Recently in Sex Crimes in Jacksonville Category

Man arrested for failing to register as sexual predator after police ask for help from public

October 29, 2014

A Jacksonville man was arrested this month for failing to register as a sexual predator following his release from prison. Police issued a warrant for the man and broadcast his picture and information a week prior to try to get the public's help in finding him, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was arrested in a Jacksonville motel and is now in jail facing the charge of failing to register as a sexual predator. That charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison.

The man served nearly four years in prison for sexual battery on a child and did not register with police after he was released from prison last year, the newspaper reported. It's important to note that the five years are likely not the only time the man is now facing. By failing to register he almost certainly also broke the terms of his probation, which could expose him to the maximum sentence of the crime he committed in the first place. For example, if his original charge was a second-degree felony, the maximum sentence would have been 15 years in state prison. In this Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case, the man served four. So by violating his probation, he could then be sentenced to the rest of the sentence he has yet to serve - in this case, 11 years. In all other types of criminal charges, that would be the end of the potential punishment.

But this is where the difference lies between Jacksonville Sex Crimes and all other types of crimes. There is a specific and separate charge for failing to register as a sexual offender or predator. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has strict guidelines that sexual offenders and predators must adhere to when it comes to registration. Those deemed to be sexual predators must register with police within 48 hours of release from prison. They also must check in with authorities at least twice a year and notify police within two days of moving residences. And when a sexual offender or predator moves, neighbors are notified that he or she has moved to the area, with information that includes his or her name, address and the type of crime they pleaded guilty to or were convicted of. The implications following a Jacksonville Sex Crime conviction are more severe than even someone convicted of murder, and can make it extremely difficult for a person to recover and get his or her life back together. That can be true even after a Jacksonville Sex Crime accusation - even without the restrictions that come with a conviction. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of people accused of sex crimes and knows the severe consequences a conviction can bring. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will investigate the case against you or your loved one and explain the implications 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 Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Kentucky man arrested, accused of travelling to have sex with St. Johns County teen he met online

October 24, 2014

Police arrested a Kentucky man this month after he was accused of travelling to St. Johns County on multiple occasions to have sex with a teen he met while playing a video game online. The teen's parents learned of the relationship with the 37-year-old man and told police, who then launched an investigation, according to a report on First Coast News. The man is charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a person between the ages of 12 and 16, travelling to meet a minor and using a computer or other electronic device to lure a minor for the purpose of sex. All three charges are second-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. Therefore, if the man is convicted of or pleads guilty to all three charges in this St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case, he could be facing up to 45 years in state prison.

The man was arrested in Kentucky and remains there until a hearing to have him brought to St. Johns County to face charges. This process, known as extradition, involves showing general aspects of the cases to prove there is at least probable cause, and, more than likely, the man will be brought to Florida and appear in court on charges in this St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case. Typically, charges that involve traveling to meet a minor stems from an uncover sting by police, where a detective is posing as a teen online. These types of operations were made popular by the Dateline NBC To Catch a Predator series and, despite the attention and popularity, people would still continue to get caught. This case is slightly different, as the two allegedly met playing a popular online game, and it was not in a chat room or other area where the two started talking.

There is no indication in any of the media reports that the man knew the age of the girl in this St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case, or if the teen ever told him how old she was. Police will likely gain access to all of the online conversations between the two, and if there is anything in the transcripts that indicates the man knew her true age, that can make the state's case significantly stronger in terms of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. But the case still must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt if it goes to trial. Perhaps more than any other type of crime, people rush to judgment and assume anyone accused of a St. Johns County Sex Crime - especially one involving a minor - is immediately guilty. Our St. Johns County Sex Crimes Attorney has experience in these types of cases and will fully investigate the case against you or your loved one.

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.

Detective arrested in St. Johns County prostitution sting

August 29, 2014

A Palatka police detective was arrested this month, caught in an undercover prostitution sting in St. Johns County. Police used Internet ads and discussions to have conversations with both men and women looking to either pay for or be paid for sex, directing the people to a St. Augustine Beach motel, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The sting was conducted after hotels in the area said prostitution was being arranged online and then carried out in their businesses, the newspaper reported.

