Articles Posted in Gun Crimes in Jacksonville

After his first conviction was thrown out, a second jury this month found a Jacksonville night club security guard not guilty of aggravated battery and another felony charge stemming from a 2012 shooting.  The jury instead found the man was acting in self-defense when he fired a shot at the car of a woman who repeatedly came back to the club, yelling obscenities and threatening the guard, including saying she had a gun, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The woman was intoxicated and had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, the newspaper reported. When she continued to come back and yell racial slurs at the guard, he had armed himself with a shotgun and tried to shoot her car door with a pepper ball shot, the newspaper reported. Instead, he hit her in the eye.

He was initially charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and shooting deadly missiles into a vehicle. Both charges are second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison. There could also have been minimum mandatory charges that applied because the defendant discharged a firearm, but there could be a gray area because his fired pepper ball shots, not actually bullets.  In the first trial, the man was convicted of both charges. However, his attorneys appealed the conviction and it was overturned because of statements prosecutors made during closing arguments that could have hurt the defendant’s ability to have a fair trial, the newspaper reported. Because of the ruling, the man was granted a new trial and ultimately acquitted in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. There are strict rules that govern what evidence can be submitted, what attorneys can discuss in front of a jury and exactly how criminal trials must proceed. These are in place to ensure that every person accused of a crime can receive a fair trial in front of a jury of his or her peers. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, the defendant could have received 30 years in prison because of the first conviction.

Self-defense defenses can be tricky in Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases. One of the determining factors is often whether the person who pulls the trigger plays a role in instigating the incident or is truly defending him or herself. That was likely the factor in both decisions made by two different juries. It can be a risk to take Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases to trial, especially when minimum mandatory sentences of 20 years are also often hanging in the balance when someone discharges a firearm.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate the charges against you, explain what minimum mandatory charges, if any, would apply and provide you with the information you need to make a decision on how to proceed with 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 Firearm Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

After holding a man in jail for weeks, the state finally let him go after prosecutors admitted they could not prove charges against him.  The charges came after a May gun battle at a gas station that wounded two men, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. One man was found shot in a car at the gas station while police were led to another in a nearby apartment, where the man who was arrested lived with his girlfriend, the newspaper reported. The girlfriend allowed police to search the home and found two guns in a child’s toy bin, the newspaper reported. The 23-year-old suspect, who has a prior felony conviction for dealing in stolen property, was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, the newspaper reported. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.

The man said he did not know how the guns got into the bin and also denied that he ran into the apartment after the shooting, as some witnesses told police. Prosecutors dropped the charges because of the lack evidence and they could not prove the case against him beyond a reasonable doubt, the newspaper reported. No other arrests have been made in the case. One tactic police use in cases like these where there are likely multiple shooters and a lack of evidence, is to try to arrest someone and get them to talk in exchange for a reduced sentence. One of the charges police typically use is possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. It’s typically easy to prove – all prosecutors need to prove is that the man is a felon and he had a gun. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, however, proof a possession was the problem.

Once someone is convicted of a felony, the person loses their right to own a firearm. There are also other rights that are given up, including the right to vote and the right to work in law enforcement or other places that require a federal or state security clearance.   The case shows the importance of checks and balances in the criminal court system. Police make the arrest, but prosecutors must then take those facts and ultimately proof the case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of the suspect’s peers. A fraction of cases actually go to trial, and it’s also rare for prosecutors to drop felony gun charges once they have been filed.  Much of the work in Jacksonville Gun Crimes cases comes way before trial. Prosecutors typically have strong feeling they can prove the case before it gets that far. Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys can investigate the charges and present evidence or make arguments to the prosecutors about the lack of evidence that could lead to the charges being dropped, as they were in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case.

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

A Jacksonville man who shot into a home and accidentally wounded a 3-year-old boy was found guilty on multiple charges.  The man was found guilty on four counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of shooting or throwing deadly missiles. Attempted second-degree murder is punishable by up to life in prison. Shooting or throwing deadly missiles a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. Because of the Florida’s 10-20-Life Law, his sentencing is predetermined in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case.

If a person is convicted of or pleads guilty to showing a gun during the commission of a felony, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in state prison. If the gun is fired, that minimum sentence becomes 20 years. If someone is hit, it can become life in prison. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, police said the man had an ongoing dispute with someone inside the home and fired several shots into the residence. Because there were four people inside the home at the time, the man was charged with four counts of attempted second-degree murder. The man will be sentenced later this month to at least a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence on each of the four attempted murder charges. With four counts, the man is looking at a minimum of 80 years in state prison. That amounts to essentially a life sentence for the 30-year-old defendant.

