an immediate financial impact, the points can end up being more critical. First, the points from a Jacksonville Traffic Case are reported to your insurance company, which may allow the company to charge you more for insurance. Secondly, the points add up and can result in your license being suspended. For example:

 12 points in one year leads to a 30-day license suspension
 18 points in 18 months equals a three-month suspension
 24 points in a three-year period will result in losing your license for a full year

Different traffic violations carry different point penalties and the maximum in Jacksonville Traffic Cases is 6 points - the penalty for either leaving the scene of an accident or unlawful speed resulting in an accident. Any other moving violation that results in an accident, such as this Christmas Eve accident with the police cruiser, carries a 4-point penalty. The majority of Jacksonville Traffic Cases have point penalties of either 3 or 4 points. But that means three or four tickets in a year could result in a license suspension.
If you simply pay the ticket and the fine, you are essentially pleading guilty and accepting the points on your license. There are other options, including attending traffic school if you qualify, which would eliminate the points from that ticket. Completing traffic school also means your insurance rates cannot go up and your insurance company is barred from dropping your coverage. In some cases, a Jacksonville Traffic Attorney can appear in traffic court for you and end up getting the points or the fine reduced. Simply paying the ticket and moving on may seem like the best and easiest option, but it could have long-term consequences you may not be aware of.

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

Five teens arrested for roles in Christmas night melee outside Jacksonville movie theater

January 2, 2014

More than 60 Jacksonville police officers were called to quell a massive fight and melee on Christmas night and a handful of teens and young adults are now facing Duval County criminal charges. So far, five people have been arrested on Jacksonville Misdemeanors Crimes charges - all for fighting, resisting arrest or some combination of the two, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The incident started when a group of teens and young adults rushed a police officer to try to force their way into the movie theater and the officer used pepper spray to fight them off, the newspaper reported. The group ran and the officer called for backup, but by the time help arrived there was a mass of people in the parking lot and 50 or so people involved in separate fights, the newspaper reported.

All five of the people, including two juveniles, arrested for Jacksonville Misdemeanor Crimes were arrested at the scene that evening, according to the newspaper report. In each of the arrests, the suspect did not comply with police orders to leave and in some cases police said the defendant pulled away or even took a fighting stance with the officer and had to be restrained by police, the newspaper reported. Shortly after the incident, there had been no word of arrests for the people who rushed the theater and triggered the whole incident. Some have questioned why those people and others fighting in the parking lot, especially when there is cell phone video of the incidents, have not been charged. But proving charges beyond a reasonable doubt with video alone is difficult. There were similar issues over a Memorial Day brawl at Jacksonville Beach, an investigation that was suspended twice because witnesses would not cooperate and identify people in the video. That could be the same issue here in these Jacksonville Misdemeanor Cases.

Jacksonville Misdemeanors Cases involving resisting an officer without violence can be tricky, especially in the context of a near-riot where more than 60 officers were called in. You do have the right to walk away from police if they stop you walking down the street or walking away from an incident like this, but pulling away and talking back to police in an incident of this magnitude is very likely to get someone arrested. Police are frantically trying to clear the scene and, if they have to put someone in the back of a patrol car who's making their job more difficult, they will. Resisting without violence can also be a tough Jacksonville Misdemeanor Case because it is simply the word of the officer against the word of the defendant and most people on a jury often tend to go with the officer - especially in a situation such as this one. Our Jacksonville Misdemeanor Crimes Attorney can thoroughly investigate your case and, in many cases, help negotiate an agreement that will help you or your loved one into a pretrial diversion program and potentially have the adjudication withheld, as some of the defendants have already agreed to in this 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 Misdemeanor Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Man sentenced to eight years in prison for road rage killing

December 30, 2013

A Gainesville man who shot into a car killing the driver and missing a young child was sentenced to eight years in prison. Brad Lippincott pleaded guilty to manslaughter and discharging a firearm from a vehicle, according to a report by News4Jax. Manslaughter is a first degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and shooting a firearm from a vehicle is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. As part of the plea agreement, the state dropped a charge of shooting or throwing deadly missiles, another second-degree felony, so Lippincott had been looking at a total of up to 60 years in prison on the Jacksonville Gun Crimes charges. Lippincott and another man got into an argument during a traffic incident and Lippincott fired seven times into the car that a 33-year-old man was driving with his 8-year-old daughter in the car, the television station reported. Lippincott's criminal defense attorney had argued he was in fear for his life and shot in self-defense, but police said the victim was driving away when Lippincott fired, the television station reported.

