Tickets from red light cameras now for real at several Jacksonville intersections

February 5, 2014

Tickets are now being issued from red-light cameras at three busy Jacksonville intersections, adding to the list of places drivers can be forced to pay fines in these automated Jacksonville Traffic Cases. The cameras have been up for some time, but tickets cannot be issued immediately when the camera are installed, according to a report on News4Jax. Actual tickets can only be issued after the camera has been installed and active for one month. The tickets began on violations at the end of January and carry a $158 fine, according to the news report. Drivers have been receiving warning notices in the mail if they have been caught running the lights at these three intersections, but the fines in these Jacksonville Traffic Cases are what really matter.

Jacksonville Traffic Cases can be expensive, and the real cost comes down the road, when the points assessed to a driver's license start to add up. Red light camera tickets are a little different, and that's why some have criticized the cameras as simply a money grab for the counties that install them. Unlike any other moving violation in a Jacksonville Traffic Case, red light camera tickets do not have points that count against a person's driver license - IF the $158 fine is paid within 30 days. But, in order for a driver to protest a red light camera ticket in a Jacksonville Traffic Case, the driver must let that 30-day window expire for the ticket to become a traditional traffic ticket. By that point, though, the fine has jumped by more than $100 and the driver faces three points on his or her license.

That's a risk counties are likely hoping drivers won't take. They are hoping drivers see the evidence on the photo, figure they can't win, and just write the check for the $158 to move on. Any many probably will, especially because the risk of points can be expensive in the long run. Points can lead to soaring car insurance rates, and could eventually lead to a license suspension. In Florida:

- If a driver has 12 points in one year, his or her license is suspended for 30 days
- If a person gets 18 points in 18 months, a 3-month suspension is issued
- Drivers lose their license for one year for 24 points in a three-year span

Fighting a Jacksonville Traffic Case in court can often lead to points and fines being reduced. But, if drivers are not facing points on a red-light camera tickets, many may not think it's worth it to fight the ticket and bring points into play.

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.

Fifteen arrested in Nassau County undercover drug sweep

February 3, 2014

After months of undercover investigations, police announced they've arrested 15 people in a Nassau County drug sweep. All 15 are charged with felonies in these Nassau County Drug Crime Cases, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police made the arrests last month and said there are still four people wanted for Nassau County Drug Crimes connected with the investigations, the newspaper reported.

This roundup differs slightly than others in Northeast Florida, in that every one of the 15 is charged with selling drugs. In many cases, there are a few people included on possession charges, possibly people who were buying drugs at the wrong time, or had other drugs on them when police arrested them. In all, the group of 15 faces 30 felony counts, the newspaper reported. It's unclear whether the people involved in these Nassau County Drug Crimes cases are connected to one specific drug ring, or if they are a part of separate drug operations up and running throughout the county. Charges include sale or delivery of marijuana, sale or delivery of cocaine and sale or delivery of a controlled substance. Some of the drugs involved in these Nassau County Drug Crimes cases are Ecstasy and prescription pain pills, the newspaper reported.

The felony degree and maximum punishment in a Nassau County Drug Crimes case is partially determined by the drug in question. For example, sale or delivery of marijuana is a third-degree felony with a maximum punishment of five years in state prison. Sale or delivery of cocaine, on the other hand, is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison. There are other factors in Nassau County Drug Crimes cases that can enhance the penalties, and one major factor is included in a few of these recent charges. Similar to real estate, location matters when it comes to Nassau County Drug Crimes cases. If someone is charged with sale of marijuana and that sale is within 1,000 feet of a church or a school, that third-degree felony becomes a second degree felony. The same enhancement can be used in sale or delivery of cocaine, only the second-degree felony turns into a first-degree felony. First-degree felonies carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Our Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented people on a variety of Nassau County Drug Crimes, from misdemeanor possession of marijuana, on up to sales similar to these cases in this recent sweep.

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.

