Articles Posted in Theft Crimes in Jacksonville

A St. Johns County contractor was arrested this month on a felony charge, accused of not delivering on work after he had been paid deposits.  Police said they started investigating the contractor in 2013 and found more than 10 people who had contracts with the man for home renovations, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Permits were never issued for any of the work and the man required customers to provide at least 75 percent of the money up front, the newspaper reported. The contractor was not licensed to do the work and homeowners reported a total loss of about $150,000, the newspaper reported.

The man was charged with an organized scheme to defraud of more than $50,000. This St. Johns County Theft Charge is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in state prison. According to Florida law a scheme to defraud is “a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act.” In order to prove this type of case, the state needs to prove this was an ongoing, intentional scheme where the contractor had no intent of every doing the work that he had been paid for.  As in all St. Johns County Theft Cases, the potential punishment is based on the value of the property or alleged theft in question. For example, an organized scheme to defraud of less than $20,000 is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. When the value jumps to between $20,000 and $50,000, the charge becomes a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. Once the crime crosses the $50,000 threshold, as it did in this St. Johns County Theft Case, the charge can become a first-degree felony.

In many St. County Theft Cases such as this one, other potential victims may tend to come forward once they know the allegations are made public. Because this investigation is already pushing two years, that may not be the case. Although it would not change the charges in this St. Johns County Theft Case because it is already a first-degree felony, an increase in the number of alleged victims in the case would be adding more people who could likely testify should the case go to trial.  Our St. Johns County Theft Attorney represents people in all types of theft cases, from misdemeanor theft charges on up to felony schemes to defraud.

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.

What started with a theft from a store snowballed into serious felonies that now have two Clay County woman facing decades behind bars.  The women were accused of stealing clothes from a Clay County store and then speeding off and throwing price tags out the window when a police car was chasing them, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The car hit a curb and blew a tire, and the driver drove through a parking lot where police lost sight of it, the newspaper reported. The women then got out, walked into traffic and forced their way into a stranger’s vehicle, who eventually pulled over with police behind her, the newspaper reported.

Instead of facing a third-degree felony for the theft, the chase and subsequent carjacking has both women now facing a total of 55 years in state prison for these Clay County Felony Cases. That would be if the judge chose to issue the maximum sentence on each charge and run the sentences consecutively – not likely, but it does show the seriousness of the case and how the penalties escalated.  Both women are charged with carjacking and false imprisonment of an adult on the second part of the crime.

Carjacking, even without a weapon, is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in state prison. False imprisonment of an adult is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. On the theft side of this Clay County Felony Case, they are charged with fleeing and eluding a police officer with disregard for safety to persons or property; grand theft; and resisting a retail merchant. The fleeing charge is the most serious of these charges and is a second-degree felony that could result in up to 15 years in state prison. The grand theft charge is another third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years and the resisting a retail merchant charge is a misdemeanor that is only punishable by up to a year in the county jail.
While this is not the traditional type of carjacking where someone is armed and forces the person out the car, the penalty is still the same. Oftentimes when there are multiple felony charges in a case, the state will offer a deal that has the defendant pleading guilty to some or all of the charges, in exchange for a sentence far below the maximum.

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 Clay County man accused of driving a stolen car into a pedestrian and leaving the scene of the accident has been arrested and is now facing several charges.  An 18-year-old man was in a crosswalk when a man drove into him, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The pedestrian was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, the newspaper reported. Witnesses said the driver immediately drove off and the car was found abandoned in a nearby parking lot, the newspaper reported. The car had been reported stolen two hours before the accident, though it is not clear how police connected the dots between the car and the suspect.

The driver is in this Clay County Traffic Case charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury, grand theft of a vehicle and driving without a license. Two of the three charges are felonies: leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison, while grand theft is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. The driving with a suspended license charge is a misdemeanor. While the charge does not carry any prison time, only a year in the county jail, it could play a major role in the offer from prosecutors and the potential sentence from the judge.

