Articles Posted in Traffic Crimes/Tickets

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.

Our St. Johns County Traffic Attorney represents people charges with all types of traffic offenses – from speeding tickets on up to criminal charges that include time in state prison.
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 Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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:

– A 30-day license suspension for 12 points in one year
– A 3-month suspension for 18 points in 18 months
– A 1-year suspension for 24 point in a 3-year period

If a driver simply pays his or her fine on the ticket, he or she is admitting guilt and accepting the points that come with the violation. Those points are on your driving record and will also likely cause car insurance rates to rise. In some Clay County Traffic Cases, an attorney can appear on your behalf in an effort to get the fine or points reduced.
Our Clay County Traffic Attorney has represented hundreds of drivers on traffic cases and can help you make a decision on whether the ticket is worth fighting – based on the circumstances, including your past driving record.

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

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.

Charging a boy as an adult can also be a negotiating tactic for the state. Juvenile crimes have a similar punishment system as adults, ranging from house arrest to what amounts to a prison for teens. But punishment ends at age 21. So, in this Jacksonville Juvenile Case, the boy would be released in five years, rather than potentially 25 years. Just because a charge against a boy starts in adult court does not mean it will end there. Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney is experienced in juvenile cases and works with clients to try to keep juvenile cases in juvenile court where they belong.

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

St. Johns County police have located the vehicle they think was involved in a hit-and-run crash that killed a cyclist last month. Police said they received a tip that the vehicle was under a tarp at a home in St. Johns County, according to a report on News4Jax.com. Police are not releasing the type of vehicle, but did say initial investigations make them confident this vehicle was involved, the television station reported. The case began when a 26-year-old man was found dead in a local road near a bicycle that looked like it was hit by a car, the television station reported.

No arrests have been made in this St. Johns County Traffic Case. The television station reported that police interviewed people at the home where the vehicle was found, but did not file any immediate charges. Any criminal charges would be for the driver, which means police need to be sure they have the right person who was driving the car at the time of the accident. When charges are issued, the most serious will likely be leaving the scene of an accident causing death. If a driver is involved in a crash where someone is seriously injured, the driver is required by law to stop the vehicle, attempt to render aid, call 911 for help and stay at the scene of the accident until authorities arrive. None of those appears to have happened in this St. Johns County Felony Case. The charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing death is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison. The charge also carries a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. Minimum mandatory sentences are important for people to understand in plea negotiations because every day of the sentence must be served. In most St. Johns County Felony Cases, defendants serve 85 percent of their sentence if they stay out of trouble in jail or prison. So a 10-year-sentence, for example, is more like 8-1/2 years.

A similar charge – including the minimum mandatory sentence – would apply if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash. That charge becomes difficult to prove if the driver is not located immediately after the crash. Drivers has serious responsibilities to stop when an accident occurs and people who have no previous criminal record can face lengthy prison sentences for not following the traffic rules. Our St. Johns County Felony attorney has represented people facing all types of criminal charges and will fully investigate your case, review your options and provide you 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 St. Johns County Felony Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Police arrested a Jacksonville man four months after he was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run accident that killed a pedestrian. The 22-year-old driver initially said he thought he hit a mailbox on New Berlin Road about 9:45 p.m. one May evening, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver did not stop at the time of the crash, but did call his insurance company the next morning to file a claim about hitting the mailbox, the newspaper reported. The driver then hired a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney the following day after hearing about the death in media reports.

The driver was charged with failure to leave information at the scene of an accident. That Jacksonville Traffic Charge is a second-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months in the county jail. Given the circumstances and that the crash caused a death, there is a significant possibility that more charges will be filed in this Jacksonville Traffic Case, and that this arrest is just the beginning. According to Florida law, “The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property which results in injury to a person other than serious bodily injury shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and shall remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062.” Those requirements include reporting the accident to police, leaving insurance and driver’s license information. Those apply even if the driver thought he had only hit a mailbox.

Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of six months in county jail – just like the charge the driver is currently facing. However, leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury or death is a third-degree felony, and when someone pleads guilty to or is convicted of this crime, he or she is looking at up to five years in state prison. The gravity of charges and potential sentences increase dramatically when serious injuries or death are involved. Police know they have the correct car because DNA results match, according to the newspaper report. In Jacksonville Traffic Cases, requirements such as what must be done when you are in an accident and part of the agreement of having a driver’s license. In other words, to have a driver’s license, you agree to do certain things, including stopping when there is an accident. Failure to do so can result in charges and a claim of not knowing you were supposed to stop is not likely to be a successful defense. This Jacksonville Traffic Case will be one to keep an eye on to see if further charges are eventually filed.

