Articles Posted in Traffic Crimes/Tickets

A deputy clerk or court in Orange County, California, has been arrested on federal charges of violating RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, bribery and money laundering.  According to a report in the Orange County Register, the clerk changed dispositions, marked as “paid” unpaid fines and court costs, changed actual charges, and posted a defendant as completing jail time that was never served.  The clerk allegedly hired recruiters who would advertise the illegal services.  The article reported that of the over 1,000 cases, sixty nine were Driving Under the Influence, 160 were other miscellaneous misdemeanor charges and the remaining appear to be traffic citations.

The county clerk’s office in any city is extremely important.  They are tasked with keeping all records of civil and criminal cases.  With traffic tickets and all criminal cases in Duval County and the surrounding counties, the clerk’s office assigns a case number and a case record in every case.  With traffic tickets, the records payments of fines or schedules court dates and the dispositions of those dates.  As with civil traffic citations, the clerk’s office also records every step of criminal cases in Jacksonville.  The website contains information on each and every case including what division it is assigned to, the arrest and booking report, information on what happens at every court date, all motions that are filed and all fines and court costs owed.

In the California case, the clerk is accused of lowering charges in the system.  For example, when someone is arrested for a DUI in Jacksonville, the State Attorney’s Office has the discretion lower the charge to a Reckless Driving.  Prosecutors decide what to file or not to file.  The clerk in this case allegedly forged prosecutor’s signatures on some of the dispositions.  Changing the DUI to a Reckless can have very good consequences for a defendant, including avoiding a driver’s license suspension and avoiding future elevations of punishment should they be arrested for DUI again.

A woman from St. Augustine is facing eleven criminal charges after allegedly fleeing from police.  According to an article in The Florida Times Union, police received several 911 calls reporting a car driving erratic and aggressively.  After police tried to stop the vehicle, the woman allegedly accelerated rapidly and intentionally rammed occupied vehicles.  The woman apparently had two small children in the car and eventually stopped after crashing into another car.  Even when police got their hands on the woman, they claim she continued to pull away.  The woman is facing one count of reckless driving, two counts of fleeing and eluding police, four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of aggravated battery with injury, two counts of child neglect and resisting an officer without violence.

The most serious of the charges are the felonies.  In Florida, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  In order to prove this charge, the prosecutor must show that the woman threatened someone with violence, had the ability to carry that violence out, put the victim in fear of the violence and used a deadly weapon to threaten. In this case, the deadly weapon would be the car she was driving.  Aggravated battery is intentionally causing great bodily harm to someone and is a second degree felony in Florida.

The charges of child neglect may seem not so obvious.  Just having the children and erratically driving a vehicle could be considered child neglect or abuse in St. Johns County.  Under Florida law, neglect of a child occurs when a guardian fails to provide the child with care or supervision necessary to maintain the child’s physical health.  It is a prudent-person standard, which means the standard is what would a reasonable person do to protect the child.  Each child neglect charge is a third degree felony and the maximum punishment is five years in prison.  Fleeing and eluding the police is a second degree felony.  In order to prove this charge, the State Attorney’s Office has to prove the woman operated a vehicle and willfully refused to stop the car after being ordered to stop by an authorized law enforcement officer.

A tip from an anonymous party has led to the arrest of a St. Johns County woman for a hit and run crash injuring a St. Johns County officer. According to a report on news4jax.com, early on the morning of New Year’s Day, the police car was hit from behind. The at-fault driver allegedly then fled the scene. After a day of searching, police receive a tip from a non-identified person that leads them to a car matching the description of the offending vehicle. The car had damage consistent with the crash and was actually located on a tow truck leaving the home of the suspect. The suspect allegedly admitted to driving the night of the crash.

The suspect will likely be charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident which results in injury to a person “other than serious bodily injury”. Police reported that the victim officer had minor injuries. When someone is arrested for this St. Johns County driving crime, it is a felony of the third degree punishable by up to five years in prison. Injuries sustained from a hit and run are considered “serious” if the injury creates the substantial risk of death, disfigurement or impairment of the function of a body part or organ. If convicted of a serious bodily injury leaving the scene of an accident, an offender faces up to fifteen years in prison because the charge is a second degree felony. Obviously, the most serious hit and run cases involve leaving the scene that results in a death. Under Florida law, if the crash results in the death of a person, all drivers have to stop immediately and render any aid they can. If convicted of leaving an accident involving death, a driver faces up to thirty years in prison because it is a first degree felony. This driving charge also carries a four year minimum term of imprisonment. This means a suspect must serve four years day for day, minimum.

While it is still early, the suspect in this case will certainly be under increased scrutiny because the victim of the crash is a police officer. At a minimum, if convicted, she will be required to make restitution to the victim for any damage or loss. Also, she faces a mandatory three year driver’s license revocation. Before her license can be reinstated, if convicted, she must have completed the Victim’s Impact Panel, which is a presentation put on by Mother’s Against Drunk Driving.

