Recently in Jacksonville Traffic Crimes Category

Woman arrested, accused of intentionally driving her car into a blood donation center

November 7, 2014

Police arrested a woman for driving her car into a blood donation center, a crash that shut the business down and sent nine people to local hospitals with injuries. None of the injuries were life-threatening, and the driver was among those taken for treatment, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The woman is accused of pulling up toward the entrance, pausing, and then driving through the entrance and another 40 feet into the crowded business, the newspaper reported. The car knocked over counters and other structures in the building and part of the roof collapsed, the newspaper reported.

The driver was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and criminal mischief causing more than $1,000 worth of damages to a business. The aggravated battery charge is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison, while the criminal mischief charge is a third-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Aggravated battery with a weapon is more commonly charged when someone uses a firearm or a baseball bat, something that is more targeted or used directly at one person. But a vehicle can be used as a weapon and this charge would qualify - assuming the act was intentional. Witness speculated that the woman had argued with the staff about being told she could not donate plasma for money, but all of those details would need to surface through the investigative and discovery process as the case moved forward.

One element of this Jacksonville Aggravated Battery Case that could change is the number of charges the driver is facing. Right now, she is facing one count of aggravated battery. In many Jacksonville Violent Crimes Cases, the state will charge people with one count for each of the people who are injured in the incident. In this Jacksonville Aggravated Battery Case, that could mean eight charges, bringing her prison time exposure on those charges from 15 years up to 120 years. Would the state be likely to seek several decades in prison for the defendant in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case? Probably not. But this would be an example of how the state could use additional charges as leverage to help speed up the case or encourage the defendant to plead guilty and avoid taking the case to trial with the whole string of charges. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged with battery, some for simple fights and others involving weapons and serious prison time. Each case has its own set of facts and our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and fight for the best outcome in the 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 Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Man turns himself in to face charges in St. Johns County hit-and-run death

November 4, 2014

A man accused of hitting a pedestrian and leaving the scene of accident is now facing serious felony charges in St. Johns County. The 25-year-old man is accused of hitting a 53-year-old pedestrian who died from his injuries, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver did not call police or stop and wait for help to arrive, but instead drove off after the July accident, the newspaper reported. After evidence was collected and tested from the scene and the man's vehicle, police issued a warrant. Rather than wait for police to arrest him, the man turned himself in on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing a death.

The charge is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison. And while the maximum penalty is important, the key in this St. Johns County Felony Case is the minimum mandatory sentence. Florida law requires that if someone is convicted of leaving the scene of an accident causing death, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. And in cases with a minimum mandatory sentence, the defendant must serve every single day of the sentence in prison. For most other crimes, people serve 85 percent of the time, so four years would really be just more than three years. This minimum mandatory sentence also applies regardless of a person's prior criminal history.

Florida drivers are required to stop if they are involved in a car accident of any kind. If the driver has a reasonable belief that someone is injured, he or she must stop, attempt to render aid and call 911 to get emergency crews on the scene. In this St. Johns County Traffic Case, the accusation is that none of those things happened. The requirements are there for any type of crash, though the penalties do increase depending on the severity of the damage that is caused. For example, if the victim has a serious bodily injury but does not die from the injuries, the charge would be a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. The charge also would not carry a minimum mandatory prison sentence - a key difference in the two charges. The charge would result in the driver having his or her license revoked for three years. In many St. Johns County Felony Traffic Cases, an arrest like this is a person's first serious experience in the criminal justice system. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney can investigate your case, explain the potential consequences and provide you or your loved one with the information to make a decision about how to proceed with the 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 St. Johns County Felony Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Originally sentenced to 33 years in "road rage" crashes, woman now agrees to house arrest and probation in plea deal

August 18, 2014

After her first conviction was overturned in May, negating her 33-year sentence, the state opted to offer a plea deal to a woman accused of injuring several people in what St. Johns County police described as road rage crashes. In some cases, an overturned conviction means a new trial. In this St. Johns County Felony Case, the state opted for a plea that was far better than the original sentence, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The woman is accused of driving into a bicyclist and into a St. Johns County police car, then driving at another officer who was on foot. She also is accused of hitting a person driving a scooter and then a truck and another vehicle, the newspaper reported.

In all, she was charged with 14 felonies: six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, aggravated attempt to elude causing serious injury and resisting arrest with violence. The first trial was a bench trial - simply in front of a judge, not a jury of her peers. An appellate court threw out the conviction, saying the woman was entitled to have a trial in front of her peers and she likely did not understand the full consequences of allowing her attorney to waive that right. The main issue at the trial was whether or not the defendant was mentally ill at the time of the incident in this St. Johns County Felony Case. There were conflicting reports from doctors, the newspaper reported, and the judge did not feel she was in fact insane at the time of the crashes. The main difference in a jury trial is there are more people involved in the decision. In this St, Johns County Traffic case, there would have been a panel of six jurors. Any decision must be unanimous, so it would only take one person to disagree and prevent a conviction. Given the state's decision following the case being overturned, it brings up the question of whether or not the state would have even gone to trial in front of a jury the first time.

