Articles Posted in Gun Crimes in Jacksonville

A man who shot and killed another man during an argument in a fast-food drive-thru will not face criminal charges.  Prosecutors ruled, nearly a year after the New Year’s Day 2015 shooting, that the 29-year-old man was acting in self-defense, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He could have faced charges including murder or manslaughter, both of which could have sent him to state prison for decades. Instead, the man will not face any criminal charges.

Police said the 29-year-old man pulled into a drive-thru line and, when the car in front of him did not move, drove around that car, the newspaper reported. A passenger in the car yelled at the man as he drove past, which started a confrontation, and the second driver then pulled out a gun. When the passenger and the 29-year-old driver both got out of the cars, police said the passenger charged at the driver yelling “You want to die?” and the driver shot him one time in the chest, the newspaper reported. The driver called 911, drove home and cooperated with police.

In Florida, if someone is threatened with the use of deadly force, the person does not have the duty to retreat and can use deadly force to defend himself or herself. Many have sought protection under the so-called Stand Your Ground Law, but very few times is it granted by a judge. In this Clay County Gun Crimes Case, charges were never filed by prosecutors. The state investigated the case for several months and then ruled the shooting justified because of self-defense, citing the Stand Your Ground law, the newspaper reported.

Self-defense and Stand Your Ground Defenses can be difficult because the person who ultimately uses deadly force cannot be an aggressor, nor can he or she stay around the situation longer than necessary. If the person has an opportunity to exit the confrontation without using violence, but instead continues to be a part of the confrontation and it then turns deadly, he or she could have problems with a self-defense claim.  Our Clay County Gun Crimes Attorney knows the self-defense statutes inside and out and when a person is entitled by law to defend himself or herself. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you, even before charges are filed if there is an opportunity, and advise you on the best steps 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 Clay County Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Police arrested eight people following a fight they say involved more than 100 people in a Clay County parking lot.  Many of the people involved were juveniles, according to a report on News4Jax. Police were called to the scene because of a massive fight and then made several arrests. Many of the arrests were for carrying a concealed weapon, the television station reported. At least one of the men involved was also charged with marijuana possession after police found drugs on him during the arrest. Misdemeanor drug charges are not uncommon in similar cases where police are called to the scene for a fight or disturbance and then end of making arrests.

On the concealed weapons charges, there are different charges that can be applied, depending upon the type of weapon the person is accused of having. If the weapon at issue is a gun, the charge is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. However, if the weapon is a knife or something else other than a firearm, then the charge is misdemeanor and there is no possibility of state prison – only time in the county jail. There are also likely to be some battery charges or other charges related to fighting – if police can determined who was involved in the fight. In some cases, surveillance video can be used in identifying people involved, though a scene with 150 people may be too chaotic for anything that can be used to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. What may be more likely to help prosecutors is when people who are facing charges start talking to police in hopes of getting a reduced sentence.

Some of the people who have been charged in this Clay County Battery Case are juveniles – and others are 18 so they will be prosecuted through the adult court system. If children are charged as juveniles, their arrest reports and documents are not public record. There are other differences in being charged as an adult and a juvenile – particularly the length of the sentence that can be issued. But there are also many similarities. For juveniles, there are five different levels of incarceration – ranging from what amounts to house arrest to what is essentially a prison for teens.   Our Clay County Criminal Defense attorney represents people facing all types of criminal charges – from misdemeanors to felonies, from juvenile crimes to cases in traditional court. Our Clay County Felony Attorney will examine the facts of the case against you or your loved one and lay out the potential options and consequences so you can determine 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 Clay County Juvenile Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A 15-year-old high school student was arrested this month, accused of bringing a loaded gun onto school grounds.  Schools officials were tipped off to a picture posted on social media of a student holding a gun in a school restroom, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. School officials confronted the student and then searched her locker to find the gun in a bag, the newspaper reported. The student was charged with possession of a firearm on school property. The charge in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. Police said records show the gun had been reported stolen in Jacksonville about one week before the girl was arrested. There was no indication in media reports that the girl was accused of being involved in stealing the gun and no such charges appeared to be filed.

Because of the number of school shootings across the nation in the past two decades, police and prosecutors take gun charges on school campuses very seriously. Where it becomes complicated in these Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases, is that most of the defendants are juveniles. Prosecutors then have to make a decision on whether to charge the teen as an adult, or whether to let the case stay in juvenile court. Defendants in these Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases can be very young and there was an 11-year-old boy charged in a similar case this fall.  Children and teens can face felony charges in juvenile court, and there are varying levels of detention and incarceration, depending on the severity of the charges the child is facing. For example, there are five different incarceration levels – though because this case involves a gun, the two least restrictive options would be off the table. Still, keeping the charge in juvenile court would be far more preferable for the defendant in any Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case. The juvenile court system is designed to have an educational and rehabilitative element, with the hope that one mistake will not affect a teen for the rest of his or her life.

Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney represents juveniles charged with all types of crimes – from misdemeanor theft charges up to serious felony gun charges. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the charges against you or your loved one, then discuss the potential consequences and next steps so you can decide how to move 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 Duval County Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Clay County middle school teacher is facing two felony charges after police say he stole a gun from a car and then went to an ex-girlfriend’s home.  Police said the man got the gun and went to the woman’s home, where he knocked on the door and argued with her once she answered, finally leaving after she says she asked him to do so several times, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man drove off on his own, but police spotted his vehicle a short time later and he was arrested. The man is now facing two serious felony charges – though neither of them is related to the confrontation with the woman. He is charged with two counts of armed burglary, connected to taking the gun from the vehicle. Armed burglary is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in state prison. Since he is charged with two counts, the man, now 36 years old, is looking at up to 60 years in state prison if convicted of both counts and sentenced to the maximum on each charge.

While armed burglary sounds like a person went into a vehicle or a building and took something while he or she was armed, that is not always the case in Clay County Gun Crimes Cases. If a person, becomes armed during a burglary, that can qualify the crime as an armed burglary. For example, what appears to be the charge in this Clay County Theft Case is the man broke into a car and took a gun. Because he was armed at the time the robbery ended, the state has him charged with armed burglary. That always seems like a back-door way to charge a person with the most serious charge possible, but at the end of the day it can be up to a jury of the man’s peers to decide. Since his arrest, the man has already been removed from the classroom while the case is pending, which is common for teachers and other public employees charged with crimes – especially felonies.

Our Clay County Gun Crimes Attorney represents people on all types of charges involving guns, from armed burglary as in this case, or cases involving the discharge of a weapon in which Florida’s 10-20-Life laws apply. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and lay out your options so you can make the best decision going forward.

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

A jury did not agree with the state’s assertion that a man who shot his sister’s ex-boyfriend as part of an ongoing dispute was guilty of first-degree murder.  Instead, the jury convicted the man last month on a lesser charge of manslaughter, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The difference is significant for the 22-year-old defendant. Had he been convicted of first-degree murder, he faced a mandatory life sentence. Now, he faces a maximum term of 25 years in state prison when he is sentenced next month.

The man who was killed and two of his friends drove to the defendant’s house to fight him after the men had a disagreement earlier in the day, the newspaper reported. The defendant walked out of his house and fired warning shots into the ground to scare the men off, the newspaper reported. When the men drove off, the defendant fired into the car, claiming self-defense, the newspaper reported. The jury did not fully buy the self-defense claim, but they also did not find the premeditation needed to convict the man of first-degree murder. In Jacksonville Felony Crimes like this, there are often alternative charges the jury can consider, known as lesser-included charges. In this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, the defendant was eventually convicted of manslaughter in the death of the one man and attempted manslaughter for firing into the car with two other men inside. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. Attempted manslaughter is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison on each count.

Manslaughter is often a charge that applies when people get into a fight and one of the people ends being killed. Clearly, the jury thought the defendant was responsible to some degree for the death. But the fact that the man showed up with friends at the defendant’s home with the intent to fight, and likely not one-on-one, probably factored into the jury’s decision to dismiss the notion of first-degree murder. The counter to that argument is that the defendant had appeared to eliminate the threat with the warning shot and the men were leaving when he fired into the car. The issue then becomes whether that qualifies as premeditation, or whether it’s still an act of defending oneself.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney represents people charged with serious felony charges and will investigate the case against you or your loved one and review the options 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 Duval County Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Jacksonville boy who brought a loaded, semi-automatic rifle to his Jacksonville school last month is now facing a felony charge.  The 11-year-old is charged with possession of a firearm on school property, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison, though that is unlikely given the age of the defendant in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. School officials initially said the gun was not loaded because there was not a bullet in the chamber, the newspaper reported. But the fact that there were five bullets in the clip of the gun made police consider the gun to be loaded, the newspaper reported. Either way, the possession of a firearm on school grounds charge is not altered by the fact the gun is loaded, though it would likely be seen as more severe by the state, the judge and, ultimately, a jury.

This Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case is a bit different because of the age of the defendant. In Jacksonville, children have been charged as adults with first-degree murder as young as age 12, but this case would be more likely to be addressed in juvenile court. Juvenile court is designed for younger offenders who commit crimes and the focus is supposed to be on rehabilitation so the charges do not affect the child or teen for the rest of his or her adult life. Prosecutors can also bypass juvenile court by what is known as “direct filing” the case in adult court. That is typically reserved for serious gun crimes and sex crimes, or for teens with a lengthy record.  There are several detention and incarceration options in Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes cases, from what amounts to house arrest on up to a secured jail similar to an adult prison. There are five levels, ranging from least to most restrictive and the first two levels are not available to anyone who is convicted of or pleads guilty to a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Charge. Each of the options in a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case involved being placed in a residential facility that is locked 24 hours a day. There are education options in most detention facilities.  Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney represents children and teens charged with crimes and can explain all of the options to the parents or guardians with a goal of trying to make sure a mistake as a child does not negatively affect someone for the rest of his or her life.

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

Prosecutors backed off their first-degree murder charge and offered a plea to second-degree murder for a Jacksonville teen charged in a deadly shooting.  The boy, now 17 but 15 at the time of the shooting, agreed to the plea deal last month, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The plea agreement includes language that the sentence will be between 10 and 30 years, which the judge accepted, the newspaper reported. The teen is expected to be sentenced next month.

The teen and two of his friends showed up uninvited to a party in a local apartment complex and got into an argument with a 22-year-old friend, the newspaper reported. The teen was accused of hitting the man with his gun and then shooting him, the newspaper reported. Many of the details in this Jacksonville Gun Case that would have come out in a trial, such as a possible defense from the teen or the possibility that the gun accidentally went off, have yet to surface. Those types of details will now likely be discussed in the sentencing hearing. In Jacksonville Felony Cases that result in a plea, as most of them do, the sentencing hearing can end up being the de facto trial. And it should be. There is plenty on the line. While in the cases like this Jacksonville Murder Case the defendant already knows he’s going to prison for a significant amount of time, there’s a big difference between a 10-year sentence and a 30-year sentence. For the defendant in this Jacksonville Murder Case, it’s the difference between being released in his mid-20s or his mid-40s.

The agreement to plead guilty to second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder is significant in this Jacksonville Murder Case. The only possible sentences for first-degree murder are life in prison and the death penalty. Because the defendant in this case was under the age of 18, the death penalty was not an option for the state. But the 10 to 30 year range on the sentence wouldn’t have been an option either had the charge remained first-degree murder.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people on all types of charges from traffic tickets and misdemeanor theft charges all the way up to murder. Our Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate your case and provided you with the information and options to make the best decision going forward.

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

A Jacksonville man was sentenced this month to more than 20 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge, even though he was not the one that pulled the trigger.  In fact, the man and his 27-year-old cousin were armed and in bulletproof vests when they went to a Southside apartment complex to commit a robbery, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. But, while the man’s cousin was inside the apartment, a fight broke out and the cousin was shot in the head, the newspaper reported. The defendant was then charged with second-degree felony murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, the newspaper reported. Both charges are first-degree felonies.

In Florida, a person can be charged with felony murder if someone dies during the commission of a felony. So the act of the original felony can allow someone to be charged with murder. In this case, the defendant was not even in the apartment at the time his cousin was killed. But it was the act of planning the robbery, to the point of becoming armed and wearing a bulletproof vest, which was a felony on its own and allowed for the felony murder charge to be filed. So in proving this case beyond a reasonable doubt, the state must only prove two things: That the defendant was committing a felony and that someone was killed. A jury convicted the defendant this summer on the felony murder and the conspiracy to commit armed robbery charges. He was sentenced to 22 years on the murder charge and 15 years on the armed robbery. The judge chose to run the sentences concurrently, meaning he will serve them both at the same time and only serve the 22 years. If the judge chose to run the sentences consecutively, then he would have to serve both sentences and be in prison for 37 years. Concurrent sentences are far more common, but there are certain Jacksonville Gun Crimes that require judges to issue consecutive sentences when guns are fired and minimum mandatory sentences apply.

The man who shot the cousin was not charged at all in the case. Prosecutors ruled the shooting was in self-defense. State law allows people to respond with deadly force if someone enters their home, or if they feel they are in danger of great bodily harm or death.  Our Jacksonville Robbery Crimes Attorney will fully investigate the charges against you or your loved and sit down to go over a range of options so you can make the best decision going forward 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 Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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.