Articles Posted in Violent Crimes in Jacksonville

A Jacksonville man is in custody for allegedly dragging another behind his car.  According to an article from the Florida Times Union, the suspect has been charged with attempted murder in Duval County.  Investigation revealed that the victim was dragged behind a stolen vehicle that was allegedly driven by the suspect.  Jacksonville police have obtained a video that shows the vehicle traveling near 36th Street and Moncrief Road West.  The car then traveled west on 36th Street with the victim behind it and then turned north on Pearce Street.  The car did not come to a rest until it was in front of the Jacksonville Electric Authority power park at 4700 Pearce Street.  Police investigation revealed a witness who allegedly observed the arrested suspect drive off from the complex with the victim tied behind the vehicle.  When found by law enforcement, the victim was naked and feet were bound.  The victim has serious life-threatening injuries.

The suspect is charged with Attempted Murder by committing a Dangerous Act Evincing a Depraved Mind without Premeditation, or second degree murder.  In Jacksonville and all of Florida, second degree murder is the unlawful killing of a person caused by any action imminently dangerous to another person showing a depraved mind regardless of human life.  Premeditation is does not have to be proven for this degree of murder charge.  The maximum punishment for second degree murder in Florida is Life in prison, but is lessened if the crime is an “attempt”.  If the victim dies from the injuries, this charge will no longer be “attempted” and the charge will be upped to murder.  In addition to the murder charge, the man will likely also be charged with Grand Theft Auto in Duval County.  The car he was allegedly driving was reported stolen prior to the incident.  This theft charge is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Any time a person is arrested for a felony charge in Jacksonville, the State Attorney’s Office assigns a particular prosecutor to that case.  The prosecutor has great discretion in what happens in a case.  They have to look at the apparent evidence and decide if there is a reasonable probability of conviction at trial.  Prosecutors talk to the officers involved as well as witnesses in making their decision.  It is of the utmost importance for any suspect to have a lawyer represent them at this critical time of the case.  A knowledgeable and experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will make contact with the prosecutor involved and present mitigation as well as additional evidence the police often miss.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested two minors earlier this week after a fight at Ribault High School, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  A fourteen year-old and thirteen year-old boy were arrested for battery on a school official, which is a felony in Jacksonville.  A third child, a seventeen year-old, is also facing being arrested on this battery charge.  The fight was captured on a video that was posted on a social media site.  There was a fight among the minors and when the assistant principal tried to break it up, he was allegedly battered by the three children.

When any minor juvenile is arrested in Duval or Clay County, they are taken to the Juvenile Detention Center on 8th Street in downtown Jacksonville.  The Department of Juvenile Justice analyzes the charge and the child’s prior arrest history of lack thereof.  The child is assigned a score that determines whether or not they will remain detained.  If their score is less than “12”, the child is released to the parents or guardians.  If the child scores 12 or over, they are held overnight and will be in front of a judge within 24 hours to determine ongoing detention.  If your child is arrested, contact an experienced Juvenile Arrest Lawyer in Jacksonville as soon as possible.  Even if your child is held overnight, they can still be released by the judge the next day if the proper arguments are made to the Court.

These children have been charged with battery on a school official in Duval County.  A school official is defined as any person who is an employee of a school district, a private school, any state university or any other entity of the state system of public education.  Basically any person who works in a school.  A battery in Florida is defined as intentionally touching a person against their will or intentionally physically harming a person.  This is normally a first degree misdemeanor, but becomes elevated to a felony if the alleged victim is a school official.  It is classified as a third degree felony.

Jacksonville professional football player, Dante Fowler, was arrested last week in St. Petersburg, Florida.  According an article in the Florida Times Union, Fowler faces a charge of simple battery and criminal mischief.  He and the alleged victim engaged in an argument about Fowler’s driving.  Fowler then, according to a witness at the scene, began punching the alleged victim.   While the physical altercation was going on, Fowler allegedly stomped on the other man’s glasses, causing around two hundred dollars in damage.  When police arrived, Fowler was arrested and the man claimed that he did not have any injuries, despite being punched repeatedly.

