A long-running Jacksonville aggravated battery case that drew national media attention because of a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence ended last month with a plea deal. The defendant pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated battery for firing what she says was a warning shot into the ceiling because she was afraid of her estranged husband, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said there were two children nearby, which led to the three charges, the newspaper reported. The woman was facing 60 years in prison, but the agreement reached last month calls for her to do three years in prison. Because of time served over the delays and other turns in this case, she will be released in January.

This deal ends a highly-publicized case that drew local and national discussion about warning shots and minimum mandatory sentences. The defendant was initially found guilty of all three counts by a jury in 2011. Because of Florida’s 10-20-Life law, and the fact the defendant fired a weapon, a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years applied and the judge had no discretion in the sentence. The conviction was overturned on a technicality and the case came back to Jacksonville. But one major element had changed. Interpretation of the 10-20-Life and minimum mandatory laws had since changed. Prevailing legal opinion now is that each charge carries a minimum mandatory 20-year sentence. So instead of 20 years, the defendant, now 34, was looking at 60 years in state prison if convicted again.

The three-year sentence is a similar plea deal to what the defendant initially rejected right before her 2011 trial, the newspaper reported. Under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, if someone pulls a gun during the commission of a felony, there is a minimum mandatory 10-year prison sentence that can apply. If a firearm is discharged, the sentence is bumped up to 20 years. If someone is shot, the minimum mandatory is life. Now, prosecutors ultimately have the discretion to waive those penalties, as they eventually did in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. But once the case goes to trial, the sentencing decision is out of everyone’s hands – even the judge’s. The threat of minimum mandatory sentences is often used in bargaining by the state to get people to plead guilty to charges and take shorter prison sentences, rather than face a mandatory 60-year sentence, or whatever the charge may be. Minimum mandatory sentences are definitely a card the state holds and our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney can explain all of the details and consequences so you or your loved one can make an informed decision about a pending case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Duval County Gun 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.

A Clay County man who was part of an ongoing methamphetamines investigation was arrested this month, accused of purchasing many of the chemicals needed to produce the drug. Police said they were alerted that the man bought a package of cold medicine used to make meth from a Jacksonville pharmacy, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Investigators were alerted because the man was already on a watch list for people suspected of making methamphetamines, the newspaper reported. When police tracked him down, they allegedly found him with a plastic bottle positioned to cook the meth in his car, along with other chemicals, the newspaper reported. Police then searched his home and found more chemicals hidden in the ceiling, the newspaper reported.

He is now charged with trafficking in methamphetamines, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in state prison. The defendant is also facing a charge of producing methamphetamines, a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. Trafficking charges are very serious and begin if someone is in possession of just 14 grams of the drug. Trafficking amounts vary based on the type of drug and meth has one of the lower thresholds of any street drug. Methamphetamines are treated similar to oxycodone and other prescription pain pills, where a handful of pills can end up being a trafficking charge. And trafficking does not necessarily mean the person is selling the drug – the charge is based solely on the amount the person is charged with having.

For methamphetamines, anything between 14 and 28 grams carries minimum mandatory sentence of three years in state prison. Between 28 grams and 200 grams, that minimum rises to seven years. Anything more than 200 grams has a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison. Records show the defendant in this Clay County Drug Crimes case had recently pleaded guilty to less serious methamphetamines charges earlier in the year, but was out on bond awaiting sentencing. His arrest on new Clay County Drug Charges will not sit well at all with the judge and will likely cost him several years in prison. Showing remorse and changing behavior is important to judges making sentencing decisions, and doing the same thing just months after getting out of jail is not going to help. Our Clay County Drug Crimes Attorney represents people on all levels of drug charges – from possession to trafficking, from marijuana to methamphetamines. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate your case and lay out the options for your or your loved one 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 Clay County Drug Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Police have arrested two men and are seeking one more on child exploitation charges after a sexual video surfaced that had been used to promote a rap song. Two St. Johns County men, ages 18 and 19, are facing felony charges and there is a warrant out for a 21-year-old Jacksonville man, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. St. Johns County school officials alerted police after they learned the video had been posted on Facebook, the newspaper reported.

