Articles Posted in Weapon Charges in Jacksonville

A case now before the Florida Supreme Court regarding sentencing in 10-20-Life cases will have major ramifications across the state, including on one high-profile Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. The case now being heard in Tallahassee involves a Rivieria Beach man convicted of four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm for firing five shots in the air in attempt to scare four other men, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. According to the state’s 10-20-Life laws, there is a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence for a gun crime where the gun is fired. The judge interpreted the law to read that the sentences must be issued consecutively, and said he had no choice but to sentence the man to 80 years in prison – despite the fact no one was injured in the incident.

In most Jacksonville Criminal Defense Cases, sentences are issued concurrently. That means if a person is convicted of three counts of grand theft, a judge may sentence the person to two years in state prison on each count. When served concurrently, the sentences are done at the same time and the person only spends two years in prison. There’s little disagreement that the 80-year sentence in this Florida Gun Crimes Case is excessive, but the matter may be out of the court’s hands. Justices said during the hearing the law does say the court “shall” impose the sentences consecutively, and any departure would need to be addressed by the state legislature.

Florida’s 10-20-Lilfe statutes lay out specific and mandatory penalties for gun crimes. If someone shows a gun during the commission of a felony, there is a 10-year minimum mandatory sentence. If a suspect fires a gun during the commission of a felony, a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence applies. If someone is shot, there is a mandatory life sentence. One of the most important factors in minimum mandatory sentences is that every day of the prison sentence must be served. In traditional sentences, most inmates serve 85 percent of their sentence, so a 20-year sentence is really 17 years. This Supreme Court Case is particularly relevant in Jacksonville, where a woman was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault for firing a warning shot to scare off her estranged husband. His two children were present, hence the three counts. Her 20-year minimum mandatory sentence in that Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case drew outrage and national headlines, but her conviction has since been overturned. A new trial is scheduled, but now it appears if she is convicted again, she would be sentenced to 60 years instead of 20. The stakes were already high, but it would make sense for Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorneys to try to hold off on a another trial in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case until it’s clear if the minimum sentence is 20 or 60 years.

A Jacksonville mother sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of firing a warning shot to ward off an abusive husband will now get a new trial. The 1st District Court of Appeal threw out the 2012 conviction of Marissa Alexander last month, citing an issue with what the jury was told about what to consider regarding self-defense, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. This adds another chapter to the case that has been the subject of protests and rallies by politicians and civil rights leaders who claim the punishment for Alexander did not fit the crime.

Alexander was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Jacksonville for going to the garage and getting a gun, then firing one shot into the ceiling to stop her threatening husband, the newspaper reported. The other two charges were filed because two children were present during the incident. According to Florida’s 10-20-Life law, Alexander faced a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years if she was convicted in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case – which she was in March 2012. Up to the trial, the state was offering to waive the minimum mandatory sentence for Alexander if she agreed to plead guilty to the Duval County criminal charges and accept three years in prison. She refused and, once she was convicted, the judge had no choice but to give her 20 years. The decision by the appellate court could have wide-ranging effects on Jacksonville Gun Crimes cases, and others in which a self-defense claim could be used.

In every Jacksonville Criminal Defense Case, the jury is read a series of instructions right before they are sent back to deliberate. These instructions include the elements of the charges they are to consider and the standard for conviction on this particular crime. The jury in this Jacksonville Weapon Crimes case was told that in order to find Alexander not guilty by reason of self-defense, that Alexander must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was battered by Gray and that’s why she felt she was in imminent danger and got the gun. The appellate court ruled burden of proof should have been on the prosecution to prove Alexander was not acting in self-defense. It’s a subtle point, but one that can be essential going forward with self-defense claims. The language used to the jury in this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case is fairly standard and will now require a change to stay in accordance with the ruling. And you can bet appellate attorneys are looking at other Jacksonville Gun Crimes Cases to see if a similar statement was made to the jury that could be brought up in hopes of getting the conviction tossed. Now that there’s an opportunity for all parties to reconsider their decision, including Alexander on going to trial with a 20-year sentence hanging over her head, it will be interesting to see how negotiations and this Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case play out.

National activists are again beating the drum for courts to reexamine the 20-year sentence given to Jacksonville’s Marissa Alexander, a mother who fired a shot into the ceiling because she said she was in fear of her now ex-husband. Alexander was convicted on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Jacksonville and then sentenced to 20 years in prison last year, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Under Florida’s 10-20-Life law, the discharge of the firearm meant Alexander faced a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years in prison, giving the judge no latitude in the Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case, the newspaper reported.