Even though this arrest did not occur in Jacksonville, the laws are the same throughout the state of Florida.  Simple battery occurs when you intentionally touch someone against their will or intentionally cause physical harm to someone.  As long as the physical harm is not serious, the battery charge will remain a misdemeanor.  Felony battery can be charged in Jacksonville if the defendant causes “great bodily harm, permanent disability or permanent disfigurement”.   A battery charge can also become a felony if the victim is pregnant and the offender knew or should have known she was pregnant.  As with any criminal case, prosecutors have the discretion to file a case or not.  In the case above, it is interesting that the alleged victim reportedly was punched, more than once, by Fowler, but did not sustain any injury.

The other is called criminal mischief.  A criminal mischief is committed in Florida when a person willfully and maliciously injures or damages the property of another person.  If the damage is two hundred dollars are less, as in Fowler’s case, the charge is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to sixty days in jail.  If the damage was over two hundred and less than one thousand, the charge would be elevated to a first degree misdemeanor.  If the damage is valued at one thousand dollars or over, it becomes a felony in Florida.

Jaguar player, Dan Skuta, was arrested just over a week ago for an incident allegedly occurring in an Orlando bar.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, police claim Skuta hit a woman in the face and was arrested for battery.  Apparently, officers were approached outside the bar and told that the player hit the woman.  Even though there were no visible injuries, police chose to arrest Skuta based on what the woman and her friend told them.  This is very common.  It is not clear whether or not there were any other witnesses on the alleged victim’s side, but Skuta’s criminal defense attorney told the media there are witnesses on Skuta’s side to be presented to the State Attorney’s office in Orlando.  Also, Skuta appeared to have an injury below his eye, which lends credibility to his claim that he was the one hit in the incident.

Battery is a violent crime in Florida and occurs when you intentionally touch someone against their will or intentionally hurt someone.  This is a first degree misdemeanor and the maximum punishment is a year in jail.  As you can see in the case above, it is not necessary for the alleged victim to have visible injuries to prove a battery occurred.  Pushing someone can be considered a battery.  Taking someone by the arm and leading them somewhere can be considered a battery.  A typical sentence for a battery charge will include some form of anger management and the payment of fines and court costs.  Also, if you are convicted of a battery, even though it is a misdemeanor, it will follow the rest of your life.  As I said before, this Florida misdemeanor is considered a crime of violence and can prevent you from getting certain jobs if employers fear you have the propensity to commit violence in the future.

Witnesses are going to play an important part in this case.  Presumably all of the witnesses were consuming alcohol and their ability to perceive events may be questionable.  Witness credibility is incredibly important to proving a criminal case, especially when an alleged victim may have motivation to lie.  Attorneys must analyze whether or not the witness, including the alleged victim, had some interest in how the case progresses.  People are motivated by all kinds of things, like attention and money.  It will be interesting to see if the prosecutor’s office decides to file formal charges against the player.  In order to file a criminal case, the prosecutor must believe there is a reasonable probability of conviction if the case goes to trial.

A St. Johns County jury found a man guilty last month – but not of the first-degree charge the state indicted him on.  Instead, the man was found guilty of second-degree murder and kidnapping, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police said the man and his roommate beat another man to death and tried to burn the body and a car on a deserted road, the newspaper reported. The roommate pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier and agreed to testify against the man who went to trial in the case, the newspaper reported.

The difference between first-degree murder and second-degree murder can be enormous when it comes to sentencing and this St. Johns County Violent Crimes Case is no different. If a person is convicted of first-degree murder in Florida, there are only two sentencing options: life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty. If the charge is second-degree murder, the judge has far more latitude in terms of issuing a sentence. Life in prison is still an option, and many people are sentenced to life in prison on second-degree murder charges, but there is at least a chance now that this 27-year-old defendant will be released.

For a person to be found guilty of first-degree murder, the state must be able to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a premeditated intent to kill another person. In this St. Johns County Murder Case, the jury apparently had an issue with determining premeditation. Second-degree murder, however is defined by statute as: “The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual.”  During a St. Johns County Criminal Trial, jurors are informed of the charges against the defendant, but also in most cases given a list of other charges that they could apply. These are called “lesser included charges,” and this St. Johns County Murder Case is an example of a jury choosing that option.

A man set for trial this month on charges that he killed three people in 2013 will have his case heard in St. Johns County, a judge ruled.  The man is accused of killing his wife and his two children in Central Florida, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel. Police said the man has admitted to killing his wife but has denied any involvement in the death of their children, who were last seen in 2013 and are believed to be dead, though they have not been found, the newspaper reported. As one might imagine, the case has generated a plenty of attention from newspapers and television stations in the area.

