Recently in Sex Crimes in Jacksonville Category

Undercover officers posing as children online leads to 12 arrests on Jacksonville Sex Crimes charges

April 16, 2014

Jacksonville police announced the arrests of 12 men accused of setting up a potential sexual encounter with what they thought was a child they chatted with online. But when the men arrived, they were greeted instead by police and arrested, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Detectives were pretending to be boys or girls, either 13 or 14, depending on the scenario, the newspaper reported. Several police agencies were involved in the sting, a relatively common tool police use that was popularized by the NBC Dateline show "To Catch a Predator." And despite the familiarity with the show and that police routinely conduct these investigations, police continue to make similar arrests in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases such as this one.

There are several potential Jacksonville Sex Crimes Charges that police and prosecutors use in these cases. One is using the internet to seduce or solicit a child. That charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. Prosecutors can charge separately in this case, so each use of the internet, can be it's own separate charge. So, for example, if there were three chat messages sent about setting up a time to get together and the defendant believes the person on the other end is a minor, the person could be charged with three counts. Another common charge for these Jacksonville Sex Crimes cases is traveling to meet a minor. That charge applies when someone travels within Florida or across state lines with the specific intent of meeting a child for sex. This Jacksonville Sex Crime is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison.

Pleading guilty to or being convicted of either charge would require the defendant to register as a sexual offender. In cases such as this were multiple people are caught in a sting on similar charges, usually a deal from the state won't get any better than what the first pleads guilty to. Defendants want to get an idea of the time others are getting before they agree to a deal, but there can sometimes be a benefit to being the first one in. In a similar sting in St. Johns County in 2012, those who took their cases to trial ended up with significantly longer prison sentences. That can be the case, however, in any Jacksonville Criminal Defense case, not just those involving a sting and multiple defendants. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes attorney has represented many clients who are among several defendants in a case, and will help you or your loved one understand the charges and let you decide how to proceed 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 Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Three women arrested in Nassau County prostitution sting; two facing more serious charges

March 15, 2014

An undercover prostitution investigation in Nassau County led to the arrests of three women this month and a fourth will be summoned to appear in court. Detectives said they contacted the women who were advertising their services on the internet and asked to meet them at a Nassau County motel, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Once the woman and the detective agreed to a deal where she would perform a sex act for money, the woman was arrested, the newspaper reported.

Police will periodically conduct these types of investigations that lead to Nassau County Sex Crimes charges. In some cases, police will run fake ads on sites like this and then arrest the men who come to the hotel thinking they are meeting a prostitute. In this Nassau County Sex Crimes investigation, though, the focus was on the women. Prostitution itself, if the defendant does not have a length history of the crime, does not have a severe penalty. But, in many of these Nassau County Sex Crimes cases, the women will have drugs or drug paraphernalia on them at the time of the arrest - or they have a warrant on a different charge. That was the case for two of the three women arrested in this recent sting, and police know that will likely be the case when they conduct these investigations. But, on its own, engaging in prostitution is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 60 days in county jail. That's for a person's first offense. If a person has been convicted of the crime or has pleaded guilty to the crime before, the next arrest is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail. Once a person has two convictions, the crime becomes a felony and state prison comes into play. The charge becomes a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison.

The important thing to remember in Nassau County Sex Crimes Cases such as this, or any crime where the misdemeanor or felony degree increased based on the defendant's criminal record, is that arrests are not the same as convictions. If a person is arrested for prostitution and the charge is dismissed or the person is found not guilty at trial, neither would count against the defendant. So someone could have multiple arrests, but still only be facing the second-degree misdemeanor as if it was a first offense. That's one reason why having a Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorney on board is critical. While the inclination can often be to plead guilty to a charge to get out of jail, it can cause long-term damage if a person is ever arrested again on a similar charge.

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

Jacksonville man changes mind on talking to police, is arrested on sexual battery charges

A Jacksonville man is in jail without a bond on a Jacksonville Sex Crimes charge after going to police headquarters to discuss accusations against him, then changing his mind and choosing not to speak with detectives. The 29-year-old man is now facing a first-degree felony charge of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under the age of 12, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The charge is punishable by up to life in state prison.