One man is charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a child between the ages of 12 and 16, along with the use of a child in a sexual performance. Both charges are second-degree felonies with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, so the man is facing up to 30 years behind bars. A second defendant is charged with promoting a sexual performance by a child – another second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. All three of these St .Johns County Sex Crimes charges are very serious, and could lead to the men being classified as sex offenders, if they plead guilty to or are convicted of these charges.

More than any other types of criminal charges, St. Johns County Sex Crimes charges stick with a person long after he or she has done their time in jail or prison. Part of the punishment for sex crimes – particularly those involving children – is that the person register as a sex offender. That includes checking in with police at least twice a year – though it can be more frequent depending on the charge. Being a registered sexual offender also means that whenever the person moves, neighbors in the surrounding area are notified that a sex offender has just moved in. That notification includes the person’s name, address and the charge that made them a sex offender.

In this St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case, few details of the video have been released and more of the story will be developed once it is clear what the third person will be charged with. So far, it is clear one man is charged with taking part in the sex act and another is only accused of using the video. While the charges are both second-degree felonies in terms of the statutes, prosecutors and the judge are likely to see the two very differently when it comes to addressing the charges in this St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case. There are major lasting consequences for pleading guilty in St. Johns County Sex Crimes Cases, and our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney can explain all of them to you or your loved one 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 St. Johns County Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A Jacksonville man is facing several felony charges – and potentially even more – as police investigate the thefts of expensive mechanical equipment taken from local restrooms. Police had several reports of the thefts and then identified a suspect from surveillance video taken from a local McDonald’s, showing a man walking in and out of the restroom at the time of the theft, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The suspect was arrested two days later when he was trying to sell the part at a metal recycling facility, the newspaper reported.

The man is facing multiple counts of several felonies, including:

1. Dealing in stolen property, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.

2. False verification of ownership to a secondary metals recycler for property under $300. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.

3. Grand theft of property valued between $300 and $5,000, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

4. Criminal mischief causing more than $1,000 in damages to a business. The charge is also a third-degree felony, with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison.

More Jacksonville Theft Charges could be on the way. Police said they were investigating 17 of these thefts, and there have also been reports of similar incidents in neighboring Clay County, though no charges have been filed. While Duval County and Clay County have some separate court systems, for felony cases they fall under the same judicial circuit and under the same State Attorney’s Office. In many cases, the attorneys involved will work together so if there is a plea negotiated, it tries to take into consideration all of the charges involved.

Most of the flushing mechanisms are valued between $300 and $800, which is an important threshold in Jacksonville Theft Cases. When property valued at less than $300 is stolen, the charge is a misdemeanor. It becomes a felony when the value is more than $300, which applies in this Jacksonville Theft Case. Value is an interesting piece of this case. The equipment has a value of more than $300 when it is stolen, but if you look closely at the charges, the man is charged with falsifying ownership for property less than $300. Pawn shops, recyclers and other similar businesses typically pay a fraction of the true value of the property, and the defendant must have been accepting payment that was less than $300. In terms of plea negotiations, it will be interesting to see if the defendant decides to work with police on the unsolved thefts. It would appear that more charges are coming one way or the other and the defendant could help limit prison time in this Jacksonville Theft Case if he helped solve the remaining cases.

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.

A Jacksonville man was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to driving drunk when he caused a crash that killed one person and seriously injured another. The driver’s blood-alcohol level was 2-1/2 times over the legal limit at the time of the 2013 crash, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver was speeding and drove through a stop sign and into another car, the newspaper reported. A passenger in the other car was killed and the driver was seriously injured.

The driver pleaded guilty earlier this year to DUI manslaughter and DUI causing serious bodily injury. DUI manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. However, this is one type of crime that also carries a mandatory minimum sentence. If someone is convicted of or pleads guilty to DUI manslaughter, there is a mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. DUI causing serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, but it does not have a minimum mandatory sentence attached. In this Jacksonville DUI Case, the driver was facing a maximum of 20 years in prison and ended up with a little more than half of that time.