In Clay County Traffic Cases, judges know that accidents happen and the overwhelming majority occur without criminal intent. However, when a person has a suspended license because of numerous traffic tickets, drives anyway, causes an accident and then leaves the scene of the accident to avoid getting caught, judges can tend to lean away from a lenient sentence. If the driver has past convictions for driving on a suspended license, as appears to be the case in this Clay County Traffic Case, prosecutors and judges will be even less inclined to give the defendant the benefit of the doubt. The fact that the crash happened in what is alleged to be a stolen car certainly doesn’t help the driver’s case either.  Even when felony charges are not in play, Clay County Traffic Cases can have serious consequences for drivers. As tickets and point accumulate, they can result having a driver’s license suspended and lead to skyrocketing car insurance rates. Our Clay County Traffic Attorney represents people charged with all types of traffic charges – from speeding tickets on up to serious felonies such as this Clay County Traffic 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 Clay County Theft Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A man is suing the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, saying police should have known he was not the person they were looking for when they arrested him in a 2013 theft case.  The issue began with a Clay County Theft Case of a man caught trying to steal cologne, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, but it turns out gave police the name and ID of a different man, the newspaper reported. That man was six inches shorter and 70 pounds lighter and had reported his ID stolen to police, the newspaper reported. But when the real suspect didn’t show up for court, an arrest warrant was issued in the name of the man the suspect gave police.

The man went to police, tried to explain the mistake and prove that he wasn’t the guy, but officers wouldn’t listen. The man was promptly arrested and booked into the jail. Clay County Theft Charges were eventually dropped, but it took three months for the man to have his name cleared. This is the third time in the last two years that Clay County officers have arrested the wrong person in a criminal case. Police are supposed to have new policies and procedures in place to prevent this from happening, but this incident appears to have happened before the changes were made.

In many Clay County Misdemeanor Cases, instead of being immediately arrested and taken to jail, defendants are given a notice to appear in court. That’s what happened in this Clay County Theft Case. The defendant was caught with about $200 worth of cologne taken from a store, which would be petit theft, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the county jail. But, instead of giving police his real name and ID, he gave a different one. But, once the warrant was issued and the other man turned himself in to explain himself, police should have checked the warrant and arrest report, which would have told them they had the wrong person. It is human nature for people to try to explain themselves to police, especially when they are completely innocent as the man was in this Clay County Theft Case. But police don’t always listen and, in many cases, assume the person is lying and don’t think that they could be the ones who made a mistake.  There are checks and balances in our criminal justice system for this exact reason. Unfortunately, when mistakes like this happen, the most effective way to have the wrong righted is with a Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney. Once an arrest has been made, it’s often the defendant that has to prove his or her innocence to get out of jail – the exact opposite of how our system is supposed to work.

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 St. Johns County Commissioner was cleared of a felony charge brought against him in North Carolina.  He was charged with obtaining property by false pretense, accused of taking $500 from an account he used to share with his ex-girlfriend and former business partner, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man said he mistakenly transferred the money from the wrong account and fixed it right after he realized the mistake, the newspaper reported. A warrant for the man’s arrest was issued Monday and, by Thursday, after the man drove to North Carolina to talk to police and turn himself in, the charge had been dropped. The man’s attorney said the arrest warrant was issued without police even trying to get the man’s side of the story, which would have explained that the transaction was a simple mistake, the newspaper reported.

But, instead, the man had to go prove his innocence – the complete opposite of how the criminal justice system is supposed to work. Police and prosecutors are supposed to have a good idea they’ll be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt before they get an arrest warrant. That was clearly not the case here. Felony degrees and potential sentences vary from state to state, but any St. Johns County Felony in Florida has a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. The case made headlines in Northeast Florida because of the man’s public position, but it is something he’ll now have to explain – even though the arrest warrant should have never been issued in the first place.  The case sounds like a personal dispute between the man and his former girlfriend and business partner – a fight that the criminal justice system has no place in. Prosecutors and police are supposed to be able to recognize that and not allow the criminal justice system to be used like this. Presumably, if the decision to drop the charges was made this quickly after the arrest warrant was issued, it could have been handled just as quickly by picking up the phone and calling the man or his attorney before issuing the warrant.  Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people on all types of criminal charges. Oftentimes, arrest warrants are issued for people to turn themselves in on, rather than police hunting someone down and arresting them like you’d see in the movies. A St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney can go with you to turn yourself in – and help drive the conversation about what you say to police, if anything.