Interpretation of the minimum mandatory sentencing law changed in recent years. While in most Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases, the judges would issue the sentenced concurrently, appellate courts have ruled the sentences should be issued consecutively. For example, four 20-year sentences served concurrently would mean the person serves the sentences at the same time and does a total of 20 years. But, if they are served consecutively, the person would be required to serve four 20-year sentences, for a total of 80 years in prison. That is a significant difference in the punishment and could be a major deterrent in taking a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case to trial. Prosecutors can waive the minimum mandatory sentences when negotiating a plea agreement, but one the case goes to trial there is no discretion. Judges are bound by the sentencing law and cannot legally give a different sentence.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes attorney knows when minimum mandatory sentences apply and will provide you or your loved one with that information and fully investigate the case so you can make a decision on how to proceed.

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 police have yet to find a man accused of bringing a gun into a Duval County high school this month.  The man who came onto the high school campus was not a student at the school, according to a report on First Coast News. The person was approached by school staff who saw the gun, the television station reported. The man left and got rid of the gun before he could be detained for police, according to the news report.

Bringing a gun onto the campus of an elementary school, middle school or high school is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. The same penalty and crime holds for a person who waves or brandishes a knife or any other weapon (not including fireams) in a threatening manner. But in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, the person does not need to pull out the gun, threaten to use it, or even show it to anyone. Possession of the firearm itself is what constitutes the crime. The law goes even further to prevent the possession of firearms at a school bus stop or even within 1,000 feet of a school.  In this aspect, Jacksonville Gun Crime laws are similar to Jacksonville Drug Crime laws. There are many enhancements in Jacksonville Drug Crime Cases related to where the person is caught in possession of or attempting to sell illegal drugs. In many scenarios, the crime would move up one felony degree for being within 1,000 feet of a school. For example, a third-degree felony could become a second-degree felony. That is significant because a third-degree felony has a maximum penalty of five years on prison, while a second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.

As it relates to this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, it will be interesting to see how the case progresses – especially if there is not a gun recovered. Media reports did not indicate school staff found a gun, only that they saw one. That would likely not be enough to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. But, given the presence of cameras in schools today, there could be video evidence that is enough for the state to file the case and think it can prove it in trial.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney knows the rights gun owners have to possess firearms and will fully investigate your case to make sure your rights have not been violated. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will provide you or your loved one with the information you need to make the best possible 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 Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

An important witness in the state’s case against a 12-year-old accused of first-degree murder has pleaded guilty to a separate crime.  The now 17-year-old gave police information on where to find the 12-year-old accused of shooting a homeless person in the head in June, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The teen also helped identify himself and the boy in a surveillance video, the newspaper reported. The teen was charged with armed robbery and auto theft in a separate incident where he was accused of stealing a car. He pleaded guilty to the armed robbery and the state agreed to drop the grand theft auto charge – a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Armed robbery is a first-degree felony with a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison because the teen showed a gun in the commission of the crime. However, because he was 16 at the time of the crime, he could be sentenced to a youthful offender sentence in this Jacksonville Robbery Case. A youthful offender sentence could be for any defendant 21 or younger and the sentence can be any combination of incarceration and prison, up to six years. So it could be four years in prison, two years on probation, or three or each, etc.

The teen in this Jacksonville Robbery Case has not been sentenced – and likely will not be sentenced until after the boy goes to trial. The state will want to make sure the teen helps out as a witness before the state helps him with any suggestion to the judge of a reduced sentence for the teen. Prosecutors made a point in the newspaper story to saying the teen’s plea deal was not contingent on him testifying in the Jacksonville Murder Case. But it’s a safe bet that any recommendation from the state on a youthful offender sentence in the Jacksonville Robbery Case sure is tied to the testimony. Ultimately, the sentence is up to the judge, but the state’s recommendation can go a long way – especially if the information helps get a murder conviction with information police would not otherwise have.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and lay out all of the consequences and scenarios so you can 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 Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

An appeals court struck down the concealed weapon conviction of a former Wal-Mart employee who pulled out a gun he had a permit for and shot a man while trying to break up a domestic argument. The employee was trying to come to the aid of a female co-worker who was arguing with her boyfriend outside the store, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The boyfriend then punched the man in the face and the employee pulled out a gun and shot several times, hitting the boyfriend once in the leg, the newspaper reported.