The man told police he would answer questions about two incidents where a child said he touched her sexually, the newspaper reported. But when it came time to talk, the man changed his mind. Police felt they had enough evidence without his interview that he was immediately arrested on a Jacksonville Sex Crime charge. The suspect has every right to remain silent and not talk to police in this Duval County Sex Crimes case. As most people can recite from one crime show or another "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." And that is 100 percent true. Time after time in Jacksonville Criminal Defense Trials, prosecutors will play a video of the suspect's interview with police where the suspect either admits to the charges or is caught in some type of lie that deals a significant blow to the case. If you or a loved one is being questioned by police about involvement in a crime, it is always best to speak with a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney first, if you plan to talk to police at all. At any time during questioning from police, you can ask for a lawyer and police must end the questioning right there. If you do call a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, that attorney can be there when you meet with police and can help prepare you for what police may ask.

While refusing to talk to police can have a long-term benefit in the state's ability to prove the charges against you, it can cause some short-term pain. In this Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case, the state asked that no bond be offered to the defendant. The judge agreed, so the defendant will be sitting in jail until the case is resolved. That can make it difficult to remain silent, but not talking is almost always in the defendant's best interest. It is human nature to try to explain yourself, especially to an authority figure like a police officer, but most defendants in Jacksonville Felony Crimes Cases do nothing but hurt themselves when they speak to police.

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

Police arrest wrong person with same name, innocent Clay County teen spends a month in jail on sexual battery charge

Several Clay County Sheriff's deputies were disciplined and received harsh public words from their boss after a Clay County teen spent a month in jail on a crime he didn't commit. Police were investigating a claim from a girl younger than 12 that said she had sex with a boy named Cody Williams in 2012, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The girl told police what he school he went to and what he looked like, so police arrested Cody Lee Williams and, even though he was 17, he was immediately charged with a felony as an adult, the newspaper reported.

What police didn't check to find out is there are two Cody Williams at the same school and they arrested the wrong one, the newspaper reported. Sheriff Rick Beseler reprimanded the detective in charge of the case for his "incompetence" and said police should have taken a photo of the suspect they arrested to the alleged victim for confirmation before making the arrest, the newspaper reported. Once Cody Williams learned more of the facts of the case against him, he realized what may have happened, and his mother pleaded with the detective to talk to the alleged victim, the newspaper reported.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office has requested that his arrest record be expunged, but that may be a difficult proposition. If he was simply charged as a juvenile in this Clay County Sex Crimes Case, that would not have been a problem because juvenile criminal records are sealed by the court. But because prosecutors immediately charged him as an adult - without doing any investigation on their own, it appears - the arrest is more difficult to remove. When potential employers or universities do background checks in Florida, they will most likely use the Florida Department of Law Enforcement database. Those searches pull arrest data from all counties and cities across the state and drop them into a report based on the person's name and social security number. Unless the Clay County Sheriff's Office does something it doesn't do in other less-publicized cases, that arrest will always be there when someone searches Williams' name. Now, it will also show that the charges were dropped, but Williams will have to explain it every time - and also check the box on any employment application that asks if he was ever arrested for a felony. Many employers only ask about convictions, not arrests, but enough of them do the FDLE checks that Williams may find it easier to let them know what they'll find first, and explain the situation.

There are some employers that may shy away, simply because of the gravity of the Clay County Sex Crime charge - regardless of why it was dropped. It all could have been avoided if police would have followed their own policies and procedures. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney knows how difficult it can be to clear your name if you are arrested for a crime you did not commit. Our Clay County Felony Attorney will sit down with you to go over the evidence police have in the case and will fight to have you exonerated, either through negotiations with the state or taking the case to trial.

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

Former Jacksonville corrections officer arrested, accused of paying teen for sex act

February 10, 2014

A retired Jacksonville corrections officer was in jail himself this month, accused of paying a minor for a sex act. The man, who retired after 30 years with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, was arrested after police said he took a teen to a wooded area and paid her $20 to perform oral sex, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The retired officer, 52, is charged with lewd and lascivious battery by encouraging or enticing a person under the age of 16 to engage in sexual activity. The charge is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. He is out on bond, with one of the conditions that he not have contact with minors under the age of 18, a common condition in a Jacksonville Sex Crimes case such as this - provided the person is out on bond.

