Articles Posted in Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Law Firm

A recent case out of Iowa showcases why a motion to suppress in a criminal case is so important as well as why it is critical to have a private meeting with your Jacksonville DUI attorney once you’ve been arrested.

This case brings up two important points — defendants should never make a statement to police without first talking with their lawyer and breath testing in DUI cases should always be challenged.Being arrested for DUI in Jacksonville can be a difficult experience because most people who face the charge have never been thrust into the criminal justice system before. They now must deal with the possible penalties as well as the humiliation that can come with an arrest.

State v. Walker shows us the importance of a good attorney and what challenging a breath test can do for a defendant. In this case, an Iowa man was arrested for DUI. In a smart move, the man asked to speak with his attorney after he was charged.

Walker and his attorney spoke, but it was through an intercom in a booth separated by glass that was being monitored by police video cameras the entire time. After the two spoke, he agreed to take a breath test, which estimated his blood alcohol level was more than double the legal limit.

Once the case was being prepared for trial, the attorney filed a motion to suppress the test results because in Iowa, a defendant has a right to see and consult with his or her attorney “confidentially,” similar to rules in most states. The court granted the motion.

On appeal, however, the court of appeals reversed the ruling. But the Iowa Supreme Court agreed with the trial judge, vacating the appeals court decision and ruling the police violated his rights by restricting the meeting with his attorney to a booth with a glass partition and under police surveillance.

This may have been a lucky break for the defendant if the charges were eventually dropped, but the right thing happened. When a suspect meets with his or her attorney, they have the reasonable expectation that their conversation won’t be taped or viewed by police. It’s called a confidential conversation for a reason.

And whether because of a similar situation or because the device is faulty, breath testing in Jacksonville DUI cases must always be scrutinized. The breath testing devices used by police in Florida are always producing incorrect readings based on the weather and manufacturing flaws.

This should not be a primary piece of evidence used by prosecutors hoping to nail a defendant to the wall. This evidence can be held out of court, giving the defendant a big advantage prior to trial and keeping a big piece of evidence away from the state.

It is important to ensure that the defendant’s rights are upheld at all stages of the case. This means making certain that improperly obtained information isn’t allowed to taint the jury. If witnesses aren’t credible, they too should be dismissed from the case and if prosecutors aren’t acting ethically in handing over evidence or police in how they acted during the investigation, the case requires a thorough review.
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The recent court case of United States of America v. Combs shows why a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney with knowledge of the appeals system is critical.

In this case, out of Chicago, the defendant eventually pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, but that was after his attorney made several mistakes. And those mistakes at the trial level, in turn, led to him being denied at the appellate level.That’s why hiring a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer who can avoid mistakes that can hurt the client beyond the criminal stages is important. Whether a person is charged with gun crimes in Jacksonville or drug charges, procedures must be followed in order to make sure the defendant’s rights are upheld at every stage of the case.

This defendant was sentenced to 33 months in prison by a federal judge after pleading guilty. On appeal, however, he argued that a motion to suppress should have been heard, but after making an unconditional plea, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied his motion.

This case comes down to the inactions of the man’s public defender, who failed to properly and timely file a motion to suppress gun evidence seized by federal investigators during the course of their investigation.

The case started with a drug informant who told Drug Enforcement Administration agents that the defendant was selling heroin, cocaine and marijuana in southern Illinois. The informant, who had been arrested, told investigators the man typically picked up drugs in one city where he was living and sold them at their homes of his relatives in St. Louis.

The agents had the informant call the defendant and arrange a cocaine purchase. With agents watching, the defendant stopped in the parking lot of a casino and got a black bag from a man waiting there. He was followed to his house and went inside with the bag. An hour later, a surveillance video captured a meeting at his mother’s house in St. Louis where the defendant said he had just gotten 2 kilograms of cocaine and had heroin for sale, though the informant didn’t make a purchase.

After obtaining a search warrant, investigators found 650 grams of marijuana, a handgun and ammunition at his house. The man was indicted and later arrested.

As the case progressed and the trial approached, the defendant’s attorney asked for a continuance, saying he was having a difficult time watching the video footage provided by prosecutors. He had gotten several DVD copies of the video, but was unable to correctly view it.

After finally getting a working copy of the footage, the attorney told the judge a week before trial, the client wanted him to file a motion to suppress evidence based on allegations that what was viewable on the video was different than the search warrant affidavit.

The judge agreed to a continuance, but noted in an order that the deadline to file motions to suppress had elapsed and no extension to that date had been sought by the defense. After waiting more than two months from that order, the public defender filed a motion to suppress and never tried to extend the deadline for motions.

The defendant, after watching the video, argued that the footage didn’t corroborate the affidavit’s statement that he received a black bag at the casino parking lot. He also said that the affidavit misled the judge by saying agents were watching him “from a vantage point on the ground,” though they used a helicopter as well.

But the judge denied the motion, noting that the deadline had passed by and the attorney didn’t seek an extension of time. The judge opined that it had given plenty of time, hints and “blunt invitation” to seek an extension, but his attorney failed to do so. The lawyer acknowledged that he had no excuse for why he didn’t do it.

Faced with a difficult decision, the defendant entered an unconditional guilty plea, though he didn’t reserve the right to challenge the motion to suppress denial. The appeals court upheld the judge’s decision, saying that because he entered an unconditional plea — throwing away his rights to appeal that decision — the court can’t overlook that and take up the issue.