Now, the defendant is sentenced to just two years of house arrest and 10 years of probation - a far cry from the 33-year prison sentence she received the first time around.
From a procedure standpoint, there are a variety of avenues that must be considered in a St. Johns County Felony Crimes Case. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented thousands of people and will suggest different strategies so you and your loved one can make the best decision in your 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 St. Johns County Felony Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Jacksonville Beach man on trial for murder, accused of intentionally driving over his friend

The trial of a man accused of purposefully running his friend down and killing him is expected to conclude this week. The defendant faces mandatory life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his 35-year-old friend, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The two men were watching a basketball game at a Jacksonville Beach bar and, when the defendant's team lost, he became upset and the victim moved to another table, the newspaper reported. This upset the defendant and the two got into a fight, which got the defendant tossed out of the bar, the newspaper reported.

The victim then went back to his apartment after being told his dog was out and saw the defendant parked across the street. The state says the victim then confronted the defendant, thinking he was the one who let the dog out, and the defendant drove over the victim and never returned, the newspaper reported. The defendant says he was scared when the victim came after him and was just trying to escape, the newspaper reported. The defendant hit a curb the same time he hit the victim, so he said he didn't know he'd hit anyone, the newspaper reported.

This presents an interesting Jacksonville Murder Case a jury must now decide. By charging first-degree murder in this case, the state is saying that the defendant drove at the victim with the sole purpose of killing him or doing great bodily harm. If the state's case was that there was a struggle and the defendant drove off in fear, it could be vehicular homicide, or even manslaughter. In this Jacksonville Violent Case, though, the crime has nothing to do with a vehicle. The fundamental element of the crime is the defendant is accused of using a weapon to kill another person. The car just happens to be the weapon in this case, rather than a gun or a knife. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally tried to kill the victim and it will be interesting to see if the jury looks at other charges outside of first-degree murder in this Jacksonville Murder Case. If convicted, the defendant faces mandatory life in prison. The only two possible punishments for first-degree murder in a Jacksonville Murder Case are life in prison and the death penalty. The state is not seeking the death penalty in this Jacksonville Murder 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 Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Man arrested after driving upwards up 100 mph to elude Atlantic Beach police

February 14, 2014

Speeds were so high that police called off the chase for an Orlando man driving erratically and topping 100 mph to get away from officers. The vehicle, though, was spotted a short time later and when the suspect tried to run on foot, he wasn't nearly as elusive, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man, who lives in Orlando, was eventually caught and charged with Duval County resisting arrest, along with fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer with disregard for safety and property.

Resisting arrest in Jacksonville is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail, and that charge like stems from the foot chase. Where the suspect faces much more serious consequences is on the fleeing and eluding charge. There are varying degrees of severity on this charge and this Jacksonville Felony Crimes Case falls right in the middle. A simple fleeing and eluding an officer - essentially not pulling over or stopping when asked - is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
If, when doing so, the person "drives at high speed, or in any manner which demonstrates a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property," the charge becomes a second degree felony, as it is in this Jacksonville Traffic Case. Second-degree felonies have a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. If the driving has a wanton disregard for safety and causes a serious bodily injury or death - including to the officer the person is driving away from - the charge escalates to a first-degree felony. That charges carries a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in prison and a maximum of 30 years.

In this Jacksonville Traffic Case, the driver is charged with the Florida second-degree felony. He is accused of turning his car around in front of four lanes of traffic on a bridge, making an illegal U-turn and running a stop sign - just missing other vehicles along the way. Once police saw him on foot, the driver still tried to run away, unsuccessfully tried to hide in some bushes and has to be Tasered for officers to get handcuffs on him. The more a suspect tries to run or drive away from officers, the greater the chance the suspect will end up facing even more serious charges than he or she would have in the first place. Simply stopping when police tell you to stop can end up saving plenty of headaches - and Jacksonville Felony Charges - down the road.

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

Beginning July 1, Jacksonville drivers can now be ticketed for driving too slow

A new state law that takes effect July 1 allows police to ticket drivers who are going more than 10 mph below the speed limit in the left lane on the freeway. The new provision didn't get much attention, as it was passed as part of a bill that regulates how cities can ticket drivers using cameras to determine people have run red lights, according to a television news report from News4Jax.

