A suspected bank robber was shot in the face by a former police officer who chased him in his car.  The defendant was seen running from a St. Johns County bank and the former officer, who was in the drive-thru lane, started chasing him in his car, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. When the former officer caught up with the suspect, the two struggled in a parking lot, the newspaper reported. A witness said the bank robbery suspect reached for a gun and that’s when the former officer pulled his own gun and shot the suspected robber in the face, the newspaper reported. The suspected robber kept running to where he had parked his car and eventually surrendered to a St. Johns County police officer who had his gun drawn.

Police said they found a large amount of money in the suspect’s possession, along with a gun and a note demanding money that police are inferring was used during the robbery, the newspaper reported. Charges had not yet been filed, but the man is likely facing armed robbery charges, first-degree felonies that are punishable by up to life in prison. He would also likely face other charges, such as fleeing and eluding a police officer, but the armed robbery charge is by far the most serious.  And what about the former police officer who shot the man in the face? He is unlikely to face any charges.

According to Florida law, if a person is in fear for his or her life, the person can respond with deadly force. In this St. Johns County Gun Crimes Case, the two appeared to be engaged in what amounted to a wrestling match when the robbery suspect is said to have reached for a gun. At that point, the other man made a decision his life was in danger and he pulled out his weapon and fired. It could be argued that the former officer should not have even attempted to capture the bank robbery suspect and that he put himself in that situation by following the suspect and trying to apprehend a man who had just robbed a bank. While police don’t recommend that anyone do such a thing, it’s unlikely they would recommend the person be charged with a crime that would likely come with a potential punishment of decades behind bars. Depending on the robbery suspect’s injuries, the former officer’s actions could open him up to a potential civil lawsuit down the road, but criminal charges are not likely in this St. Johns County Robbery Case.

Police arrested a Jacksonville corrections officer this month, following a tip that he received money to smuggle items into the jail for an inmate.  The investigation began with a tip in August and is still ongoing, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The corrections officer is accused of meeting a woman to get cigarettes and pornographic magazines to be delivered – and receiving payment to make the delivery, the newspaper reported. Neither cigarettes nor pornography are permitted in the county jail and would be considered contraband. The corrections officer is charged with introducing or smuggling contraband into a detention facility, as well as conspiracy to introduce contraband to a detention facility. Because of the type of contraband, both charges are third-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison on each count.

The charges can be elevated in this Jacksonville Felony Case, depending on what the person is accused of bringing into a jail. For example, if the contraband were to be drugs, a weapon or a communications device such as a cell phone, the charge can be a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. Police did not identify the inmate or what he was initially charged with – though authorities did say it is a serious charge, the newspaper reported. The inmate was not been charged related to the contraband, nor has the woman accused of paying the corrections officer to deliver the items.  The corrections officer has been with the department almost three years and the tip to police came from an inmate, the newspaper reported. Police officers can get arrested and get in trouble just like anyone else and, in Jacksonville DUI Cases or others that sometimes occur, they can end facing discipline but still keeping their jobs. This Jacksonville Felony Case differs somewhat because the officer is accused of using his position of authority at the jail and profiting from it. The other main factor is the charge is a felony, and most law enforcement agencies do not allow convicted felons to be sworn officers. It’s also not beyond the realm of possibility to think the officer will get a stricter sentence from the judge based on his positon than the inmate would have had he snuck in the cigarettes and the magazines – or even if the girl involved did the same.

Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people charged with all types of crimes – from misdemeanor theft and battery charges on up to serious drug and gun crimes. Our Jacksonville Felony Attorney will fully investigate the crime against you or your loved one so you can make an informed decision going forward.

A Clay County middle school teacher is facing two felony charges after police say he stole a gun from a car and then went to an ex-girlfriend’s home.  Police said the man got the gun and went to the woman’s home, where he knocked on the door and argued with her once she answered, finally leaving after she says she asked him to do so several times, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man drove off on his own, but police spotted his vehicle a short time later and he was arrested. The man is now facing two serious felony charges – though neither of them is related to the confrontation with the woman. He is charged with two counts of armed burglary, connected to taking the gun from the vehicle. Armed burglary is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in state prison. Since he is charged with two counts, the man, now 36 years old, is looking at up to 60 years in state prison if convicted of both counts and sentenced to the maximum on each charge.