Jacksonville Gun Crimes have serious implications, and this Jacksonville Road Rage Case shows how quickly things can escalate and how lives can change in an instant. Lippincott, 31, did not have a criminal record before this incident, but could have been looking at spending the rest of his of his life in prison. The sentence seems to indicate that both parties were involved in the escalation of the fight, though there is no indication that the victim fired a weapon in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes case. Had prosecutors chosen to do so, they could have even filed a minimum mandatory sentence under Florida's 10-20-Life law that could have exposed Lippincott to life in prison because he used a firearm and shot another person. But, if the state charged it that way, the case would have likely gone to trial because if a defendant is looking at a life sentence for even entering a plea, he or she is usually far more likely to go to trial because there's nothing to lose. Most Jacksonville Guns Crimes cases do carry minimum mandatory sentences and, more often than not, prosecutors are reluctant to waive them. This Jacksonville Guns Crimes Case is more the exception than the rule, but our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney examines every case individually and will thoroughly investigate the charge against you or your loved one to help you decide what to do 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 Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jacksonville driver charged with felony for her role in fatal crash

December 27, 2013

Six months after a fatal wreck on Jacksonville's Westside, the at-fault driver was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide. Tamara Miller was arrested this month after police said she was weaving in and out of traffic, driving more than 30 mph over the speed limit and ran a red light leading to the fatal crash, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Miller is charged with vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.

Witness told police they saw Miller veer into a turn lane to go around stopped traffic and then go through a red light and slam into the victim's car about 8:30 a.m. on a June morning, the newspaper reported. It is not uncommon for vehicular homicide investigations to take this long in Jacksonville Traffic Cases such as this one. Vehicular homicide can be difficult for the state to prove and is not simply the default charge in a traffic accident that results in a death. For someone to be convicted of vehicular homicide in a Jacksonville Traffic Case, a death must be "caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another," according to Florida Statutes.

Police told the newspaper that part of the reason for the delay in charges was the wait for investigators to be able to determine the speed at which Miller was driving at the time of the crash. That can be determined by the impact of the crash and other factors, but calculations and other testing is needed so the results are not immediately available. The investigation found Miller was traveling 76 mph on a road with a 45 mph speed limit, which will likely be a key for the state in this Jacksonville Traffic Case. Delays in charges are also common while the state waits for results of toxicology tests that would determine if the driver had any drugs or alcohol in his or her system. In this Jacksonville Traffic Case, police said there was alcohol in Miller's system, but not enough to render her legally impaired. While that detail is something police might want to release to the media, it is something a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney would likely seek to have excluded from a trial, arguing that the amount of alcohol is less that legal limits and it not relevant in this Jacksonville Driving Case.

Very few Jacksonville Traffic Cases end up in vehicular homicide charges, but when the state deems reckless driving results in injuries or death, there can be very serious consequences. In many cases, these are the first serious criminal charges a person has faced though many, like Miller in this case, have a history of traffic violations.

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

Demolition latest step after increase in meth crimes in St. Johns County

December 26, 2013

St. Johns County demolished an abandoned home this month that had been used as several times as a lab to cook methamphetamine. Contamination levels were more than 1,800 times higher than levels deemed to be dangerous and this is the second contaminated home St. Johns County has demolished this year, according to a report in the St. Augustine Record. In the last three years, more than 40 meth labs have been found in the county, leading to dozens of St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases, the newspaper reported. St. Johns County police have been particularly aggressive in trying to eliminate the profliferation of methamphetamine in the county, including a massive bust last summer where dozens of people were arrested across the county. The makeshift labs are used to cook toxic chemicals into methamphetamine and the odor makes them difficult to hide, though people often used hotels and apartments to manufacture the drug.

The consequences for running a meth lab in St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases are severe. Not all drugs are created equal in terms of the law and methamphetamine is one that carries major penalties. For example, there is no such thing as a misdemeanor meth charge in a St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case. If a person is busted with any amount of meth, it's a felony. Possession of methamphetamine is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. Compare that to possession of marijuana in a St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case, where it is a misdemeanor until a person has more than 28 grams. Only people convicted of felonies can be sentenced to state prison. Those convicted of misdemeanors, if sentenced to any time, serve it in the county jail. A charge of manufacturing methamphetamine ups the ante even more in St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases. Manufacturing methamphetamine is a second-degree felony, with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The fumes that are emitted during the cooking of the drug are toxic and can be dangerous to ingest, especially for children. Because of that element, the state allows for increased charges in cases where methamphetamine is being cooked when children are present.