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 robbery that netted less than $20 worth of gas and cigarettes could land a pair of St. Johns County siblings in prison for decades.  The two were caught shortly after the man walked into the gas station and threatened the clerk with a knife, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man told the clerk to turn on the pump and leave it on until the tank was full and also demanded a pack of cigarettes, the newspaper reported. The clerk told the man he had to pay, but he refused and left after his sister pumped $13 worth of gas into the pickup truck.  The clerk gave police a description of the truck and the two were caught and arrested minutes later. Both are charged with armed robbery.

Armed robbery is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. Typically, armed robbery charges that receive life sentences deal mostly with cases involving firearms, not a folding knife like the one police say was used in this case. But it does illustrate the enormous difference the between Jacksonville Robbery Cases and Jacksonville Theft Cases. For example, taking a pack of cigarettes and stealing some gas from a gas station would be petit theft and a second-degree misdemeanor, since the value is less than $100.

But bringing the weapon and essentially holding up the gas station took this Jacksonville Robbery Case to much more serious territory. The newspaper reported the pair was also suspected in a similar robbery earlier in the day in St. Johns County, but they didn’t get the gas they demanded. In that incident, they stole beer and didn’t pump gas. Florida law states that “If in the course of committing the robbery the offender carried a firearm or other deadly weapon, then the robbery is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life imprisonment.” Use of a weapon not deemed to be a deadly weapon would make the charge a second-degree felony, with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison.  In this Jacksonville Robbery Case, both the brother and sister are facing armed robbery charges. Even though the sister did not show the knife or walk into the store where the threat was made, she can still be charged because she pumped the gas and drove the car off. Now, she’s must less complicit and is probably the more likely of the two to have her charges reduced, but is also looking at potentially decades behind bars.

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 Robbery 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.

A Jacksonville man was arrested this month after speeding away from police in what appears to have been a stolen car.  Police started looking for the driver after someone called 911 saying the car was speeding and almost hit a motorcycle, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The chase reached speeds of 70 mph and went through multiple stop lights, but finally ended miles later when police ran the vehicle off the road near downtown Jacksonville, the newspaper reported. The man was arrested at gunpoint, the newspaper reported.

The 19-year-old suspect is charged with DUI, possession of marijuana, auto theft and a handful of traffic violations for laws he is accused of breaking during the chase, the newspaper reported. Some of the traffic violations can be criminal, including fleeing or attempting to elude law enforcement in a patrol vehicle with lights and siren activated. Media reports did not specify if police were in a patrol vehicle or an unmarked car, but it’s more than likely it was a patrol car. If so, the defendant can be charged with a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. Theft of a motor vehicle is also a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison.  Other charges in this Jacksonville Traffic Case are misdemeanors, but the cumulative effect can be an issue for the defendant. Even though DUI and possession of marijuana are misdemeanors, the fact that the driver is accused of being impaired while leading police on a high-speed chase is likely to be a factor in any plea negotiations or in sentencing if the man is convicted of or pleads guilty to the court.

While the felony charges in this Jacksonville DUI Case have prison time attached, misdemeanors do not. A first conviction for DUI is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana has a maximum penalty of one year in county jail.  A DUI on its own, or marijuana possession on its own, would likely be seen differently without the police chase and the stolen car. Prosecutors and judges look at the entire situation when evaluating cases for plea agreements or sentences, respectively, and driving away from police is one way to accumulate a bunch of charges very quickly.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will conduct a full investigation into the charges against you or your loved one and then advise you of the consequences and key elements of the state’s case so you can make an informed decision.

