Articles Posted in Gun Crimes in Jacksonville

A new-to-the-job teacher was arrested on her first day in Jacksonville this week.  The teacher allegedly brought a stun gun to her classroom, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  The report indicates that the woman felt threatened by the students and had the weapon in her purse, but denied ever taking it out or displaying it.  The students that were interviewed apparently described the weapon.  The teacher was arrested for possession of a weapon on school property, which is a third degree felony in Florida.

Florida law prohibits the possession or discharging of firearms or weapons on any school property or school-sponsored event.  “Weapons” are defined as stun guns, knives, slingshots and tear gas guns.  A common pocket knife is not considered a weapon in under this gun/weapon law.  If a person knowingly possesses a weapon on school property, they are facing not only becoming a convicted felon, but also five years in prison.  If a person fires or discharges the weapon on school property, the Jacksonville gun case becomes more serious and converts to a second degree felony exposing the person to fifteen years in Florida prison.

The article indicates that the woman had no prior criminal history.  This is extremely important and plays a big part in the possible disposition of her case.  When someone is arrested for a non-violent and non-gun felony in Jacksonville and they have no prior arrests or convictions, the person is eligible for a diversion program called Pretrial Intervention. (also referred to as PTI)   This is a program through the State Attorney’s Office and is discretionary, meaning the prosecutor picks and chooses who gets in.  The value of hiring a private Jacksonville criminal defense attorney is that the attorney can contact the prosecutor assigned to the case before they make a decision to file or not to file.  If you are able to participate in the program, you must sign a contract promising to complete the conditions required.  Conditions of a PTI contract vary depending on the crime charged.  If the crime is a weapon crime, such as in this teacher’s case, conditions could be completing a weapon/gun safety class, completing a anger management class and a paying a fine.  If the criminal charge is a marijuana possession case, conditions of PTI are usually getting a drug evaluation with random urinalysis.  If a person is arrested for a theft charge, a condition of PTI would be taking an anti-theft class and possibly completing community service hours.  Once all conditions are completed, the charge or charges will be dropped completely.

A woman from Jacksonville may be facing a gun charge arrest in Putnam County after she was shot by her four year-old son.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the woman was in the driver’s seat of her truck and the child unbuckled himself from his car seat.  The child then apparently touched the gun, which was not in a holster, and managed to pull the trigger.  The mother was shot through the back of her seat.  The Putnam County police have filed a complaint recommending a misdemeanor gun charge for the injured woman.  The article also indicated that the owner of the gun was the mother and she had a concealed weapons permit.

The recommended Florida gun charge is under the safe storage of firearms requirement of the Florida Statutes.  Under 790.174 of Florida law, it is unlawful for a person to leave an unsecured gun in a place where that person should have reason to believe a minor is likely to get access to the gun without supervision. If you have minors who can find and gain access to the gun, the firearm has to be kept in secure box or container.  If the adult does not have the firearm left in a locked place and a child possesses or exhibits it without supervision, the adult can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor.  The child has to exhibit it in a public place or in a “rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner”.  A minor is defined as a person under sixteen years of age.

Obviously, this incident was a tragic accident, but the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office wants the woman prosecuted.  It is now up to the State Attorney’s office to make the decision about whether or not to file formal gun charges.  When you are arrested for a crime or even accused, it is so important to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer.  Just because you are arrested does not mean that formal charges will follow.  The State Attorney’s Office has the discretion and that office holds immense power.  In order for a police officer to make an arrest, they have to have probable cause to believe a crime was committed.  This means that more likely than not, a crime occurred.  The State Attorney’s Office has a much larger burden of proof.  In order to file a criminal case, they have to believe they have a reasonable probability of conviction at trial.  Furthermore, at trial, the prosecutor must prove all allegations beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt.

A private school teacher in St. Johns County will lose his job for bringing a gun onto the school campus, but will not face any criminal charges for the incident.  The teacher was escorted off of campus and was placed on administrative leave before he chose to resign, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The teacher, who has a concealed weapons permit, did not threaten anyone and never pulled out the gun, the newspaper reported. Police and the school were alerted by an anonymous tip, the newspaper reported.

Carrying a firearm on a school campus can be a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. In this St. Johns County Gun Crimes Case, the school did not want to pursue criminal charges in the case against the teacher. Police took the school’s opinion into consideration and did not arrest the teacher or send the case to prosecutors for review. Part of the decision in not to pursue the charges was that the man did not have any intention of hurting anyone and no students in the school were ever in danger, the newspaper reported.

But that is not always the case in St. Johns County Gun Crimes Cases. There is a common misperception that if a victim in a case does not want to pursue charges, then police and the state cannot move forward. That is not true. For example, if someone reports a lawnmower or other item stolen and police find it at a pawn shop and then learn his neighbor pawned it, it may not matter if the person wants to pursue the charges or not. If police can prove that the person took it and then sold it, they could still pursue the charges. Prosecutors will listen to the victim and in many cases not proceed with a minor case if the person is refusing to cooperate, but the victims are not the ones making decisions – that is the role of the State Attorney’s Office. The same goes the other way, if a victim wants to push a case and the state knows it cannot prove that case beyond a reasonable doubt, the state has an obligation to drop the charges.

Jacksonville police announced that they have arrested more than one juvenile in the murder of a Duval County cab driver late last year, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  The victim was found shot in his vehicle the night of January 30th.

These juveniles will most likely be treated as adults in this case.  Commonly referred to as “direct file”, the prosecutors in the state of Florida have the discretion to treat children as adults.  This means that a child as young as 14 years-old can be sent to prison if certain factors are met.  If a child is 14 or 15 years-old, they may be sent to adult court if the child is charged with certain serious Jacksonville crimes, such as murder, sexual battery, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse and carjacking.  If the child is 16 or 17 years of age, they can be sent to adult court if they are charged with any felony, not just the most serious crimes listed above.  The Florida legislature has elected to give state attorney’s offices across the state of Florida so much power over these Duval County juvenile cases.  With one piece of paper, a child’s life can change forever.

When a juvenile is arrested for a felony in Jacksonville, they will receive a “score” that determines whether or not they must remain in secure detention.  Secure detention is a jail for children surrounded by barbed wire located in downtown Jacksonville.  If the crime is non-violent and the child has little to no prior criminal history, the juvenile may qualify for home detention, which is essentially house arrest, or straight release, which means the child is free to go where they want as long as they return for their court dates.  Once detention or non-detention is determined, the case begins.  In many of the felony juvenile cases in Duval County, the prosecutor’s office will look at the child’s file to determine whether or not to send to adult court.  Often times, the Jacksonville Juvenile Attorney on the case will send mitigation to the state attorney assigned to the case.  Mitigation consists of school records, letters from teachers, family and coaches, as well as psychological testing if appropriate.  The goal is to keep the child’s case in juvenile court.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.