Articles Posted in Gun Crimes in Jacksonville

A Jacksonville boy who brought a loaded, semi-automatic rifle to his Jacksonville school last month is now facing a felony charge.  The 11-year-old is charged with possession of a firearm on school property, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison, though that is unlikely given the age of the defendant in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. School officials initially said the gun was not loaded because there was not a bullet in the chamber, the newspaper reported. But the fact that there were five bullets in the clip of the gun made police consider the gun to be loaded, the newspaper reported. Either way, the possession of a firearm on school grounds charge is not altered by the fact the gun is loaded, though it would likely be seen as more severe by the state, the judge and, ultimately, a jury.

This Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case is a bit different because of the age of the defendant. In Jacksonville, children have been charged as adults with first-degree murder as young as age 12, but this case would be more likely to be addressed in juvenile court. Juvenile court is designed for younger offenders who commit crimes and the focus is supposed to be on rehabilitation so the charges do not affect the child or teen for the rest of his or her adult life. Prosecutors can also bypass juvenile court by what is known as “direct filing” the case in adult court. That is typically reserved for serious gun crimes and sex crimes, or for teens with a lengthy record.  There are several detention and incarceration options in Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes cases, from what amounts to house arrest on up to a secured jail similar to an adult prison. There are five levels, ranging from least to most restrictive and the first two levels are not available to anyone who is convicted of or pleads guilty to a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Charge. Each of the options in a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case involved being placed in a residential facility that is locked 24 hours a day. There are education options in most detention facilities.  Our Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Attorney represents children and teens charged with crimes and can explain all of the options to the parents or guardians with a goal of trying to make sure a mistake as a child does not negatively affect someone for the rest of his or her life.

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.

Prosecutors backed off their first-degree murder charge and offered a plea to second-degree murder for a Jacksonville teen charged in a deadly shooting.  The boy, now 17 but 15 at the time of the shooting, agreed to the plea deal last month, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The plea agreement includes language that the sentence will be between 10 and 30 years, which the judge accepted, the newspaper reported. The teen is expected to be sentenced next month.

The teen and two of his friends showed up uninvited to a party in a local apartment complex and got into an argument with a 22-year-old friend, the newspaper reported. The teen was accused of hitting the man with his gun and then shooting him, the newspaper reported. Many of the details in this Jacksonville Gun Case that would have come out in a trial, such as a possible defense from the teen or the possibility that the gun accidentally went off, have yet to surface. Those types of details will now likely be discussed in the sentencing hearing. In Jacksonville Felony Cases that result in a plea, as most of them do, the sentencing hearing can end up being the de facto trial. And it should be. There is plenty on the line. While in the cases like this Jacksonville Murder Case the defendant already knows he’s going to prison for a significant amount of time, there’s a big difference between a 10-year sentence and a 30-year sentence. For the defendant in this Jacksonville Murder Case, it’s the difference between being released in his mid-20s or his mid-40s.

The agreement to plead guilty to second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder is significant in this Jacksonville Murder Case. The only possible sentences for first-degree murder are life in prison and the death penalty. Because the defendant in this case was under the age of 18, the death penalty was not an option for the state. But the 10 to 30 year range on the sentence wouldn’t have been an option either had the charge remained first-degree murder.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people on all types of charges from traffic tickets and misdemeanor theft charges all the way up to murder. Our Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate your case and provided you with the information and options to make the best decision going forward.

A Jacksonville man was sentenced this month to more than 20 years in prison on a second-degree murder charge, even though he was not the one that pulled the trigger.  In fact, the man and his 27-year-old cousin were armed and in bulletproof vests when they went to a Southside apartment complex to commit a robbery, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. But, while the man’s cousin was inside the apartment, a fight broke out and the cousin was shot in the head, the newspaper reported. The defendant was then charged with second-degree felony murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery, the newspaper reported. Both charges are first-degree felonies.

In Florida, a person can be charged with felony murder if someone dies during the commission of a felony. So the act of the original felony can allow someone to be charged with murder. In this case, the defendant was not even in the apartment at the time his cousin was killed. But it was the act of planning the robbery, to the point of becoming armed and wearing a bulletproof vest, which was a felony on its own and allowed for the felony murder charge to be filed. So in proving this case beyond a reasonable doubt, the state must only prove two things: That the defendant was committing a felony and that someone was killed. A jury convicted the defendant this summer on the felony murder and the conspiracy to commit armed robbery charges. He was sentenced to 22 years on the murder charge and 15 years on the armed robbery. The judge chose to run the sentences concurrently, meaning he will serve them both at the same time and only serve the 22 years. If the judge chose to run the sentences consecutively, then he would have to serve both sentences and be in prison for 37 years. Concurrent sentences are far more common, but there are certain Jacksonville Gun Crimes that require judges to issue consecutive sentences when guns are fired and minimum mandatory sentences apply.

