Appellate court orders new trial in St. Johns County road rage incident

A woman sentenced to 33 years in prison last year for driving her car into several people has the opportunity for a new trial – this one before a jury of her peers. A state appellate court threw out the 2013 convictions from a bench trial in front of the judge and ruled that if there’s another trial, it should be in front of a jury, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The overwhelming majority of cases that go to trial are jury trials, but the defendant can waive that element if he or she chooses. The court ruled in this St. Johns County Road Rage Case that the defendant did not understand the difference, nor did she know the potential benefits of a jury trial, the newspaper reported. The case could end up in a plea agreement, too, but the bottom line for the defendant in this St. Johns County Traffic Case is the convictions have been thrown out.

The defendant was accused of hitting a bicyclist with her car, hitting someone riding a scooter and several other vehicles, including a police car, the newspaper reported. Police said she also drove at another officer who was standing in the road, attempting to stop her, the newspaper reporter. She convicted of six counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon, aggravated attempt to elude causing serious injury and resisting arrest with violence. The defendant’s attorney argued the defendant was insane at the time of the incident, but the judge disagreed, finding her guilty on all counts and sentencing her to 33 years in prison.

The major benefit to a jury trial in a St. Johns County Felony Case is it brings more decision-makers into the fold. For example, a jury must be unanimous in its decision. So if there is one person on the six-member jury that does not vote to find the person guilty, there cannot be a conviction. When a jury cannot agree, it is called a hung jury and a mistrial is declared. That means the case starts over – just as it will in this St. Johns County Traffic Case. When it’s simply a trial in front of the judge, the judge is the only person determining guilt or innocence. The sentencing would have been up to the judge regardless, so that element is not in the jury’s control. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney looks at each case individually, investigating the case and the defendant’s personal situation and that analysis guides the recommendation she gives to the defendant on how to proceed with his or her case.

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