Slower drivers have always been asked to use the right lanes on the freeway, allowing faster drivers to pass. The left lane is known as "the fast lane" for a reason. But now, anyone driving more than 10 mph under the speed limit in the left lane can be ticketed, the television station reported. The new law for Jacksonville Traffic Violation Cases will begin July 1. In theory, Jacksonville Traffic Violation laws are designed to keep drivers safe on the roads, so it will be interesting to see how much emphasis is placed on the new law. The fine is up to $60, but a violation would not put additional points on a person's driving record. Traffic penalties can add up quickly and end up being big trouble for drivers. Traffic violations are scored on a point system. Speeding tickets carry a variety of points, depending on how far over the speed limit the ticket is written for. Other point penalties include six points for leaving the scene of an accident and four points for reckless driving. As the points build, the penalties can quickly result in a driver losing his or her driver's license for a significant amount of time.

 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 when a driver simply pays the ticket, he or she is admitting guilt and accepting all of the penalties, including the points. That charge then sticks to a person's driving record and the points count toward the total that could be used to suspend or revoke a person's license. Not only can points affect the person's license down the road, it can impact auto insurance rates. In some cases, a Jacksonville Traffic Violation Attorney can assist in having points reduced or even eliminated complete, which can have a dramatic impact on future traffic penalties.

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

Prosecutors drop felony charge against Jacksonville driver in crash that killed Baker County man

More than a year after charging a Jacksonville driver with a felony in the death of a Baker County man on Interstate 10, prosecutors have reduced the charges to misdemeanors. Holly King was initially charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license resulting in a serious injury or death, according to a report on First Coast News. That charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. Now, King's case has been transferred to county court and she is facing a first-degree misdemeanor and a maximum of one year in the county jail.

The reduction is significant for King, because pleading guilty to or being convicted of a felony in Duval County can significantly affect a person's ability to get a job - notwithstanding the amount of prison time she could have been facing. As it turns out, the state should have never even charged here with a felony to begin with in the 2011 fatal crash. King was allegedly speeding on Interstate 10 when she drove up on a car driven by Lauren Annis, the television station reported. King lost control and allegedly hit Annis' car, which flipped, killing Annis' husband Todd, the television station reported. King was initially charged with careless driving, but six months later was charged with the felony in this Jacksonville Traffic Case. The felony is tied to the suspended license. King's license was suspended because she did not pay a traffic fine. According to state law, a license suspension that results from failure to pay a fine cannot be used to upgrade a misdemeanor to a felony.

Now, had King's license been suspended for receiving too many points for various traffic violations, the state would have had a legal basis to charge her with a felony. But, in this Jacksonville Traffic Case, the felony is not applicable. Legally, her license had been suspended three months before the accident that killed Annis and should not have been driving - but that still does not make her crime a felony. Traffic fines and penalties can add up quickly and bring some significant penalties. Tickets are scored on a point system and speeding tickets carry a variety of points. Reckless driving is 4 points. Leaving the scene of an accident is 6 points. As the points build, they can add up to big trouble:

 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

Failure to pay fines can also lead to a license suspension, as it did in King's Jacksonville Traffic Case. Simply paying the fine is admitting guilt and accepting the points - along with the penalties that come with them and the ancillary costs that can include skyrocketing auto insurance rates. An experienced Jacksonville Traffic Attorney can examine your case to see if reducing points or penalties may be an option to pursue.

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.

Man sentenced to five years in prison for Clay County hit-and-run crash that killed 13-year-old

February 4, 2013

A Jacksonville man was sentenced to five years in prison for leaving the scene of a 2011 traffic crash that killed a 13-year-old Clay County boy. Anthony Margadonna, 24, was sentenced last week after pleading guilty last year to leaving the scene of an accident causing death, a first-degree felony in Clay County, Florida. The sentence also includes 10 years of probation, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Margadonna was facing up to 15 years in prison. Florida law required Margadonna to serve at least 21 months in prison because the charge does carry a minimum mandatory sentence.

Margadonna was driving on Branan Field Road in Clay County about 9:40 p.m. on a November night when he hit a 13-year-old who was riding his bicycle, the newspaper reported. Police alleged that Margadonna did not stop, nor did he report the crash to authorities. He was arrested in Clay County two days later when his Jeep was spotted while he was driving, the newspaper reported.

It was never reported whether Margadonna was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. From a legal perspective, there's no way to charge him with it because he allegedly ran. There would not be an officer available to testify he or she witnessed signs of impairment because no one from law enforcement saw him until two days after the crash. Margadonna was sentenced to Clay County drug offender probation, which can be triggered by Florida drug crime convictions on his record - which he reportedly does have.

If you are in a traffic accident, you are legally required to stop immediately. In the case where someone is hurt, as in this Clay County Felony Crime case, you must provide reasonable assistance, including either taking the person to a hospital or calling someone, including 911, to arrange for medical attention if you think the person needs it or the person asks to see a doctor immediately. In this case, police say Margadonna did neither and just took off. It's unclear if he knew the extent of the damage or how badly the boy was hurt, but the driver has a legal duty to stop the car to find out.