The detective was arrested at the hotel and charged with solicitation to commit prostitution. This St. Johns County Sex Crime does not carry much in terms of an actual punishment - it's a second-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a jail sentence is highly unlikely. But the charge is highly embarrassing, especially for someone in law enforcement, and the detective has already resigned from his position in the police department, the newspaper reported. These types of stings in St. Johns County Sex Crimes Cases are used occasionally and usually result in a dozen or so arrests. In this sting, 14 people were arrested over four days, the newspaper reported. Often times, there's one person - a teacher, a coach or, in this case, a police officer, that is caught in the sting and ends up being the headline. With many of these discussions and negotiations for sex starting online - and traceable by police - there is generally plenty of evidence available for the state in such cases. Years ago, when police would focus on one-on-one discussions, maybe in a city park, for example, the charges would end up being dropped months later - after the arrests were all over the media and the careers and lives of those arrested were severely affected.

This operation included police posing as solicitors looking for a prostitute and police posting an advertisement that appeared to be taken out by a prostitute, so they sought johns and prostitutes in this St. Johns County Sex Crimes investigation. These are generally conducted after a series of complaints, and are publicized to serve as a reminder that police are watching - even though the penalties are not severe in terms of incarceration. Many St. Johns County Misdemeanor Cases can be resolved with the judge withholding adjudication if certain conditions are met, meaning the conviction or plea would not be a part of the person's criminal record. Misdemeanor cases can be just as damaging to a career and personal life as a felony that carries a 15-year prison sentence. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney will investigate your case and look for options that have the least long-term impact so you or your loved one can get past the arrest and move on.

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

Appeals courts rules Jacksonville sex offender has served his time, should be released

August 15, 2014

A Jacksonville man who served his sentence after pleading guilty to sexual battery charges should be freed and the state did not file proper procedures in attempting to have him committed after his release, an appellate court ruled this month. A state law, known as the Jimmy Ryce Act, allows the state to continue to hold some sex offenders in custody even after they've served their sentences. But there are certain procedures that must be followed for the state to do so. In this Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case, the state did not refer the case to the Department of Children and Families before the sentence was complete, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Because that was not done in time, the court ruled the state no longer had authority over the man and could not civilly commit him, the newspaper reported.

In Jacksonville Sex Crimes cases, the state can petition for the defendant to be held involuntarily if the judge agrees the person is a sexually violent predator and has a high likelihood of reoffending if released among the general public. In this case, the state argued the man has a history of these offenses and "suffers from a mental abnormality and/or personality disorder that makes him likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility for long-term control, care and treatment," the newspaper reported.

Civil commitment is essentially a prison where the state provides mental health treatment and warehouses sexual predators that have completed their prison sentence. They are not free to come and go as they please and periodic reviews come up to determine whether they should remain in custody. There are no other crimes for which people can continue to be held following their sentence. Convictions in Duval County Sex Crimes can ultimately be a life sentence. Once someone is convicted of or pleads guilty to a felony sex crime, the person is required to register as a sex offender. That means checking in with police at least twice a year, and reporting within 48 hours when the person moves residences. The public piece of this comes in when neighbors are notified that a sex offender has moved to the area, with the person's name, new address and the charge that qualified the person as a sex offender. There is a stigma attached to sex crimes and, this year, the state just toughened the Jimmy Ryce law, allowing for more people to be held after prison, the newspaper reported.

Pleading guilty to a sex crime can have serious, permanent consequences. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney knows the details of registration and other restrictions, and can explain those to you or your loved one so you can make an informed decision on 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 Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

School employee facing felony charge after being accused of kissing student in St. Johns County

Police arrested a 26-year-old school employee on St. Johns County Sex Crimes charges, after the accused of kissing a student last month. The woman, who works at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, is accused of sitting on a couch across from the student, when the two then kissed, according to a report on News4Jax. The woman was arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of a child between the ages of 12 and 16. The charge is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.