Even small amounts of a drug can have major consequences in St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases - it just depends on the drug. Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney can advise you of the consequences and thoroughly investigate for case to determine the best option 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.

Former Clay County information technology director accused of stealing county property

December 23, 2013

A former director with the Clay County Clerk of Courts is now facing charges, accused of stealing county equipment and selling it a local pawns shop. Michael Hamilton was arrested this month on three felony charges, shortly after he was fired for suspicion of misconduct, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. More charges could be coming, as he is a suspect in the disappearance of dozens of computers and other electronic equipment over the past few months, the newspaper reported.

For now in this Clay County Theft Case, Hamilton is charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property and false verification of ownership. Grand theft is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison; dealing in stolen property is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison; and false verification of ownership will also be a second-degree felony in this Clay County theft case. The punishment and felony degree in Clay County Theft Cases is mostly determined by the value of the property that the defendant is accused of stealing. This Clay County Theft Case falls between might seem to be thresholds on the false verification of ownership. It's a third-degree felony if the property is values at less than $300, but at more than $300 it crosses into a second-degree felony. The firewall system Hamilton is accused of stealing in this Clay County Theft Case is valued at $2,000, but he only received $200 for it at the pawn shop, the newspaper reported. The pawnbroker value does not determine the actual value when it comes to criminal charges.

There are often two paths police can take when they think someone is a part of a larger crime scheme, as Hamilton is suspected of in this Clay County Theft Case. They can wait until they have all of the pieces lined up and then make the arrest, or they can pounce on the first thing they find and try to piece the rest together before the case resolves. It appears they have gone for the latter in this Clay County Theft Case. Police may be telling him they will recommend leniency with the court if he confesses to all he took and they wrap up the investigation. If Hamilton chooses not to talk to police, which is his right, the case may be in the system longer, and could result in several more charges if police can prove it was Hamilton behind the rest of the stolen property in this Clay County Theft Case. In a case like this when a defendant knows there is a bigger investigation ongoing, a Clay County Theft Attorney can help sort through the case - and be there when the suspect speaks to police, if he or she decides to do so.

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

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office unaware a convicted felon was working at the jail

December 20, 2013

A man who was working as a correction officer for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was arrested this month, accused of stealing identities of inmates and filing false tax returns under their names. Harold Walbey has pleaded not guilty to a variety of tax and identity theft charges in federal court and faces up to 57 years in prison, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He is accused of filing $257,000 is fake tax returns and making more than $100,000 through the operation, the newspaper reported. An interesting twist in Walbey's Jacksonville Felony Crimes case came shortly after his arrest, when the newspaper - not the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office - discovered that Walbey had been convicted of a felony in 2001 while working for the sheriff's office and that his employer did not know.

Walbey started with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in 1990, resigned, and returned to the agency in 1992, the newspaper reported. In 2001, while working for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, he was charged with child abuse in Washington County, a rural county in the Florida Panhandle, the newspaper reported. Walbey pleaded guilty in 2002 and was sentenced to a year of probation, the newspaper reported. According to Jacksonville Sheriff's Office policy, Walbey could have faced discipline - even termination - for a felony arrest, let alone a felony conviction. Officers are supposed to report any arrest to their employer within 24 hours, but Walbey did not do so, the newspaper reported. Fast forward to 2013. Walbey retires in February and is collecting a city pension, the newspaper reported. Months later, he is arrested on these latest Jacksonville Felony Crimes charges and it comes to light the sheriff's office has had a convicted felon working with inmates for more than 10 years. It is extremely rare that a law enforcement agency would hire a convicted felon, and most departments have strict policies against the practice.

