Facing life in prison, man instead gets 35 years on murder charge

A Jacksonville man convicted of second-degree murder and two other serious felonies was sentenced this month to 35 years in state prison.  The man and his roommate arranged to meet another man for a drug deal, but instead planned to rob the person, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The altercation escalated and the 21-year-old defendant ended up shooting the robbery target, who died at a local hospital. The defendant was initially charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and carrying a concealed firearm. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder, as well as the other two charges.

The difference between first-degree murder and second-degree murder in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case is extremely important, especially given the way the sentencing turned out. In Jacksonville Murder Cases, there are only two possible punishments in a first-degree murder case – life in prison or the death penalty. The judge would not have any discretion in the sentencing. The state was not seeking this death penalty in this Jacksonville Murder Case. But in some cases, the state looks to charge with first-degree murder to force the defendant’s hand in terms of pleading guilty and not going to trial.  Second-degree murder carries the possibility of a life sentence, as does the first-degree felony armed robbery charge, but the life sentence is not mandatory. The judge could have given a sentence between 25 years and life in prison. It’s a minor detail in a case like this, but the carrying a concealed weapon is a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in state prison.

There is a second defendant in this case who is also charged with murder, though the defendant sentenced to 35 years is the one that is accused of pulling the trigger in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. It’s rare for a person who is less culpable to receive a longer sentence, so in all likelihood he is looking at about 35 years or less. What is not known, and now does not matter, is whether the co-defendant had agreed to testify against the alleged shooter in exchange for a lighter sentence. That frequently happens, but the person agreeing to cooperate is sentenced after the other case is done – strictly to ensure the cooperating witness holds up his or her end of the bargain.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and lay out all of the information 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 Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.