The defendant’s criminal defense attorneys filed a motion to have the trial moved outside of Central Florida, arguing that the media attention would harm the man’s right to a fair trial in front of an impartial jury. These requests are made frequently in high-profile Florida Murder Cases, but are not often granted. Moving the trial can be expensive and cumbersome, and prosecutors in most cases will argue against moving the trial.   In this case, however, the judge agreed to move the trial from Deland in Central Florida to the St. Johns County Courthouse in St. Augustine, the newspaper reported. The two cities are about 75 miles away. When trials are moved for the purpose of being able to convene an impartial jury, the move is often made to the closest city where the sides can agree jurors wouldn’t know about the case. They key is moving it outside the media market. Jurors in St. Johns County residents may have heard of the case, but likely would not be aware of the intense media attention that was given to the case in the Daytona Beach or Orlando media markets.

Another issue is whether the media attention has been concentrated to a particular region. For example, defense attorneys sought to move the trial of a Jacksonville man eventually convicted of shooting a teen in a dispute over loud music at a gas station. The judge decided to keep the trial in Jacksonville, at least in part because the case had generated so much national and statewide media attention that moving the trial 75 miles as in this Florida Murder Case would not make that much of a difference.  The right to trial in front of a fair and impartial jury is essential to our criminal justice system. Defendants are innocent until proven guilty and it the state’s responsibility to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people accused of all types of crimes and will thoroughly investigate the case against your or your loved one so you can make the best decision on how to proceed with the case.

A jury did not agree with the state’s assertion that a man who shot his sister’s ex-boyfriend as part of an ongoing dispute was guilty of first-degree murder.  Instead, the jury convicted the man last month on a lesser charge of manslaughter, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The difference is significant for the 22-year-old defendant. Had he been convicted of first-degree murder, he faced a mandatory life sentence. Now, he faces a maximum term of 25 years in state prison when he is sentenced next month.

The man who was killed and two of his friends drove to the defendant’s house to fight him after the men had a disagreement earlier in the day, the newspaper reported. The defendant walked out of his house and fired warning shots into the ground to scare the men off, the newspaper reported. When the men drove off, the defendant fired into the car, claiming self-defense, the newspaper reported. The jury did not fully buy the self-defense claim, but they also did not find the premeditation needed to convict the man of first-degree murder. In Jacksonville Felony Crimes like this, there are often alternative charges the jury can consider, known as lesser-included charges. In this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case, the defendant was eventually convicted of manslaughter in the death of the one man and attempted manslaughter for firing into the car with two other men inside. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. Attempted manslaughter is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison on each count.

Manslaughter is often a charge that applies when people get into a fight and one of the people ends being killed. Clearly, the jury thought the defendant was responsible to some degree for the death. But the fact that the man showed up with friends at the defendant’s home with the intent to fight, and likely not one-on-one, probably factored into the jury’s decision to dismiss the notion of first-degree murder. The counter to that argument is that the defendant had appeared to eliminate the threat with the warning shot and the men were leaving when he fired into the car. The issue then becomes whether that qualifies as premeditation, or whether it’s still an act of defending oneself.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney represents people charged with serious felony charges and will investigate the case against you or your loved one and review the options on how to proceed.

Prosecutors were actively seeking the death penalty for a man charged with first-degree murder, but the jury’s decision to convict on a lesser charge has put an end to those plans.  The charges stem from a shooting inside a Jacksonville apartment, for which each side has a very different story, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Prosecutors said the man went to the apartment to kill the person who lived there because the man had snitched to police about drug dealers, the newspaper reported. The defendant said he went to the apartment to sell the man’s wife drugs and then the two people attacked him and he shot in self-defense. The defendant was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder for shooting the man’s wife, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The only two possible sentences if someone is convicted of or pleads guilty to first-degree murder are life in prison or the death penalty. Prosecutors must indicate in advance whether they plan to seek the death penalty and did so in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case.

