A Clay County woman is now facing multiple charges in Jacksonville, including a felony, in what appeared to start as a DUI investigation.  Police pulled the driver over for speeding about 2 a.m. in Jacksonville Beach, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A passenger in the car took off running before police could speak with the person, but the officer smelled marijuana and asked for the 22-year-old driver to step out of the car, the newspaper reported. The woman continued to try to get back to her car before being handcuffed and put in the back of the patrol car, the newspaper reported. After the woman said the handcuffs hurt and she couldn’t breathe, the office loosened the cuffs and lower the windows in the car, but the woman escaped and was eventually run down in a cemetery, the newspaper reported.

She is now facing four charges – escape, resisting an officer without violence, DUI and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. The escape charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The remaining charges are misdemeanors, but clearly the escape and resisting charges could have both been avoided if the driver would have simply complied with the officer and not left the police cruiser. She is also facing a traffic ticket for speeding, though that is the least of her legal issues at this point.  There is no reference to alcohol in the newspaper report of this Jacksonville DUI Case. Most people automatically assume alcohol in a Jacksonville DUI Case, but driving impaired can include narcotics as well. In this Jacksonville DUI Case, the officer reported smelling marijuana when he approached the car. Jacksonville DUI Cases involving marijuana can be more difficult for the state to prove, partially because there is not a simple breath test that can show the level of intoxication, like there is for alcohol. And because there was another person in the vehicle when it was pulled over, this does not mean the driver was smoking the marijuana. The driver’s actions following the initial arrest, though, could lead a jury to draw the conclusion that she was impaired in some fashion, if for no other reason than she tried to flee to avoid the officer.  There are specific procedures officers must follow when making Jacksonville DUI Arrests and, in many cases, police departments have officers who are specifically training in these procedures making the arrests. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney knows these rules inside and out, and will review the case against you or your loved one to make everything was done by the book.

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.

Police arrested a Clay County man minutes after authorities said he tried to rob a bank a few blocks from a police department.  The man is accused of walking into the bank, implying he had a gun and demanding money from a clerk, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man did not get any money from the bank and was stopped by police shortly after he drove off, the newspaper reported. He was arrested on charges of armed robbery with a firearm or other weapon and is being held in county jail on a $50,000 bond.

According to Florida law, robbery is defined as “the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.” In this Clay County Robbery Case, the key language is “putting in fear.” Although the defendant in this case apparently did not have a gun, he allegedly led the bank teller to believe he did – likely putting her in fear that he could use a gun if things did not go his way.

The exact charges in the case have not been filed, but in Clay County Robbery Cases, the element of a weapon – particularly a firearm – is a huge factor in how the case will be charged. For example, armed robbery with a firearm or other deadly weapon is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in state prison. Armed robbery with a weapon is also a first-degree felony, but the prison sentence is capped at 30 years. Robbery without a weapon is a second-degree felony with a maximum punishment of up to 15 years in state prison. In this Clay County Robbery Case, the newspaper reported the man “implied” he had a gun. Whether that means he said he had a gun, or put his finger inside his shirt looking like he had a gun is not yet clear – but could be a critical element of this Clay County Theft Case.  Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people on all types of theft charges – from misdemeanor petit theft cases on up to armed robbery charges punishable by up to life in state prison. Our Clay County Theft Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one so you have the best information to make a decision going forward.

A jury needed just 25 minutes to find a Jacksonville man not guilty of two serious felony charges in connection with an alleged robbery.  The man was accused of breaking into a woman’s home, demanding money and then beating her, according to a report from News4Jax. The woman said she knew who the man was because he used to mow her lawn for her, the television station reported. The man was charged eight felonies, but he went to trial last month on by far the two most serious charges — home invasion robbery and burglary with assault. Both of these Jacksonville Theft Charges are first-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on each charge.