Clay County mom arrested after drugs found in her son's system

January 31, 2014

Police arrested a Clay County mother, alleging her young son who died in December had drugs in his system that caused his death. Kathern Powell was arrested more than a month after the medical examiner ruled the boy's cause of death was a homicide caused by acute bronchopneumonia following drug toxicity, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. She was charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and culpable negligence. In most cases, aggravated manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. But the degree changes when a child, elderly person or a law enforcement officer is involved. Because this Clay County Manslaughter Case involves child, Powell's charge is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in state prison.

Powell allegedly found the boy face down in his crib and tried to wake him up in the shower before the child's father and grandfather both attempted CPR, the newspaper reported. The boy was taken to the hospital and died a week later, the newspaper reported. Subsequent tests found opiates in his blood and urine, the newspaper reported. Police have not released Powell's role in the case, nor have they discussed what drugs were involved or how the child ingested them, the newspaper reported. Those details will obviously be the key to this Clay County Manslaughter Case.

In a recent, Jacksonville Manslaughter Case, a mother pleaded guilty to the same charge after policed alleged she had drugged her child before to get him to fall asleep. That mother was sentenced to 15 years in prison, likely because the court found she had done it before. Past activity such as this when it involves a child can drastically affect a sentence in a Clay County Manslaughter Case. It is one thing for a child to get into drugs or any other substance if it's in a drawer or in the reach of a child, but it's quite another to intentionally give a child illegal drugs to try to get he or she to stay or fall asleep. The details will be important in this Clay County Drug Crimes case. If there is not a trial in this Clay County Manslaughter Case, it may not be until the sentencing hearing until those details emerge. At that point, or at trial, the defense will have its chance to explain the events, and provide information or mitigation to the judge in asking for a favorable 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. Clay County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Two arrested on methamphetamine charges in upscale St. Johns County neighborhood

January 29, 2014

Police arrested two people on several felony drug charges after St. Johns County police raided a suspected meth lab in an upscale neighborhood. Neighbors had notified police about suspicious activity and detectives converged about 9 a.m. on a Friday morning last month and arrested two of the occupants, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said the occupants were not making the drug at the time, but there was evidence that methamphetamine had been cooked and produced there in the past, the newspaper reported. David Austin and Kayleigh Wyman were both arrested and charged with possession and production of methamphetamine, maintaining a drug dwelling and possession of drug paraphernalia in this St. Johns County Drug Crimes Case, the newspaper reported.

Possession and production of methamphetamine is a second-degree felony in Florida with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison and is the most serious of the charges the two are facing. Maintaining a drug dwelling is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison and possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor that only qualifies for time in the county jail. Police were at the house with a tent and the hazardous materials unit, cleaning near the townhouse to get rid of the poisonous chemicals used to manufacture the drug, the newspaper reported. Methamphetamine labs have been prevalent recently in some of the counties right outside Jacksonville. And while they are more common in hotels and apartment complexes, this isn't the first time a meth lab has been uncovered in a more residential area. The fumes that are emitted from the production of the drug can be lethal, and also carry a distinct odor than can make it difficult to hide from neighbors and from law enforcement.

Methamphetamines crimes are becoming more and more common in St. Johns County, where authorities have taken an aggressive approach to investigating the crimes and targeting the manufacturing of the dangerous drug. All penalties and charges in St. Johns County Drug Crimes Cases hinge on two key factors: the type of drug and the amount. Methamphetamine carries among the most severe penalties of any drug, as there is no such thing as a misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine. Any amount is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, as opposed to a drug such as marijuana, where anything up to 28 grams is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of up to a year in the county jail. Our St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney represents defendants facing any and all drug charges from possession of marijuana on up to producing or trafficking in methamphetamine and 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 St. Johns County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

State files new charges against former Clay County employee accused of stealing electronics

January 27, 2014

After his initial dismissal and arrest on theft charges, police implied there may be more charges filed against a former Clay County information technology director accused of stealing and pawning county property. Those charges came this month in his Clay County Theft Case, with prosecutors filing an all-compassing charge with major ramifications, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The charge brings at least 80 confirmed cases against Michael Hamilton under one umbrella, the newspaper reported. Hamilton was arrested in December on three felony charges.