Now, Walbey runs the risk of losing his city pension for his latest Jacksonville Felony Crimes case. If a person is convicted of a felony that involves gaining a profit through use of his or her official powers, the pension can be revoked. That would be up for debate in this case. It's cut and dried if Walbey paid inmates for their information, but if he just stole them from a computer system, that could be more of a gray area. But the point some are making is valid - if police would have known a little more about Walbey in 2001, he may have been fired at the time and this conversation about his Jacksonville Felony Case and his pension would not be taking place. Jacksonville Felony Crimes convictions not only have serious implications in terms of a person's freedom, but can be a huge factor in someone keeping a job or being able to find employment in the future. Our Jacksonville Felony Crimes Attorney can explain your options and help you or your loved one make an informed 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 Felony Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Meteorologist pleads guilty to DUI, will be on probation for one year

December 18, 2013

Popular television meteorologist Tim Deegan resolved his Jacksonville DUI case this month, pleading no contest to the charge and agreeing to a year of probation and a six-month driver's license suspension. Deegan was arrested in November after police pulled him over for running a four-way stop in Jacksonville Beach and found empty beer cans and a half-full beer in his car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Deegan's blood-alcohol level in this Jacksonville DUI Case was more than double the legal limit of .08, which allowed the state to charge him with an enhanced charge of DUI with a blood alcohol level of more than .15. As part of the plea agreement, the charge was reduced to a standard DUI.

The penalties in this Jacksonville DUI Case are fairly routine. Probation includes a course where defendants learn from a panel of people whose lives have been impacted by people driving under the influence and community service. Most Jacksonville DUI Cases either resolve very quickly, as was the case here, or drag on for months and even years. When cases resolve quickly, there is often a reason that is tied to the person's employment - perhaps they are suspended from work until the case resolves. Deegan had not been on the air since his arrest and First Coast News declined comment to the newspaper about his job status, according to the newspaper report. Timeline aside, some employers may set a guilty plea as a condition of return, especially to a job where the person is a public figure, to show an example that he or she owned up to the mistake and took responsibility.

Most defendants want to just admit to the crime and move on, which is understandable. But that should never be done in first-appearance court without at least having a Jacksonville DUI Attorney review the case. There are very specific rules and procedures an officer must follow in a Jacksonville DUI Case, and not every arrest is done properly. Everything from the reason for the stop to the probable cause to ask for a driver to do field sobriety exercises to the way a breath test is administered is critical in a Jacksonville DUI Arrest. While there are penalties for refusing field sobriety exercises and a breath test, the absence of either of those pieces of evidence can significantly reduce the amount of evidence the state has in trying to prove its Jacksonville DUI Case. In a case like Deegan's Jacksonville DUI Case, it's a little more difficult to argue when there's a blood-alcohol level of .18, though it's certainly not insurmountable. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged with DUI - many who took a breath test and many others who refused. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney is well-versed in all of the procedures that apply in DUI arrests and will fully examine the case for you or your loved one. If a quick resolution is important for your or your employer, we will work to handle it expeditiously so you or your loved one can get back to work and life as soon as possible.

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

Police say Jacksonville mailman made up story about sick girlfriend, received thousands from people on his route

December 16, 2013

A Jacksonville mail carrier could face decades behind bars, accused of lying to residents on his mail route and talking them into giving him more than $33,000 over the last four years. Gregory Niebel allegedly repeatedly asked for money from residents for his girlfriend's medications and told the people he'd be paying them back when she received a large settlement from a lawsuit, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. But a U.S. Postal Service investigation found Niebel's girlfriend was not sick, but healthy in Brevard County and using the money for living expenses because Niebel told her he didn't want her to have to work, the newspaper reported.

The key to the Jacksonville Theft Case against Niebel is the fact that he allegedly told the residents the payment were loans and that he would be paying them back. The scheme to defraud charge would still be there for asking for money under false pretenses, but theft is more difficult to prove if a person does not have any expectation of getting the money or items returned. The resident who prompted the investigation gave Niebel close to $20,000, and nine others gave between a few dollars and into the thousands, the newspaper reported. He's facing nine different charges in this Jacksonville Theft Case, the most serious being operating a scheme to defraud, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The remaining eight charges are Jacksonville theft charges and range from second-degree misdemeanors on up to third-degree felonies with a maximum sentence of five years in prison on each count. In all, Niebel could be sentenced to upwards of 35 years behind bars in these Jacksonville Theft Cases.

In Jacksonville Theft Cases, the degree of the charges - and the range of punishment - is determined by the value of the property a defendant is accused of stealing. For example, three of the charges Niebel is facing are second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by no more than six months in the county jail. That charge is petit theft of property worth less than $100. The charge becomes a first degree misdemeanor if the amount is between $100 and $300 and carries a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail. When the value reaches $300, that's when the Jacksonville Theft Case becomes a third-degree felony and puts time in state prison on the table. The charge remains a third-degree felony until more than $20,000 is stolen. Charges are also based on individual incidents, not the entire operation. So if Niebel, for example is accused of taking $350 from one person and $500 from another, he'd be facing two felonies, even though both would be part of the same overall scheme. In many Duval County Theft Cases, the state may offer a sentence far below the maximum penalty as long as the defendant agrees to pay the money back, depending on the severity of the crime and if the victims agree to that type of sentence.