The man who shot the cousin was not charged at all in the case. Prosecutors ruled the shooting was in self-defense. State law allows people to respond with deadly force if someone enters their home, or if they feel they are in danger of great bodily harm or death.  Our Jacksonville Robbery Crimes Attorney will fully investigate the charges against you or your loved and sit down to go over a range of options so you can make the best decision going forward in the case.

After his first conviction was thrown out, a second jury this month found a Jacksonville night club security guard not guilty of aggravated battery and another felony charge stemming from a 2012 shooting.  The jury instead found the man was acting in self-defense when he fired a shot at the car of a woman who repeatedly came back to the club, yelling obscenities and threatening the guard, including saying she had a gun, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The woman was intoxicated and had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit, the newspaper reported. When she continued to come back and yell racial slurs at the guard, he had armed himself with a shotgun and tried to shoot her car door with a pepper ball shot, the newspaper reported. Instead, he hit her in the eye.

He was initially charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and shooting deadly missiles into a vehicle. Both charges are second-degree felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison. There could also have been minimum mandatory charges that applied because the defendant discharged a firearm, but there could be a gray area because his fired pepper ball shots, not actually bullets.  In the first trial, the man was convicted of both charges. However, his attorneys appealed the conviction and it was overturned because of statements prosecutors made during closing arguments that could have hurt the defendant’s ability to have a fair trial, the newspaper reported. Because of the ruling, the man was granted a new trial and ultimately acquitted in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. There are strict rules that govern what evidence can be submitted, what attorneys can discuss in front of a jury and exactly how criminal trials must proceed. These are in place to ensure that every person accused of a crime can receive a fair trial in front of a jury of his or her peers. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, the defendant could have received 30 years in prison because of the first conviction.

Self-defense defenses can be tricky in Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases. One of the determining factors is often whether the person who pulls the trigger plays a role in instigating the incident or is truly defending him or herself. That was likely the factor in both decisions made by two different juries. It can be a risk to take Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases to trial, especially when minimum mandatory sentences of 20 years are also often hanging in the balance when someone discharges a firearm.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate the charges against you, explain what minimum mandatory charges, if any, would apply and provide you with the information you need to make a decision on how to proceed with the case.

After holding a man in jail for weeks, the state finally let him go after prosecutors admitted they could not prove charges against him.  The charges came after a May gun battle at a gas station that wounded two men, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. One man was found shot in a car at the gas station while police were led to another in a nearby apartment, where the man who was arrested lived with his girlfriend, the newspaper reported. The girlfriend allowed police to search the home and found two guns in a child’s toy bin, the newspaper reported. The 23-year-old suspect, who has a prior felony conviction for dealing in stolen property, was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, the newspaper reported. The charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison.

The man said he did not know how the guns got into the bin and also denied that he ran into the apartment after the shooting, as some witnesses told police. Prosecutors dropped the charges because of the lack evidence and they could not prove the case against him beyond a reasonable doubt, the newspaper reported. No other arrests have been made in the case. One tactic police use in cases like these where there are likely multiple shooters and a lack of evidence, is to try to arrest someone and get them to talk in exchange for a reduced sentence. One of the charges police typically use is possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. It’s typically easy to prove – all prosecutors need to prove is that the man is a felon and he had a gun. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, however, proof a possession was the problem.

Once someone is convicted of a felony, the person loses their right to own a firearm. There are also other rights that are given up, including the right to vote and the right to work in law enforcement or other places that require a federal or state security clearance.   The case shows the importance of checks and balances in the criminal court system. Police make the arrest, but prosecutors must then take those facts and ultimately proof the case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of the suspect’s peers. A fraction of cases actually go to trial, and it’s also rare for prosecutors to drop felony gun charges once they have been filed.  Much of the work in Jacksonville Gun Crimes cases comes way before trial. Prosecutors typically have strong feeling they can prove the case before it gets that far. Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys can investigate the charges and present evidence or make arguments to the prosecutors about the lack of evidence that could lead to the charges being dropped, as they were in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case.