Details are limited in the case - the newspaper reported much of the police report is redacted because this Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case involves a juvenile. There's no information how the suspect was caught, who reported the incident, or even if it was part of an undercover sting conducted by police. The area where the incident was reported is often a part of town where police will send an officer on the street who appears to be a prostitute and then arrest the man once a deal is agreed upon to pay for sex. That's less common in cases involving juveniles, but there has been plenty of attention paid to teens and human trafficking in the news recently, so it is possible. Either way, the charge will be tough for the officer to live down - regardless of whether he eventually pleads guilty or is convicted at trial. More than any other type of crime, there is an almost immediate rush to judgment against people accused in Duval County Sex Crimes. People assume that once an accusation is made, the person is guilty. When in reality, Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases can often be the cases where there is the highest rate of false accusations.

In many Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases, it is the victim's word against the word of the accused. Many of the cases do not have either physical evidence or witnesses - it's just one person's word against another. And there are serious consequences. If a person pleads guilty to or is convicted of a Jacksonville Sex Crime, he or she will have to register as a sex offender forever. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of people accused of Jacksonville Sex Crimes and will thoroughly investigate your case to help you decide your best option 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 Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Legislature looking at making it a crime to loan a car to a sexual predator

January 10, 2014

Florida legislators are considering adding even more to the long list of punishments for someone deemed a sexual predator, now proposing to make it a crime for someone to let a known sexual predator use his or her vehicle. The proposed law would also make the state-mandated curfew for sexual predators from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The curfew is now 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., so this would add four more hours and make it a full 12 hours a day sexual predators would be confined to their homes, the
newspaper reported. Adjustments could be made for individual people based on work hours but the 12-hour curfew would be the baseline, the newspaper reported.

Though the terms are often used interchangeably, there are significant differences in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases between a sexual offender and a sexual predator. The difference lies in the severity of the crime and the defendant's sexual criminal history. For example, any violent crimes involving a child would classify a person as a sexual predator. As would two convictions of second-degree Jacksonville Sex Crimes in a 10-year period. Crimes such as lewd and lascivious contact with a child between the ages of 12 and 18 would qualify, so two convictions or pleas in a decade could allow the court to deem someone a sexual predator. Sexual predators in Jacksonville have much stricter guidelines than sexual offenders. All have to register and report to police periodically, though the time intervals are much shorter for predators than offenders. There are also more restrictions on where predators can live, in terms of distance from schools, playgrounds and other areas where children congregate. Especially in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases, legislators tend to take every element of a horrific crime and then try to make it illegal.

The new restriction on loaning a vehicle comes from the Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case where Donald Smith borrowed his mother's vehicle and is now jailed, accused of abducting an 8-year-old girl from a Jacksonville Wal-Mart and then raping and killing her. The state senator from Jacksonville who proposed the law referenced Smith by name in the newspaper report. The new law would make it a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in the county jail, to loan a vehicle to someone you know is a sex predator - even though Smith was a sexual offender and hadn't been classified as a sexual predator. If the predator were to commit a sex crime while using the vehicle, the owner could lose his or her driver's license for one year. There's no crime, even a murder conviction that follows a person more than a Jacksonville Sex Crime. And there's also none that elicits less sympathy from the general public, so it's highly likely that any proposal that ratchets up the punishment for those who pleads guilty to or are convicted of a Jacksonville Sex Crimes will receive overwhelming support from the legislature.

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

State sex offender registry adds ability to search for offenders enrolled in colleges

December 9, 2013

The Florida policy of publicizing the crimes of sex offenders even more than convicted murders took another step this year by adding the ability for people to search sex offenders enrolled in state colleges and universities. This is one more impediment from encouraging convicted sex offenders to move past their crimes and get the education and training needed to move on and start or further a career. An analysis of the newly collected data found Jacksonville had the most sex offenders enrolled and that Florida State College at Jacksonville had the highest number in the state, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union.

Right now, the college does not make admissions decisions based on a person's criminal history, the newspaper reported. Security officers are notified when a sex offender registers for classes and they them meet individually with each offender and go over where they can and cannot go on campus, including a child care center that is off-limits, the newspaper reported. Other colleges statewide publish the names of every offender taking classes and include a link to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement profile that shows what the person was charged with and convicted of, the newspaper reported. Already, anyone who is convicted of or pleads guilty to a Jacksonville Sex Crime must register with their local police department and check in at least twice a year. Whenever the person moves residences, neighbors in the surrounding area are notified of the move, and the crime that made the person a sex offender. There are also restrictions on where a registered sex offender can live, including proximately to schools and playgrounds.