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

Man arrested for armed robbery while returning $3 loan to Clay County gas station clerk

December 13, 2013

A man who came back to a Clay County gas station to pay off a $3 debt ended up handing himself to police for an arrest on an armed robbery charge. A gas station clerk was telling a police officer about her "good deed" by loaning a man in an old truck $3 for gas and that he even left his wallet for collateral, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. As the woman described the man, the officer realized the description was similar to that of a man accused of robbing a local sandwich shop the night before, the newspaper reported. When Brian Jeffers returned to the store to pay off his debt an hour later, police were waiting for him and arrested him for armed robbery in this Clay County Theft Case, the newspaper reported.

Jeffers is facing up to life in prison on the armed robbery charge, which is a first-degree felony. In this Clay County Theft Case, Jeffers is accused of walking into the restaurant and keeping his hand in his coat pocket like he was carrying a gun, then demanding cash and coming around the counter to grab about $200, the newspaper reported. It is not clear from the newspaper report whether or not Jeffers had a gun during the robbery, though, according to Florida law, it does not matter in terms of his charges. A person can be charged with armed robbery by threatening to use a weapon, as long as it would be reasonable for the victim to assume that the suspect had a gun. If someone points his or her finger inside a coat pocket insinuating he or she is armed, that can qualify as an armed robbery. The charge often applies in bank robbery cases if a person passes a note indicating he or she has a gun and is demanding money.

The same is true if a person uses a toy gun or an air gun in a robbery. The Clay County Theft Case becomes an armed robbery if the victim is reasonable in thinking the gun is real, and the fact that it is not in fact a deadly weapon does not matter. Armed is in the eye of the alleged victim in Clay County Theft Cases, whether a person has an actual gun or not - though there are plenty of arguments a Clay County Theft Attorney can make to try to have the crime reduced to a robbery, which has a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Our Clay County Theft Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged with various theft crimes and is experienced in the elements the state must prove to qualify a robbery as an armed robbery.

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

Bill proposed to help provide judges with clarity for sentencing juveniles in Florida

December 11, 2013

A Clay County legislator has again filed a bill to bring the state's sentencing of juveniles in line with two Supreme Court rulings that have altered that landscape in recent years. One 2010 ruling eliminated life sentences for juveniles in cases other than murder and a second two years later banned mandatory life sentences for juveniles, even in murder cases. In the wake of those two cases, many of the 265 juveniles now sentenced to life in Florida prisons have been in limbo as judges sought guidance on the issue, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union.

State Sen. Rob Bradley, for the second straight year, has introduced a bill to clean up the law. The proposal is revised slightly this year and would set a maximum penalty of 35 years for juveniles who are found guilty of crimes that do not involve a death. Parole hearings could also be set every 25 years to discuss an early release - but not for juveniles convicted of murder. Those sentences would not be subject to further consideration. The proposal for Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes cases would still allow for juveniles to been sentenced to life in prison for murder. However, there would be a special hearing for the judge to consider the defendant's likelihood of rehabilitation and his or her personal and family background before a life sentence can be issued. A sentencing hearing of sorts is held in almost every other case but, in Florida, people convicted of first-degree murder can only be sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty. Juveniles cannot be sentenced to death and it was the mandatory nature of the life sentence that the Supreme Court overruled.

While the regulations would apply for people convicted of the most serious of crimes, most defendants in Jacksonville Juvenile Crime Cases never see the inside of a prison cell. The system is designed to provide punishment, but also to keep in mind that brushes with the law can happen to juveniles and those mistakes should not have a lifelong effect. For common Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes such as burglary, vandalism and drug possession, common penalties include community service and probation. As conditions of probation, a Jacksonville Juvenile Crime defendant may have to meet periodically with a probation officer, submit to drug tests and stay out of further trouble. There are also varying degree of incarceration available to judges in Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Cases, from house arrest all the way up to what amounts to a juvenile prison. Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney can work for your loved one to try to ensure that the case stays in the juvenile court system and that a sentence won't keep him or her from moving on from a poor decision.

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