The underlying factor in this St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case is the relative age of the alleged victim - which was not reported by the television station, though the exact age doesn't matter. With the victim being between 12 and 16 and the suspect being over the age of 18, the same charges apply. Molestation may seem like it is overstating the case, and sounds like much more than a simple kiss. However, according to Florida Statutes, "A person who intentionally touches in a lewd or lascivious manner the breasts, genitals, genital area, or buttocks, or the clothing covering them, of a person less than 16 years of age, or forces or entices a person under 16 years of age to so touch the perpetrator, commits lewd or lascivious molestation." In this circumstance, the state has decided that a kiss qualifies to make this a felony St. Johns County Sex Crime.

It seems highly unlikely that the defendant in this St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case would receive anything close to the maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. Right or wrong, the courts tend to look at cases differently in terms of punishment when the alleged perpetrator is a woman, as opposed to a man. The big issue in terms of sentencing in this St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case is whether the woman will have to register as a sex offender. If she was to plead to or be convicted of her current charges, she would have to register. That is likely a key piece of any negotiation, though it could be one the state is unwilling to budge on. Once someone is classified as a sexual offender, he or she has to check in with police at least twice a year - and within 48 hours of moving residences. The public piece comes in when the person moves, then neighbors are sent a notice that a sex offender has moved into the area - with the person's name and the charge that led to the conviction. The registration is important to notify the public of dangerous sexual predators, but can also stigmatize people and create what amounts to a life sentence for someone who made a bad decision and is not out to prey on children.

Our St. Johns County Sex Crimes Attorney is well-versed in the registration laws and can explain the requirements in detail so you or your loved one can make an informed decision on how best to move 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 Violent Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Nassau County teacher arrested, accused of sexual relationship with teen student

A Nassau County teacher is facing a felony charge, accused of having a sexual relationship with a former student - beginning when she was 17 years old. Police started looking into rumors of the relationship earlier this year, but made the arrest after more information was brought forward, including from the defendant's sister-in-law, according to a report on News4Jax. The sister-in-law told the teacher's wife, who then confronted the man, who allegedly admitted to the relationship, the television station reported.

The defendant initially told police the relationship started after the girl turned 18, but the student said it began months prior to her birthday and the television station reported the man eventually admitted the same to detectives. He is charged with unlawful sex with a minor, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. This particular charge applies to people 24 and older who have sex with teens either 16 or 17 years of age, according to Florida law. In this Nassau County Sex Crimes case, the defendant is 32 years old - clearly above the threshold of 24. Once a person turns 18, he or she is legally an adult and there are not laws that govern consensual sex with another adult. There could have been issues in this Nassau County Sex Crimes Case because the man was the alleged victim's teacher, but the age is what the state is basing its charges on in this case. And, based on media reports and the alleged admissions from both the alleged victim and defendant, the state has the age piece locked up. There is no argument that needs to be made on consent in these types of Nassau County Sex Crimes Cases. The law does not empower 16- or 17-year-olds to have sex with people over the age of 24, and it's on the adult to know the law, or be charged with a Nassau County Sex Crime.

The sentencing threshold is rather high, and the details of the case will determine where the case falls in terms of a sentence in state prison - if the judge chooses that route. But it's highly unlikely there will be any sentence that does not include requiring the defendant to register as a sex offender. Anyone convicted of a Nassau County Sex Crime of this nature is required to check in with police at least twice a year, and notify police when he or she moves to a new house or apartment. And, once a registered sex offender moves into a new neighborhood, neighbors are notified of his or her presence, with a photo of the person and a description of the charge that classified the person as a sex offender. And even though a person convicted of a Nassau County Sex Crime may do his or her time in jail or prison and want to move on, the stigma and registration requirements do not go away. Our Nassau County Sex Crimes Attorney knows the details and requirements of sex offender registrations and can explain those to you or your loved one so you can 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 Nassau County Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Former Jacksonville school security officer will not have to register as a sex offender after charges are reduced

