Articles Posted in Arrested in Jacksonville

It is a terrible jolt when you or someone you love is arrested in Duval, Clay, Nassau or St. Johns County.  There is a feeling of helplessness, but you don’t have to handle it alone.  Our Jacksonville Arrest Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is here for you at all hours, every day.

As soon as a police officer orders you to stop or puts the handcuffs on, you are detained.  You have the absolute right to be silent.  Exercise that right.  Absolutely EVERYTHING you say can be used against you in court.  You will be eventually be transported to the Duval County Jail and be processed.  Once you reach the your floor of the jail, you can make collect phone calls.  Most of the time, you will not be able to bond out of jail in Duval County until you go in front of a judge.  This is called first appearance court, or J-1 for short in Jacksonville.  When you go in front of the judge, you will be sitting with everyone who was arrested in the last twelve to twenty-four hours.  The judge will read the arrest and booking report and make two determinations.  First, he or she will determine whether or not there was probable cause to arrest you.  This means more likely than not, a crime was committed.  Second, the judge will determine your conditions of release.  Most of the time, the judge will impose a monetary bond that you will have to post to bond out of jail in Jacksonville.  If you can afford to pay the whole amount of the bond, at the conclusion of your case, the entire amount will be returned to you.  You can also utilize a bail bondsman.  You, or your loved ones, must give the bondsman ten percent of the bond amount and they will vouch for the rest.  You must also provide some type of collateral, such as a car title, for the amount above the ten percent.  When your case is disposed of, you get the collateral back and the bondsman keeps the ten percent.

Often times in Jacksonville, the bonds are set extremely high.  Higher than most every other county around.  If your loved one’s bond is set too high for you to meet, there is hope.  Contact a Jacksonville Bond Reduction Lawyer immediately.  We can move the court to lower the bond at any time, presenting evidence of your ties to the community, employment information and family situation.

The Duval County School Board is using the criminal justice system to force parents to send their children to school and a batch of dozens of warrants was issued last week. Police arrested 18 parents and were looking for 26 more, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The parents were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and with failure to comply with school attendance laws, the newspaper reported. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a first-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in the county jail. The failure to comply with school attendance laws charge is a second-degree misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of 60 days in the county jail.

Police said they chose these parents because they were 44 cases with the highest absentees rates in the county, and the data used covered more than just the current school year. The legal system is supposed to be the very last resort in school attendance cases and school officials say they tried to work with the parents but to no avail, the newspaper reported. But when they do go to the legal system, police, prosecutors and all involved make it a point to go as public as they could with it – trying to use these Jacksonville Misdemeanor Cases to set an example for other parents. And chances are it will work.

Police and prosecutors often try to make headlines to make people aware of the consequences for actions for some seemingly minor crimes, including selling alcohol to minors or hosting an open house party where underage teens are drinking alcohol.

Police arrested a man this month, accused of painting graffiti on several local businesses in Jacksonville Beach. The man was arrested on two criminal mischief charges, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. One charge is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in the county jail. The second charge is a third-degree felony and carries a maximum penalty of five years in state prison.

So what makes one instance a misdemeanor and the other a felony? The amount of damage done to the property. If the damage is less than $200, as was reported in one of these Jacksonville Vandalism Charges, the charge is a second-degree misdemeanor. If the damage is between $200 and $1,000, the charge becomes a first-degree misdemeanor and carries a maximum charge of one year in the county jail. But once it becomes more than $1,000, the charge is a felony and time in state prison is now on the table. The $1,000 threshold applies to whether the damage was more than $1,000, or if the vandalism either cost more than $1,000 in labor and supplies to restore or repair. The charges also become a felony if the defendant has a previous conviction for the same offense, which does not appear to be the case in this Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Case. Now, it is highly unlikely a first-time offender will go to state prison for spray painting a building, but those are the maximum penalties he is facing in this Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Case.

The framework of charges and potential punishment escalating based on the value of the damage is common throughout Florida criminal law. There are similar scales of punishment in Jacksonville theft cases, based on the value of what is allegedly stolen. Charges begin, as Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Cases do, as second-degree felonies and move on up from there. Similar distinctions are made when it comes to Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases. The larger amount of an illegal substance a person is accused of having, the more serious the charges and the potential penalties. In Jacksonville Vandalism Cases, the more traditional outcome is the defendant agreeing to pay the business owner for the damage that was caused, and likely do some sort of community service or other punishment that does not include time in jail or prison. One element that could change in this case is whether more charges are filed as more businesses come forward, or the defendant talks to police about past acts. In some cases, the cumulative effect will influence sentencing, and lead to a more severe punishment than if the person was simply facing one or two counts.

