Articles Posted in DUI – Driving Under the Influence in Jacksonville

A Jacksonville man pleaded guilty to 14 charges related to a 2014 drunken driving incident, but the state backed off the most serious charge he was facing.  The man was initially charged with attempted second-degree murder for driving his vehicle at officers that were trying to speak with him, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He could have faced up to life in prison for the attempted murder charge, but also still faced three other serious felonies among the other charges. The man was accused of fleeing two separate hit-and-run crashes before ramming into a police car and going into a ditch, the newspaper reported.

The series of charges includes three felonies: aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, aggravated fleeing or eluding a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence. The aggravated battery and aggravated fleeing charges are both first-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on each count. The resisting an officer with violence charge is a third-degree felony with a potential prison sentence of five years. Among the misdemeanor charges are five counts of DUI causing property damage and three counts of leaving the scene of an accident. Police also found marijuana on the 63-year-old defendant at the time of the crash and he was also charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Even with just the charges the man pleaded guilty to, he was looking at up to 65 years in prison and several years in the county jail if he had been sentenced to the maximum on each of the charges. Instead, he was sentenced to a variety of different lengths of sentences on the charges, but the effective length is one year in the county jail. That is because the judge choose to run the sentences concurrently, which means he serves all of the sentences at one time. The other option for judges is to run the sentences consecutively, which means he would serve one sentence and, when that one is completed, move on to the next one and on down the line. Once the man is released from jail, he will be on probation for 10 years. If someone violates probation, he or she can then be sentenced to the maximum time on the charges he pleaded guilty to. So, in this Jacksonville DUI Case, the defendant could be looking at serious prison time if he does not stay out of trouble while on probation.

Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people charged with all types of DUI cases and will thoroughly review the case against you or your loved one to make sure police followed the detailed policies and procedures that govern DUI traffic stops and arrests.

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.

Two months after a Jacksonville man lost control of a sport-utility vehicle and crashed, killing a passenger in his car, the man was arrested on multiple charges.  The man was arrested this month for his role in the October crash, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said the man was speeding when he hit a median, the newspaper reported. The SUV flipped and then rolled onto another vehicle headed in the opposite direction, the newspaper reported. The passenger in the man’s car was thrown from the vehicle and killed, the newspaper reported. The driver was also ejected from the SUV and tried to run on foot, but was kept on the scene by witnesses, the newspaper reported.

The man was charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, driving on a suspended license and three counts of DUI causing property damage. DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide are both second-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. Driving on a suspended license is typically a misdemeanor, unless the person has already been convicted of or pleaded guilty to driving on a suspended license at least twice before. In this Jacksonville Felony Case, it is charged as a felony. All three charges of DUI causing property damage are misdemeanors and likely stem from hitting the other SUV and road signs or other things along the side of the road where the accident occurred.  Clearly the most serious charges in this Jacksonville DUI Case are the DUI manslaughter and the vehicular homicide charges. The two charges are very similar, though there is one important distinction when it comes to sentencing in this Jacksonville DUI Case. If a person is convicted of or pleads guilty to a DUI manslaughter charge, there is a minimum mandatory prison sentence of four years. There is not a minimum mandatory sentence in vehicular homicide cases. The delay in the charges for this Jacksonville DUI Case is likely due to police waiting on blood-alcohol level results to come back. Typically, those take several weeks to return and, in Jacksonville DUI Cases like this, police and prosecutors normally wait until they return, even though there was likely strong suspicion the driver was impaired at the time of the crash.

Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people on all types of DUI charges, from a first-time misdemeanor DUI to DUI manslaughter. Police have very specific policies and procedures they must follow when making a DUI arrest. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney knows those rules inside and out, and will investigate the case against you to make sure they were followed.

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.

A man thought to be facing a felony DUI charge after hitting a woman with his car is now facing the far more serious charge of attempted murder.  The Jacksonville man was originally arrested in October for the July incident where police thought a woman had been hit by a car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He was charged with DUI causing serious injury, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. But, in the month he was in jail on those charges, investigators said they now believe the man and the woman had been arguing and he dragged her from the vehicle as she tried to get out of the car, the newspaper reported. Now, the man is facing the additional charge of attempted second-degree murder with a weapon, with the car in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case qualifying as the weapon. This attempted murder charge is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison, so instead of looking at a maximum of 5 years in prison, he’s facing 35 if convicted of both charges in this Jacksonville Felony Case.