Jacksonville Sex Crimes carry such a stigma in our society that there is rarely anyone from a legislative standpoint that will say something goes too far in identifying sex offenders. Adding the college enrollment search function seems a little much. If someone is living on a college campus, in a dorm or an apartment off campus, everyone living there is already notified the person is a sex offender. All of the information is already available online if one searches by name or proximately to the address, this search function just makes it easier to determine if sex offenders are taking classes at commuter schools like FSCJ. The board is scheduled to discuss the findings next month and it will be interesting to see if enrollment policies or notification changes are made. A Jacksonville Sex Crime carries its own form of a life sentence, even if a person has done his or her time. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes attorney knows the ramifications that pleading guilty to a sex crime can have on the rest of a person's life and can advise you or your loved one on the best steps 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 Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Army recruiter arrested on Clay County sexual battery charge

November 20, 2013

An Army recruiter was arrested this month on a sexual battery charge, accused of having sex with Clay County high school student. Reginald Richardson is charged with sexual battery on a person between the ages of 12 and 18, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The victim told a school official she had repeatedly refused to have sex with the 39-year-old Richardson, but eventually agreed so he would leave her alone, the newspaper reported. The alleged assaults occurred three or four times this calendar year, according to the newspaper report.

Many cases of Clay County sexual battery such as the one Richardson is charged with are second-degree felonies with a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. But, in this Clay County Sex Crime Case, prosecutors are saying that Richardson had a "familial or custodial" relationship with the victim. Legally, that can make the crime a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The "familial or custodial" role often applies to stepfathers, grandparents, teachers or people who have a leading role at a church, such as a pastor or youth group leader. The crux is the adult accused is said to be using his or her position as an authority figure to coerce the child or teen into having sex. Whether the defendant uses that role as a point of influence is inconsequential, according to Florida law. The mere presence of that relationship is enough to make the charge a first-degree felony.

The relationship in this Clay County Sex Crimes case is not clear, based on the newspaper report. There is also a provision of the "familial or custodial" element that applies to a person who is "in a position of control or authority as an agent or employee of government," according to Florida law. The state could be using Richardson's role in the military to quality as the custodial trigger to elevate the charge to a first-degree felony. At the time of the initial news of the arrest, an Army spokesperson said it had not received notification of the arrest from police, so it had not taken any disciplinary action against Richardson, the newspaper reported. While any felony charge can be difficult to live down, it is even worse in Clay County Sex Crimes Cases. Our system is built around an accused being innocent until proven guilty but with sex crimes, it seems an accusation is all society needs to brand someone as rapist or a pedophile. Our Clay County Sex Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of people accused of various sex crimes and can go over the details of the investigation with you and explain the ramifications of a guilty plea or a conviction in a Clay County Sex Crimes Case that are often more permanent than in other types of crimes.

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

State appellate court throws out 30-year sentence in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case

November 13, 2013

A man initially sentenced to the maximum 30 years in prison for his conviction on a sexual battery must be sentenced again, a Florida court ruled this month. Percy Torres will now face between nine and 30 years in state prison when he is sentenced again in this Jacksonville Sex Crimes, Case, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Torres was charged with capital sexual battery for allegedly ripping a woman's clothes off and forcing her to have sex with him after they had drinks at a Jacksonville bar, the newspaper reported. But a key to Torres' defense was that the sex was consensual and, to that point, Torres said he had consensual sex with her before, had been dating her and was dancing with her at the bar before the alleged incident, the newspaper reported.

The judge admonished Torres, who is married, for his infidelity in imposing the sentence and that's where the higher court found an issue, the newspaper reported. Torres' marital status should not have been a factor in the sentencing and now a different judge will sentence him in this Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case. Judges each bring their own set of values and opinions to the bench - they are humans and have their own life experiences that guide their decisions. And people's opinions on judges' sentences can often sway based on their desired outcome. One minute people are blasting minimum mandatory sentences for taking the power out of the judge's hands, but once they don't like what the judge says, they think the judge has too much power. This Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case, though, is a prime example of how precise the rules and procedures are in criminal law and how even a slight misstep can be recognized by a higher court and force a second look at a case. Convictions and sentences can be reversed when there are issues with the instructions read to a jury before it deliberates, when a judge makes an incorrect decision on whether to allow certain testimony or even when a witness says something in front of the jury that goes beyond the scope of where he or she is an expert.