When a case ends up in a jury trial, the jurors often have other options than the charges the state is presenting during the trial. In Jacksonville Murder Cases, manslaughter is often one of those options, known technically as a “lesser included offense.” To meet the elements of first-degree murder, the state must be able to prove that the killing was premeditated. The jury did not buy that in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, instead choosing manslaughter. Manslaughter is used primarily when people are involved in a fight and someone ends up being killed. By choosing manslaughter, the jury did find the defendant had some responsibility in the death. Another option would have been to find him not guilty, essentially saying the defendant acted in self-defense.

Most importantly in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case is that the manslaughter charge takes the death penalty off the table. The death penalty can only be given when someone is convicted of first-degree murder. Because there was a firearm used in this case, the defendant can still be given life in prison, though it will be interesting to see where the judge lands on sentencing. The jury also deadlocked on the attempted murder charge, so the state still has to decide if it wants to retry that one charge. The state cannot retry any of the other charges because the jury has already reached a verdict.

A Jacksonville man convicted of second-degree murder and two other serious felonies was sentenced this month to 35 years in state prison.  The man and his roommate arranged to meet another man for a drug deal, but instead planned to rob the person, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The altercation escalated and the 21-year-old defendant ended up shooting the robbery target, who died at a local hospital. The defendant was initially charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and carrying a concealed firearm. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder, as well as the other two charges.

The difference between first-degree murder and second-degree murder in this Jacksonville Violent Crimes Case is extremely important, especially given the way the sentencing turned out. In Jacksonville Murder Cases, there are only two possible punishments in a first-degree murder case – life in prison or the death penalty. The judge would not have any discretion in the sentencing. The state was not seeking this death penalty in this Jacksonville Murder Case. But in some cases, the state looks to charge with first-degree murder to force the defendant’s hand in terms of pleading guilty and not going to trial.  Second-degree murder carries the possibility of a life sentence, as does the first-degree felony armed robbery charge, but the life sentence is not mandatory. The judge could have given a sentence between 25 years and life in prison. It’s a minor detail in a case like this, but the carrying a concealed weapon is a third-degree felony with a maximum sentence of five years in state prison.

There is a second defendant in this case who is also charged with murder, though the defendant sentenced to 35 years is the one that is accused of pulling the trigger in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. It’s rare for a person who is less culpable to receive a longer sentence, so in all likelihood he is looking at about 35 years or less. What is not known, and now does not matter, is whether the co-defendant had agreed to testify against the alleged shooter in exchange for a lighter sentence. That frequently happens, but the person agreeing to cooperate is sentenced after the other case is done – strictly to ensure the cooperating witness holds up his or her end of the bargain.  Our Jacksonville Gun Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and lay out all of the information so you can make the best decision going forward.

A now-former Nassau County corrections officer was arrested for his role in an altercation with an inmate earlier this summer.  The corrections officer, who was fired last month, is now facing a misdemeanor battery charge for the July incident, according to First Coast News. The television report shows some of the video from the jail and says the incident started with a verbal confrontation with the inmate and the officer. The officer told investigators he confronted the inmate about comments he made to a female inmate when the man took an aggressive stance and the confrontation turned physical, the television station reported.

The former officer is now charged with battery, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail. As far as criminal charges go, this Nassau County Battery Case is relatively minor because there is no possibility of the defendant ending up in state prison, and it is rare for a person to receive a year in county jail for what amounts to a fight. But, the allegation and subsequent charge has already cost the defendant his job. And, will the state, and eventually the judge, look differently on this case because the officer was in a position of authority? There is a certain amount of confrontation that happens in jails and prisons and the degree to which the officer is perceived as the aggressor will likely be a determining factor in the case. If the guard is seen as defending himself, that’s one thing. The state obviously felt here was more to it, or the officer would not be facing criminal charges.  Just how the case goes could be a factor for Nassau County down the road. In many inmate cases such as this Nassau County Battery Case, the inmate will sue the county in civil court for damages as a result of the incident. While civil and criminal cases have far different standards and procedures, it does not help the county’s legal position if the officer is found guilty by a jury of his peers. It’s highly likely that any civil suit would come after the criminal case is resolved, simply because it changes the dynamics of the case. While civil cases come up frequently, it is rare for an officer to be criminally charged in an incident such as this Nassau County Battery Case.

Our Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people charge with all types of crimes – from misdemeanor battery charges on up to capital crimes. Our Nassau County Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate your case, explain various options and allow you or your loved one to make an informed decision on how to proceed with the case.

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