The jury, however, did not feel the state had proven the two charges against him beyond a reasonable doubt and found him not guilty. But that’s not the end of the road for the defendant. He is still facing several felony charges in connection with the same incident, the television station reported. Those charges include robbery by sudden snatching, burglary to a structure and four counts of uttering forged bills. Each charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. If convicted of all six charges, he could be looking at a total of 30 years in prison, should the judge choose to issue consecutive sentences.

In many Jacksonville Felony Cases where a person is facing multiple and varying charges, the state will split them up into different cases. In this Jacksonville Theft Case, the man is accused of identity theft after the physical theft, so that’s likely why the first two were tried separately. It’s unclear to date whether the state plans on taking the cases to trial again or if plea negotiations will be opened again. From the defendant’s perspective, he likely feels there’s a reason he was found not guilty last month and may be unwilling to plead guilty to anything. On the state side, there is a person who says she was robbed and victimized, and this may be a case prosecutors feel strongly about taking to trial.  Cases like this Duval County Theft Case illustrate the importance of having several layers of the criminal justice system before someone is sentenced to prison. When the headlines started in this case, it was essentially assumed the man was guilty and that he committed this series of violent crimes. But a jury of his peers decided otherwise. That is why cases are not tried in the media or decided by detectives.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney has taken dozens of cases to trial and will work with you or your loved one to help determine the best way to fight the charges that you or your loved one are facing.

Prosecutors backed off their first-degree murder charge and offered a plea to second-degree murder for a Jacksonville teen charged in a deadly shooting.  The boy, now 17 but 15 at the time of the shooting, agreed to the plea deal last month, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The plea agreement includes language that the sentence will be between 10 and 30 years, which the judge accepted, the newspaper reported. The teen is expected to be sentenced next month.

The teen and two of his friends showed up uninvited to a party in a local apartment complex and got into an argument with a 22-year-old friend, the newspaper reported. The teen was accused of hitting the man with his gun and then shooting him, the newspaper reported. Many of the details in this Jacksonville Gun Case that would have come out in a trial, such as a possible defense from the teen or the possibility that the gun accidentally went off, have yet to surface. Those types of details will now likely be discussed in the sentencing hearing. In Jacksonville Felony Cases that result in a plea, as most of them do, the sentencing hearing can end up being the de facto trial. And it should be. There is plenty on the line. While in the cases like this Jacksonville Murder Case the defendant already knows he’s going to prison for a significant amount of time, there’s a big difference between a 10-year sentence and a 30-year sentence. For the defendant in this Jacksonville Murder Case, it’s the difference between being released in his mid-20s or his mid-40s.

The agreement to plead guilty to second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder is significant in this Jacksonville Murder Case. The only possible sentences for first-degree murder are life in prison and the death penalty. Because the defendant in this case was under the age of 18, the death penalty was not an option for the state. But the 10 to 30 year range on the sentence wouldn’t have been an option either had the charge remained first-degree murder.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people on all types of charges from traffic tickets and misdemeanor theft charges all the way up to murder. Our Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate your case and provided you with the information and options to make the best decision going forward.

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.

A woman who worked for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was arrested last week after police set up an undercover drug sting to allegedly catch her buying narcotics.  Through text messages with a confidential informant, the woman agreed to buy two OxyContin pills, but only ended up buying one $35 pill, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police were waiting nearby and pulled the driver over before she could make it to the end of the block, the newspaper reported. The woman told police she dropped the pill as she was being pulled over and police did not find it in her vehicle, the newspaper reported. The woman was arrested as a result of the traffic stop and resigned from her position with the sheriff’s office, the newspaper reported.

She was charged with purchase of a controlled substance. Because the pill was OxyContin, a variety of the prescription pain killer Oxycodone, the charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. Yes, in some Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases, one simple pill is a second-degree felony. There are two major factors that determine the charge and potential punishment in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases: the type of drug the defendant is accused of having and the amount that is allegedly in his or her possession. Penalties vary based on the type of drug and some prescription pain pills, such as OxyContin in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case, carry serious potential penalties for just one pill. Methamphetamines, cocaine and other prescription drugs have charges that are automatic felonies – but in many cases they are third-degree felonies with a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. Marijuana, however, is a completely different story. Possession of marijuana up to 20 grams is still considered a misdemeanor, meaning the only time behind bars that would be on the table would be up to one year in the county jail.