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

Police ticketed a driver who hit accidentally hit an officer with her truck while dropping students off at a Clay County school. The driver allegedly stopped in a turn lane to drop two students off at Oakleaf High School, and then drove back toward to school entrance where the officer was directing traffic, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The officer then fell to the ground when he was hit in the legs by the rear drivers-side of the truck, the newspaper reported. The officer had a reflective vest on and the lights on his patrol car were flashing at the time of the 7 a.m. accident, the newspaper reported. The officer was evaluated by a doctor but did not need to be hospitalized.

The 18-year-old driver was given a ticket for careless driving and a separate citation for not having proof of insurance. In Clay County Traffic Cases, moving violations each carry a different amount of points that can be assessed to a driver’s record. Those points then accumulate and can result in severe penalties, such as a suspended driver’s license. This case is a prime example of how those points can escalate based on the result of the violation. Ordinarily, careless driving would have 3 points assessed to a driver’s license. Three points is the most common punishment in Clay County Traffic Cases, along with the fines and court costs that come with any ticket. However, according to Florida Law, any moving violation that results in an accident is a 4-point violation.

That one point can be significant for a driver with a pattern of tickets. The point accumulation that leads to license suspension is as follows:
 12 points in a year: 30-day license suspension  18 points in 18 months: 3-month suspension  24 points in three years: 1-year suspension
And by simply paying the ticket and the fine, you are admitting guilt and accepting the points that will be added to your driving record. Even if you or your loved one has an otherwise spotless driving record, it could be worth talking to a Clay County Traffic Attorney about contesting the ticket. Insurance companies use the points to determine the risk level of insuring a driver and, when tickets crop up, auto insurance rates will start to rise, too. Our Clay County Traffic Attorney can look into your case and help determine if there’s a possibility of getting fines or points reduced.

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

A Jacksonville man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the hit-and-run death of a 2-year-old and his girlfriend was sent to jail for a year for her role in trying to hide him and the crime. The small girl was following her sister across an apartment complex parking lot when she was hit by a car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver got out of the car and told his girlfriend to drive while he ran away on foot, the newspaper reported. The couple then hid from police and was on the lam for several days before being arrested, the newspaper reported.

The man was charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and driving on a suspended license. Leaving the scene involving a death is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, while driving on a suspended license is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. If a driver is involved in an accident and someone is injured, that driver has the legal obligation to call for help, render aid if possible and remain on the scene until police and emergency crews arrive. That did not happen in this Jacksonville Traffic Case, and the driver’s alleged history of a dozen citations for driving on a suspended license likely did not help in the sentencing phase of the case.

From a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney perspective, the sentencing of the girlfriend presents an interesting challenge. It’s unclear if she knew her boyfriend was not supposed to be driving, but, she was then placed in a situation to make a split-second decision once the accident occurred. She was in all likelihood trying to protect her boyfriend when she drove off, perhaps unaware of her own exposure to charges in this Jacksonville Traffic Case. She was charged with accessory after the fact and tampering with evidence. Accessory after the fact is one degree below the actual crime. So, because the leaving the scene of an accident was a first-degree felony, the accessory charge is a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. She was also charged with evidence tampering, a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison, likely for driving the car away from where the accident occurred. So she was facing 20 years in prison and got one year in the county jail. The state likely justified the charge by saying although there was a split-second decision to drive the car away, if the couple was holed up for a few days, there was ample time to come forward and she chose not to do so.

Jacksonville Traffic Cases can be difficult because there generally is not a criminal intent from the beginning, but there is instead something that occurs and then forces a person to make a snap decision on how to handle the incident.

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

A man who rear-ended a broken-down car on a Jacksonville bridge, likely causing the stranded driver to be propelled off the bridge and into the water, has been charged with careless driving. The stranded driver was found dead by a fisherman several days after the crash, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver cited in this Jacksonville Traffic Case was going 65 mph in a 45 mph zone, the newspaper reported, and police said he was driving in a “careless or reckless manner.” Police have not said where the victim was standing when his car was struck, the newspaper reported. Careless driving is not a criminal charge, but is instead a traffic citation that results in a fine and points added to a driver’s license.

