Articles Posted in Arrested in Jacksonville

The drama meter is well into the red already in the George Zimmerman Florida second-degree murder case, and the only issues in the court’s hands thus far are where Zimmerman will be before the case goes to trial. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, is charged with murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a teen-ager with whom Zimmerman had an altercation with in his Sanford neighborhood. Zimmerman is claiming he was protecting himself under Florida’s lenient and controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which says someone does not have to retreat if they reasonably believe their life is being threatened. Jacksonville’s elected State Attorney has been appointed as the special prosecutor in the nationally-watched case, which has reporters from across the country and all of the major television networks covering every significant hearing. This week was the second bond hearing for Zimmerman. He was initially out on $150,000 bond, but that was revoked after the judge found Zimmerman’s wife lied in the first hearing about how much money the family had received in donations to its legal defense fund. This time, according to the Florida Times Union, the judge set the bond at $1 million and added restrictions that Zimmerman cannot leave Seminole County without permission from the court. He had been allowed to live out of state in a secure, undisclosed location, but the judge now perceives Zimmerman to be more of a flight risk.

Zimmerman posted bond two days later and, now that he is out again, expect the case to be delayed. It might not stall as much because of the high-profile nature of the case, but it will no doubt have an impact on when the case goes to trial. It’s one of the best weapons in the state’s vast arsenal and, trust our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer who knows, the state is not afraid to use it. When a person is out of jail and knows they have a significant chance of going to jail or prison, they really don’t have a ton of motivation to speed things along. But, if someone is in jail, they usually either want to get out if they can by being found not guilty at a trial or want to get the sentence moving so they know what they’re facing and can ride it out.

So the state does what it can to keep people in jail. Pure and simple. That’s likely why prosecutors went on a fishing expedition through Zimmerman’s jail phone calls after the first bond hearing. And they caught a whopper. They found Zimmerman and his wife orchestrating a lie about money that had been raised for Zimmerman’s criminal defense. The judge accused Zimmerman of trying to game the system and referenced it several times in the second bond hearing. Typically, a person can be released from jail by posting 10 percent of the posted bond. So, in Zimmerman’s case, that would be $100,000. Some bondsmen take less in high-profile cases such as this, and those negotiations are between the client and the bondsman.

A ruling this month from an appellate court in Daytona Beach would allow police to search a suspect’s cell phone without first obtaining a warrant. The state argued that law enforcement should be allowed to look at the contents of the phone that they can access and should not need to get a warrant first, according to a report by First Coast News. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. The ruling opens up a serious gray area in the law, one that is becoming more and more important as technology continues to advance. A federal court that covers the Jacksonville area has already ruled that a suspect does not have to give police their code or password to unlock their phone if they do not want to.

Phones are not just phones in today’s day and age. These phones often contain a person’s pictures and videos; social media accounts and contacts of family and friends. Many people use their phones as a second computer and if a police officer was able to just scroll through the phone, he or she could see all recent Internet searches and sites visited, which could even include financial information. Of course, all of this type of information is available to police – if they get a warrant first. A Jacksonville criminal warrant to search a person’s home or computer must be approved by the prosecutor’s office and then signed by a judge. If police can satisfy a judge there is probable cause to conduct the search, then the cops can look at whatever they want. Those safeguards are there for a reason: so police cannot go on massive fishing expeditions and just conduct searches willy nilly on anyone they choose. This decision from the state court would be a step in the wrong direction in terms of protecting people’s rights. A smartphone is no different from a computer these days and should be treated that way by the courts.

If you are contacted by the police conducting a criminal investigation in Duval, Clay or Nassau Counties, it is crucial that you know your rights. You have the right to remain silent and you have a right to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. You also have the right to say no if the police ask to search your car, your home, your computer and, for now it seems, your cell phone. If police have a warrant, they can do what they want within the bounds of the warrant itself, but our experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney has seen many searches where police have overstepped the scope of the search that was approved by the court. If you are being investigated for a crime, our Jacksonville criminal attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem can walk you through your rights and advise you how far police are allowed to go without a Duval County warrant. When police say “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law,” they aren’t messing around. The same goes for anything they find during a search of your car or even your cell phone.