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

Prosecutors and law enforcement held a big press conference two years ago, announcing what appeared to be the beginning of a major statewide gambling bust – with dozens arrested and more supposedly to follow.  As it turned out, those 57 arrests were the only arrests ever made and only one person was convicted and sentenced to time behind bars, according to analysis by the Florida Times-Union. In fact, only one other person was sentenced to house arrest and the other 55 cut deals with prosecutors that included no jail time at all, the newspaper reported. Many of those 55 had their charges dropped outright, but not before they were paraded in front of the cameras in what prosecutors claimed was a $300 million racketeering and money laundering case.

Many of the key people arrested in the case were from Jacksonville, including the attorney for the alleged gambling centers and police union officials who had a role in some of the centers. The state alleged that the gaming centers were illegal gambling, but accepted plea deals to probation in many of the cases.  This case is a prime example of why there is a balance in the judicial system and people are innocent until proven guilty. At the outset, the public was led to believe that more than four dozen people were involved in this elaborate scheme to rip off millions of dollars. But as the cases came together, the holes must have been apparent to prosecutors as offers for probation were being made – including some that included dropping many of the charges.

The key in these Florida Felony Cases was that people were offered these deals without having to agree to testify against the co-defendants in the case. Typically, how Jacksonville Felony Cases with multiple defendants work is, prosecutors start offering deals to people charged with the less serious crimes – on the condition they testify against some of the ringleaders. This is a common tactic in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases, where the state looks to solidify its charges against the drug supplier by flipping people buying drugs or some of the lower-level dealers.  But that didn’t happen in this Florida Felony Crimes Case. Only one case went to trial, that of the attorney for the nonprofit running the internet cafes who was accused of being the mastermind of the gambling operations. He was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to six years in prison, but is out of custody while the case is being appealed.  Not all cases are as airtight as police present them to be when they are announced. The state has the burden of proving all criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt, and not all cases that are charged meet that standard.
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 longtime corrections officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was arrested this month as part of a food stamp fraud investigation. The man is accused of buying food stamps at half price and then using them to buy food in Jacksonville, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He is now charged with misappropriating food stamp funds, grand theft and participating in a scheme to defraud. All three Jacksonville Theft Charges are third-degree felonies that carry a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison. The judge can choose to run the sentences concurrently (all at the same time) or consecutively, which stretches the maximum sentence to 15 years in prison.

The Sheriff’s Office received a tip about the scheme over the summer and then began building its case, the newspaper reported. The man is accused of twice buying $80 worth of food stamps for $40 and also twice buying $100 of food stamps for $50, the newspaper reported. There is no indication of whom the man bought the food stamps from, but there’s a strong chance that detectives and prosecutors will be looking to someone, perhaps the defendant, to share information about that person and agree to testify in court as to how it all went down. That is a common tactic in Jacksonville Felony Cases, arresting someone lower down the totem pole in the scheme and using the charges as leverage to persuade the person into testifying. Nothing like the threat of a felony charge to apply pressure – especially for someone in law enforcement who could lose his job and certification to be a police officer if convicted of a felony.

The man, a corrections officer since 2003 according to the newspaper report, has already been placed on leave without pay because of his arrest in this Jacksonville Theft Case. One key question that would need to be answered is if the officer used any of his influence as a corrections officer to start this transaction, or if connections were made through his role at the Sheriff’s Office. That could not only affect his job status, but also any potential sentence or plea deal on the criminal side of this Jacksonville Theft Case. Law enforcement officers are held to a higher standard in the eyes of the public and the judiciary, and when officers use their position for personal gain, the sentencing repercussions can be severe.

Our Jacksonville Theft Attorney has represented thousands of people accused of theft, from misdemeanor charges on up to serious felonies. Charges and potential sentences in Jacksonville Theft Cases are based primarily on the value of the property that is taken, and our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney can outline the potential penalties and provide you or your loved on with information to make the best decision going forward.

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