This is an unfortunate case because the defendant obviously didn’t get the best advice and suffered for it. While it’s unclear from the court documents how much responsibility the prosecutors had in providing poorly working DVDs, the attorney had to admit fault in order to try to get the motion heard on behalf of the defendant.

While it didn’t work in the long run, he again failed to work out a conditional plea that would have allowed the defendant to appeal the motion to suppress ruling. That’s why it’s important that a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney have knowledge of the appeals process in order to ensure their rights are upheld at all stages of their case.
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Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, our Jacksonville Sex Crime Attorney, conducted a trial recently for our client, R.S. R.S. was arrested for lewd and lascivious battery with a child under 16 years of age and showing pornography to a minor. He was facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted. R.S. is a 41 year-old man and was accused of raping a 15 year-old girl while playing pornography for her on the television in his bedroom. The alleged victim told police our client took her to his home and lured her into his bedroom. Once inside the bedroom, she claimed our client turned on a pornographic movie and began rubbing cocoa butter on her bottom and vaginal area. She claimed our sex crime client raped her for twenty minutes. Her mother called the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. After they spoke to the alleged victim and the witnesses, our client’s home was searched. Shea butter was found in the bathroom as well as several pornographic DVD’s in our client’s bedroom. Police took our client’s DNA and his semen was identified by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on the alleged victim’s underwear. R.S. exercised his constitutional right to have a trial and he was defended by Ms. Mussallem. After trial, R.S. was NOT CONVICTED of either charge.

When you are facing sex charges in Northeast Florida or any criminal charges, it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney with trial experience. Not all cases end in a trial, but if you choose to exercise your right to have a trial and make the state attorney’s office prove the charges against you, an experienced Jacksonville Trial Lawyer is a must. It is also important to find out if the attorney you are interviewing has ever been a prosecutor. If they have been a prosecutor in the past, their job was to put people in jail and prison. For whatever reason, they have now decided to defend citizen’s rights. At Mussallem & Associate, P.A., our Jacksonville Attorney has NEVER been a prosecutor and has never worked to put someone in jail or prison. Victoria “Tori” Mussallem has defended thousands of clients and prosecuted none.

In a bizarre case, a Jacksonville woman believes she is the victim of mail harassment after receiving more than 150 pounds of mail since January, unsolicited, First Coast News reports.

It’s a strange case for sure, yet police have told her they can’t arrest anyone because she faced no financial repercussions from the senders’ actions. In other forms of harassment, though, a Jacksonville restraining order can be a big pain for those who are considered the “defendants” in these cases.If you are facing a restraining order or injunction, defending against these actions are required in order to life a peaceful life. These pieces of paper are typically based on one person’s word and their compelling argument to a judge, so hiring an experienced Jacksonville Restraining Order Lawyer to fight these allegations is necessary. The case a person makes against another person, who is typically not represented when the presentation is made, can be weak, but without being able to defend themselves, a defendant can be in a tough spot.

But an experienced attorney can petition the court for a hearing to defend themselves and get the order or injunction removed after presenting the other side of the case to a fair and impartial judge. Sometimes it just takes a little work to get these situations straightened out.

The woman says she has received mail just about every day since January, which includes more than 70 magazine subscriptions, tourist information, catalogs and other pamphlets. She says she never signed up for or requested any of the mail.

She said she spent hours canceling subscriptions and requesting subscription cards the magazines say she ordered. The bill has totaled $1,000. She says the ones she has gotten back reveal handwriting that is similar, yet includes incorrect information about her e-mail address and the e-mail server.

She believes her neighbor is at fault and she sought and received an injunction against him. A sheriff’s investigation revealed a recording the man man to a hair restoration company, allegedly ordering materials in her name.

Yet, as the article points out, she can’t prove the man is responsible for the mailings and he can’t be cited as violating an injunction without any proof. The man denied being responsible for having the mail sent in his neighbor’s name to her house.

This, like most cases where injunctions or restraining orders are sought, is a classic he said/she said battle. And these situations typically come down to one person’s word against another person’s without much proof other than a person’s opinion.

Sadly, judges, when confronted with a set of facts from one person’s perspective, often will issue an order favoring that person, even without any defense. But in Florida, a defendant can request a re-hearing after an order is filed to defend against the allegations.

That’s when the real facts come out and the judge is made aware of the other side’s perspective. A temporary order can be quashed once a Jacksonville Injunction Defense Attorney comes into the picture.
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When you are arrested, your world gets turned upside down. Not only is your freedom at stake, but your economic future is also at risk. Our Jacksonville criminal defense attorney understands the personal effect the arrest has on your life as well as the legal implications.

At Mussallem & Associate, P.A., we listen. Our Duval County criminal attorney is available to discuss your legal matter 24 hours a day 7 days a week because we know problems don’t just happen nine to five. Our Jacksonville law firm handles criminal case exclusively. We focus all of our attention on preserving your constitutional rights. Police officers will often make an arrest before investigating the case fully. Officers do not always talk to all the witnesses, especially when they are witnesses for you.

Our Jacksonville attorney fights illegal searches, illegal arrests, false accusations, lying witnesses, and exaggerated charges. Victoria “Tori” Mussallem represents people who have been accused of all Florida felonies, all Florida misdemeanors, probation violations, domestic battery, drug crimes, theft crimes, fraud crimes, sex crimes, and DUI (Driving Under the Influence).

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