In every criminal case, including Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases, our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will comb through all of the evidence to make sure police and prosecutors followed the law in investigating the case. Many people often bemoan the "loopholes" in cases, similar to the one applied in reversing the sentence in this Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case, but when a person's freedom is at stake, everything must be 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 Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

St. Johns County man living in hotel charged with not registering as a sexual predator

November 1, 2013

A St. Johns County sexual predator is facing two felony charges for not alerting authorities that he had moved and was living in a motel. Kirby Miller is charged with two third-degree felonies after police say he was living in a St. Johns County motel for more than a month without registering with police, according to a report on News4Jax. Miller faces up to five years in prison on each count and could go to prison for as many as 10 years in this St. Johns County Sex Crimes case.

Had Miller not been involved in a fight at the motel, he may have gone undetected even longer. Police responded to a fight where Miller was the alleged victim, the television station reported. When police ran his name through their database, they found he was a sexual predator whose last listed address was in Duval County, the television station reported. Miller's St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case is not uncommon and typifies the cycle that is often seen in people who are convicted of sex crimes. In most cases when someone is convicted of or pleads guilty to a St. Johns County Sex Crime, the defendant is required to register as either a sexual offender or sexual predator - depending on the severity of the crime. Part of the requirement is that registered sexual offenders must notify police within 48 hours if they move. This is done so police know where sexual offenders are, and it also allows police to determine if the person is legally allowed to be there.

Sexual offenders have restrictions as to where they can live and, for example, cannot live within more than 1,000 feet of a school. It's unclear whether or not the motel Miller was living in would have qualified, but his St. Johns County Sex Crime was not alerting authorities when he moved. Sex offenders also must check in with authorities at least every six months - more often if the crime is more severe and police will sometimes check on their own to see if people are still living where they say they are living. Sex crimes stick with a person more publicly than any other type of crime - including murder. Once a person does move and properly registers, neighbors are alerted that a sex offender has moved in and the notification includes the specific charge that qualified the person as a sex offender. Failure to closely adhere to every aspect of the sex offender registration can trigger a new third-degree felony - as it did in Miller's St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case. Our St. Johns County Sex Crimes Attorney can advise you of all of the potential consequences in a sex crimes case - including the parameters of registration.

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.

Sixteen men arrested for traveling to have sex with a minor during Clay County sting

October 23, 2013

Officers from Clay County and several other agencies posed as young teens online and then arrested 16 men who chatted with them online, set up a meeting and came to a house with plans to have sex or some kind of sexual contact. The men were arrested and taken into custody when they arrived to meet the person they allegedly thought was a child in these Clay County Sex Crimes Cases, according to a report on First Coast News.

The stings are growing more common and were popularized several years ago with the To Catch a Predator series as part of Dateline NBC. Police have honed their craft in these types of stings and are careful to build up as much of a paper trail as they can to try to show clear intent among the men who end up showing up and the house and getting arrested. Most of the men have two charges in common in these Clay County Sex Crimes cases: traveling to meet a minor to conduct unlawful acts and using a two-way communication device to commit a felony. The traveling charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison, while the use of the communication device charge is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Some of the men may have additional charges, including drug possession if they had marijuana or any other narcotic on them when they were arrested.

The key though is the traveling to meet a minor charge, because that's the one that would qualify a person as a sex offender. Sex crimes can stick with a person publicly more than any other criminal offense - including murder. When a person pleads guilty to or is convicted of a Clay County Sex Crimes Case, such as traveling to meet a minor, he or she will have to register as a sex offender. That means checking in with police at least every six months. It also means that whenever the person moves into a new house or apartment, neighbors are alerted with the person's picture and the charge that made the person a sex offender. Registered sex offenders are also restricted as to where they can live, and must not be close to a school or other places children congregate. It will be interesting to see if most of the defendants agree to a plea deal or end up taking the Clay County Sex Crimes case to trial. Albeit a different judicial circuit, a similar sting last year in St. Johns County netted far different sentences for those who pleaded guilty versus those who went to trial. Our Clay County Sex Crimes attorney can thoroughly investigate the facts of the case and advise you or your loved one so you can make an informed 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 Duval County Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Airport police officer arrested accused of sexual battery in Clay County