The employee was charged with, and convicted by a jury of, second-degree attempted murder and carrying a concealed firearm. He was convicted of both charges and sentenced to 25 years on the attempted murder charge and to five years on the concealed weapons charge. He was facing up to life in prison on the attempted murder charge under Florida’s 10-20-Life law because he fired a gun and hit someone. The judge allowed the man to serve both sentences at the same time, so his total sentence is 25 years. The appellate court upheld the attempted murder conviction in this 2011 Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case and the man will remain in prison on that charge. So this appellate ruling does not change the sentence one bit in this Florida Gun Crimes Case, though it does clear up some of the ambiguity of an employee’s rights to have a firearm while at work. Employees are legally allowed to carry firearms at their place of business, as long as they have the proper permit. That right includes parking lots and other areas surrounding a business, which is the piece of the law that applied in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. In this case, the defendant kept the firearm in the glove compartment of his vehicle, the newspaper reported.

Appellate courts are an integral part of the criminal justice system. In many cases, these rulings are what can keep prosecutors from overstepping their bounds and charging people with crimes they shouldn’t be charged with. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, the concealed weapons charge should not have ever made it to a jury. Second Amendment rights to protect oneself are very important and must be respected by the court system. Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney knows the legal rights of people who own firearms, including if a person is forced to use a firearm when he or she feels threatened and fears for his or her life. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate any charges to ensure the state is not infringing on a person’s Constitutional right by charging him or her with a crime.

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.

A long-running Jacksonville aggravated battery case that drew national media attention because of a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence ended last month with a plea deal. The defendant pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated battery for firing what she says was a warning shot into the ceiling because she was afraid of her estranged husband, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said there were two children nearby, which led to the three charges, the newspaper reported. The woman was facing 60 years in prison, but the agreement reached last month calls for her to do three years in prison. Because of time served over the delays and other turns in this case, she will be released in January.

This deal ends a highly-publicized case that drew local and national discussion about warning shots and minimum mandatory sentences. The defendant was initially found guilty of all three counts by a jury in 2011. Because of Florida’s 10-20-Life law, and the fact the defendant fired a weapon, a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years applied and the judge had no discretion in the sentence. The conviction was overturned on a technicality and the case came back to Jacksonville. But one major element had changed. Interpretation of the 10-20-Life and minimum mandatory laws had since changed. Prevailing legal opinion now is that each charge carries a minimum mandatory 20-year sentence. So instead of 20 years, the defendant, now 34, was looking at 60 years in state prison if convicted again.

The three-year sentence is a similar plea deal to what the defendant initially rejected right before her 2011 trial, the newspaper reported. Under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, if someone pulls a gun during the commission of a felony, there is a minimum mandatory 10-year prison sentence that can apply. If a firearm is discharged, the sentence is bumped up to 20 years. If someone is shot, the minimum mandatory is life. Now, prosecutors ultimately have the discretion to waive those penalties, as they eventually did in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. But once the case goes to trial, the sentencing decision is out of everyone’s hands – even the judge’s. The threat of minimum mandatory sentences is often used in bargaining by the state to get people to plead guilty to charges and take shorter prison sentences, rather than face a mandatory 60-year sentence, or whatever the charge may be. Minimum mandatory sentences are definitely a card the state holds and our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney can explain all of the details and consequences so you or your loved one can make an informed decision about a pending 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 Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

No charges will be filed in a Jacksonville Beach shooting that killed a member of a motorcycle gang. Prosecutors said the man who fired the shot was attacked by at least three men and pulled out a gun and fired a shot to end the attack, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. That shot hit one of his attackers in the head, killing him, the newspaper reported. The announcement comes more than four months after the June shooting, which prosecutors said stemmed from a planned confrontation between two rival motorcycle gangs, the newspaper reported.

The man who fired the shot had a broken nose, but prosecutors inferred it would have been much worse had he not ended the beating by firing a shot. Florida law allows a person to use deadly force if he or she feels in eminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. It’s often known as the Stand Your Ground Law, and is often claimed but less often accepted in court as a reason for a shooting. But this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case did not get that far because prosecutors chose not to file charges in the case. The shooter in this case immediately gave his gun to a friend following the attack, who unloaded it before handing it over to police, the newspaper reported. The shooter, who had a concealed weapons permit to legally carry the gun, does not have a criminal record and voluntarily spoke to police after the shooting, according to the newspaper.