A Jacksonville man who shot into a home and accidentally wounded a 3-year-old boy was found guilty on multiple charges.  The man was found guilty on four counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of shooting or throwing deadly missiles. Attempted second-degree murder is punishable by up to life in prison. Shooting or throwing deadly missiles a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. Because of the Florida’s 10-20-Life Law, his sentencing is predetermined in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case.

If a person is convicted of or pleads guilty to showing a gun during the commission of a felony, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in state prison. If the gun is fired, that minimum sentence becomes 20 years. If someone is hit, it can become life in prison. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, police said the man had an ongoing dispute with someone inside the home and fired several shots into the residence. Because there were four people inside the home at the time, the man was charged with four counts of attempted second-degree murder. The man will be sentenced later this month to at least a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence on each of the four attempted murder charges. With four counts, the man is looking at a minimum of 80 years in state prison. That amounts to essentially a life sentence for the 30-year-old defendant.

Interpretation of the minimum mandatory sentencing law changed in recent years. While in most Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases, the judges would issue the sentenced concurrently, appellate courts have ruled the sentences should be issued consecutively. For example, four 20-year sentences served concurrently would mean the person serves the sentences at the same time and does a total of 20 years. But, if they are served consecutively, the person would be required to serve four 20-year sentences, for a total of 80 years in prison. That is a significant difference in the punishment and could be a major deterrent in taking a Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case to trial. Prosecutors can waive the minimum mandatory sentences when negotiating a plea agreement, but one the case goes to trial there is no discretion. Judges are bound by the sentencing law and cannot legally give a different sentence.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes attorney knows when minimum mandatory sentences apply and will provide you or your loved one with that information and fully investigate the case so you can make a decision on how to proceed.

Jacksonville police have yet to find a man accused of bringing a gun into a Duval County high school this month.  The man who came onto the high school campus was not a student at the school, according to a report on First Coast News. The person was approached by school staff who saw the gun, the television station reported. The man left and got rid of the gun before he could be detained for police, according to the news report.

Bringing a gun onto the campus of an elementary school, middle school or high school is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. The same penalty and crime holds for a person who waves or brandishes a knife or any other weapon (not including fireams) in a threatening manner. But in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, the person does not need to pull out the gun, threaten to use it, or even show it to anyone. Possession of the firearm itself is what constitutes the crime. The law goes even further to prevent the possession of firearms at a school bus stop or even within 1,000 feet of a school.  In this aspect, Jacksonville Gun Crime laws are similar to Jacksonville Drug Crime laws. There are many enhancements in Jacksonville Drug Crime Cases related to where the person is caught in possession of or attempting to sell illegal drugs. In many scenarios, the crime would move up one felony degree for being within 1,000 feet of a school. For example, a third-degree felony could become a second-degree felony. That is significant because a third-degree felony has a maximum penalty of five years on prison, while a second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison.

As it relates to this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, it will be interesting to see how the case progresses – especially if there is not a gun recovered. Media reports did not indicate school staff found a gun, only that they saw one. That would likely not be enough to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. But, given the presence of cameras in schools today, there could be video evidence that is enough for the state to file the case and think it can prove it in trial.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney knows the rights gun owners have to possess firearms and will fully investigate your case to make sure your rights have not been violated. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will provide you or your loved one with the information you need to make the best possible decision going forward.

An important witness in the state’s case against a 12-year-old accused of first-degree murder has pleaded guilty to a separate crime.  The now 17-year-old gave police information on where to find the 12-year-old accused of shooting a homeless person in the head in June, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The teen also helped identify himself and the boy in a surveillance video, the newspaper reported. The teen was charged with armed robbery and auto theft in a separate incident where he was accused of stealing a car. He pleaded guilty to the armed robbery and the state agreed to drop the grand theft auto charge – a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Armed robbery is a first-degree felony with a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison because the teen showed a gun in the commission of the crime. However, because he was 16 at the time of the crime, he could be sentenced to a youthful offender sentence in this Jacksonville Robbery Case. A youthful offender sentence could be for any defendant 21 or younger and the sentence can be any combination of incarceration and prison, up to six years. So it could be four years in prison, two years on probation, or three or each, etc.