A former Jacksonville school security officer originally charged with two serious felony sex crimes pleaded guilty this month to significantly reduced charges. The guard, 25, was fired and charged after a 17-year-old high school senior went to police about her sexual relationship with the man, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The girl said when she tried to end the relationship with the man, he started sending her nude pictures of herself and that he also submitted them as messages through Facebook. As a result, the man was charged with unlawful sex with a minor and transmission of material harmful to a minor via electronic device, the newspaper reported. Duval County unlawful sex with a minor is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and the charge related to the nude photos is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison. Equally important is that both Jacksonville Sex Crimes charges would have required the man to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life.

The defendant ended up pleading guilty instead this month to a child neglect charge and the misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Child neglect in Jacksonville is a felony, but the man is having his adjudication withheld, which means if he meets conditions of his three-year probation and follows all of the rules, the conviction will not be on his record. Avoiding a conviction or plea to a Jacksonville Sex Crimes Case is extremely important, especially with a defendant who is 25 years old. A Jacksonville Sex Crime can stick with a person forever. As a registered sex offender, a person has to check in with police at least twice a year - depending on the severity of his or her crime. The most publicly humiliating piece is that every time a sex offender moves houses or apartments, he or she must tell police. Police then notify nearby neighbors that a sex offender has moved in, and include the name of the person, where he or she now lives and the description of the Jacksonville Sex Crime that has made the person a sex offender. That makes it difficult for a person to move on with his or her life. Now there are certainly sex offenders that the public should be aware of. But does that need to apply under no uncertain terms for a 25-year-old man having sex with a 17-year-old?

Jacksonville Sex Crimes have lasting consequences. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney knows the ins and outs of what registering as a sex offender entails, so she can advise you or your loved one about the options in a case and you can decide if the conditions are worth trying to negotiate or if a trial is the best move.

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.

St. Johns County man facing 20 child porn charges, police say investigation continues

Police arrested a St. Johns County man on 20 counts of possession of child pornography, following a months-long online investigation. The man was arrested after police served a warrant at his home, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He remained in jail on a more than $200,000 bond awaiting trial, the newspaper reported. The man faces 20 counts of possession of child pornography. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. So, if a judge choses to run the sentences consecutively, which he or she technically can, the man would be looking at up 100 years in prison in this St. Johns County Sex Crimes Case. Police also found drugs in the house and charged the man with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, a first-degree misdemeanor.

The drug charge, obviously, is the least of worries for the 29-year-old defendant. St. Johns County Sex Crimes are serious charges and have lifelong consequences for people who are convicted or plead guilty to the charges. If he is convicted or pleads guilty to any or all of the child pornography charges, he will be required to register as a sexual offender. In terms of lasting impact, St. Johns County Sex Crimes stick with someone publicly even more than someone convicted of murder. If a person is required to register as a sexual offender, they must check in with police at least twice a year. The more public piece comes in when the person moves to a different home or apartment. When that happens, neighbors in a small radius are all notified that a sexual offender has moved into the neighborhood. The notice includes the person's name and a description of the crime that made the person register as a sexual offender. There are also restrictions, depending on the St. Johns County Sex Crime the person was convicted of or pleaded guilty to, that govern where the person can live - including distance from a school, playground or other places children congregate.

Police seized a computer when they executed the search warrant last month, the newspaper reported, which could put the defendant in a difficult position. In some St. Johns County Sex Crimes Cases, it is the word of the defendant against that of the alleged victim. In this case, however, the crime is having the images. Period. And if the state can prove that it was indeed the defendant who accessed or obtained the images, prosecutors have what they need. Our St. Johns County Sex Crimes Attorney has represented hundreds of defendants charges with sex crimes and knows all of the ramifications of having to register as a sexual offender and can advise you or your loved one of the consequences so you can make an informed decision on 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 Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Ten arrested on prostitution charges after Nassau County deputies turn to social media

April 30, 2014

Nassau County police took to social media to pose as johns in a prostitution sting that led to 10 arrests. The detectives arranged meetings thorough a website and the women agreed to exchange sex for money, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Not all of the arrests are of women and, in some cases, men acting as the female defendants' pimps were busted for setting up the deal. All were charged with offering for prostitution, the newspaper reported.