Actual possession could be an issue in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case involving OxyContin because police did not find a pill in her possession. Her statement that she did have the pill but dropped it, along with the series of text messages that set up the transaction may be enough to prove the intent and the possession, but there can also be issues with text messages and other communications during these types of undercover operations.  Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney represents people on a variety of drug charges – people accused of possessing, buying or selling all types of drugs. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and provide you with information to make the best decision going forward.

Prosecutors were actively seeking the death penalty for a man charged with first-degree murder, but the jury’s decision to convict on a lesser charge has put an end to those plans.  The charges stem from a shooting inside a Jacksonville apartment, for which each side has a very different story, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Prosecutors said the man went to the apartment to kill the person who lived there because the man had snitched to police about drug dealers, the newspaper reported. The defendant said he went to the apartment to sell the man’s wife drugs and then the two people attacked him and he shot in self-defense. The defendant was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder for shooting the man’s wife, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The only two possible sentences if someone is convicted of or pleads guilty to first-degree murder are life in prison or the death penalty. Prosecutors must indicate in advance whether they plan to seek the death penalty and did so in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case.

When a case ends up in a jury trial, the jurors often have other options than the charges the state is presenting during the trial. In Jacksonville Murder Cases, manslaughter is often one of those options, known technically as a “lesser included offense.” To meet the elements of first-degree murder, the state must be able to prove that the killing was premeditated. The jury did not buy that in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, instead choosing manslaughter. Manslaughter is used primarily when people are involved in a fight and someone ends up being killed. By choosing manslaughter, the jury did find the defendant had some responsibility in the death. Another option would have been to find him not guilty, essentially saying the defendant acted in self-defense.

Most importantly in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case is that the manslaughter charge takes the death penalty off the table. The death penalty can only be given when someone is convicted of first-degree murder. Because there was a firearm used in this case, the defendant can still be given life in prison, though it will be interesting to see where the judge lands on sentencing. The jury also deadlocked on the attempted murder charge, so the state still has to decide if it wants to retry that one charge. The state cannot retry any of the other charges because the jury has already reached a verdict.

Four months after she drove her car onto the sidewalk and ran over a vacationing Wisconsin man, an Atlantic Beach woman was arrested on several serious felony charges.  The woman is accused of driving her Ford Expedition onto the sidewalk, hitting the man and then hitting a palm tree, a parked car and a bus before stopping the car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. She is charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and three counts of DUI causing property damage. Both the vehicular manslaughter charge and the DUI manslaughter charge are second-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. The DUI with property damage charges are misdemeanors and, in this Jacksonville DUI Case, are clearly not the priority for the defendant.

The state often files both a vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter charge in a case where a person is accused of being intoxicated during a crash where a person is killed. And the two charges sound very similar. But, when it comes to sentencing in this Jacksonville DUI Case, there is a distinct difference between the two charges. If someone is convicted of DUI manslaughter, there is a four-year minimum mandatory sentence that must be served. There is no such minimum mandatory that applies in a vehicular homicide case. This is important, especially because minimum mandatory sentences must be served in their entirety. With all other sentences, people typically serve about 85 percent of the sentence – provided he or she stays out of trouble behind bars. Part of the reason the state files both the vehicular homicide and the DUI manslaughter charges is for leverage – holding onto the DUI manslaughter and its minimum mandatory sentence, which can be used to encourage a plea to the vehicular homicide charge.