A Jacksonville man was arrested in Duval County last week, accused of shining a laser light into the window of a police airplane. The man was charged with misuse of a laser pointing device, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Believe it or not, the crime is a third-degree felony in Jacksonville, punishable by up to five years in prison. The pilot said he saw a green light flash into the cockpit four times and was able to pinpoint the house where it was coming from. When police arrived at the house and began talking to the suspect’s wife, they heard him run through the house and eventually found him hiding in a bathtub. He told police he didn’t think the laser extended that far. The Federal Aviation Administration has had several complaints about lasers being pointed at pilots, the newspaper reported, so there is a possibility of more charges on the way. Police have not said whether or not the same man is a suspect in the other Duval County criminal cases, or if the lasers were pointed from the same general area in Jacksonville. Laser lights can be very dangerous for pilots, obstructing their vision and possibly causing a serious accident.

And it certainly doesn’t help the man’s case that it was a police plane that caught him. Police agencies don’t take too kindly to this type of behavior and could be looking to make an example of him. He may have picked the wrong plane to mess with. Is he likely to spend five years in prison for this crime? Probably not. It sounds like a joke, but misuse of a laser pointing device is among a handful of seemingly off-the-wall crimes that can be charged in the state of Florida. There is molesting a crab trap, even molesting a vending machine (both are misdemeanors in Jacksonville). You can be charged with a DUI even if you are driving a riding lawnmower or even a golf cart. The charges are funny until they are yours. Then they become serious, especially when serious prison time is involved. Anytime you are charged with or being investigated for a crime, it is a good idea to speak with a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney right away. You may not have heard of a particular charge, but there’s no doubt our Jacksonville criminal defense attorney has. We understand the severity of a criminal conviction – especially a felony – and will fully investigate any case, whether it’s a murder charge, a drug crime or even misuse of a laser pointing device.

If you or a loved one needs 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 defense lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

George Zimmerman is now back in jail awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin, a case in the national spotlight and being prosecuted by assistant state attorneys from the Jacksonville circuit. Zimmerman had been out, released on a $150,000 bond, until prosecutors sifted through jail phones between Zimmerman and his wife when he was locked up the first time awaiting a bond hearing, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A judge found last week that Zimmerman and his wife conspired to hide money that had been raised for his criminal defense, a tactic used to try to get a reduced bond that would be easier for him to meet, the newspaper reported.

The plan backfired, once Duval County prosecutors pulled the phone calls, and asked the judge to revoke Zimmerman’s bond. The judge sided with the state and gave Zimmerman 48 hours to report to jail. He was booked into the jail Sunday. His criminal attorneys have told various media outlets the case will not be ready for trial until sometime next year. That means Zimmerman has at least six months behind bars. Police have said he will be in a separate cell and isolated from other inmates, the newspaper reported.

The takeaway here is to never, ever, say anything about your case on a jail telephone. Never. There are warnings posted by the phone, and played at the start of phone calls, that the calls are being recorded. Many people don’t think the state will actually sit down and listen to them. But they will. And, in many cases, that is where the state gets it best evidence. Maybe it’s another witness who is mentioned that police didn’t know about. Or it’s the location of stolen goods. Or even that confession that police have been unable to squeeze out of him or her. In this case, it was about the money the state was suspicious about from the very beginning. The bond revocation is no doubt a win for the state in this case. First, it adds some urgency for Zimmerman and his team. The state always would rather have a defendant in custody to help move the case along. If the defendant is out, especially is he or she has a decent idea they will be doing some time, there is really no incentive to resolve the case. Second, and far more important, is the fact that the judge made a decision against Zimmerman, based on his belief that Zimmerman was engaged in an attempt to lie to the court. That will be brought up repeatedly by the state, you can count on it. Any crack in Zimmerman’s credibility is huge because his word is the crux of his defense.

As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, I constantly review arrests in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties. When evaluating any criminal case, I first look at when the police officer initially makes contact with my client, also referred to as “police-citizen encounters”. In Florida, there are three levels of these encounters. The first is called a consensual encounter, where you can wither voluntarily comply with the officer’s requests or ignore them. Because you are free to leave during a consensual encounter, your constitutional rights are not in play. The second level of police contact is called an investigatory stop. In order to detain you, the officer has to have a well-founded suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity. To determine whether you are detained, the courts apply the standard of whether a reasonable person would feel free to leave even though a police officer is talking to them. Factors to consider are: did the officer activate his squad car lights, where did the officer park when approaching you, what words did the officer say when making contact with you, how many officers approached you, were their guns drawn or were the officers touching their weapons, if at night, did the officer shine a light on you. This evaluation is very important because if an officer does not follow the law, anything he or she found on you could be suppressed because your constitutional rights were violated. The third level of police encounters is when you are actually arrested. In order to be arrested in Jacksonville or anywhere in Florida, the police must have probable cause to believe you committed or are committing a crime.

