Articles Posted in Police

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.

A St. Johns County police sergeant was fired and arrested, charged with a felony after his supervisors say he was stealing money by claiming to be in two places at the same time. The sergeant was arrested after an internal investigation found he was charging for working for the sheriff’s office and for an off-duty job on the same days, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He was charged with organizing a scheme to defraud of less than $20,000 and with two counts of filing false documents as a public official. All three charges are third-degree felonies in this St. Johns County Theft Case with maximum penalties of five years in state prison on each count. It’s unlikely in a case like this, but the now former sergeant could be facing up to 15 years in prison if the judge chose to run the sentences consecutively.

The sergeant had been with the department for 16 years, the newspaper reported. He was accused of patrolling a neighborhood on-duty and also being paid for patrolling at the same time in an off-duty capacity, the newspaper reported. An audit of time sheets confirmed what police called a “classic case of double-dipping,” in this St. Johns County Theft Case, the newspaper reported. Not only would the officer be putting his career and his retirement on the line – public officials in Florida convicted of felonies in connection with their employment can have their pension revoked – the sheriff’s office could have some problems with potential cases where this officer is a witness.

If a witness in a trial has even been convicted of a crime of dishonestly, you can bet that a St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney will bring it up at trial. Those crimes include fraud, theft, filing false documents – pretty much any crime involved with lying or stealing. If a witness has, it seriously damages his or her credibility. That rings even more true if that witness is a former police officer fired for a crime of dishonesty. Chances are, the state would not being calling him as a witness anymore, but you can bet a St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney would do so if that former sergeant was in any way, shape or form associated with a case. When police officers are involved in crimes, it does more than just alter their lives. It causes prosecutors and defense attorneys to take a close look at those cases and perhaps reevaluate strategy in terms of pursing or fighting the charges. An experienced St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly examine all of the facts or your case, and the witnesses who will be used against you, and use everything at their disposal to defend you or your loved one.

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

A Jacksonville police officer faces three misdemeanor charges, after being accused of assaulting his wife and her father during an argument this month. Clay County police were called to his home after the officer was allegedly threatening his wife and fighting with his father-in-law, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He is charged with two counts of domestic assault, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in county jail and a $500 fine. He is also charged with resisting an officer without violence, a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.

The actual charges do not reflect the headlines and the takeaway from the media coverage on the Clay County arrest. In the police report, the officer’s wife claims he has pointed a gun at her in the past, and those details dominate the story. But he is not charged with any crime that involves a firearm. If he was, that would be a felony and he’d be looking at the potential of serving time in state prison. But the state would have difficulty trying to prove a case that the wife was threatened with a gun, but didn’t call police. Police did take the officer’s gun into evidence, the newspaper reported, so technically there could be the possibility of upgrading the charges in this Clay County Domestic Violence Case, though that charge appears to be more difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Either way, the arrest itself in this Clay County Domestic Assault Case will likely result in at least a placement on desk duty while the case resolves itself and could lead to a suspension or even termination.

Though they are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between assault and battery in Clay County Domestic Assault Cases. An assault is threatening someone – yelling at the person, raising a fist – anything that would indicate there is a serious possibility of violence. Battery is actual physical contact. So in this Clay County Domestic Assault case, the officer is accused of charging at his wife and then throwing punches at his father-in-law once the father-in-law stepped in and brought him to the ground, according to the newspaper report. But the punches never connected, hence the assault charges instead of battery. Domestic battery is a first-degree misdemeanor, like the resisting charge, so it would have opened the officer up to more time in the county jail and a larger fine, but would remain a misdemeanor. Clay County Domestic Violence Cases can be difficult for the state, especially because in some instances the alleged victims end up not wanting to cooperate with police once the dust has settled. The charges, though, are very serious and our Clay County Domestic Violence Attorney can fully investigate the case against you or your loved one to help you determine the best course of action 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 Domestic Assault Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Jacksonville police officer is now facing charges himself after detectives say he stole a $49 supplement from a local gym. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officials announced the arrest last month, saying the officer was removed from the street while the investigation was being conducted, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Surveillance video from the gym allegedly shows the officer with a bottle in his hand, ducking behind the counter and then coming back into view with nothing in his hand, the newspaper reported. The officer says he told the clerk to put the cream supplement on his account and was not trying to steal anything, the newspaper reported.