September 30, 2013

A police officer at Jacksonville International Airport was arrested on a sexual battery charge in Clay County and has been placed on leave from his position. Police said the defendant molested her for nearly a year and the two had "non-consensual sex" several times, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The report does not say how old the woman is that the 46-year-old man is accused of sexually battering, but the accuser appears to be an adult and not a child - based on the charges. It's unclear if there is any sort of work connection to the relationship, but police said the incidents happened in a home and not on airport property, the newspaper reported.

An accusation alone in a Clay County Sex Crimes Case can be enough to tarnish a reputation and be extremely difficult to recover from. Perhaps more than any other type of crime, our society tends to immediately convict someone when a sex crime claim is brought out. In reality, Clay County Sex Crime Cases can be among the most difficult for the state to prove. In many cases, there is little, if any, physical evidence to draw on. And there are generally only two people who know what really happened - the defendant and the alleged victim. In most Clay County Sex Crimes Cases, sexual battery involving two adults is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The charge can vary based on other factors, including if the defendant is accused of using force or a weapon during the alleged crime. Clay County Sex Crimes Cases like this one are usually the types of cases that tend to end up in trial more frequently. The way Florida Sex Crimes laws are established, many defendants are reluctant to plead guilty to a sex crime because of the lasting implications. Though trials can be risky, many Clay County Sex Crime defendants end up taking that gamble.

If someone pleads guilty to a Clay County Sexual Battery charge, he or will be designated a sexual offender. That means restrictions will be placed on where the person can live, including how close he or she can live to a church or school - even if the case does not involve a child. Moreover, any time the person changes residences, neighbors are notified that a sex offender has moved in and the nature of the crime is listed. More than any other crime, including a murder, sex crimes are extremely difficult to recover from. And any plea deal or agreement will come with lifelong consequences. Our Clay County Sex Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of defendants accused of sex crimes and can explain the provisions that come with being classified as a sex offender to let you or your loved one decide the best way to proceed with a 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 Clay County Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Police arrest 14 in Clay County prostitution sting

September 24, 2013

Fourteen people, all but two of whom were women, were arrested last week after an undercover police investigation broke up a string of prostitution operations in Clay County. The investigation began after complaints from neighbors and led to three massage parlors and an escort service, all four of which featured women allegedly offering sex for money, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. At the massage parlors, undercover detectives asked for a massage and women later offered to perform sex acts for between $40 and $80, the newspaper reported.

On their own, these prostitution cases would be Clay County Misdemeanor Crimes. Prostitution and soliciting for prostitution are both second-degree misdemeanors, punishable by no more than 60 days in jail. But in these cases, it's not just the prostitution itself that has some of those arrested looking at serious time behind bars and Clay County Felony charges. For example, one of the women arrested also allegedly had cocaine on her at the time. She's charged with a misdemeanor for prostitution, but a third-degree felony for possession of a controlled substance that could land her up to five years in state prison. And, strangely, some of the women arrested at the massage parlor are facing Clay County Felony charges, simply based on the way they went about offering sex acts. Some of the women are charged with unlicensed practicing of a health care professional - essentially offering massages without being licensed as a massage therapist. That charge, too, is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. One of the men is also looking at a Clay County Felony, charged with deriving support from prostitution, a third degree felony also punishable by up to five years in prison. Essentially his role is what's commonly known as a pimp, providing the women for a sex act and taking a cut of the money she earns.

The difference between a Clay County Misdemeanor and Clay County Felony can be huge - even if the crimes seem to be very similar. It is possible that the state could choose to reduce some of the felonies for practicing health care without a license down to a prostitution misdemeanor. But they may be looking to send a message, and felony convictions are certainly one way to do that. Either way, if the women do not have long criminal records, they could be eligible for what's known as a withhold of adjudication, meaning the outcome will not show on the person's record as pleading guilty, provided certain conditions are met. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people on misdemeanor and felony charges, and can explain all of the potential consequences. Our Clay County Criminal Lawyer can negotiate on your behalf to try to get a resolution that you or your loved one is satisfied with, or take the case to trial, however you choose to proceed 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 Clay County Misdemeanor Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Man with previous arrests for sex crimes, but no convictions, charged with downtown Jacksonville rape

September 11, 2013

Media and politicians have strong opinions on a Jacksonville man with a history of sex crimes arrests who is now again accused of a rape in downtown Jacksonville. The popular opinion is to question how the man could be out on the streets to be able to commit another crime, according to a report on News4Jax.com. Alphonso Haynes was arrested last week, accused of abducting a woman in downtown Jacksonville and sexually assaulting her, the television station reported.

