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.

A Clay County woman is now facing multiple charges in Jacksonville, including a felony, in what appeared to start as a DUI investigation.  Police pulled the driver over for speeding about 2 a.m. in Jacksonville Beach, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A passenger in the car took off running before police could speak with the person, but the officer smelled marijuana and asked for the 22-year-old driver to step out of the car, the newspaper reported. The woman continued to try to get back to her car before being handcuffed and put in the back of the patrol car, the newspaper reported. After the woman said the handcuffs hurt and she couldn’t breathe, the office loosened the cuffs and lower the windows in the car, but the woman escaped and was eventually run down in a cemetery, the newspaper reported.

She is now facing four charges – escape, resisting an officer without violence, DUI and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. The escape charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. The remaining charges are misdemeanors, but clearly the escape and resisting charges could have both been avoided if the driver would have simply complied with the officer and not left the police cruiser. She is also facing a traffic ticket for speeding, though that is the least of her legal issues at this point.  There is no reference to alcohol in the newspaper report of this Jacksonville DUI Case. Most people automatically assume alcohol in a Jacksonville DUI Case, but driving impaired can include narcotics as well. In this Jacksonville DUI Case, the officer reported smelling marijuana when he approached the car. Jacksonville DUI Cases involving marijuana can be more difficult for the state to prove, partially because there is not a simple breath test that can show the level of intoxication, like there is for alcohol. And because there was another person in the vehicle when it was pulled over, this does not mean the driver was smoking the marijuana. The driver’s actions following the initial arrest, though, could lead a jury to draw the conclusion that she was impaired in some fashion, if for no other reason than she tried to flee to avoid the officer.  There are specific procedures officers must follow when making Jacksonville DUI Arrests and, in many cases, police departments have officers who are specifically training in these procedures making the arrests. Our Jacksonville DUI Attorney knows these rules inside and out, and will review the case against you or your loved one to make everything was done by the book.

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 DUI Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Police arrested a Clay County man minutes after authorities said he tried to rob a bank a few blocks from a police department.  The man is accused of walking into the bank, implying he had a gun and demanding money from a clerk, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man did not get any money from the bank and was stopped by police shortly after he drove off, the newspaper reported. He was arrested on charges of armed robbery with a firearm or other weapon and is being held in county jail on a $50,000 bond.

According to Florida law, robbery is defined as “the taking of money or other property which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with intent to either permanently or temporarily deprive the person or the owner of the money or other property, when in the course of the taking there is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in fear.” In this Clay County Robbery Case, the key language is “putting in fear.” Although the defendant in this case apparently did not have a gun, he allegedly led the bank teller to believe he did – likely putting her in fear that he could use a gun if things did not go his way.

The exact charges in the case have not been filed, but in Clay County Robbery Cases, the element of a weapon – particularly a firearm – is a huge factor in how the case will be charged. For example, armed robbery with a firearm or other deadly weapon is a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in state prison. Armed robbery with a weapon is also a first-degree felony, but the prison sentence is capped at 30 years. Robbery without a weapon is a second-degree felony with a maximum punishment of up to 15 years in state prison. In this Clay County Robbery Case, the newspaper reported the man “implied” he had a gun. Whether that means he said he had a gun, or put his finger inside his shirt looking like he had a gun is not yet clear – but could be a critical element of this Clay County Theft Case.  Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people on all types of theft charges – from misdemeanor petit theft cases on up to armed robbery charges punishable by up to life in state prison. Our Clay County Theft Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one so you have the best information to make a decision going forward.

A jury needed just 25 minutes to find a Jacksonville man not guilty of two serious felony charges in connection with an alleged robbery.  The man was accused of breaking into a woman’s home, demanding money and then beating her, according to a report from News4Jax. The woman said she knew who the man was because he used to mow her lawn for her, the television station reported. The man was charged eight felonies, but he went to trial last month on by far the two most serious charges — home invasion robbery and burglary with assault. Both of these Jacksonville Theft Charges are first-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on each charge.

The jury, however, did not feel the state had proven the two charges against him beyond a reasonable doubt and found him not guilty. But that’s not the end of the road for the defendant. He is still facing several felony charges in connection with the same incident, the television station reported. Those charges include robbery by sudden snatching, burglary to a structure and four counts of uttering forged bills. Each charge is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in state prison. If convicted of all six charges, he could be looking at a total of 30 years in prison, should the judge choose to issue consecutive sentences.

In many Jacksonville Felony Cases where a person is facing multiple and varying charges, the state will split them up into different cases. In this Jacksonville Theft Case, the man is accused of identity theft after the physical theft, so that’s likely why the first two were tried separately. It’s unclear to date whether the state plans on taking the cases to trial again or if plea negotiations will be opened again. From the defendant’s perspective, he likely feels there’s a reason he was found not guilty last month and may be unwilling to plead guilty to anything. On the state side, there is a person who says she was robbed and victimized, and this may be a case prosecutors feel strongly about taking to trial.  Cases like this Duval County Theft Case illustrate the importance of having several layers of the criminal justice system before someone is sentenced to prison. When the headlines started in this case, it was essentially assumed the man was guilty and that he committed this series of violent crimes. But a jury of his peers decided otherwise. That is why cases are not tried in the media or decided by detectives.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney has taken dozens of cases to trial and will work with you or your loved one to help determine the best way to fight the charges that you or your loved one are facing.

