Articles Posted in Police

A Jacksonville police officer was arrested this month on felony drug charges, accused of bringing pills to an acquaintance who said she was in pain.  The woman sent the officer a text message asking for pills and the officer brought her a bag with six pills, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The pills were painkillers and a muscle relaxer – and all but one would need a prescription, the newspaper reported. The officer is also accused of making sexual advances on the woman but she told him to stop, the newspaper reported. In all, he is facing two different felony charges for sale or delivery of a controlled substance, as well as a battery for touching the woman, the newspaper reported.

Police said there was not enough evidence to charge the man with sexual battery but, because a battery is any unwanted touching, that’s what he was charged with. That charge is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail. The drug charges are the real problem – both are second-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison on each count. Not only do felonies open up the possibility of state prison, for law enforcement officers it can mean the end of their career. Most police agencies will not allow someone to be a sworn officer if they have been convicted of or have pleaded to a felony. The officer is now on leave without pay while the Jacksonville Drug Crime investigation is completed. If the officer had prescriptions for the medication, that could make a big difference in the state’s willingness to discuss a plea agreement to something other than a felony.

The facts of the case, as they have been presented in the media, sound pretty thin. The woman did reach out to the officer for the pills and appears to have been offended by the sexual advances and then called police. The officer was arrested two days later and has not been back to work since. When it comes to the felony drug charges, the charge is the same whether someone sells prescription drugs or gives them to someone for free. The difference could come in sentencing, but the law treats both actions the same. This is where the discretion of prosecutors comes into play with the hope that not every Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case is treated exactly the same.  Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney represents people accused of all types of drug crimes, from sale or delivery on down to possession. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one, and give you the information needed to make the best 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 Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Nassau County Sheriff’s Office officials fired an officer and charged him with felony drug charges the same day.  The investigation is ongoing, but police said they learned the man was selling prescription medication and they had what they needed to fire him, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man is charged with conspiracy to trafficking hydrocodone and with selling a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a church or a school, the newspaper reported. Both are serious felony charges in this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case. Trafficking in hydrocodone is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and has a minimum mandatory sentence of at least three years in state prison, depending on the amount the person is accused of having. The charge for selling a controlled substance is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison.

And while the two charges in this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case are obviously related, they are not as intertwined as one might presume. Drug trafficking charges are based on the amount of the drug a person has and have nothing to do with whether the person is physically selling drugs. Trafficking charges themselves – and least from the outset – can be much more common in cases involving hydrocodone and other pills because the threshold is so low. Trafficking charges involving hydrocodone start at just 14 grams. For example, Nassau County Drug Crimes Cases involving marijuana are misdemeanors until the amount is 20 grams and trafficking charges don’t kick in until the defendant has 250 POUNDS of marijuana. Depending on how much the person is accused of having, and the amount was not specified in this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case, there are minimum mandatory sentences. For example, if the person is charged with having between 14 and 28 grams, the minimum mandatory sentence is three years. If the amount is between 28 and 50 grams, the minimum sentence is seven years, and it increases to 15 years when the amount is between 50 and 200 grams.

So the actual sale of the drugs carries less of a punishment than the possession, because of the amount. But the sale is likely the biggest issue in firing the officer immediately. Right or wrong, police are held to different standards, and having an officer selling drugs is not going to go over well. The charges in this Nassau County Drug Case may change as the investigation moves on, but the arrest and public release of the facts seem to be a little earlier than normal because of the fact the suspect was an active police officer.  Our Nassau County Drug Crimes Attorney has represented people accused of all levels of drug crimes, accused of having a variety of different substances and will fully investigate the case against you or your loved one 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 Nassau County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A girl who claimed to have been pulled over by people pretending to be police officers has been arrested, accused of making the entire story up.  The high school student, 18, is now charged with filing a false police report, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail. Even though she is still in high school, because she is 18 her case will go through adult court and not juvenile court. Clay County Criminal Cases can only be handled in juvenile court if the defendant is 17 years old or younger. The state can choose to charge younger people as adults, but the system does not work in reverse, even if the defendant is in high school.

Police said the girl called police about being stopped by two men who had flashing police lights and then tried to get into her car, the newspaper reported. Police investigated the case and continued to ask questions of the girl, who stuck by her story, the newspaper reported. Eventually, at the last of the series of interviews, police said the girl admitted the story was false and shared what really happened, the newspaper reported.