Haynes was arrested in on a Duval County Sexual Assault charge in 1998 and also charged in 1999 with armed sexual battery and attempted sexual assault, the television station reported. He was found incompetent to stand trial and was sent to a state-run mental health center, the television station reported. He was eventually released, but it is not clear when or why. Because he was never convicted, he was never classified as a sexual offender. People want to blame the system for allowing Haynes to be out on the street, but it must be understood that the "system" also includes prosecutors who are responsible for getting convictions if people can be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And the state is also responsible for making sure people who are incompetent to stand trial and are sent for mental health counseling do indeed stay there.

In his recent arrest, Haynes is charged with kidnapping with a firearm and sexual battery, the television station reported. The kidnapping charge is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The sexual battery is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in prison, meaning Hayes could face up to 45 years in prison. The question here will be if Haynes is found mentally competent to stand trial this time. If not, he will likely be sent to a state hospital for a second time. Sentences in Jacksonville Sex Crimes cases, and all criminal cases, are based on sentencing guidelines. These guidelines are essentially a formula that weighs the crime the person is pleading guilty to or has been convicted of, and takes into consideration the person's previous criminal record. That criminal record is for convictions or crimes someone has pleaded guilty to. Arrests DO NOT COUNT. Like the arrests or not, Haynes, just as anyone arrested of a Jacksonville Sex Crime or any type of crime, is innocent until proven guilty. So Haynes's previous arrests on sex crimes would not be a factor in his sentencing guidelines. Now, judges are free to divert from those guidelines - as long as they don't go above the statutory maximum, and prosecutors will likely argue Haynes' propensity to commit further sex crimes if the case does indeed end up going for sentencing. What they won't say is they ultimately bear the brunt of the responsibility for Haynes being back on the street.

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

Warrant issued for Jacksonville man with history of not registering as a sex offender

September 3, 2013

A Jacksonville man who has been convicted three times for not registering as a sex offender is being sought by police again. Police have an arrest warrant for Davis Batton, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The report does not say what the warrant is for but, given his past and the fact that police have made the warrant public, there's a good chance the warrant is for another Jacksonville sex offense.

Batton was initially classified as a sex offender following a 2001 conviction for lewd and lascivious exhibition of a minor in Clay County, the newspaper reported. Batton, now 31, was sentenced to two years in state prison for that crime, the newspaper reported. Since then, he was convicted in 2005, 2007 and 2010 for failure to report or failure to comply with sex offender requirements, the newspaper reported. For his most recent Jacksonville Sex Crime in 2010, Batton was sentenced to two years in prison. While Batton may be a bit of an extreme case, his plight is not uncommon and shows the cycle of violations that can happen when someone is required to register as a sex offender. Once a person is designated as a sex offender, which is mandatory with convictions or guilty pleas in Jacksonville Sex Crimes Cases including lewd and lascivious conduct, the defendant is required to update police on his or her living arrangements.

There are requirements that the person not live within 1,000 feet of a school, for example. And when the person moves, a notification is sent to neighbors - with the offender's picture and the crime that qualified he or she as a sex offender. A Jacksonville Sex Crimes conviction follows a person everywhere - more than any other crime. Even if a sexual offender does not move residences, he or she is still required to report to police at least twice a year - once in the month of his or her birthday and again six months later. If more than three weeks passes from the deadline and the defendant has not checked in with police, police will likely seek a warrant for his or her arrest on the charge of failing to comply with sexual offender requirements. This is a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison. Jacksonville Sex Crimes convictions can be the start of a series of arrests and prison sentences, all rooted with one offense. While in many cases there's little choice, it is very important to understand all of the requirements of sex offender probation before accepting a plea in a Jacksonville Sex 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 Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.