Rarely do vandalism charges make headlines in the local media, but the arrest of a Jacksonville artist this month is igniting a debate on art versus vandalism. A local artist was painting the utility boxes in the cloak of darkness and went by the name Keith Haring’s Ghost, a tribute to a late New York graffiti artist, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police subpoenaed Facebook records and other Internet footprint data to tie the actual person to the Ghost, the newspaper reported. He was charged with felony criminal mischief in Duval County. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. Criminal mischief becomes a felony if the damage or the cost to restore the property is more than $1,000, according to Florida law. The city of Jacksonville is estimating the damages in this Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Case at $1,100, therefore bumping the charge up to a felony.

The artist admitted to police that he was, in fact, the Ghost, the newspaper reported. Police have plenty of evidence against him, the newspaper reported, including his cell phone which contains pictures of his art. Many in the community have taken to social media to come to the artist’s defense, even organizing fundraisers to help pay for his defense and his family’s expenses, the newspaper reported. They argue that Jacksonville has plenty of violent crime that needs police attention and arresting an artist on vandalism charges is a waste of resources. Others argue that rules are rules and there are other canvases artists can use to exhibit their work. Many of the paintings are political in nature, showing support for Jordan Davis, a black Jacksonville teen who was shot killed by a middle-aged white man in an argument over loud music. The case drew national attention when it went to trial earlier this year and the jury could not agree on the first-degree murder charge, but convicted the shooter on several other lesser charges.

Had the paintings been more innocuous, perhaps the charges would have never been filed – particularly as a felony. But police and prosecutors do not take kindly to people openly thumbing their nose at the law and often look to make an example of people in Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Cases like this, showing others that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated. It will be interesting to see how far prosecutors take this case, or if discussion ends up centering on reducing the charge to a misdemeanor. Either way, this Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Case is now firmly in the media spotlight and, if attention is what the artist was looking for, he has it now.

Jacksonville Beach police arrested two men this month for sticking “Townies Go Home” stickers on buildings, signs and other local landmarks. The stickers are a reference to recent trouble at the beach, including a Memorial Day brawl that was videotaped and went viral on the Internet, which was believed to be caused by people who lived in Northwest Jacksonville – not at Jacksonville Beach, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union.

Matthew Sugden-Kirsch and Jason Swanson were both arrested after a citizen flagged down an officer about 4 a.m. and said he saw two men on bicycles putting up the stickers, the newspaper reported. Both had dozens of stickers in their backpacks and officials have reported that hundreds have been removed from various structures since early June, the newspaper reported. Both men were charged with criminal mischief in Jacksonville causing between $200 and $1,000 in damages, a first-degree misdemeanor in Florida punishable by up to one year in the county jail. Criminal mischief is a Jacksonville Misdemeanor Crimes charge that is essentially vandalism. It’s the same charge people would get for spray-painting a building or smashing a window, provided the damage is between $200 and $1,000. If the damage is more than $1,000, the charge can be upgraded to a Duval County felony and the defendant can be facing up to five years in prison. The same is true if the vandalism is done to a business and the labor and supplies to repair the damage or bring it to the prior condition was more than $1,000. It doesn’t take long to get to $1,000, but apparently in this Jacksonville Misdemeanor Case, the property owners were able to just peel the stickers off if they wanted them removed. It also may be difficult for the state to prove just how many of the stickers these two men posted, or if there were others making similar statements in this Jacksonville Misdemeanor Crimes Case.

Another deterrent in these Jacksonville Misdemeanor Cases is if someone is arrested on a criminal mischief and has one or more previous conviction for criminal mischief, he or she can be charged with a felony – regardless of the dollar amount. In most cases, that’s enough for defendants not to do it again. Misdemeanor cases can be positive learning experiences for people – enough of a taste of the criminal justice system to know you want to stay out, but not enough to put a serious damper on someone getting an education or holding down a job. These cases generally get little public attention and defendants can work them out and move on in relative anonymity. This Jacksonville Misdemeanor Case is different. The Memorial Day brawl and its aftermath were covered extensively by the local media outlets, more than one of which published or aired stories about the conflict between some Beaches residents and people they deem as outsiders who just come down to fight and stir up trouble. People will be paying more attention to this Jacksonville Criminal Mischief Case and, in some cases, that alone can lead to a higher sentence.