In Clay County Misdemeanor Cases like this, part of the motivation for police in publicizing the case is to let people know there are consequences for lying to police and wasting taxpayers’ time and resources investigating false claims. While the maximum penalty for the Clay County Misdemeanor Case the woman is charged with is the year in county jail mentioned above, that shouldn’t be what to look for in terms of the sentencing. In Clay County Misdemeanors Cases such as this, prosecutors are typically more interested in a sentence that has a form of punishment and also helps make the police department whole for the investigations. Options may be some form of community service, combined with repaying the sheriff’s office for all or part of the tax dollars spent during the investigation.  These types of sentences are common in Clay County Misdemeanor Cases, especially those that involve atypical cases and people who may not have a long history of criminal conduct. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people on misdemeanor cases and knows the types of negotiated sentences that both work for the state and allow the defendant to accept responsibility, complete the assigned punishment and move on with 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 Clay County Misdemeanor Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Jacksonville police officer is now facing two charges – including one felony – in connection with allegedly lying about how many hours she worked in an off-duty role.  Investigators had been watching the officer for more than a month and found she only worked about 15 of the 24 hours she was reporting for her off-duty role providing security at an apartment complex, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The problem is, the officer filled out paperwork to indicate she worked all of the hours, but instead was leaving early or arriving late, the newspaper reported.

The officer is charged with official misconduct and petit theft. The official misconduct charge is the one to worry about. The charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. More importantly, pleading guilty to or being convicted of a felony can have a crippling effect on her law enforcement career, as many agencies have specific policies against hiring people with a felony on his or her criminal record. The theft charge is a second-degree misdemeanor, which could include some county jail time, but rarely does.

Jacksonville police officers are allowed to use their patrol car and uniform when they work off-duty security jobs, such as the one the defendant was working at a local apartment complex. In exchange for the use of the uniform and car, the sheriff’s office must approve all of the off-duty work and employees must report their time. When Jacksonville Theft Cases like this occur, they are usually the result of a tip from the agency to police, though it is not clear how the investigation began in this case. In this Jacksonville Theft Case, the officer offered to go on unpaid leave until the criminal investigation is complete, the newspaper reported. Once the criminal case is over, police will conduct their own internal investigation to look at discipline for the officer. In many cases, the internal discipline can be more severe and have a greater impact on the employee than the criminal charges.

Jacksonville Theft Cases involving employees likely happen every day and don’t receive headlines. In this case, the amount of money allegedly stolen was less than $300. But in this case, it is a police officer lying about employment – which always earns attention from the media. There are certain balances people must make in handling a criminal case and making sure it is isn’t something that puts their career in even more jeopardy. Our Jacksonville Theft Attorney can help navigate that balance and look for a solution that minimizes both the criminal and employment consequences in your Jacksonville Felony 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 Theft Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For the second time this year, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office has paid tens of thousands of dollars to a person who had the same name as a suspect, but was still held in jail for a crime he or she did not commit. The second settlement was announced this month, as police paid $50,000 after a teen sued following a month in jail accused of sexual battery on a child younger than 12, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police were looking for another teen with the same name at the same high school, but did not show the alleged victim a photo of the person they arrested before they locked him up, the newspaper reported. Earlier this year, the sheriff’s office settled another suit, paying $67,000 to a woman who was extradited from Louisiana on a charge and was falsely arrested twice, the newspaper reported. She, too, had the same name of a person who was wanted on various felony charges.

The two incidents were several months apart and led to suspensions for five officers and new policies that verify the identity of suspects that are arrested, the newspaper reported. The incidents underscore the importance of the multiple layers and balances in our criminal justice system. Although there is a constant rush to judgment once a person is arrested, mistakes happen. Unfortunately, as was the case here, once a person is arrested, it almost becomes up to the defendant and his or her Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney to prove innocence in order to be set free. The foundation of our system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. But so often, that is applied at trial and the months that lead up to it are not taken into consideration.

In the Clay County Sex Crime Case involving the teen, the sheriff requested that that teen’s record be immediately expunged so there is no sign of an arrest on his criminal record. That can be the most difficult piece of a wrongful arrest – getting potential employers or others who do a background check to look past the arrest. Whenever you or a loved one is being questioned by police about a crime, it is important to speak with a Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney. It’s human nature to want to talk to the police and explain yourself – especially if you are wrongly accused. But an experienced Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney can help you navigate the system and potentially limit jail time and even avoid charges when police have the wrong person.

