Articles Posted in Gun Crimes in Jacksonville

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.

A jury convicted a Jacksonville woman of reduced charges in connection with her shooting into a car at a driver and her passengers. The charges have varied in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case that dates back to 2011. Ultimately, she was convicted of three counts of attempted manslaughter, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said the woman fired shots from a pistol from her car at another vehicle and, when the other driver tried to escape, the woman continued to follow and continued to fire shots at the vehicle, according to the newspaper report.

The woman was first charged in 2011 with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison, so a total of 15. Prosecutors then upgraded the charges to attempted murder, second-degree felonies, and those are the charges that were brought to the jury in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. In the end, the jury found the woman was not guilty of attempted murder, but instead guilty of attempted manslaughter. In the grand scheme of things, there’s little difference in the bottom line. Florida’s 10-20-Life laws dictate the sentencing in the Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case anyway, though the jury doesn’t know that when they are deliberating on charges. Possible sentencing cannot be discussed in front of the jury because it could sway their opinion. The case is to be judged solely on the facts alone, not on any potential punishment. In Florida, prosecutors can choose to apply the 10-20-Life laws related to gun crimes and the minimum mandatory sentences that go with them. When applied, a person can receive a 10-year minimum sentence for showing a gun during the commission of a felony. The 20-year minimum mandatory applies when a gun is fired and the life sentence can come in when someone is hit.

These minimum penalties have been highly scrutinized and there has been some movement in the state legislature to give more latitude to judges, but for now these are the laws that apply in Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases. One of the biggest issues with these sentences is that judges have ruled they must be applied consecutively. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes case, the woman was convicted of three counts. So each 20-year sentence must be severed separately, meaning she has a mandatory sentence of 60 years in state prison. In most cases, judges have the discretion to run the sentences concurrently, means all three 20-years sentences at once so the total sentence is only 20 years. So while the reduced charge sounds good, it ultimately means the same lengthy prison sentence as the murder charge.

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 new state law allows judges to veer from the Florida’s strict 10-20-Life laws if it can be proven that a person fired a warning shot because he or she was in fear of death or imminent great bodily harm. The change expands the state’s Stand Your Ground law to allow people to show a gun and fire a warning shot if they feel threatened, just as a person can use deadly force in a similar situation, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Before the law change, someone who fired a warning shot could be charged with aggravated assault with a firearm and, because a gun was fired, faced a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years in state prison.

A Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case was one of the reasons a South Florida lawmaker said he sponsored the bill, the newspaper reported. A Jacksonville woman was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault, and sentenced to 20 years in state prison, for firing what she says was a warning shot to scare off her estranged husband. Two of his children were present at the time, hence the two additional charges. Her conviction was overturned by an appellate court, so she is now awaiting a second trial in her Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. Police and prosecutors contend that Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case wasn’t a true warning shot, proof that you will still encounter similar disagreements in court on whether the law applies. Many in law enforcement have been generally supportive of the new bill because it helps clarify what is legal when it comes to self-defense, the newspaper reported, and because it protects people who are legally defending themselves.

From a sentencing and adjudication perspective, it essentially gets discretion back into the hands of judges, who are elected and appointed to make these decisions, which is a good thing. Anytime there’s a hard and fast rule without room for interpretation, there’s a risk of a sentencing not matching up with the actual crime, given the circumstances. Not all Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases are exactly alike, and judges should be able to take all of the facts into consideration and make the best decision in terms of sentencing. Under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, anyone who displays a gun during the commission of a felony can be sentenced to an automatic 10 years in state prison. If a gun is fired, a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence is applied. If someone is shot during the felony, the defendant would receive a mandatory life sentence if convicted. This new law does not prevent judges from imposing severe sentences in Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases, it simply allows discretion in cases where it makes sense.

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.

What school and police officials say was a random check in a Jacksonville high school classroom turned up a loaded gun in the sock of a 16-year-old boy. The student was arrested on the felony charge of bringing a weapon onto a school campus and was ordered to be held in a juvenile detention center, according to a report on News4Jax. The teen told police he was having problems with some people outside of school, was going to be walking to a friend’s house that day and thought he needed it to protect himself, the television station reported. Bringing a weapon onto school grounds is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to five years in state prison.

That punishment in a Jacksonville Gun Crimes case is for if the boy is charged and sentenced as an adult. The mere fact that this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case is a high school student being caught with a gun in a classroom would indicate that this is a Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case and should be handled through the juvenile justice system, though that is not always the case. Assuming that it does stay in the juvenile system, the range of penalties is far different than it is for adults. There are five different levels of juvenile detention, ranging from non-residential programs in which the students can still attend school, on up to what amounts to a prison for teens. Because this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case involves a gun, the defendant would automatically be disqualified from the two least serious options. At the very least, if convicted, the teen would likely be in a locked juvenile facility serving a sentence with little access to the community. In some cases, teens are allowed to visit home or enroll in school near the end of their sentence to help get everything in order to move on with their lives after being released.

In terms of school, the teen’s options could be limited, too, as a result of this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case. Bringing a weapon to school is an automatic suspension in Florida and could ultimately lead to the student being expelled from school entirely. That leaves the teen without many places to turn to get an education that he will need to lead a productive life. There are some educational programs in the juvenile detention centers where a student can stay on track for his or her diploma, and the schools look at each student individually when determining whether he or she can return to school.

Teens make mistakes – that’s why there is a separate juvenile court system that is designed to focus on rehabilitation and education. Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney can work with your loved one’s case to help him or her have the opportunity to move on and learn from the incident.

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