If you are facing criminal charges in Northeast Florida, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your future is worth it. Our Jacksonville Criminal Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem has represented thousands of people charged with crimes in Jacksonville, Clay County, Nassau County and St.Johns County. Contact The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Law Firm is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A new report by the University of North Florida shows that while arrests are decreasing, the number of people in the Duval County Jail is going up. The report, according to an article in the Florida Times-Union, says since 2005, arrests are down 27 percent, but the daily jail population has increased 14 percent. One major factor, according to the report, is the State Attorney’s Office and its handling of cases. The number of jury trials each year is up 400 percent since Angela Corey was elected to the office in 2008, according to the newspaper.

Criminal trials can slow the system tremendously because people are waiting longer for their cases to resolve – as are people peripherally involved in the case, such as a co-defendant who has pleaded guilty but it testifying for the state. Cases that may not have been filed under a previous administration are being filed now, according to the report. From a criminal defense attorney perspective, that alone will drive the trial count up. More and more defendants are unwilling to take a deal and plead to something they don’t think they should have to plead to, which in turn increases the number of trials. Some of the offers by the state also are so steep that there’s little for a person to lose by pushing the case to trial.

In any profession, the best people and companies are the ones who adapt to the change around them. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Firm understands the landscape and makes adjustments accordingly. And we are not afraid to take a case to trial. Our Jacksonville trial firm has certainly been a part of that 400 percent increase in trials since 2009, and will continue to be when it is in the best interest of our clients. Some Duval County criminal lawyers do not have the experience or desire to take a case to trial if needed, and the state attorneys know who these lawyers are. If you are facing criminal charges, you deserve an experienced trial attorney to guide you in your decisions. You can negotiate, the state attorney can drop your Jacksonville criminal charge or you can make the government prove the charge against you in a trial.

Police have released an 18-year-old man they initially charged in a shopping mall shooting and charged another teen with two counts of attempted murder and carrying a concealed weapon. Keith Brown was released from jail, four days after he was arrested and charged in Jacksonville – despite vehement denials, according to a report from News4Jax. Now, it’s Joshua Davis who faces the same charges. Police told the television station Davis has confessed to firing at a couple he had a standing beef with. Davis missed both intended targets, but one of the bullets ricocheted and hit a clerk in the shoulder. She was treated at a local hospital and has since been released. Police said the couple that was shot at picked Brown out of a lineup, as did a store clerk. Now, police say all three were wrong.

Detectives constantly hear people deny involvement in a crime. It’s part of the job. And, at least in this case, the denials did not help Brown a bit. He was still arrested, his name and mug shot paraded across the news, as police patted themselves on the back for a quick resolution to a high-profile shooting in a crowded shopping mall. The key in Brown’s release wasn’t that he said he didn’t do it. It was police had someone else to charge. If you’ve been arrested, chances are pretty solid that until they have someone else, you’re the guy.

This highlights the perils of eyewitness identification. How could all three people be wrong? It depends on the pictures included in the lineup – was there anyone else in the photo spread (even Davis) who looked similar to Brown? What was the demeanor of the officer? Was there more attention given to any particular suspect? According to the television station, police caught the mistake when they talked to two of the teens seen at the mall with the alleged shooter. Both named Davis and said he had a gun, the television station reported.

Florida/Georgia weekend is always a busy time for Jacksonville. Along with all the fun, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is out in force. According to the Florida Times Union, thirty-three people were arrested for various crimes in Jacksonville. In addition to the 33 arrests, 101 people were arrested or given a notice to appear for drinking under the age of 21. The criminal charges consisted of one felony, a possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) and various misdemeanors.

The most common “arrest” during any football game in Florida is “Possession of alcoholic beverages by persons under age 21 prohibited”. Under Florida Statute 562.111, it is illegal for someone under 21 years-old to have alcohol in their possession. If you are caught for this misdemeanor in Jacksonville, the police officer will most likely issue a Notice to Appear. This is a piece of paper that instructs you to make a court date for the Jacksonville criminal charge. The paper is given to you in lieu of the officer actually arresting you. If you are issued a Notice to Appear, it still technically is an arrest and will be on your permanent criminal record. That is why it is so important to consult with an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Attorney about your Notice. A Duval County criminal defense attorney can investigate the case and possibly get you into a diversion program, such as the Pretrial Intervention Program, or get the case dropped completely.