No charges will be filed in what police initially described as a fatal hit-and-run crash that killed a Jacksonville woman in October.  The woman was hit by the back of a tractor-trailer and then dragged down the road as the driver left a Jacksonville parking lot, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police were looking for the driver and a private organization had offered $3,000 for anyone who had information on the driver, the newspaper reported. Police eventually tracked him down and interviewed him about the incident, the newspaper reported. The investigation revealed that the driver did not know he hit the woman and the state opted not to file any criminal charges against the driver, the newspaper reported.

Florida law requires that if a person is seriously injured in a traffic crash the driver must remain on the scene, contact authorities and “shall render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.” Had charges been pursued in this Jacksonville Traffic Case, they would have likely been leaving the scene of an accident causing death. That charge is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison. It also carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison.

However, in order to be able to stop the vehicle and render aid, the driver must know that someone was injured or hit by the vehicle. In this Jacksonville Traffic Case, which occurred around 6 a.m. when it was still dark outside, investigators determined the driver did not know. The woman was killed was walking her dog that morning, and tests show she had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit and had cocaine in her system at the time of the crash, the newspaper reported.

Police are looking for two drivers accused of racing each other down Interstate 95, causing one wreck that touched off several more – including one that killed an elderly man and critically injured his wife.  The series of accidents allegedly began when two cars were weaving in and out of traffic, which caused a small Honda to go off the road and hit a guardrail, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Ten minutes later, a pickup truck slowing down for the stopped traffic was rear-ended by another pickup truck, though there were only minor injuries, the newspaper reported. Shortly thereafter, the elderly driver was slowing down behind a tractor trailer when another driver slammed into his SUV, causing the SUV to spin and smash into the back of the tractor-trailer, the newspaper reported.

The drivers would not have to be directly involved in the one fatal crash to be charged with a crime in this St. Johns County Traffic Case, but the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drivers’ negligence triggered a string of crashes that ultimately led to the death of the victim. According to Florida law, vehicular homicide is “the killing of a human being, or the killing of an unborn child by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.” Last year, a Nassau County jury found a man guilty of six counts of vehicular homicide for sideswiping a car that touched off a chain of accidents that killed six people, so there is a history of drivers being convicted even though he or she might not have been directly involved in the ultimate fatal crash.

In most St. Johns County Traffic Cases, vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in state prison. However, in this case, because the driver is accused of leaving the scene of the accident and not stopping to render aid, the charge would be elevated to a first-degree felony, which would bring the penalty up to 30 years in state prison. These serious felony charges may not even come in this St. Johns County Traffic Case – plenty depends on police finding the drivers and then being able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any reckless driving was directly connected to the fatal crash.

A Clay County man was arrested on several traffic violations for a May crash that killed a two people in Clay County.  The defendant is accused of running a red light and crashing into a car with an elderly couple in it, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Both people inside the other car were killed, the newspaper reported. The driver is charged with driving on a suspended license, a second-degree misdemeanor. The charge has a maximum penalty of up to six months in county jail. He was also cited for running a red light and driving without valid insurance. Neither of those is criminal charges, but is simply a traffic ticket.

In Clay County Traffic Cases where people are killed, there are certainly more serious charges that could apply. Primarily, there is vehicular homicide. However, Florida law defines vehicular homicide as “the killing of a human being, or the killing of an unborn child by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.” During the investigation in the four months following the crash, investigators must have determined that while the driver did run a red light, he was not driving in a manner that was so reckless it was likely to hurt someone. Even though the crash occurred at noon, police likely also ran toxicology tests. Those generally take about four to six months and, in all likelihood based on the charges, came back negative.

The defendant still could receive minimal jail time for the charge of driving on a suspended license. While criminal charges are certainly important, there are also likely many things at play for a potential civil case. The standard of being negligent in a civil case is far less strict that the “beyond a reasonable doubt” needed to prove a criminal case. That could be a reason why the defendant may choose to contest the red light traffic ticket. When someone simply pays a traffic ticket, they are admitting guilt. That can be detrimental in a civil case because it shows a person admitted to being at fault. It can also hurt in a standard Clay County Traffic Case even when someone is not hurt or killed. By paying the ticket, a driver will be assessed points, which can add up quickly and could eventually result in a driver’s license being suspended or revoked.  Our Clay County Traffic Attorney represents people accused of all types of traffic violations – from speeding tickets on up to vehicular homicide.

Jacksonville police are investigating a recent crash as a hit-and-run after a pedestrian was killed on the Arlington Expressway.  Police said the pedestrian was killed in the early morning hours, but did not release any information about the person, according to a report on First Coast News. Police said they did not have any information about the car involved in the crash, but they are investigating the case as a hit-and-run, the television station reported. The area near the crash does not have any marked crosswalks, the television station reported. It is possible that a driver could be involved in a fatal crash but not be charged or even ticketed – if there was nothing he or she could do to avoid the crash.