When you are arrested in Jacksonville or anywhere in Florida, you are entitled and it is your right to be brought in front of a Duval County judge within twenty-four hours. That judge will determine whether or not you have to pay bail to be released from jail, deny bail or release you on your own recognizance. The term “bail” is a security (money) you post to guarantee your future appearance in Jacksonville criminal court. If a bail amount is set for your release, you have a couple of options. You or your love one can give the whole amount to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and at the end of your case, the whole amount will be returned. When the amount of the bail set in a Jacksonville Criminal case is high, most folks cannot post the entire amount to secure the release of a loved one. In that case, bail bondsmen are utilized. Most bondsmen are the same, in that they require payment of ten percent of the entire bail amount. In return for that fee paid to the bondsman, the bond agent will guarantee the entire bail amount to the court system if you fail to appear in court. If you do not appear at your future court dates, the bond company can chase, confine and return you to the Duval County Detention Center.

When determining whether or not to set bail in any Duval County criminal case, a judge will consider a number of issues. First and foremost, he or she will look at the Jacksonville criminal charges you were arrested for. The more violent the alleged offense, the higher bail amounts generally go. The judge will consider your familial ties to the City of Jacksonville. The more family you have in the area, the better. How long you have lived in the community will be considered. Whether or not you are employed can also be a factor in determining what your bail amount will be. The judge may ask whether or not you have ever failed to appear in court in the past. Every person arrested in Jacksonville has the right to an individualized review of their bail. As a rule, bail amounts are not supposed to punish the accused person. The main purpose of bail is to insure your appearance at future court dates. Often times, bail amounts in Duval County are high. If your loved one is in jail with a high bond or no bond at all, it is important to contact a Jacksonville Bail Bond Attorney. Our Duval County Bail Reduction Lawyer will discuss your loved one’s situation and advise you of your options, including filing a Motion for a Bond Reduction.

Our Jacksonville Bond Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call The Mussallem Law Firm today with any questions you have concerning a criminal matter in Duval, Clay, Nassau or St. Johns County. Our Jacksonville Criminal Law Firm handles 100% criminal cases and our experience can help you.

A Jacksonville father finally caught a man his 15-year-old daughter had been saying was looking at her from outside the family’s Jacksonville home. After the daughter said she saw a silhouette in the lawn, the father ran outside and found James Lowery standing outside, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The father tackled Lowery and hit him several times before holding him on the ground until police arrived. Lowery could not explain why he was in the lawn, but did say he drank an entire bottle of wine earlier in the evening, the newspaper reported.

He was charged with three Jacksonville, Florida misdemeanors: trespassing, disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer without violence. The trespassing and resisting charges are both first-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in the county jail. The disorderly intoxication charge is a second-degree misdemeanor and on that charge Lowery could serve up to 60 days in jail. In most cases, our Jacksonville Misdemeanor Crimes Attorney has seen sentences run concurrent, meaning Lowery is not likely to be sentenced to more than one year in jail for all three crimes – if he was to receive that much time. He was released from jail on a bond of about $9,000 for all three charges combined.

And despite the obvious beating Lowery took from the father — police described it in the newspaper as “minor injuries” but the jail mug shot shows a different story – the father is not expected to face any criminal charges in Jacksonville. First of all, Lowery was on the man’s property committing a crime and the father could argue he was doing what he could to keep Lowery there until police arrived. The law allows a certain amount of discretion for people to use the necessary amount of force to remove someone from their property, especially if the person was committing a crime. Though Lowery is not facing a prowling charge, not yet anyway, the evidence released to date points to the fact he was likely up to no good. More importantly, though not clearly spelled out in the law, is the fact that the state would have an extremely difficult time convincing a jury to convict the father of a crime in this case. That’s where common sense comes into play when prosecutors are determining charges. It’s highly likely that most jurors could see themselves doing the exact same thing to Lowery is they caught him in the lawn looking at their daughter. Heck, many of them might be thinking the dad let Lowery off easy.

Four months after a Clay County teen was hit by a car leaving a beer pong party, five people were charged for their role in hosting the party and providing the alcohol. Hollee Marie Krueger, 19, was killed after she stepped into the road while walking home from the party, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Tests done at the hospital where she was pronounced dead showed Krueger’s blood-alcohol level was .16, more than twice the legal limit. Last week, police announced Clay County criminal charges for the two people, both age 20, who lived in the house. They were charged with holding an open house party where alcohol is served to minors. They are among the first to be charged locally under the law that was passed by the state legislature last year. Three others, two 21-year-olds and a 22-year-old, were charged with buying or giving alcohol to minors.