While in some Jacksonville DUI Cases the blood-alcohol level is not made available, it is always part of a crash with serious injuries. If you are pulled over under suspicion of DUI — for weaving in and out of traffic, for example – you will be asked to take a breath test once you are arrested. But drivers can refuse to take that test. When there are injuries involved, however, police can take a blood sample to test for alcohol without the consent of the driver. There are certain things that drivers automatically agree to when they accept a driver’s license and that is among them. Another example is calling for help and stopping to render aid if a driver is in an accident and someone is hurt. So in serious Jacksonville DUI Cases, if the driver is not conscious or cannot otherwise make the decision to consent, it does not matter and blood can be taken anyway.

In many Jacksonville DUI Cases, there will be charges announced four to six months following the crash. Because of backlogs in the system, that’s generally how long it will take to get the blood test results that can prove the driver was under the influence at the time of the crash. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people on all level of DUI charges, from first-time offenders charged with misdemeanors, to those facing felony charges, including DUI manslaughter.

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.

No charges will be filed in a Jacksonville Beach shooting that killed a member of a motorcycle gang. Prosecutors said the man who fired the shot was attacked by at least three men and pulled out a gun and fired a shot to end the attack, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. That shot hit one of his attackers in the head, killing him, the newspaper reported. The announcement comes more than four months after the June shooting, which prosecutors said stemmed from a planned confrontation between two rival motorcycle gangs, the newspaper reported.

The man who fired the shot had a broken nose, but prosecutors inferred it would have been much worse had he not ended the beating by firing a shot. Florida law allows a person to use deadly force if he or she feels in eminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. It’s often known as the Stand Your Ground Law, and is often claimed but less often accepted in court as a reason for a shooting. But this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case did not get that far because prosecutors chose not to file charges in the case. The shooter in this case immediately gave his gun to a friend following the attack, who unloaded it before handing it over to police, the newspaper reported. The shooter, who had a concealed weapons permit to legally carry the gun, does not have a criminal record and voluntarily spoke to police after the shooting, according to the newspaper.

Speaking to police after an incident can be dangerous and could lead to criminal charges, but it is natural for people to want to explain themselves – especially in an incident where a person is accused of killing another person. In this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, it worked out for the shooter, and was the right decision for the state to make. Once charges are filed, it can be difficult for the state to walk away from them – especially in a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case like this where it was investigated for more than four months. Police were tight-lipped on this case for months, despite media attention and protests from the victim’s family demanding information and justice. Prosecutors would have needed to be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and clearly did not believe they could in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes 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 Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Six weeks after reports that a police detective crashed into another vehicle and kept going before flipping her unmarked police car, the detective was charged with DUI and three other charges. The detective turned herself in to St. Johns County police last week to face a DUI, along with two counts of DUI causing property damage and another count of leaving the scene of an accident, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The detective is accused of bumping the back of another vehicle and continuing to drive, while people called 911 to report her swerving in and out of lanes, the newspaper reported. The detective eventually flipped the car and rescue crews were called to the scene.

The DUI and the leaving the scene of an accident are both misdemeanors. The DUI causing property damage charges are first-degree misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of one year in jail on each charge. When the crash was first reported, the Florida Highway Patrol said it did not suspect alcohol was a factor, but the detective did give a blood sample at the scene. The case is generating more than normal media attention for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a police officer and, like it or not, stories of officers getting arrested are always going to be of interest to the media. Secondly, the detective is accused of driving drunk in her department vehicle outside the Jacksonville police jurisdiction. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office employees are allowed to drive their patrol or detective vehicles when off duty. But, when it is outside Duval County, it is supposed to be only to and from work. So there are clearly internal procedures to be looked at in this case, on top of any legal issues the detective is now facing, and the newspaper reported she has been assigned to desk duty for now.

On the St. Johns County DUI itself, the blood test appears to be plenty of evidence for the state. The detective apparently submitted to the test voluntarily, the newspaper reported. Had there been a serious injury in the case, the blood test is mandatory. The reason for the delay in charges in this St. Johns County DUI Case was the wait in the results of the test. Another media report from News4Jax reported it came back more than twice the legal limit of .08. Breath tests and the interpretation of field sobriety exercises are often challenged in court, but blood testing is generally deemed to be more accurate, so it will be interesting to see where the defense goes from here. Our St. Johns County DUI Attorney knows the specific process police must follow when making a DUI arrest and will investigate your case fully to determine if all of the laws were followed properly.

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

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.

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.