Articles Posted in Jacksonville Traffic Crimes

A Jacksonville man who did not have a driver’s license when he hit and killed a man on a scooter chose not to fight the charges and was sentenced last month to 20 years in prison.  The man pleaded no contest to leaving the scene of an accident causing death and driving without a license causing death or serious bodily injury, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Leaving the scene of an accident causing death is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison and a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. The charge of driving without a license causing death or serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of five years in state prison.

The man is accused of hitting the scooter driver from behind about 12:35 a.m. one early morning in November, the newspaper reported. The driver did not stop at the scene, but did call police later that day and was subsequently arrested, the newspaper reported. The driver ended up pleading no contest to the charges in this Jacksonville Traffic Case. A no contest plea means the person is no longer going to fight the charges, but it is essentially a guilty plea. The only difference is the person is not admitting guilt. It’s essentially a plea where the person decides it is in his or her best interest to end the case, but they are not admitting wrongdoing. Sometimes that happens in cases where a person is being sued civilly, which can happen in automobile accident cases. But as much as it might be beneficial in a civil case, it could backfire just as hard when it comes to sentencing in Jacksonville Felony Cases.

There are numerous factors judges take into consideration when they are issuing sentences in Jacksonville Felony Cases. One of those is whether the defendant is remorseful and accepts responsibility for his or her actions. That can be especially true in a Jacksonville Traffic Case, where accidents happen and someone does not have to be a career criminal to find themselves in this type of situation. Even calling the police hours after the crash didn’t help the defendant avoid a lengthy sentence in this Jacksonville Felony Case.  Our Jacksonville Traffic Attorney represents people accused of all types of moving violations – from speeding tickets or up to first-degree felonies. Or Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly review the ticket or charges against you and advise you of the best path forward.

Police arrested a woman for driving her car into a blood donation center, a crash that shut the business down and sent nine people to local hospitals with injuries. None of the injuries were life-threatening, and the driver was among those taken for treatment, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The woman is accused of pulling up toward the entrance, pausing, and then driving through the entrance and another 40 feet into the crowded business, the newspaper reported. The car knocked over counters and other structures in the building and part of the roof collapsed, the newspaper reported.

The driver was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and criminal mischief causing more than $1,000 worth of damages to a business. The aggravated battery charge is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison, while the criminal mischief charge is a third-degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Aggravated battery with a weapon is more commonly charged when someone uses a firearm or a baseball bat, something that is more targeted or used directly at one person. But a vehicle can be used as a weapon and this charge would qualify – assuming the act was intentional. Witness speculated that the woman had argued with the staff about being told she could not donate plasma for money, but all of those details would need to surface through the investigative and discovery process as the case moved forward.

One element of this Jacksonville Aggravated Battery Case that could change is the number of charges the driver is facing. Right now, she is facing one count of aggravated battery. In many Jacksonville Violent Crimes Cases, the state will charge people with one count for each of the people who are injured in the incident. In this Jacksonville Aggravated Battery Case, that could mean eight charges, bringing her prison time exposure on those charges from 15 years up to 120 years. Would the state be likely to seek several decades in prison for the defendant in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case? Probably not. But this would be an example of how the state could use additional charges as leverage to help speed up the case or encourage the defendant to plead guilty and avoid taking the case to trial with the whole string of charges. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney has represented hundreds of people charged with battery, some for simple fights and others involving weapons and serious prison time. Each case has its own set of facts and our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and fight for the best outcome in the case.

A man accused of hitting a pedestrian and leaving the scene of accident is now facing serious felony charges in St. Johns County. The 25-year-old man is accused of hitting a 53-year-old pedestrian who died from his injuries, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver did not call police or stop and wait for help to arrive, but instead drove off after the July accident, the newspaper reported. After evidence was collected and tested from the scene and the man’s vehicle, police issued a warrant. Rather than wait for police to arrest him, the man turned himself in on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing a death.

The charge is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison. And while the maximum penalty is important, the key in this St. Johns County Felony Case is the minimum mandatory sentence. Florida law requires that if someone is convicted of leaving the scene of an accident causing death, there is a minimum mandatory sentence of four years in state prison. And in cases with a minimum mandatory sentence, the defendant must serve every single day of the sentence in prison. For most other crimes, people serve 85 percent of the time, so four years would really be just more than three years. This minimum mandatory sentence also applies regardless of a person’s prior criminal history.

Florida drivers are required to stop if they are involved in a car accident of any kind. If the driver has a reasonable belief that someone is injured, he or she must stop, attempt to render aid and call 911 to get emergency crews on the scene. In this St. Johns County Traffic Case, the accusation is that none of those things happened. The requirements are there for any type of crash, though the penalties do increase depending on the severity of the damage that is caused. For example, if the victim has a serious bodily injury but does not die from the injuries, the charge would be a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. The charge also would not carry a minimum mandatory prison sentence – a key difference in the two charges. The charge would result in the driver having his or her license revoked for three years. In many St. Johns County Felony Traffic Cases, an arrest like this is a person’s first serious experience in the criminal justice system. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney can investigate your case, explain the potential consequences and provide you or your loved one with the information to make a decision about how to proceed with the case.