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

Several people banded together to file a federal lawsuit against the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office this month, each with a story of how they say sloppy police work led to their arrest for a crime they did not commit. In each instance, the person claims that if simple, routine steps would have been followed by police, detectives would have been able to clearly see they had the wrong person, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The arrests occurred over the past two years and one man spent nine months in jail trying to convince prosecutors of his innocence, the newspaper reported. The charges people were arrested for that are mentioned in the lawsuit include armed robbery, robbery and theft – the majority of which are serious Jacksonville Felony Charges.

In order to make an arrest in a Jacksonville Criminal Case, police must have probable cause to believe the person has committed the crime he or she is accused of committing. In many cases, in order to enter private property to obtain evidence during an investigation, detectives must first get a warrant that shows the reasons they believe this particular person committed this particular crime. In many of the cases mentioned in the lawsuit, the police ended up getting the warrant. Decisions on whether to formally charge someone with a crime are made by the State Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors are supposed to be the check and balance to the police, vetting the case independently to make sure the charge can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Among the four cases mentioned in this federal lawsuit, one did make it through the prosecutors, who dropped the case after an innocent man spent nine months behind bars.

In the other Jacksonville Criminal Cases cited in the federal lawsuit, the mistakes were caught before formal charges were filed. In one case mentioned, a 13-year-old boy was accused of a robbery and brought downtown for questioning without permission of his parent and interviewed by himself, clearly against police policy. These cases are a perfect example of why our Jacksonville Criminal Justice system is so important. Police officers are human. They make mistakes like anyone else in any other profession. And their work needs to be checked by prosecutors and eventually by a judge or a jury to make sure innocent people are not locked up for crimes they did not commit. Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys play a key role in protecting the rights of people who are accused of crimes. If you or your loved one is arrested for a crime, our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the charges and make sure police operated according to the law when making their 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 Felony Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A former Jacksonville corrections officer was arrested this month, accused of conspiracy to introduce contraband into a correctional facility. The officer was terminated in February when this investigation began and was already on employee probation for falsifying his employment application, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Now, the former officer’s problems are even more serious, with a felony charge in the balance. Conspiracy to introduce contraband into a correction facility is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.

The newspaper report did not specifically what the man was accused of helping sneak into the jail, or the details of the scheme and how it was done. Immediately in Jacksonville Felony Cases such as this, when people hear contraband being introduced into a correctional facility, they tend to think drugs. And, in many Jacksonville Felony Cases, that assumption is correction. But, jails and prisons are highly regulated environments and the list of contraband one can be arrested for bringing into the facility is extensive. Contraband includes written communication and food or clothing intended for an inmate in a correction institution. For example, if a person is visiting a family member or friend and tries to sneak in a candy bar for an inmate, they can be arrested for introducing contraband into a correctional facility. The same is true for weapons, drugs, cell phones and any other communications device.

And while the charge may be the same for someone trying to sneak something in and a corrections officer charged with doing it, it’s highly likely the two Jacksonville Felony Cases will be looked on in different lights by state prosecutors and the judge. When a corrections officer is charged in a Jacksonville Felony Case such as this, it implies he or she was either working with someone to allow banned material, possibly for some form of compensation, or at a minimum choosing to look the other way. This Jacksonville Felony Case is a prime example of how the court will often treat a case differently when a person in a position of authority is involved. It also emphasizes the importance of the state getting the charge right, because if it ends of being dropped or the person is found not guilty, the damage professionally for the officer is likely done with an arrest alone.

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

A Louisiana woman was jailed twice – once for several weeks – when police arrested her by mistake. Police were looking for a woman with the same name, but the descriptions of the two were different – off by several years, five inches and 20 pounds, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police did eventually arrest the correct woman on a Clay County Theft Charge, but not after public embarrassment and what could be some costly litigation for the county. This is the second time a person with the same name was wrongly arrested in Clay County. An 18-year-old spent a month in jail, accused of having sex with a girl younger than 12 when police were all along thinking he was a different teen with the same name.