Other common crimes people are arrested for at football games in Jacksonville are Disorderly Intoxication, Battery, Disorderly Conduct/Breach of Peace, and Trespassing. You can be arrested for disorderly conduct in Jacksonville if you corrupt the public morals, outrage public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of people who witness your behavior. You can also be arrested for this crime in Jacksonville if you engage in fighting. Disorderly conduct is a second degree misdemeanor in Florida and is punishable by up to 60 days in jail. You can be arrested for battery in Jacksonville if you intentionally touch someone against their will or intentionally harm someone. Battery is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida and if convicted, you will be facing up to one year in jail. Trespass charges in Duval County usually stem from someone acting up on private property and the owner asks that person to leave. If the person comes back onto the property, they can be arrested for trespassing in Jacksonville.

News4Jax.com recently outlined a case of mistaken identity that could end up haunting the falsely accused for life.

An arrest can be a damaging thing for a person who is falsely accused. Despite pleading that the charges aren’t true, police rarely listen they believe they have the right suspect. So, the only place to take those concerns is to the courthouse. Getting a fair trial can squash police malfeasance.Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers have fought hard for years to defend clients who are innocent of the charges where the state has little evidence, but is too strong-willed to listen. This requires a jury to acquit on charges of theft in Jacksonville, drug offenses or even violent crimes.

In this case, a woman was falsely accused and falsely arrested and experts believe there will be a long-lasting effect that could haunt her for years.

A Jacksonville woman was arrested and charged with shoplifting from the Wal-Mart on Normandy Boulevard after a shoplifter seen in the video dropped a purse that had Myrick’s driver’s license. Police hunted her down and arrested her, until the video surveillance proved it wasn’t her.

An expert said that even though she was falsely accused and not only the victim of identity theft, but also bad police work, she will not be able to live down the arrest. The expert, a former FBI agent, told the news station that she will continue to appear in law enforcement databases. So, if she gets pulled over, the officer will see the arrest and could treat her with heightened suspicion, asking if she has any stolen merchandise in her vehicle.

The woman said her driver’s license got into a shoplifter’s purse after she surrendered it to the Department of Motor Vehicles 10 days before the incident. The license had been reported lost by authorities.

But there are ways to fight back.

For one, a person who is arrested must hire an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so she can get involved in the case. That means working with police and prosecutors to dispute the charges and possibly get them dropped.

Even if they are too stubborn to drop the charges, an attorney is necessary to fight the charges before a judge or jury. And once the not guilty verdict comes in, it will be necessary to ensure your lawyer files the paperwork to seal and expunge the records leading to your arrest.

That will guarantee that records don’t show up in public view, but as the expert said to the news station, it’s possible that an arrest will still show up to law enforcement officers. And with the Internet, it’s always possible that mug shots and information that shows up on sheriff’s jail web sites could end up being preserved online forever.

That’s why we have to hope that officers do their due diligence and make arrests based on solid evidence and not weak eye witnesses and hunches. Sadly, that’s not always the case. They sometimes get caught up in the hunt for the arrest and don’t take into consideration the effects an arrest can have on the accused.
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Most clients call our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Law Firm after they have been arrested in Jacksonville, Clay County or Nassau County. An arrest is defined as the taking or keeping of a person in custody by legal authority in response to a criminal charge. In Duval, Clay and Nassau County, the police can “arrest” you in one of two ways. One is the traditional arrest that involves handcuffs and a trip to the police station. With some crimes, the officer can issue a Notice to Appear. A Notice to Appear is a piece of paper that acts as an arrest, but you are not taken into custody by the police. You will have to make a court date to address the criminal charge in Jacksonville. A notice to appear is normally issued to people who have never been in trouble before and the common crimes are possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, driving on a suspended license, trespass, petit theft, and criminal mischief.

If the officer elects to actually arrest you in Jacksonville, you will be detained and transported to the Pretrial Detention Facility. Once you are there, you will be searched, fingerprinted and seen by a jail nurse. Once your medical evaluation is over, you will be told to change into the jail clothes and put on one of six floors at the jail. The police officers may try to get a statement from you about your case. You have the right to remain silent. Exercise that right! The police are not there to help you, they are there to justify their arrest. Ask to speak to a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney and don’t say anything else to the police.

Within 24 hours, you will have the right to go before a judge. If you were arrested for a misdemeanor in Jacksonville, you may be able to take care of your case in first appearance court. You will be given an offer by the assistant state attorney or the judge. It is your right to enter a plea of Not Guilty. If your case is a felony in Jacksonville, you cannot resolve your case in first appearance court. The judge will issue a bond that you must post to be released or release you on your own recognizance (also called ROR). Most of the time, the judge will impose a bond on you and you will have to post 10% of the whole amount with collateral for the rest.