After her first conviction was overturned in May, negating her 33-year sentence, the state opted to offer a plea deal to a woman accused of injuring several people in what St. Johns County police described as road rage crashes. In some cases, an overturned conviction means a new trial. In this St. Johns County Felony Case, the state opted for a plea that was far better than the original sentence, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The woman is accused of driving into a bicyclist and into a St. Johns County police car, then driving at another officer who was on foot. She also is accused of hitting a person driving a scooter and then a truck and another vehicle, the newspaper reported.

In all, she was charged with 14 felonies: 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 first trial was a bench trial – simply in front of a judge, not a jury of her peers. An appellate court threw out the conviction, saying the woman was entitled to have a trial in front of her peers and she likely did not understand the full consequences of allowing her attorney to waive that right. The main issue at the trial was whether or not the defendant was mentally ill at the time of the incident in this St. Johns County Felony Case. There were conflicting reports from doctors, the newspaper reported, and the judge did not feel she was in fact insane at the time of the crashes. The main difference in a jury trial is there are more people involved in the decision. In this St, Johns County Traffic case, there would have been a panel of six jurors. Any decision must be unanimous, so it would only take one person to disagree and prevent a conviction. Given the state’s decision following the case being overturned, it brings up the question of whether or not the state would have even gone to trial in front of a jury the first time.

Now, the defendant is sentenced to just two years of house arrest and 10 years of probation – a far cry from the 33-year prison sentence she received the first time around.

The trial of a man accused of purposefully running his friend down and killing him is expected to conclude this week. The defendant faces mandatory life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the death of his 35-year-old friend, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The two men were watching a basketball game at a Jacksonville Beach bar and, when the defendant’s team lost, he became upset and the victim moved to another table, the newspaper reported. This upset the defendant and the two got into a fight, which got the defendant tossed out of the bar, the newspaper reported.

The victim then went back to his apartment after being told his dog was out and saw the defendant parked across the street. The state says the victim then confronted the defendant, thinking he was the one who let the dog out, and the defendant drove over the victim and never returned, the newspaper reported. The defendant says he was scared when the victim came after him and was just trying to escape, the newspaper reported. The defendant hit a curb the same time he hit the victim, so he said he didn’t know he’d hit anyone, the newspaper reported.

This presents an interesting Jacksonville Murder Case a jury must now decide. By charging first-degree murder in this case, the state is saying that the defendant drove at the victim with the sole purpose of killing him or doing great bodily harm. If the state’s case was that there was a struggle and the defendant drove off in fear, it could be vehicular homicide, or even manslaughter. In this Jacksonville Violent Case, though, the crime has nothing to do with a vehicle. The fundamental element of the crime is the defendant is accused of using a weapon to kill another person. The car just happens to be the weapon in this case, rather than a gun or a knife. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally tried to kill the victim and it will be interesting to see if the jury looks at other charges outside of first-degree murder in this Jacksonville Murder Case. If convicted, the defendant faces mandatory life in prison. The only two possible punishments for first-degree murder in a Jacksonville Murder Case are life in prison and the death penalty. The state is not seeking the death penalty in this Jacksonville Murder Case.

Speeds were so high that police called off the chase for an Orlando man driving erratically and topping 100 mph to get away from officers. The vehicle, though, was spotted a short time later and when the suspect tried to run on foot, he wasn’t nearly as elusive, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man, who lives in Orlando, was eventually caught and charged with Duval County resisting arrest, along with fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer with disregard for safety and property.

Resisting arrest in Jacksonville is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail, and that charge like stems from the foot chase. Where the suspect faces much more serious consequences is on the fleeing and eluding charge. There are varying degrees of severity on this charge and this Jacksonville Felony Crimes Case falls right in the middle. A simple fleeing and eluding an officer – essentially not pulling over or stopping when asked – is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

If, when doing so, the person “drives at high speed, or in any manner which demonstrates a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” the charge becomes a second degree felony, as it is in this Jacksonville Traffic Case. Second-degree felonies have a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. If the driving has a wanton disregard for safety and causes a serious bodily injury or death – including to the officer the person is driving away from – the charge escalates to a first-degree felony. That charges carries a minimum mandatory sentence of three years in prison and a maximum of 30 years.

A new state law that takes effect July 1 allows police to ticket drivers who are going more than 10 mph below the speed limit in the left lane on the freeway. The new provision didn’t get much attention, as it was passed as part of a bill that regulates how cities can ticket drivers using cameras to determine people have run red lights, according to a television news report from News4Jax.

Slower drivers have always been asked to use the right lanes on the freeway, allowing faster drivers to pass. The left lane is known as “the fast lane” for a reason. But now, anyone driving more than 10 mph under the speed limit in the left lane can be ticketed, the television station reported. The new law for Jacksonville Traffic Violation Cases will begin July 1. In theory, Jacksonville Traffic Violation laws are designed to keep drivers safe on the roads, so it will be interesting to see how much emphasis is placed on the new law. The fine is up to $60, but a violation would not put additional points on a person’s driving record. Traffic penalties can add up quickly and end up being big trouble for drivers. Traffic violations are scored on a point system. Speeding tickets carry a variety of points, depending on how far over the speed limit the ticket is written for. Other point penalties include six points for leaving the scene of an accident and four points for reckless driving. As the points build, the penalties can quickly result in a driver losing his or her driver’s license for a significant amount of time.