While armed burglary sounds like a person went into a vehicle or a building and took something while he or she was armed, that is not always the case in Clay County Gun Crimes Cases. If a person, becomes armed during a burglary, that can qualify the crime as an armed burglary. For example, what appears to be the charge in this Clay County Theft Case is the man broke into a car and took a gun. Because he was armed at the time the robbery ended, the state has him charged with armed burglary. That always seems like a back-door way to charge a person with the most serious charge possible, but at the end of the day it can be up to a jury of the man’s peers to decide. Since his arrest, the man has already been removed from the classroom while the case is pending, which is common for teachers and other public employees charged with crimes – especially felonies.

Our Clay County Gun Crimes Attorney represents people on all types of charges involving guns, from armed burglary as in this case, or cases involving the discharge of a weapon in which Florida’s 10-20-Life laws apply. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and lay out your options so you can make the best decision going forward.

Police are looking for two drivers accused of racing each other down Interstate 95, causing one wreck that touched off several more – including one that killed an elderly man and critically injured his wife.  The series of accidents allegedly began when two cars were weaving in and out of traffic, which caused a small Honda to go off the road and hit a guardrail, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Ten minutes later, a pickup truck slowing down for the stopped traffic was rear-ended by another pickup truck, though there were only minor injuries, the newspaper reported. Shortly thereafter, the elderly driver was slowing down behind a tractor trailer when another driver slammed into his SUV, causing the SUV to spin and smash into the back of the tractor-trailer, the newspaper reported.

The drivers would not have to be directly involved in the one fatal crash to be charged with a crime in this St. Johns County Traffic Case, but the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drivers’ negligence triggered a string of crashes that ultimately led to the death of the victim. According to Florida law, vehicular homicide is “the killing of a human being, or the killing of an unborn child by any injury to the mother, caused by the operation of a motor vehicle by another in a reckless manner likely to cause the death of, or great bodily harm to, another.” Last year, a Nassau County jury found a man guilty of six counts of vehicular homicide for sideswiping a car that touched off a chain of accidents that killed six people, so there is a history of drivers being convicted even though he or she might not have been directly involved in the ultimate fatal crash.

In most St. Johns County Traffic Cases, vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in state prison. However, in this case, because the driver is accused of leaving the scene of the accident and not stopping to render aid, the charge would be elevated to a first-degree felony, which would bring the penalty up to 30 years in state prison. These serious felony charges may not even come in this St. Johns County Traffic Case – plenty depends on police finding the drivers and then being able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any reckless driving was directly connected to the fatal crash.

A Jacksonville police officer was charged last month with child abuse, accused of spanking her son with a plastic hanger.  The incident was reported to police after the child told someone at his school, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The school official is legally required to notify police. The officer, a 12-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, is charged with child abuse. The charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison.

A potential felony conviction could also mean the end of the officer’s law enforcement career. Most law enforcement agencies do not allow people who are convicted of or plead guilty of a felony to be sworn officers. Even if there wasn’t a legal requirement, there likely would be problems for the officer. There is a distinct difference between the criminal justice system and the punishments employers can impose on their employees. And when it comes to law enforcement, perception can be just as important as the facts and legal outcome of the case. Even if the case was reduced to a misdemeanor as part of a plea agreement, which can happen in these types of Jacksonville Felony Cases, that would still cause a perception problem for the officer. The officer chose to go on unpaid leave until the case is resolved, the newspaper reported. Most of these types of cases never make headlines and are never covered by the media, but that always changes when there is a police officer who is the subject of the investigation.

Jacksonville Child Abuse charges can be similar to Jacksonville Sex Crimes in terms of the public’s inclination to assume guilt the minute an accusation is made. People often have their mind up once the person is charged or arrested, without waiting for the case to play itself out through the court system. And once the accusation is made, it can be extremely difficult for the person to clear his or her name – especially with the amount of media coverage that often comes with the arrest.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people accused of all types of criminal charges – from misdemeanors on up to serious felonies with potential life sentences – but knows that any charge is serious for the person who is arrested. From employment considerations to the fines and potential incarceration, our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will look at all of the potential consequences and explain them to you or your loved one so you can make an informed decision going forward.

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.

A driver running through a red light triggered a traffic stop that now has him facing several decades behind bars on felony drug charges.  Once police stopped the car, the officer said the driver struggled to get his license and the driver was sweating profusely, according to a report on First Coast News. Police ended up finding large quantities of a variety of drugs in the car, including marijuana, cocaine, LSD and illegal mushrooms, the television station reported.