In both cases, police went by the name alone and did not follow proper procedures in making sure they were arresting the correct person, the newspaper reported. The woman who was falsely arrested in this Clay County Theft Case said she lost her home and her daughter is now in counseling and saw her grades plummet because of her mother’s sudden absence, the newspaper reported. Police finally relented in the case when the woman’s Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney was able to provide medical records that showed the woman was in a hospital when the original theft occurred, the newspaper reported. The woman was also falsely arrested on a charge for passing a bad check and her attorneys say police did not show the bank manager a picture of the suspect, but rather arrested her solely based on the name. Police brought the woman from Louisiana to Clay County on the charge, even though the actual suspect was in Clay County the entire time, the newspaper reported.

Clearing one’s name from a false arrest can be very difficult to do. When potential employers conduct background checks, the information is pulled from a Florida Department of Law Enforcement database that shows when people are arrested. There is information in the report on the result of the charges, but it is not always up-to-date. Either way, many employers don’t even go a step further if they see someone was arrested for a Clay County Felony – especially a crime of dishonestly such as a Clay County Theft Case. The woman may be eliminated in a job placement process well before she would even have a chance to explain the situation that led to her arrest.

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

A St. Johns County man with police lights in his car is accused of pulling over a detective in an unmarked car, who ended up having to investigate the alleged crime. The detective says he was legally passing a car, but that car then turned its red and blue lights on and tried to pull the detective over, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The detective did pull over but, once he did, the man allegedly drove off. The detective then followed him and turned on his own lights, pulling the man over, the newspaper reported. Police said the man gave several stories as to how he had the lights, but police didn’t believe him so they issued a warrant for his arrest. He was not immediately arrested at the scene. But when he went to the Sheriff’s Office to return the lights, he saw the detective he pulled over, who arrested him on the warrant and booked him into the county jail.

The man is charged with impersonating a police officer and unlawful use of blue lights. Impersonating a police officer is the more serious of the two crimes. The St. Johns County Felony Crime is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. Unlawful use of blue lights is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail. In cases like this St. Johns County Felony Case, where there is a felony and a misdemeanor, prosecutors may agree to drop one of the two cases and combine the two. One thing that could benefit the defendant in this St. Johns County Felony Case is that he was voluntarily bringing the lights back to the police department. His timing, as it turns out, may not have been the best. But the actual fact of returning the equipment is a start at something for a St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney to work with in terms of getting the best result possible for a client. It doesn’t excuse the alleged crime, especially in the minds of police who take these crimes very seriously, but it does show an element of taking responsibility for one’s alleged actions.

There also may have been something to the man’s initial story – enough that he was not arrested on the spot and the detective instead chose to issue a warrant for the man’s arrest. The overwhelming majority of St. Johns County Felony Cases do not end up in trial, but rather resolve in some type of negotiated agreement between the state and the defense. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense attorney will thoroughly investigate your case and explain your options going forward so you or your loved one can make an informed decision about 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 St. Johns County Felony Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Jacksonville man said an off-duty police officer pulled a gun on him during an argument about a parking spot, but prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to charge the officer with a crime. The dispute began when a 20-year-old man got out of a car to stand in a parking spot and hold it for his pregnant fiancé and her family on a busy Sunday afternoon, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Another car, driven by an off-duty police officer, backed into the space and into the man, who then slammed on the trunk of the car, the newspaper reported.

The two men exchanged words, and the alleged victim said the officer pulled out a gun, causing the man to back off, the newspaper reported. The officer said he did not pull a gun, but that the gun was on his backpack and he put it inside the backpack before walking out of the car, the newspaper reported. The officer also said he saw a man walk out of the parking space before he backed in and did not hit the man with his vehicle.
In Jacksonville Gun Crimes cases like this, it can be very difficult for the state when the only evidence comes from the people involved. There are two specific sides to the story and only these two men know what really happened. The state typically likes to have other evidence before it files a case – some sort of independent witness or, even more preferable, surveillance video from a nearby store or something where it can be shown and jurors can see for themselves what occurred. This is a common problem in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases, which has serious penalties, as gun crimes do.

For example, if the officer was going to be charged in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, it would likely be for aggravated assault with a firearm. The charge is a felony and, if the state chooses to file the minimum mandatory portion of the charges, has a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in state prison. Even though many would jump to the conclusion that the state is protecting a police officer by not filing this case, prosecutors should be very careful when filing these serious Jacksonville Gun Crimes charges. There are two sides to every story, and there needs to be more than just the words of one person before filing charges that could significantly alter someone’s life – especially when the crime was a threat and no one was injured.

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.