Judge rules state can push for more criminal charges in Jacksonville on 12-year-old boy

The behind-the-scenes legal wrangling continues to unfold around a 12-year-old boy charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 2-year-old half-brother. The latest turn came last week when a judge denied a criminal defense motion to block the state from taking a new Jacksonville sex charge to the grand jury for a possible second indictment, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The Jacksonville criminal defense attorney had argued the state was using the potential sex charge to punish Christian Fernandez and his Jacksonville defense team for turning down a plea deal last month. Duval County Defense attorneys, including a team of local lawyers working pro bono to help the Public Defender’s Office, pressed to present their own evidence of Fernandez’ troubled upbringing to the grand jury.

The judge ruled he could not block the state from doing its job in pursuing a criminal charge and will allow prosecutors to move forward. If the grand jury chooses to charge Fernandez, the defense can then move to dismiss the charges and fight them as they would any other charge in any other case, the newspaper reported. Court motions indicate the new charge is punishable by up to life in prison and involves Fernandez molesting a 5-year-old, another half-brother of his. The plea deal Fernandez rejected would have allowed him to plead guilty to second-degree murder and be released by age 21. But the deal also allowed the state to seek life in prison for Fernandez if he violated probation. If you are placed on any probation in Jacksonville and the court finds that you violate your Duval County probation, you are facing the same amount of jail or prison time you were facing on the original charge. For example, if you are placed on DUI probation for a first DUI in Jacksonville and violate it, you are facing up to six months in jail.

The case has garnered national headlines, as Fernandez is believed to be the youngest person in the state to be indicted on a first degree murder charge. A trial date is set for February, 2012. Closed-door talks about deals and plea arrangements are not reserved for high-profile cases. The vast majority of criminal cases are disposed of before trial and our Jacksonville criminal defense firm is skilled in getting the best deal possible for its clients. Our Jacksonville Felony Crimes Defense Lawyer has worked in Duval County for years and knows how the various factors at play – the judges, the prosecutor assigned to the case and the type of crime – will affect your negotiating position.

If you need a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County Criminal Lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to discuss your case with you.