Alexander’s plight has received some scrutiny in the past, but it was revived this week in the wake of the not guilty verdict in the case of George Zimmerman, acquitted of second-degree murder in the death of teen-ager Trayvon Martin. Jacksonville prosecutors were appointed by the governor to handle the Zimmerman case in Sanford, and national criticism of how that case was handled has, right or wrong, opened the door for questions about more decisions by local prosecutors. Prosecutors have long defended their decisions regarding Alexander’s Duval County Gun Crimes Case. The state did not immediately file the minimum mandatory and has said that an offer of three years in prison was on the table until shortly before trial. Once the case went to trial, the state filed the minimum mandatory from the 10-20-Life law in the Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case. The threat of a minimum mandatory is often a negotiating tactic the state uses to convince someone to take a plea deal. In this Jacksonville Gun Crimes case, Alexander insisted she was acting out of self-defense and was not guilty of any crime.

Alexander has said that she was in fear of her life and went to the car and got a gun out of her car and fired it into the ceiling. She was facing three Jacksonville felony charges because two children were also present at the time, the newspaper reported. A jury, though, sided with the state and found her guilty on all three charges. Her Jacksonville Gun Crimes Case has been appealed, and she has been transferred from state prison back to the Duval County jail while the appellate matter is pending, the newspaper reported.

A sailor assigned to the boat, the USS Hue City, has been arrested on felony assault charges in Duval County. Jonathan Lee, according to an article in the Florida Times Union, allegedly showed his gun and threatened to shoot a fellow sailor. Police were dispatched and met with the alleged victim. The alleged victim said that he and Lee were in a strip club drinking and he urinated next to Lee’s car. When the alleged victim urinated on Lee’s car, “joking around” he says, Lee allegedly pulled a handgun from the trunk of the car and put the magazine in. Lee is reported to have said “If you piss on my car, I will shoot you”. At that point the alleged victim said he was in fear for his life and grabbed Lee’s wrist, making him drop the handgun. At that point, someone broke the two men up and Lee left the scene. JSO transported the alleged victim to the Mayport Naval Station to find Lee. Police asked for his consent to search his vehicle and Lee agreed. Law enforcement found a gun in his trunk as well as a marijuana joint in the ashtray. The police also found a loaded magazine next to the gun. Lee was then arrested in Jacksonville and posted bond in Duval County.

Lee was arrested for Jacksonville Aggravated Assault, a third degree felony and Possession of Less than 20 Grams of Marijuana, a first degree misdemeanor. To be convicted of aggravated assault in Duval County, the state attorney prosecuting the case must prove he intentionally and unlawfully threatened by word or act to do violence to the victim and have the apparent ability to do so. The victim must also have a well-founded fear that the violence is imminent. To make the Jacksonville assault charge “aggravated”, it must be committed with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill or with an intent to commit a felony.

Our Jacksonville Criminal Military Defense Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, has defended members of the United States Military for years, including sailors in the Navy. Our Duval County Criminal Law Firm is proud to help those who serve us. Often times, soldiers get punished twice, once by civilian law enforcement and once by the military itself. Even if the Jacksonville criminal charges are dropped or dismissed, the United States military can mete out their own punishment. If you serve in our military and have been arrested on criminal charges in Duval, Clay or Nassau Counties, contact our Jacksonville Navy Criminal Defense Law Firm, at (904) 365-5200. The Mussallem Law Firm is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

As a Criminal Attorney in Jacksonville, I have represented many people charged with crimes involving weapons. In addition to gun crimes in Jacksonville, there are other weapons crimes people can be charged with. One such crime is Possession of a Concealed Weapon. This Duval County weapon crime is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. To be convicted of this Jacksonville misdemeanor, the state attorney’s office would have to prove that you carried a concealed weapon or electric weapon or device on your person. “Concealed weapons” are defined as dirks, metal knuckles, slungshots, billies, tear gas guns, or any other deadly weapons carried in such a manner to conceal the weapon from the sight of another person.

People often call our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Law Office asking about pocketknives and how to carry them. A common pocketknife is excluded from the definition of a deadly weapon in Florida. The Florida Supreme Court has defined a common pocketknife as “a type of knife occurring frequently in the community which has a blade that folds into the handle that can be carried on one’s pocket”. Recently, a case has been appealed in the Miami, Florida area that discusses this definition of a pocketknife. In this criminal case, the defendant was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. The weapon was a folding knife that was just under three inches long and locks in an open position. The knife also had serrations on one side with grooves for fingers. The appellate court found that this knife was not a “common” pocketknife because it had a blade that can be locked in an open position.

If you are accused of any type of weapon crime in Jacksonville, Clay County or Nassau County, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced Florida Weapons Attorney. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact our Jacksonville Law Firm, The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation today.

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