Prosecutors backed off their first-degree murder charge and offered a plea to second-degree murder for a Jacksonville teen charged in a deadly shooting.  The boy, now 17 but 15 at the time of the shooting, agreed to the plea deal last month, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The plea agreement includes language that the sentence will be between 10 and 30 years, which the judge accepted, the newspaper reported. The teen is expected to be sentenced next month.

The teen and two of his friends showed up uninvited to a party in a local apartment complex and got into an argument with a 22-year-old friend, the newspaper reported. The teen was accused of hitting the man with his gun and then shooting him, the newspaper reported. Many of the details in this Jacksonville Gun Case that would have come out in a trial, such as a possible defense from the teen or the possibility that the gun accidentally went off, have yet to surface. Those types of details will now likely be discussed in the sentencing hearing. In Jacksonville Felony Cases that result in a plea, as most of them do, the sentencing hearing can end up being the de facto trial. And it should be. There is plenty on the line. While in the cases like this Jacksonville Murder Case the defendant already knows he’s going to prison for a significant amount of time, there’s a big difference between a 10-year sentence and a 30-year sentence. For the defendant in this Jacksonville Murder Case, it’s the difference between being released in his mid-20s or his mid-40s.

The agreement to plead guilty to second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder is significant in this Jacksonville Murder Case. The only possible sentences for first-degree murder are life in prison and the death penalty. Because the defendant in this case was under the age of 18, the death penalty was not an option for the state. But the 10 to 30 year range on the sentence wouldn’t have been an option either had the charge remained first-degree murder.  Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people on all types of charges from traffic tickets and misdemeanor theft charges all the way up to murder. Our Jacksonville Violent Crimes Attorney will thoroughly investigate your case and provided you with the information and options to make the best decision going forward.

A Clay County man was arrested on several traffic violations for a May crash that killed a two people in Clay County.  The defendant is accused of running a red light and crashing into a car with an elderly couple in it, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Both people inside the other car were killed, the newspaper reported. The driver is charged with driving on a suspended license, a second-degree misdemeanor. The charge has a maximum penalty of up to six months in county jail. He was also cited for running a red light and driving without valid insurance. Neither of those is criminal charges, but is simply a traffic ticket.

In Clay County Traffic Cases where people are killed, there are certainly more serious charges that could apply. Primarily, there is vehicular homicide. However, Florida law defines vehicular homicide as “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.” During the investigation in the four months following the crash, investigators must have determined that while the driver did run a red light, he was not driving in a manner that was so reckless it was likely to hurt someone. Even though the crash occurred at noon, police likely also ran toxicology tests. Those generally take about four to six months and, in all likelihood based on the charges, came back negative.

The defendant still could receive minimal jail time for the charge of driving on a suspended license. While criminal charges are certainly important, there are also likely many things at play for a potential civil case. The standard of being negligent in a civil case is far less strict that the “beyond a reasonable doubt” needed to prove a criminal case. That could be a reason why the defendant may choose to contest the red light traffic ticket. When someone simply pays a traffic ticket, they are admitting guilt. That can be detrimental in a civil case because it shows a person admitted to being at fault. It can also hurt in a standard Clay County Traffic Case even when someone is not hurt or killed. By paying the ticket, a driver will be assessed points, which can add up quickly and could eventually result in a driver’s license being suspended or revoked.  Our Clay County Traffic Attorney represents people accused of all types of traffic violations – from speeding tickets on up to vehicular homicide.

A woman who worked for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was arrested last week after police set up an undercover drug sting to allegedly catch her buying narcotics.  Through text messages with a confidential informant, the woman agreed to buy two OxyContin pills, but only ended up buying one $35 pill, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police were waiting nearby and pulled the driver over before she could make it to the end of the block, the newspaper reported. The woman told police she dropped the pill as she was being pulled over and police did not find it in her vehicle, the newspaper reported. The woman was arrested as a result of the traffic stop and resigned from her position with the sheriff’s office, the newspaper reported.

She was charged with purchase of a controlled substance. Because the pill was OxyContin, a variety of the prescription pain killer Oxycodone, the charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. Yes, in some Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases, one simple pill is a second-degree felony. There are two major factors that determine the charge and potential punishment in Jacksonville Drug Crimes Cases: the type of drug the defendant is accused of having and the amount that is allegedly in his or her possession. Penalties vary based on the type of drug and some prescription pain pills, such as OxyContin in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case, carry serious potential penalties for just one pill. Methamphetamines, cocaine and other prescription drugs have charges that are automatic felonies – but in many cases they are third-degree felonies with a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. Marijuana, however, is a completely different story. Possession of marijuana up to 20 grams is still considered a misdemeanor, meaning the only time behind bars that would be on the table would be up to one year in the county jail.

Actual possession could be an issue in this Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case involving OxyContin because police did not find a pill in her possession. Her statement that she did have the pill but dropped it, along with the series of text messages that set up the transaction may be enough to prove the intent and the possession, but there can also be issues with text messages and other communications during these types of undercover operations.  Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney represents people on a variety of drug charges – people accused of possessing, buying or selling all types of drugs. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one and provide you with information to make the best decision going forward.