All five are facing Clay County second-degree misdemeanor charges and could face up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. They were booked into jail and their bonds were set between $50,000 and $60,000, the newspaper reported. In terms of jail time and the fine, the charges may seem rather minor. Most of the cases discussed on this blog are cases where people are at least facing time in prison. But this is significant because it is part of an overall effort from the state and law enforcement to crack down on underage drinking. Police have been conducting stings for years when they send a teen into a store to buy alcohol, checking to see if the person at the register checks for ID. But in many cases, teens are getting the alcohol elsewhere – not directly from the store itself. The new law is designed to make homeowners and people who are of age think twice about being responsible for underage people drinking.

To prove the criminal case in Clay County, the state would have to show that a reasonable person should have known there was underage drinking going on at the time. The party, where about 15 to 20 people were playing beer pong in a garage, was advertised on Facebook, the newspaper reported. Unlike some cases where parents may be asleep while teens are drinking in another part of the house, it appears that the people who lived there were part of the party and knew what was going on. People do not always have to be the ones actively committing a crime to be charged with one. None of these five are the ones who hit and killed Krueger. In fact, that driver is not facing charges. But these five are now facing charges, and state officials have said part of the reasoning is to let other parents and people of legal drinking age that there are serious consequences for letting teens drink.

A Jacksonville newspaper reporter is a key player in the illegal taping case involving Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and the paper is trying to block prosecutors from questioning the reporter. Carletha Cole, a former aide to Carroll, is charged with secretly recording a conversation she had with Carroll’s former chief of staff and giving a tape of the meeting to the reporter, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The Times-Union posted the recording on its website and Cole was eventually charged with a Florida third-degree felony and faces up to five years in prison. In the state of Florida, both parties must be aware of any recording and provide consent that allows them to be recorded. Journalists have some protection when it comes to being subpeonead in cases they are reporting on, but that state says in this case reporter Matt Dixon is crucial to the case. Dixon is the one Cole gave the tape to – which is how the secret recording ended up going public – and the newspaper reported that investigators say they have email records that show Dixon and Cole discussing the recording.

The judge has already denied one request to keep someone from questioning in the case. That was Carroll herself after Gov. Rick Scott tried to keep attorneys from questioning her. But the judge denied the request last week, saying Cole has a right to defend herself. The judge did want criminal defense attorneys to specifically say why they need to speak with Carroll and detail the purpose of the questioning. It will be interesting to see if the judge makes a similar ruling on the newspaper reporter. Media companies will always fight having one of their journalists questioned, fearing the precedent it could set in having reporters dragged into every case they write about, simply for doing their jobs. Newspaper executives say potential whistleblowers could shy away from giving information to a news organization if they know that reporter may end up on the witness stand talking about the information he or she gave.

In most Jacksonville criminal cases, it is unlikely a reporter will end up having to testify. In many cases, it appears to be more for show than anything. It’s likely part of the strategic back-and-forth between the state and the criminal defense team. If the defense wants to put the lieutenant governor on the stand, the state will try for the reporter. This case is an example of some of the preparations and behind-the-scenes work an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney does on a case before it ends up in a trial – if it ever does. Both sides are always looking for an edge, especially as it gets closer to trial or a plea negotiation.

An undercover investigator posing as an unsuspecting homeowner helped bust 11 unlicensed contractors last month, part of a series of similar operations across Florida. All of the unlicensed contractors were charged with soliciting contracting work without state licenses, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The crime is a Jacksonville first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. The investigation was a joint effort between the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Business and Professional Regulations and the Northeast Florida Builders Association, the newspaper reported. The proposed jobs varied, but included a new patio, converting a bathtub into a shower and electrical work.

In Jacksonville criminal cases and stings like this, most times the defendants do very little time in jail – if any at all. Unless one of the defendants has a previous conviction for the same charge, or a lengthy criminal record with some similar crimes, these types of cases typically work out for a sentence of probation. These types of stings are designed more for the public than they are looking for serious time behind bars. Police are trying to send a message to other contractors that they are watching and that the crimes will be taken seriously. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office paraded all 11 mug shots to local media outlets and they were plastered all over television and the internet shortly after the bust. It can be more about letting people know the law is out there. The same can be said for prostitution stings. Jacksonville police usually conduct at least one a year, generally putting an ad on the Internet for an escort service. As in the contracting case, the men’s booking photos are distributed and broadcast locally, likely leading to a divorce or two over the years.

But just because the prison sentence isn’t as long as a Jacksonville Drug Crime or Gun Crime, doesn’t mean it is not extremely serious. This Jacksonville misdemeanor crime could stay with these contractors for quite some time. It may affect their ability to get a license, if they do ever intend to get one. Some of the defendants may be hesitant to plead guilty for that very reason.

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