This time, Hamilton is charged with running a scheme to defraud. As with all Clay County Theft Cases, the felony degree and, subsequently, the maximum prison time, is determined by the value of the property involved in the alleged scheme. In this Clay County Theft Case, Hamilton comes in at the very top of the scale. He is charged with a scheme to defraud more than $50,000, a first-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in state prison. According to state statutes, a scheme to defraud is "a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act."

Police say dozens of computers and other electronic equipment were stolen, pawned and then traced back to Hamilton, the newspaper reported. Police have tracked down about 60 percent of the items and about $15,000 in equipment is still unaccounted for, the newspaper reported. There are two tracks the state can take in a Clay County Theft Case such as this. Prosecutors can stack all of the cases up together and charge Hamilton with dozens of theft and dealing in stolen property charges, the most serious of which is a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies have a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, so if Hamilton was found guilty of several of them, his maximum sentence could be well into the triple digits. But judges are often more likely to let defendants serve sentences concurrently, meaning if he received 15 years on 20 different counts, he would likely just serve the 15 years and be done. Now, the maximum will be 30 years and the state will have laid out its entire case, showing the sheer volume it alleges Hamilton stole. The state often holds back a couple of theft charges it can try individually, a sort of insurance policy if something happens with the larger case. Our Clay County Theft Attorneys represent people accused of all levels of theft - from misdemeanors with something worth less than $100 to first-degree felonies that Hamilton is now 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 Clay County Theft Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Police looking for woman suspected in a string of burglaries to Jacksonville vehicles

January 24, 2014

Jacksonville police are asking for the public's help in finding a woman detectives believe is responsible for a series of automobile burglaries in a Westside neighborhood. Police say they believe Bresha Harris either pawned or attempted to sell various items that were stolen from cars and trucks at the end of last year, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. She has not been charged, but would likely be facing at least 20 years in prison if convicted.

She would likely be facing a third-degree felony for a burglary to a motor vehicle and a second-degree felony for dealing in stolen property in this Jacksonville Theft Case. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison while a second-degree felony has a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison. And while the two terms are often used interchangeably in Jacksonville Theft Cases, there is a huge distinction between a burglary and a robbery. A burglary in Duval County is taking something from a structure or place - whether that's a home, a business, a car, etc. A robbery in Jacksonville is taking something directly from a person, with the real or perceived threat of violence if the victim does not comply. All Jacksonville Theft Crimes are serious, but burglary often carries less time in prison, while someone convicted in an armed robbery could receive up to life in prison.

The thinking is a robbery puts human life in immediate danger. So it also makes sense in burglary cases that the charge, felony degree and, ultimately, length of sentence if a defendant pleads or is found guilty, is determined by whether people are present. For example, if someone is accused of breaking into a vehicle and there happens to be a person inside the vehicle at the time, that third-degree felony becomes a second-degree felony. And, any Jacksonville Theft Case that is a burglary from breaking into a person's home automatically becomes a second-degree felony. Cases involving people are obviously more serious and burglaries to vehicles are, unfortunately, a dime a dozen in Jacksonville and in every major city across the country. In many cases, suspects are not caught and police typically don't have the resources to make the cases a top priority.

These Jacksonville Theft Crimes that Harris is a suspect in do seem like small potatoes for police to issue a news release, in hopes that the media will plaster her face on their websites and broadcasts. There are two likely reasons for this move by police. The first is they suspect her of something more serious, but they know they can arrest her in this Jacksonville Theft Case while detectives investigate the more serious case to the point they are ready to bring charges. Second, when people are not used to the criminal justice system, a public plea from police such as this one can often be enough for the person to turn himself or herself in. In a situation like this Jacksonville Theft Case, it's important to speak with a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney once you know you are a suspect in a case. A Jacksonville Theft Attorney can advise you of your rights, the potential charges against you, and accompany you to turn yourself in and begin defending yourself against the 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 Jacksonville Theft Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in St. Johns County stabbing