Once a person is arrested in a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Case, he or she appears before a judge shortly after the arrest. At that point the judge will set a bond in the case, which the defendant can either pay or otherwise be held in jail until the case resolves. The next step, however, is what’s called an arraignment. That’s when the defendant is formally charged and is asked to enter a plea in his or her Jacksonville Felony Case. In this Jacksonville Murder Case, the state increased the charges between the arrest date and the formal arraignment – which is typically a few weeks. The state uses this tactic in some Jacksonville Murder Cases to simply get a person behind bars while they continue to investigate the more serious charges.

The delay in the initial charge – from July to October – was likely waiting on blood-alcohol test results from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. It’s unclear at this point whether police were looking at the man on a murder charge all along, or if they received more information once the man was arrested on the DUI charge.  The rules of criminal law procedure can be complicated and difficult to manage. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney can walk you or your loved one through the process and fully investigate the case so you can make the best decision on how to proceed in the case.

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

Nearly three months after a crash that killed his friend, a Jacksonville man was arrested on felony charges in connection with the fatal wreck.  The man was arrested this month and charged with two serious felonies – DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He is also charged with knowingly operating a motor vehicle with a suspended driver’s license, but that charge is a misdemeanor and very minor compared to the other charges he is facing. Police said the driver was speeding in a 30 mph zone when the truck went off the curvy road and hit a tree, the newspaper reported. The passenger was ejected from the vehicle and killed, the newspaper reported. The driver had a broken arm and other injuries, the newspaper reported, and tests showed his blood-alcohol level was .23 – nearly triple Florida’s legal limit of .08.

DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide are both second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The charges are very similar and it is common for the state to file both in a Jacksonville DUI Case such as this one. There is one significant difference when it comes to sentencing: the DUI manslaughter charge carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. There is not a minimum mandatory sentence on the vehicular homicide charge – and that may be used by the state as part of negotiations to induce a plea to the manslaughter charge.
The delay from the time of the crash to the actual arrest and filing of charges is typical in Jacksonville DUI Cases. The state was likely awaiting official blood-alcohol results before making the arrest. In Jacksonville DUI Cases that involve injury or death, police can take a blood sample from the driver without his or her consent. This differs from a misdemeanor DUI where a driver can refuse to take a breath test or perform field sobriety exercises – though there are consequences for the refusal. Police said the driver had an odor of alcoholic beverages, showed signs of impairment and that officers found containers of alcohol at the scene of the accident, the newspaper reported. The blood test results significantly strengthen the state’s case on the DUI manslaughter charge, because prosecutors simply need to prove the driver was impaired at the time of the crash.

Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people charged with all types of DUIs – from a first-time, misdemeanor DUI to a serious felony charge such as the above case. There are numerous specific procedures police must follow when making a DUI arrest and our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one to make sure those procedures were followed.

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.

A Georgia man with four previous DUI convictions on his record was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to two felonies in connection with a fatal crash.  The driver was attempting to turn into an apartment complex, but turned into the path of a motorcyclist, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver then sped into the apartment complex, parked his car and tried to walk away, the newspaper reported. Witnessed identified the man and led police to him, the newspaper reported. The motorcyclist was hospitalized and died more than a week after the crash, the newspaper reported. The driver had a blood-alcohol level of .18, more than double the legal limit of .08.

The driver was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving a death and with DUI manslaughter. Leaving the scene of an accident involving a death is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison. The DUI manslaughter charge in this Jacksonville DUI Case is also a first-degree felony with a 30-year maximum sentence, but only because of the circumstances of the case. Had the driver not left the scene of the crash, the crash would have been a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. Both the leaving the scene causing death and the DUI manslaughter charges carry a 4-year minimum mandatory sentence, so the driver was looking at a range between 8 and 60 years in prison after pleading guilty.

With more routine DUI charges that don’t involve serious injury or death, the penalties gradually increase when drivers are convicted of multiple DUIs. That is not the case in these types Jacksonville DUI Cases with first-degree felony charges, regardless of the driver’s history of DUI convictions, but his record undoubtedly played a significant role in the judge’s decision to sentence him to 30 years in state prison. Judges do not take kindly to a person repeatedly making the same mistake, and not learning from previous convictions, so the sentence often reflects that. The sentence for the driver, now 34 years old, also includes 11 years of probation once he is released from prison and the permanent revocation of his driver’s license.  Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people on all types of DUI charges, from a first-time offender’s misdemeanor DUI to felony charges with a possibility of time in state 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.