Speaking to police after an incident can be dangerous and could lead to criminal charges, but it is natural for people to want to explain themselves – especially in an incident where a person is accused of killing another person. In this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, it worked out for the shooter, and was the right decision for the state to make. Once charges are filed, it can be difficult for the state to walk away from them – especially in a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case like this where it was investigated for more than four months. Police were tight-lipped on this case for months, despite media attention and protests from the victim’s family demanding information and justice. Prosecutors would have needed to be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and clearly did not believe they could in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case.

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

Local police say a two-year investigation has helped weaken a Jacksonville gang known for dealing drugs and breaking into houses. The arrests have been made since police started investigating a January 2013 homicide, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union, so it has been an incremental dismantling – not just one sweep leading to a couple of dozen arrests. While most gang-related charges center on drugs, police say this gang also committed several residential burglaries within its territory near downtown Jacksonville, the newspaper reported.

Since the investigation began, police say they’ve taken five guns, 11 kilograms of cocaine, 20 pounds of marijuana and almost $30,000, the newspaper reported. A state law called the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, or the RICO Act, allows for upgraded penalties if the state can prove that the crimes are gang-related. Prosecutors must first prove that the gang or criminal enterprise exists. Then, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury that the crimes at issue were committed to further the criminal enterprise. Any gang-related charges typically come after whatever the defendant is arrested for in the first place. For example, in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, a man was accused of robbing another man, then shooting another person who tried to stop the robbery, the newspaper reported. The man was initially charged with armed robbery, aggravated battery and shooting into a home – all serious felonies. Armed robbery and aggravated battery are both first-degree felonies and armed robbery can have a life sentence for someone who is convicted. But recently, police added two RICO charges to in the case, adding two more 30-year enhancements on top of what the 25-year-old man is already facing.

In order to make those claims stand up in court, police must have some sort of inside information at the gang level. The threat of the RICO charges can also be used by the state to try to move negotiations along in a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case or a Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case. Not only can the threat of another 30 years help coax someone along, it could also encourage the state to get one of the defendants to testify against another of the defendants in the case. Jacksonville Robbery Cases are serious on their own, first-degree felonies if people are accused of using a gun in the crime, and often people will do what they can to have their own sentence reduced. Police are also looking for two more of the gang leaders and are likely trying to publicize the case to help get more information about the whereabouts of the suspects.

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.

When Michael Dunn is tried a second time next year on a first-degree murder charge, his attorney is requesting the high profile case be tried outside of Jacksonville. A motion was filed this month asking for a change of venue when the state tries Dunn again on the one count the jury couldn’t agree on earlier this year, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Dunn said he feared for his life when he opened fire on a car of teenagers at a Southside gas station, killing a 17-year-old, the newspaper reported. Dunn went to trial earlier this year and his case was followed closely by national and local media. He was convicted on three counts of attempted murder for the shooting at the three teens in the car who survived, but the jury could not come to agreement on whether Dunn was guilty of first-degree murder in the teen’s death.

Dunn, 49, faces a mandatory 20 years on each of the three counts, so he will be in prison for at least 60 years. Because these are mandatory sentences, they must be served consecutively and in their entirety without a change of gained time for good behavior. So he would be released when he is 109, meaning he’s likely already serving a life sentence. Despite that prospect, the state is pushing forward with another trial that will be expensive to taxpayers and put the city in the national spotlight again. The first trial garnered gavel-to-gavel news coverage, so his attorney has a legitimate point that the media coverage could taint a potential jury pool.

The change of venue request in this Jacksonville Murder Case can be made in the “interest of justice” according to state statutes. Essentially that includes any elements that could prevent finding an impartial jury in the Jacksonville Murder Case, which could be whether jurors have heard about the case and already made a decision one way or the other on if they feel Dunn is guilty. The requests are filed fairly regularly, but not often granted. Most murder trials are in the media prior to the case going to trial, and reading a story or watching a news progress does not preclude them from being fair and impartial on the jury. But the level of media attention in this case was as high as it has been for any case in recent years – and there will be more in advance of the trial as it gets closer. The ultimate responsibility of the justice system in any Jacksonville Criminal Case is for the defendant to have a fair trial in front of a jury of his or her peers. The role of a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney to fight for a fair trial, including seeking to move the trial if there could be an issue with a local jury.

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.