 12 points in a year: 30-day license suspension  18 points in 18 months: 3-month suspension  24 points in three years: 1-year suspension

More than a year after charging a Jacksonville driver with a felony in the death of a Baker County man on Interstate 10, prosecutors have reduced the charges to misdemeanors. Holly King was initially charged with driving with a suspended or revoked license resulting in a serious injury or death, according to a report on First Coast News. That charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. Now, King’s case has been transferred to county court and she is facing a first-degree misdemeanor and a maximum of one year in the county jail.

The reduction is significant for King, because pleading guilty to or being convicted of a felony in Duval County can significantly affect a person’s ability to get a job – notwithstanding the amount of prison time she could have been facing. As it turns out, the state should have never even charged here with a felony to begin with in the 2011 fatal crash. King was allegedly speeding on Interstate 10 when she drove up on a car driven by Lauren Annis, the television station reported. King lost control and allegedly hit Annis’ car, which flipped, killing Annis’ husband Todd, the television station reported. King was initially charged with careless driving, but six months later was charged with the felony in this Jacksonville Traffic Case. The felony is tied to the suspended license. King’s license was suspended because she did not pay a traffic fine. According to state law, a license suspension that results from failure to pay a fine cannot be used to upgrade a misdemeanor to a felony.

Now, had King’s license been suspended for receiving too many points for various traffic violations, the state would have had a legal basis to charge her with a felony. But, in this Jacksonville Traffic Case, the felony is not applicable. Legally, her license had been suspended three months before the accident that killed Annis and should not have been driving – but that still does not make her crime a felony. Traffic fines and penalties can add up quickly and bring some significant penalties. Tickets are scored on a point system and speeding tickets carry a variety of points. Reckless driving is 4 points. Leaving the scene of an accident is 6 points. As the points build, they can add up to big trouble:

A Jacksonville man was sentenced to five years in prison for leaving the scene of a 2011 traffic crash that killed a 13-year-old Clay County boy. Anthony Margadonna, 24, was sentenced last week after pleading guilty last year to leaving the scene of an accident causing death, a first-degree felony in Clay County, Florida. The sentence also includes 10 years of probation, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Margadonna was facing up to 15 years in prison. Florida law required Margadonna to serve at least 21 months in prison because the charge does carry a minimum mandatory sentence.

Margadonna was driving on Branan Field Road in Clay County about 9:40 p.m. on a November night when he hit a 13-year-old who was riding his bicycle, the newspaper reported. Police alleged that Margadonna did not stop, nor did he report the crash to authorities. He was arrested in Clay County two days later when his Jeep was spotted while he was driving, the newspaper reported.

It was never reported whether Margadonna was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. From a legal perspective, there’s no way to charge him with it because he allegedly ran. There would not be an officer available to testify he or she witnessed signs of impairment because no one from law enforcement saw him until two days after the crash. Margadonna was sentenced to Clay County drug offender probation, which can be triggered by Florida drug crime convictions on his record – which he reportedly does have.

He faced up to 30-years for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident that killed a 23-year-old woman, but Michael Levi Beauregard was sentenced last week to just one year in jail. Beauregard will also be on probation in Jacksonville for five years for the May 2011 accident that killed a woman who was riding a motorized wheelchair on the side of a road, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. This Jacksonville vehicular homicide case was problematic from the start because there was no physical evidence and there were no eyewitnesses who could testify on court. Moon’s fiancé was at the scene, but was unable to identify the driver. Beauregard is accused of speeding and hitting the woman, stopping briefly, then panicking and taking off, essentially leaving her to die. He admitted to the accident and said he did not see her in the road.

Part of the plea deal required Beauregard to pay $3,700 for the woman’s funeral expenses and $2,000 for the wheelchair. The woman was not disabled, but had taken her finance’s father’s motorized chair to go pick up a pizza, the newspaper reported. The case is a prime example of the elements needed to prove a case in a trial, and how those may not always be there – regardless of what everyone thinks and assumes happened. Beauregard made a serious mistake and was willing to take responsibility and do some time as punishment. And it likely wasn’t worth the risk of 30 years in prison if he was convicted at trial of vehicular homicide. But the state could not take the case to trial, and it obviously knew that. There was no one to put on the stand and say Beauregard was driving, no way to prove that he was even the one driving the truck. The cases that often seem the easiest to just rule with a “guilty” verdict aren’t always like that.

An experienced Jacksonville Traffic Attorney knows what to look for to see if the state has what it needs to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, gives cases a comprehensive analysis and will then meet with you or your loved one to advise you or your best options going forward. Sometimes, that’s a trial. In other cases, like this one, it can be best to take advantage of the state’s weak case, get the best deal possible and move on.

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