Leaving the scene of accident with property damage is a misdemeanor in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties, punishable by up to 60 days in jail. The charge elevates to a third-degree felony when someone is injured, exposing the defendant to up to five years in prison. When there's a death, as in this Clay County Felony Crime case, it becomes a first-degree felony and the minimum mandatory sets in. Crimes involving traffic accidents can be difficult because a person is just driving along the road when something happens. Decisions to stay or leave are made instantly and people are understandably shook up when an accident happens, meaning they may make decisions they would not ordinarily make. People who may not have a criminal record at all are suddenly faced with a decision where the wrong move can have them looking at mandatory prison time.

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

Lack of evidence and witnesses leads to a one-year term for driver in hit-and-run death

September 21, 2012

He faced up to 30-years for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident that killed a 23-year-old woman, but Michael Levi Beauregard was sentenced last week to just one year in jail. Beauregard will also be on probation in Jacksonville for five years for the May 2011 accident that killed a woman who was riding a motorized wheelchair on the side of a road, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. This Jacksonville vehicular homicide case was problematic from the start because there was no physical evidence and there were no eyewitnesses who could testify on court. Moon's fiancé was at the scene, but was unable to identify the driver. Beauregard is accused of speeding and hitting the woman, stopping briefly, then panicking and taking off, essentially leaving her to die. He admitted to the accident and said he did not see her in the road.

Part of the plea deal required Beauregard to pay $3,700 for the woman's funeral expenses and $2,000 for the wheelchair. The woman was not disabled, but had taken her finance's father's motorized chair to go pick up a pizza, the newspaper reported. The case is a prime example of the elements needed to prove a case in a trial, and how those may not always be there - regardless of what everyone thinks and assumes happened. Beauregard made a serious mistake and was willing to take responsibility and do some time as punishment. And it likely wasn't worth the risk of 30 years in prison if he was convicted at trial of vehicular homicide. But the state could not take the case to trial, and it obviously knew that. There was no one to put on the stand and say Beauregard was driving, no way to prove that he was even the one driving the truck. The cases that often seem the easiest to just rule with a "guilty" verdict aren't always like that.

An experienced Jacksonville Traffic Attorney knows what to look for to see if the state has what it needs to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, gives cases a comprehensive analysis and will then meet with you or your loved one to advise you or your best options going forward. Sometimes, that's a trial. In other cases, like this one, it can be best to take advantage of the state's weak case, get the best deal possible and move on.

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 Criminal Attorney is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Jacksonville police charge man with vehicular homicide for driving into home, killing teen

September 19, 2012

More than two weeks after a Jacksonville teen was killed when a van drove into her bedroom, police have charged a 51-year-old man in her death. Ismet Sijamhodzic was arrested in Jacksonville and charged with vehicular homicide and was being held in the Duval County jail on a bond of $250,000, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He faces up to 15 years in prison on the Florida second-degree felony charge. Sijamhodzic ran a stop sign about 2:40 a.m. on an August morning and drove straight into the bedroom of the Wolfson High School student, trapping her between the van and a wall, according to the newspaper report. There were no signs that he tried to stop or steer the van to avoid the home, nor were there skid marks in the road near the home, the newspaper reported.

Sijamhodzic had marijuana in system as well Xanax, a prescription muscle relaxer and anti-anxiety drug, and told police he hadn't slept for three days before the accident, according to the newspaper. In Florida, vehicular homicide that Sijamhodzic is charged with is a second-degree felony. In a case where someone leaves the scene or doesn't render the aid he or she could have to help the victim, it becomes a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Sijamhodzic was injured in the crash and hospitalized, so the enhanced charge would not apply in his case. The drugs in his system aren't likely to help him in terms of plea negotiations, nor are the 10 traffic tickets the newspaper reported he had received since 1996. Jacksonville traffic citations like these are not used in the sentencing guideline formula that is used by the court to determine a range for a sentence, but they are generally placed under consideration by prosecutors when they are determining what, if anything the state would offer in lieu of taking the case to trial.

Public opinion also plays a role, and the state may be unlikely to look like it is giving a favorable deal to someone who killed an innocent honor student while she was sleeping.
Yet there are still facts that are not known. Was the road wet that night? How exactly do police know he did not try to steer around something in the road? Sijamhodzic clearly has an uphill battle in this Jacksonville vehicular homicide case, but his lack of a serious criminal record could help reduce his sentence. He would have been wise, and may have, contacted a Jacksonville Traffic Crime Attorney immediately after released from the hospital. He had to know charges were coming and it is best in these cases when the defendant comes to police, with a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, instead of the police running the defendant down.

If you or a loved one needs a vehicular homicide attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County Criminal Defense Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.