Jacksonville Traffic Cases such as this are extremely difficult when it comes to potential criminal charges. In this case, a criminal charge could be vehicular homicide. According to Florida law, vehicular homicide is the killing of another person “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.” In this Jacksonville Traffic Case, the state apparently did not see that the drivers’ actions met this standard. When people see a case like this, it’s natural to want someone to be punished for something that results in the death of someone else, especially someone who was doing nothing wrong. Especially when, as the newspaper reported in this Jacksonville Traffic Case, when the accused driver has a history or traffic citations and even received another speeding ticket weeks after the crash that killed the Jacksonville man. But the criminal justice system is designed to be based solely on facts – and the need to prove a case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

In Jacksonville Traffic Cases, vehicular homicide is charged when a driver is putting other drivers in harm’s way by his or her actions, such as weaving in and out of traffic and speeding excessively. The driver does not even have to be the one whose vehicle physically hit the car where people were killed. That was proven in a Nassau County Traffic Case earlier this year, where a man was convicted of six counts of vehicular homicide for sideswiping a car the led to a chain reaction that killed six people in 2010. Every case has different elements and requires an extensive investigation by the state and police before choosing to file criminal charges in a Jacksonville 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 Jacksonville Traffic Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Florida Department of Corrections officer was arrested this month, accused of punching another driver in what police described as a road rage incident. Police said the man got out of his car, walked up to another driver and punched the driver in the face, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The alleged victim did not have any visible signs of injury, but did tell police that his chin hurt from the punch, the newspaper reported. The suspect was taken to the Clay County jail and charged with battery. Battery in Clay County is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail.

There was nothing in the media reports that indicate what the alleged victim in this case did or did not do to warrant that alleged reaction from the defendant. But in most Clay County Battery Cases, there are two sides to every story. A Clay County Battery is a misdemeanor crime in which someone hits or otherwise makes physical contact with someone else during an altercation. A felony battery would be if someone uses a weapon, such as hitting someone with a bat or a bottle, or there is a more serious injury. People often confuse assault and battery in Clay County Misdemeanor Cases and use the two terms interchangeably. They are two completely different crimes.

According to Florida law, an assault is “an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.” In a Clay County Misdemeanor Case, assault is a second-degree misdemeanor, with less severe penalties than a Clay County Battery Case. The maximum penalty for a second-degree misdemeanor is six months in jail. The corrections officer could have more trouble with his employer than with the criminal justice system itself. Employers, especially the state, can have strict penalties on discipline for people when they are arrested. For Clay County Battery charges, there are often programs the state will often agree to that would have the charges dropped if certain conditions are met. In many Clay County Battery Cases, it could be anger management and other courses that a defendant could take, especially if they don’t have a prior criminal record. It’s unlikely that a corrections officer has a criminal record, so he would likely qualify.

People have a tendency to be at their worst behind the wheel and these Clay County Battery Cases are becoming more and more common. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged with misdemeanors and can help try to dispose of the case quickly so you or your loved one can get on with 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 Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A 17-year-old St. Johns County teen was charged this month in the crash that critically injured his friend and teammate. Charges were filed five months after the near-fatal crash, according to a report on News4Jax. The teen driving was charged with participating in an unlawful race and with reckless driving causing serious injury, the television station reported. The racing charge is a misdemeanor, but the reckless driving count is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. Neither police nor prosecutors have said whether they plan to charge the teen as an adult or as a juvenile.

The crash occurred when the driver lost control of his pickup truck while racing another vehicle, the television station reported. Police said the driver admitted at the scene he was racing and driving faster than 90 mph, the television station reported. A passenger was thrown from the vehicle and suffered severe head trauma in the crash. One complicating factor in the charges is the victim’s father saying he was disappointed in the arrest and that the driver and his son are close friends, the television station reported. That adds a layer of difficulty for the state. What could be happening is that prosecutors may know they will be offering probation or another seemingly minor penalty in the case, but felt some charges were necessary because of the admission from the driver at the scene and the severity of the injuries in this St. Johns County Traffic Case.

Ordinarily, careless driving in a St. Johns County Traffic Case is nothing more than a traffic citation that could result in a fine and points on a person’s driver’s license. But when someone is seriously injured, the case then carries criminal penalties. These St. Johns County Criminal Traffic Cases can be difficult for both sides because, clearly, there was not a criminal intent for the teen to hurt his friend. Cases like these are inherently different from those in which there’s a fight or a shooting or some sort of active decision made to intentionally harm someone. That’s not the case here, in this St. Johns County Juvenile Case. These are teens making a mistake that ended up having serious consequences, and even the victim’s family appears to be against criminal charges. There’s no indication that alcohol was a factor in this crash, which will likely be a significant factor in the possibility of a more lenient sentence if the driver is convicted or pleads guilty to the charges.

Our St. Johns County Traffic Attorney knows that many people who find themselves charged in serious traffic charges do not have a lengthy criminal history, nor are they familiar with the system. Our St. Johns County Juvenile Crimes Attorney can explain the charges, the potential penalties and the process to help resolve the case in the best manner possible.

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