January 22, 2014

A woman initially charged with second-degree murder for stabbing a homeless man to death in St. Johns County has reached a deal to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Brenda Muniz pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the 2012 death, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Aggravated manslaughter is still a serious felony, but the plea deal that Muniz agreed to has a sentencing range of between nine years and 30 years in prison for this St. Johns County Manslaughter Case, the newspaper reported. Second-degree murder had a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison so, essentially, the plea deal opens up to the possibility for a sentence in the range of nine to 20 years in prison that would not have been on the table had she pleaded guilty to or been found guilty of a St. Johns County Murder Charge.

Both Muniz and the victim were homeless and the stabbing occurred at a homeless camp behind a shopping center where people often congregated, drank and slept, the newspaper reported. Muniz and the victim apparently got into an argument, which escalated to the point where Muniz stabbed and killed the man, whom police said was her boyfriend, the newspaper reported. Muniz' plea agreement touches on two important issues in St. Johns County Felony Cases. First, she pleaded no contest, instead of pleading guilty to the charges. Functionally, the two are the same. The difference is, Muniz is not admitting guilt, but is essentially saying it is in her best interest to stop fighting the charges and take a deal, rather than push the case to trial and risk even more time in prison. That often is a plea that is insisted upon by the defendant in a St. Johns County Manslaughter Case. But it can backfire when it comes to sentencing. In many St. Johns County Criminal Defense Cases, the judge wants the defendant to show remorse, admit his or her mistake and take ownership of it. When that doesn't happen, as in the case of a no contest plea, a judge may be less inclined to give the defendant a more lenient sentence.

The other interesting element is that the two sides at least agreed to a sentencing range to present to the judge in this St. Johns County Manslaughter case. That range does not bind the judge in any legal way, but in most instances the judge will honor a range that prosecutors and the St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorneys agree on. The range is the case is 21 years, so it's likely the judge will find plenty of latitude in the range to deliver what he or she decides is an appropriate sentence in this St. Johns County Manslaughter 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 St. Johns County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Man convicted of six counts of vehicular homicide in Nassau County crash

January 21, 2014

A Nassau County man now faces up to 90 years in prison after being convicted of six counts of vehicular homicide this month. Prosecutors said Pedro Ocasio-Alcazar was driving recklessly when he sideswiped a car, starting a reaction that led to the death of six people in 2010, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Because he was convicted of all six counts, Ocasio-Alcazar, 42, faces up to 90 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

Ocasio-Alcazar was accused of speeding and driving recklessly on a rural Callahan highway when he sideswiped a car with six people inside, the newspaper reported. The car slid into the median, was hit by a truck and flipped, the newspaper reported. Even though Ocasio-Alcazar's vehicle wasn't the one that hit and eventually killed the driver and five passengers, police and prosecutors deemed he was at fault and charged him with six counts of vehicular homicide. In Nassau County Traffic Cases, vehicular homicide can be charge when a death is "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. That's the key issue in this Nassau County Traffic Case, whether Ocasio-Alcazar was driving recklessly or dangerously enough that he should have known his actions were likely to kill someone. Ocasio-Alcazar disagreed vehemently, taking the stand and saying he wasn't the one who caused the deaths and demanding an apology from the state for even charging him.

Vehicular homicide is a difficult charge for both the state and a Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorney. One on hand, proving the degree of recklessness is difficult, especially because everyone understands that Ocasio-Alcazar did not set out to kill anyone, let alone six people. But from a Nassau County Criminal Defense perspective, it's natural for a jury to want to hold a person accountable when six family members are killed. It likely did not help that Ocasio-Alcazar had a history of traffic tickets and license suspensions, which likely swayed the jury in the direction that he should have known better. Drivers in these cases are typically not hardened criminals who have been through the system before, and are generally facing a lengthy prison sentence for the first time in their lives. Our Nassau County Traffic Attorney defends all types of traffic offenses, from moving violations on up to vehicular homicide.

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

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.