The teen in this Jacksonville Robbery Case has not been sentenced – and likely will not be sentenced until after the boy goes to trial. The state will want to make sure the teen helps out as a witness before the state helps him with any suggestion to the judge of a reduced sentence for the teen. Prosecutors made a point in the newspaper story to saying the teen’s plea deal was not contingent on him testifying in the Jacksonville Murder Case. But it’s a safe bet that any recommendation from the state on a youthful offender sentence in the Jacksonville Robbery Case sure is tied to the testimony. Ultimately, the sentence is up to the judge, but the state’s recommendation can go a long way – especially if the information helps get a murder conviction with information police would not otherwise have.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and lay out all of the consequences and scenarios so you can make an informed decision going forward.

An appeals court struck down the concealed weapon conviction of a former Wal-Mart employee who pulled out a gun he had a permit for and shot a man while trying to break up a domestic argument. The employee was trying to come to the aid of a female co-worker who was arguing with her boyfriend outside the store, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The boyfriend then punched the man in the face and the employee pulled out a gun and shot several times, hitting the boyfriend once in the leg, the newspaper reported.

The employee was charged with, and convicted by a jury of, second-degree attempted murder and carrying a concealed firearm. He was convicted of both charges and sentenced to 25 years on the attempted murder charge and to five years on the concealed weapons charge. He was facing up to life in prison on the attempted murder charge under Florida’s 10-20-Life law because he fired a gun and hit someone. The judge allowed the man to serve both sentences at the same time, so his total sentence is 25 years. The appellate court upheld the attempted murder conviction in this 2011 Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case and the man will remain in prison on that charge. So this appellate ruling does not change the sentence one bit in this Florida Gun Crimes Case, though it does clear up some of the ambiguity of an employee’s rights to have a firearm while at work. Employees are legally allowed to carry firearms at their place of business, as long as they have the proper permit. That right includes parking lots and other areas surrounding a business, which is the piece of the law that applied in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. In this case, the defendant kept the firearm in the glove compartment of his vehicle, the newspaper reported.

Appellate courts are an integral part of the criminal justice system. In many cases, these rulings are what can keep prosecutors from overstepping their bounds and charging people with crimes they shouldn’t be charged with. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, the concealed weapons charge should not have ever made it to a jury. Second Amendment rights to protect oneself are very important and must be respected by the court system. Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney knows the legal rights of people who own firearms, including if a person is forced to use a firearm when he or she feels threatened and fears for his or her life. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate any charges to ensure the state is not infringing on a person’s Constitutional right by charging him or her with a crime.

A long-running Jacksonville aggravated battery case that drew national media attention because of a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence ended last month with a plea deal. The defendant pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated battery for firing what she says was a warning shot into the ceiling because she was afraid of her estranged husband, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said there were two children nearby, which led to the three charges, the newspaper reported. The woman was facing 60 years in prison, but the agreement reached last month calls for her to do three years in prison. Because of time served over the delays and other turns in this case, she will be released in January.

This deal ends a highly-publicized case that drew local and national discussion about warning shots and minimum mandatory sentences. The defendant was initially found guilty of all three counts by a jury in 2011. Because of Florida’s 10-20-Life law, and the fact the defendant fired a weapon, a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years applied and the judge had no discretion in the sentence. The conviction was overturned on a technicality and the case came back to Jacksonville. But one major element had changed. Interpretation of the 10-20-Life and minimum mandatory laws had since changed. Prevailing legal opinion now is that each charge carries a minimum mandatory 20-year sentence. So instead of 20 years, the defendant, now 34, was looking at 60 years in state prison if convicted again.

The three-year sentence is a similar plea deal to what the defendant initially rejected right before her 2011 trial, the newspaper reported. Under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, if someone pulls a gun during the commission of a felony, there is a minimum mandatory 10-year prison sentence that can apply. If a firearm is discharged, the sentence is bumped up to 20 years. If someone is shot, the minimum mandatory is life. Now, prosecutors ultimately have the discretion to waive those penalties, as they eventually did in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. But once the case goes to trial, the sentencing decision is out of everyone’s hands – even the judge’s. The threat of minimum mandatory sentences is often used in bargaining by the state to get people to plead guilty to charges and take shorter prison sentences, rather than face a mandatory 60-year sentence, or whatever the charge may be. Minimum mandatory sentences are definitely a card the state holds and our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney can explain all of the details and consequences so you or your loved one can make an informed decision about a pending case.

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