The officer in this Jacksonville Theft Case will likely be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor charge of petit theft, punishable by up to 60 days in the county jail and a $500 fine. The severity of the charge and possible punishment Jacksonville Theft Cases is determined by the value of the property the person is accused of stealing. In this Jacksonville Theft Case, the officer would be facing the least serious charge possible. People accused of theft of less than $100 can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. When the value is between $100 and $300, the charge is a first-degree misdemeanor and the penalty goes up to a maximum of one year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine.

The $300 threshold is really the key in Jacksonville Theft Cases. Once the value tops $300, the charge becomes a felony. Grand Theft in Jacksonville is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. There are other caveats that can increase the penalty, including if the property is taken from an emergency vehicle, but the main number to know is $300. Charges in Jacksonville Theft Cases can also increase based on the person’s criminal record. If someone has one petit theft conviction on his or her record, the charge is automatically a first-degree misdemeanor – even if the property in the Jacksonville Theft Case is worth less than $100. And if the person has two or more convictions, the case becomes a felony – again, regardless of the amount. In many Jacksonville Theft Cases, first-time offenders may be offered a diversionary program, where if they meet certain conditions and pay back the value of the property, the charges may be dropped. Our Jacksonville Theft Attorney can help negotiate a disposition that is hopefully favorable, and something you or your loved one can live with, complete and move on from.

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

Jacksonville Misdemeanor charges against an Illinois man arrested during a bomb threat and evacuation at Jacksonville International Airport will go forward, a judge ruled this month. Manuel Rivera is charged with resisting an officer without violence after police said he was acting suspiciously when the airport was emptied last week when another man told agents at a security checkpoint that he had a bomb, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. There was speculation from the outset that Rivera and the alleged attempted bomber were connected, but police have clarified the two men did not know each other and the man who said he had a bomb was acting alone, the newspaper reported.

As police tried to clear the area near the airport, an officer saw Rivera carrying a bag in a parking garage and ordered him to stop, the newspaper reported. Rivera dropped the bag and pulled away. Police took the bag and checked for explosives and other contraband, but did not find any, the newspaper reported. Rivera was arrested for resisting an officer without violence, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail. Typically, a resisting arrest charge comes when someone is running from police, or gives officers a hard time when he or she is being questioned by authorities. In many Jacksonville Misdemeanor Cases, the resisting charge is on top of other charges, For example, a person may turn and run when police show up a party. When police eventually catch the person, officers find marijuana in his or her pocket. Then, the defendant could be charged with resisting arrest and marijuana possession. It’s more uncommon to see resisting arrest as the sole charge, but it does happen in Jacksonville Misdemeanor Crimes Cases.

There are two types of resisting charges. There’s resisting without violence, as Rivera is charged, and also resisting with violence. When violence is involved, the charge becomes a third-degree felony in Duval County punishable by up to five years in state prison. In this situation at the airport, police were in the heat of a potentially dangerous situation and had to take everyone and everything seriously. The public may not argue with them arresting people on Jacksonville Misdemeanor Crimes to eliminate the threat and sorting it out later. Well, later is now here. There’s a fine line between resisting arrest and not following the instructions of an officer that doesn’t have a legal basis for stopping you. Now that the airport threat has been eliminated and police know Rivera was not involved, it will be interesting to see how the case plays out.

Our Jacksonville Misdemeanor Attorney has represented thousands of people charged with misdemeanors and, just because there isn’t significant prison time on the horizon, doesn’t mean the charge isn’t serious for the defendant. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney takes every single case seriously and will help you work through the case to get back to your 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 Misdemeanor Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.