The man is now charged with trafficking in LSD, possession of cocaine with intent to sell within 1,000 feet or a school or church, possession of a hallucinogen within 1,000 feet of a school or church, possession of marijuana with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a school or church, possession of marijuana for the manufacture or delivery of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia. Jacksonville Drug Crimes Charges are based on two main factors: the type of drug the person is accused of having in his or her possession and the quantity of the drug.  The LSD and the cocaine charges are both first-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison. The marijuana and the hallucinogen charge, for the illegal mushrooms, are both second-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. The possession charge involving the manufacturing or delivering drugs is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison, while the other paraphernalia charge is a misdemeanor. If he was to be convicted of all of the charges and sentenced to the maximum on each charge, he could be looking at 95 years in state prison. That’s unlikely, but it speaks to the seriousness of the charges and how quickly the charges and prison time can add up in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases.

Initially, the driver denied police permission to search the vehicle, but the officer called in a drug-sniffing dog, which detected drugs in the car. If a drug dog hits on the vehicle, the police then legally have the reasonable suspicion required to search the car in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases and the driver does not need to provide specific permission to conduct the search. However, the search must be done as part of traffic stop, meaning the police cannot hold the driver for a long time waiting on the dog.  There are specific policies and procedures police must follow in traffic stops and to define the actual possession of drugs. In this Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case, the drugs were found in a backpack, which the driver said was given to him by a stripper, the television station reported. Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one to determine if all of those rules were followed to the letter of the law.

A Georgia man with four previous DUI convictions on his record was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to two felonies in connection with a fatal crash.  The driver was attempting to turn into an apartment complex, but turned into the path of a motorcyclist, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The driver then sped into the apartment complex, parked his car and tried to walk away, the newspaper reported. Witnessed identified the man and led police to him, the newspaper reported. The motorcyclist was hospitalized and died more than a week after the crash, the newspaper reported. The driver had a blood-alcohol level of .18, more than double the legal limit of .08.

The driver was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving a death and with DUI manslaughter. Leaving the scene of an accident involving a death is a first-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 30 years in state prison. The DUI manslaughter charge in this Jacksonville DUI Case is also a first-degree felony with a 30-year maximum sentence, but only because of the circumstances of the case. Had the driver not left the scene of the crash, the crash would have been a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison. Both the leaving the scene causing death and the DUI manslaughter charges carry a 4-year minimum mandatory sentence, so the driver was looking at a range between 8 and 60 years in prison after pleading guilty.

With more routine DUI charges that don’t involve serious injury or death, the penalties gradually increase when drivers are convicted of multiple DUIs. That is not the case in these types Jacksonville DUI Cases with first-degree felony charges, regardless of the driver’s history of DUI convictions, but his record undoubtedly played a significant role in the judge’s decision to sentence him to 30 years in state prison. Judges do not take kindly to a person repeatedly making the same mistake, and not learning from previous convictions, so the sentence often reflects that. The sentence for the driver, now 34 years old, also includes 11 years of probation once he is released from prison and the permanent revocation of his driver’s license.  Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney represents people on all types of DUI charges, from a first-time offender’s misdemeanor DUI to felony charges with a possibility of time in state prison.

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.

A Jacksonville man who escaped while serving a nine-month sentence is now facing decades in state prison.  The man was reported as escaping in June, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was finally captured after trying to flee from police during a traffic stop this month and is now facing multiple felony charges, the newspaper reported. The defendant ran from the vehicle and was caught on foot, the newspaper reported. For his alleged actions in leaving the detention facility in June, he is charged with escape, a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in state prison.

For the chase after the attempted traffic stop, the man is charged with fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer without violence, reckless driving and driving on the wrong side of the road. Fleeing and eluding can be a number of different felony degrees, depending on the circumstances of the chase. In this Jacksonville Fleeing Case, it is charged as a second-degree felony because the driver is accused of driving at a high rate of speed, or “in a manner which demonstrates a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” as described in Florida law. This second-degree felony has a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. Resisting an officer without violence is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a year in the county jail and reckless driving is a second-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months in the county jail. Driving on the wrong side of the road is a civil traffic ticket.

The man was initially in jail after pleading guilty to battery and possession of marijuana – two relatively minor misdemeanors. Now, the man is looking at two felonies and a total of 30 years in prison should the judge choose to sentence him to the maximum on both counts and run the sentences consecutively. That is unlikely in this Jacksonville Felony Case, but escaping and then running from police again does not help defendants when it comes to getting the benefit of the doubt from a judge. Felony charges can add up quickly when a person flees from police and, in general, the punishment can be limited if a person simply complies with police. That doesn’t mean a defendant should speak with police – everyone has a right to remain silent. But running from police can simply increase the charges – and the severity of those charges.  Our Jacksonville Felony Attorney represents people charges with all types of crimes and will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one so you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.