The timing of the charges in this Jacksonville DUI Case is may seem odd, but it is the norm in these types of cases. In a Jacksonville DUI Case where someone is injured or killed, police take blood from the driver for a more accurate measurement of blood-alcohol content. And while people can refuse to take field sobriety tests or a breath test in a traditional DUI where someone is pulled over, police can take blood without consent. Because of backlogs in the system, blood results from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement typically take between four and six months, much like in this Jacksonville DUI Case.  Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people on all types of DUI charges, from misdemeanors on up to DUI Manslaughter, and will fully investigate your case to provide you or your loved one with the best information on how to proceed in the case.

Jacksonville police took to Facebook to help identify a pregnant woman accused of stealing glasses from a local store.  Detectives had tips within 30 minutes and, eight hours later, had arrested a woman and charged her with grand theft, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The woman, whom police said was nine months pregnant, was also charged with possession of a controlled substance because she had Xanax on her but did not have a prescription for the medication, the newspaper reported. Both charges are third-degree felonies, punishable by up to five years in state prison.

In Jacksonville Theft Cases, the key number is 300. If the property in question is valued at less than $300, the charge is a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors can only lead to time in the county jail. However, if the value of the property is more than $300, the charge can be grand theft, which brings state prison time into the picture. Charges and potential penalties in Jacksonville Theft Cases are dictated by the value of the property that is stolen, as one might expect.

For example, if the property is valued at less than $100, the charge is a second-degree misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is 60 days in county jail and a $500 fine. If the value is between $100 and $300, the charge bumps up to a first-degree misdemeanor, which can bring up to one year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. Misdemeanor theft charges are called petit thefts. There are other factors that can be considered, including the defendant’s criminal record – specifically as it relates to theft charges. For example, a person who is charged with theft and has also previously pleaded guilty to or been convicted of petit theft is automatically charged with a first-degree misdemeanor – even if the value is under $100. Along the same lines, if a person is arrested for petit theft and has two or more prior theft convictions, he or she can be charged with felony grand theft – regardless of the value of the property in question.  Our Jacksonville Theft Attorney represents people accused of all levels of theft and knows all of the various factors that can affect the severity of the charges. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and provide you with the information you need to make a decision on how to proceed with the case.

A Jacksonville man was sentenced this month to more than 20 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge, even though he was not the one that pulled the trigger.  In fact, the man and his 27-year-old cousin were armed and in bulletproof vests when they went to a Southside apartment complex to commit a robbery, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. But, while the man’s cousin was inside the apartment, a fight broke out and the cousin was shot in the head, the newspaper reported. The defendant was then charged with second-degree felony murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, the newspaper reported. Both charges are first-degree felonies.

In Florida, a person can be charged with felony murder if someone dies during the commission of a felony. So the act of the original felony can allow someone to be charged with murder. In this case, the defendant was not even in the apartment at the time his cousin was killed. But it was the act of planning the robbery, to the point of becoming armed and wearing a bulletproof vest, which was a felony on its own and allowed for the felony murder charge to be filed. So in proving this case beyond a reasonable doubt, the state must only prove two things: That the defendant was committing a felony and that someone was killed. A jury convicted the defendant this summer on the felony murder and the conspiracy to commit armed robbery charges. He was sentenced to 22 years on the murder charge and 15 years on the armed robbery. The judge chose to run the sentences concurrently, meaning he will serve them both at the same time and only serve the 22 years. If the judge chose to run the sentences consecutively, then he would have to serve both sentences and be in prison for 37 years. Concurrent sentences are far more common, but there are certain Jacksonville Gun Crimes that require judges to issue consecutive sentences when guns are fired and minimum mandatory sentences apply.

The man who shot the cousin was not charged at all in the case. Prosecutors ruled the shooting was in self-defense. State law allows people to respond with deadly force if someone enters their home, or if they feel they are in danger of great bodily harm or death.  Our Jacksonville Robbery Crimes Attorney will fully investigate the charges against you or your loved and sit down to go over a range of options so you can make the best decision going forward in the case.