A Clay County woman is now facing multiple charges in Jacksonville, including a felony, in what appeared to start as a DUI investigation.  Police pulled the driver over for speeding about 2 a.m. in Jacksonville Beach, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A passenger in the car took off running before police could speak with the person, but the officer smelled marijuana and asked for the 22-year-old driver to step out of the car, the newspaper reported. The woman continued to try to get back to her car before being handcuffed and put in the back of the patrol car, the newspaper reported. After the woman said the handcuffs hurt and she couldn’t breathe, the office loosened the cuffs and lower the windows in the car, but the woman escaped and was eventually run down in a cemetery, the newspaper reported.

She is now facing four charges – escape, resisting an officer without violence, DUI and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. The escape charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The remaining charges are misdemeanors, but clearly the escape and resisting charges could have both been avoided if the driver would have simply complied with the officer and not left the police cruiser. She is also facing a traffic ticket for speeding, though that is the least of her legal issues at this point.  There is no reference to alcohol in the newspaper report of this Jacksonville DUI Case. Most people automatically assume alcohol in a Jacksonville DUI Case, but driving impaired can include narcotics as well. In this Jacksonville DUI Case, the officer reported smelling marijuana when he approached the car. Jacksonville DUI Cases involving marijuana can be more difficult for the state to prove, partially because there is not a simple breath test that can show the level of intoxication, like there is for alcohol. And because there was another person in the vehicle when it was pulled over, this does not mean the driver was smoking the marijuana. The driver’s actions following the initial arrest, though, could lead a jury to draw the conclusion that she was impaired in some fashion, if for no other reason than she tried to flee to avoid the officer.  There are specific procedures officers must follow when making Jacksonville DUI Arrests and, in many cases, police departments have officers who are specifically training in these procedures making the arrests. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney knows these rules inside and out, and will review the case against you or your loved one to make everything was done by the book.

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.

Four months after she drove her car onto the sidewalk and ran over a vacationing Wisconsin man, an Atlantic Beach woman was arrested on several serious felony charges.  The woman is accused of driving her Ford Expedition onto the sidewalk, hitting the man and then hitting a palm tree, a parked car and a bus before stopping the car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. She is charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and three counts of DUI causing property damage. Both the vehicular manslaughter charge and the DUI manslaughter charge are second-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. The DUI with property damage charges are misdemeanors and, in this Jacksonville DUI Case, are clearly not the priority for the defendant.

The state often files both a vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter charge in a case where a person is accused of being intoxicated during a crash where a person is killed. And the two charges sound very similar. But, when it comes to sentencing in this Jacksonville DUI Case, there is a distinct difference between the two charges. If someone is convicted of DUI manslaughter, there is a four-year minimum mandatory sentence that must be served. There is no such minimum mandatory that applies in a vehicular homicide case. This is important, especially because minimum mandatory sentences must be served in their entirety. With all other sentences, people typically serve about 85 percent of the sentence – provided he or she stays out of trouble behind bars. Part of the reason the state files both the vehicular homicide and the DUI manslaughter charges is for leverage – holding onto the DUI manslaughter and its minimum mandatory sentence, which can be used to encourage a plea to the vehicular homicide charge.

The timing of the charges in this Jacksonville DUI Case is may seem odd, but it is the norm in these types of cases. In a Jacksonville DUI Case where someone is injured or killed, police take blood from the driver for a more accurate measurement of blood-alcohol content. And while people can refuse to take field sobriety tests or a breath test in a traditional DUI where someone is pulled over, police can take blood without consent. Because of backlogs in the system, blood results from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement typically take between four and six months, much like in this Jacksonville DUI Case.  Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people on all types of DUI charges, from misdemeanors on up to DUI Manslaughter, and will fully investigate your case to provide you or your loved one with the best information on how to proceed in the case.

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

A Jacksonville man was sentenced to 20 years in state prison for a DUI crash that killed one person and seriously injured two others.  The crash occurred in 2013 when a man was driving the wrong way on a Jacksonville interstate and crashed head-on into a vehicle with three people inside, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver was convicted earlier this summer of DUI manslaughter and two counts of DUI causing serious bodily injury, the newspaper reported. In Jacksonville DUI Cases, DUI Manslaughter is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The charge also carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison, but the minimum was far exceeded by the judge in this Jacksonville DUI Case. Each count of DUI causing serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison.