But, even if a driver is not at fault in a Jacksonville Traffic Case, he or she brings serious felony charges into play by not stopping and attempting to render aid. State law requires drivers to stop when they are involved in any type of traffic crash, call police and wait for authorities to arrive on the scene. If a person is injured, the driver, “shall render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person,” according to Florida law.

Leaving the scene of an accident causing death, which would be the most likely charge in this Jacksonville Traffic Case, is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in state prison. Even more important, if a person is convicted or pleads guilty to this Jacksonville Felony Charge, a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison applies. So if a jury finds the defendant guilty, the judge could not give a sentence of less than four years, even if he or she wanted to. And a minimum mandatory sentence also means the defendant must serve every single day of the four years – as opposed to the 85 percent of the sentence most people serve, provided they stay out of trouble behind bars. One moment of panic that leads a person to drive off can have serious consequences in a Jacksonville Traffic Case.  Our Jacksonville Traffic Attorney represents people on minor traffic infractions on up to first-degree felonies.

The decision to leave the scene of a fatal accident was very costly for a St. Johns County man, a judge reminded him during a sentencing hearing this month.  But the man will spend nine months in the county jail, far less than the 30-year maximum sentence of the crime he was originally charged with, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was driving down A1A one evening in July 2014 when a man stepped into the road and was hit and killed by the driver, the newspaper reported. But, instead of staying at the scene of the accident and calling police, as is required by law, the 25-year-old driver took off. Police found him at his home and arrested him, the newspaper reported.

He was initially charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing death, a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in state prison. Instead, the state allowed the driver to plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident causing serious injury – a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. Part of the reason for the downgrade is charge is likely because the first-degree felony carries a minimum mandatory charge of four years in prison, which is far more than the man was eventually sentenced to.

According to state law, if a driver is involved in an accident, he or she must stop the vehicle, call the police and provide driver’s license and insurance information to other people involved. In St. Johns County Traffic Cases where a person is seriously injured, the driver “shall render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.”  In this St. Johns County Felony Case, the driver panicked and left. In many St. Johns County Hit-and-Run cases, the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and leaves the scene to avoid those charges. But that was not the case here, the driver just made a bad decision. The pedestrian was hospitalized and died the next day. The defendant was asking for probation in this case and the state sought a year in county jail – the maximum the man could receive without being sent to state prison.

State and local police say they’ll be out in full force on a well-travelled Clay County highway after a string of serious accidents in recent weeks.  Patrol officers and others are out along the highway, checking speeds and watching for drivers who run red lights in the area, according to a report on News4Jax.com. While nothing has been reported yet in the local news media, expect a news release in the upcoming weeks about the number of violations and tickets issued in the area due to the increased patrols.

Police can’t be everywhere and by no means can they prevent every traffic accident that may occur. But the presence of police officers will undoubtedly make drivers slow down. How many times have you seen a string of brake lights on the highway, only to see a highway patrol officer in the median a few hundred yards up? If drivers do not feel there are consequences for exceeding the speed limit, they likely will.  And while Clay County Traffic Violations are far less serious than misdemeanor and felony crimes, they can have a major financial impact on drivers. On top of the financial considerations, drivers can also lose their license if they continue to get caught speeding or of other moving violations. In Florida, traffic tickets are scored on a point system. When those points accumulate, they can have serious consequences for drivers.

While speeding tickets have varying point levels based on how much the driver exceeds the speed limit, many other common violations are worth 3 points. Reckless driving carries a 4-point penalty and a person caught leaving the scene of an accident faces 6 points. When the points add up they can lead to:

The 16-year-old driver has been charged as an adult for his role in the high-speed crash that killed his 15-year-old friend. The state this month filed charges in the August crash, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Three teens were in the car and the driver had rear-ended a car on Jacksonville’s Westside, the newspaper reported. The driver then sped off and, less than a mile later, crashed the car into a utility pole, the newspaper reported. One passenger was killed and the driver and third passenger were both seriously injured in the crash.

The driver is now charged as an adult in this Jacksonville Traffic Case with vehicular homicide, among a handful of serious charges. Vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. The boy is also facing other felony charges that include driving without a license causing death and driving without a license causing serious bodily injury. The boy is facing more than two decades behind bars and the main issue in this Jacksonville Felony Case is whether the case will ultimately be handled in juvenile court or in adult court.

The juvenile court system is designed to address crimes involving youth, with an eye on rehabilitation and not having lifelong criminal records for youthful mistakes. However, in serious felony cases, the state has the ability to “direct file” cases. That means the cases bypass juvenile court and are treated as is the defendant was 60, not 16. That was the procedure followed in this Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case. The newspaper reported the teens were skipping school when the crash occurred, but there was no information released on if the driver has a previous criminal record. That piece of information would likely play a large role in the decision to direct file. If, for example, a teen has had several chances and continues to get into trouble, the state may direct file in a Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Case to prove a point.