The crime is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in the county jail, assuming it is the defendant's first prostitution conviction. In these Nassau County Sex Crimes Cases, the severity of the charges is on a sliding scale depending on the person's record on these specific crimes. For example, a first offense is a first-degree misdemeanor. A second offense becomes a first-degree misdemeanor and the maximum jail time climbs to one year in the county jail. After two convictions, the case is elevated to a third-degree felony. The maximum punishment in that case is now five years in prison. Keep in mind these escalating charges only apply on conviction or guilty pleas - not simply arrests.

As is the case in many prostitution stings, two of the 10 arrested were caught on other charges. One was arrested on an arson warrant out of Clay County and another was charged with possession of cocaine. People sometimes have drugs on them for an encounter such as this, and can end up picking up more serious charges than they would have for the act they were arrested for. And though offering for position and soliciting for prostitution are both Jacksonville Sex Crimes, neither rises to the level that it would force the defendant to register as a sexual offender. Registration is reserved for more serious charges, such as rape, kidnapping and lewd and lascivious conduct. Soliciting for prostitution can often be tricky for the state, but police in Nassau County and other local counties have been making sure in these stings that money does indeed change hands. Once that has occurred, usually the takedown team is called in and the either the john or the woman are arrested. The digital discussion on social media is also of value to police because there is a complete record of the conversation that can then be used to show the intent of the meeting. Outside of the transcript, the discussion between the detective and either the john or the prostitution is usually also recorded, specifically to show intent and to be played if the case does end up going to trial. Our Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorney handles a variety of sex crimes cases, from relatively minor cases such as these misdemeanor cases, on up to capital sexual battery which is punishable by life in prison.

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

Army recruiter accused of having sexual relationship with Clay County teen-ager

April 28, 2014

Police arrested an Army recruiter accused of arranging for a high school student to sneak out of her parents' house and come to his hotel room to have sex. The man, 34, was arrested two days later, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was often inside Clay High School for his job as an Army recruiter and he was seen talking with the student in question several times, the newspaper reported. There are varying degrees of Clay County Sex Crimes that prosecutors can charge in cases of adults having sex with minors. The variables that determine the severity of the charge are quite simple: the age of the adult and the age of the minor. There are other factors, including whether the adult is in a position of authority, but the main driver in these cases is age.

If a person is 24 years of age or older and has sex with someone who is 16 or 17, the adult in the case can be charged with a second-degree felony. The charge, unlawful sex with a minor, carries a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in state prison. That is what the recruiter is now facing in this Clay County Sex Crimes Case. In Clay County Sex Crimes Cases such as this one, consent doesn't matter. Whether or not the teen wanted to have sex or even initiated the encounter does not matter. If the two had sex and it can be proven, then the state likely has what it needs to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. There is the issue of whether the recruiter knew the alleged victim was underage, which could play a role.

But if the man is either convicted or pleads guilty in this Clay County Sex Crimes Case, he will be required to register as a sexual offender. This would force him to check in with police at least every six months and, every time he moves residencies, people living in the new neighborhood will receive notification that he is now living there, along with the crime he committed that made him a sex offender. Classification as a sexual offender also severely limits a person's ability to be on school grounds and in places where children congregate. This could limit the man's role as a recruiter and could force him to find another line of work - assuming the charge itself hasn't led to his dismissal. Employers often work faster than the legal system and do not always wait for the charges to play out in court. Being classified as a sex offender can have serious consequences and our Clay County Sex Crimes Attorney can walk you or your loved one through those consequences so you understand the implications and can make an informed decision on how to proceed with the criminal 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 Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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.