Unless a person has a long history of DUI convictions, Jacksonville DUI Cases are typically misdemeanors. That changes when there are serious injuries involved. Another element that changes in Jacksonville DUI Cases involving injuries is the mean by which police can check the blood alcohol level of the driver. In a traditional DUI case when a driver is pulled over by police, the driver may choose not to do field sobriety exercises or to take a breath test. Those decisions will result in an arrest, but they do limit the amount of evidence the state has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, when there are serious injuries, police are legally allowed to take the blood of the driver – whether he or she provides consent or not. That is one reason there is less ambiguity in Jacksonville DUI Cases with serious injuries or death – and a reason why many of the cases do not end up in trial. The state simply needs to prove that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident that caused serious injury or death and the blood test proves that one way or the other. But one reason cases like this do end up in trial is because the state may have ended negotiations or offered a sentence so severe that the defendant chose to just take the case to trial. The sentence in this Jacksonville DUI Case, though, is likely more than what the state was offering before the trial.   There are strict policies and procedures that must be followed when police make stops and arrests in Jacksonville DUI Cases. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney knows those procedures inside and out, and will thoroughly investigate your case to determine if they were properly followed.

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.

A St. Johns County firefighter was arrested for DUI after a domestic call led to police spotting him speeding with a young child in the backseat.  Police were initially called to a gas station about 1:20 a.m. after someone said a woman was being beaten inside a car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. When police talked to the woman, she said she wasn’t beaten, but did say the man was drunk and left with their 4-year-old child in the backseat, the newspaper reported. Another officer then spotted the driver going almost 70 mph in a 45 mph zone, the newspaper reported.

The driver told police he has been drinking and made a mistake by driving, but was trying to leave a domestic situation. He was charged with DUI with a person under the age of 18 in the vehicle. The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, just like a traditional DUI, but there are some sentencing standards that increase because there was a child in the car. Instead of a maximum of six months in jail for a first offense, the maximum is nine months. And the fine that would be $500 to $1,000 is now $1,000 to $2,000. These are the same enhancements that occur when a person has a blood-alcohol level above .15. The legal limit in Florida is .08. The blood-alcohol level threshold is not applicable in this St. Johns County DUI Case because the driver did not take a breath test. That opens up its own set of penalties and issues, but it does not allow police to have a hard indication of how much alcohol was in the driver’s system at the time of the incident.

In this St. Johns County DUI Case, there seems to be enough there without the blood-alcohol level – especially because police say the man admitted he had been drinking. He also performed poorly on the field sobriety exercises, the newspaper reported. It is fairly uncommon for a person to be sentenced to jail time on their first DUI, but it would be interesting to see where the negotiations would start with the state in this St. Johns County DUI Case. Having a toddler in the car after midnight is not going to be looked on well by the judge, but is that enough for the state to insist on jail time?  There are specific rules and procedures that must be followed in DUI arrests and our St. Johns County DUI Attorney will thoroughly investigate your case to determine of all of those were followed.

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

A man who was driving the wrong way on a Jacksonville freeway and refused to stop for police is now facing several charges, including a felony.  The man was arrested this month after leading police on a four-mile chase before finally exiting the interstate, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was driving on the grass inside the emergency lane and narrowly missed being hit by a police officer, the newspaper reported. Once he finally stopped, police reported the man smelled of alcohol and was unsteady on his feet when asked to perform field sobriety exercises, the newspaper reported.

The man was charged with fleeing or eluding police when asked to stop, DUI, driving with an open container of alcohol and driving on the wrong side of a divided highway. Though it might not appear this way on the surface, the man’s biggest problem is the fleeing and eluding charge. That charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. The DUI charge is a misdemeanor and while there is potential jail time, serious fines and a driver’s license suspension, there is not a possibility of time in state prison. The other two charges are civil infractions and, while they could create points and fines in terms of the man’s driving record, they are not criminal charges.  When police pull a driver over for suspicion of DUI, there are numerous policies and procedures they must follow, including having a reason to pull the driver over in the first place. Clearly that condition would be met in this Jacksonville DUI Case. Once the traffic stop is made, police must have a reason to suspect the person is intoxicated. Some common reasons in Jacksonville DUI Cases include the driver having glassy or watery eyes; the driver emitting an odor of alcoholic beverages; or the driver having slurred speech. Once that determination is made, the officer can asked the person to take field sobriety exercises. Those will be tested that can include asking the driver to walk a straight line; asking the driver to recite the alphabet; or asking the driver to stand on one leg.

If the officer believes the person is impaired, he or she will be arrested and taken to jail. At the jail, the driver will be asked to take a breath test. The driver does not have to take it, but there are penalties that can kick in immediately if a person refuses. But, by not taking the exam, there is not a record of the blood alcohol content, so it can cut both ways.  Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney knows the strict rules and regulations that must be followed in Jacksonville DUI Cases and will thoroughly investigate you case to make sure all of them have been adhered to.

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.