Articles Posted in Duval County

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A Jacksonville woman is accused of trying to smuggle 1 kilogram of the drug MDMA, also known by its street name “Molly,” into the state, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The 32-year-old woman was arrested Monday on a charge of smuggling methamphetamine into the state.

According to the arrest report, a package from China addressed to a CubeSmart storage facility on Western Way was chosen for examination Monday by border enforcement. Homeland Security special agents opened the package, and allegedly found 1 kilogram — a little over 2 pounds — of MDMA, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Sheriff’s Office said it and Homeland Security special agents attempted to deliver the package to the CubeSmart, an air-conditioned self storage facility that also accepts delivery of packages for its lessees.

The package was left at 6 p.m. Monday in the unit to which it was addressed, according to police.

About 30 minutes later, police claim the woman showed up, looked around the area, walked into the unit and picked up the package.

She was then stopped by special agents and arrested, according to reports.

After her arrest, police allege the woman told them she met a man on a dating website and he asked her to start picking up packages for him at the CubeSmart. She said she was never paid for picking up the packages.

The woman is being held at the Duval County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

No matter the specific controlled substance and quantity involved, or whether you were arrested by local police or federal agents, any drug smuggling or trafficking accusation is extremely serious. You could face decades behind bars and other serious consequences, so your choice of a criminal defense attorney is critical to the outcome of your case.

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A man arrested after a fatal crash New Year’s Day in 2013, which killed one passenger and seriously injured two others, was found guilty Tuesday of multiple charges.

The 23-year-old man was found guilty of DUI manslaughter and two counts of driving under the influence with serious bodily injury.

The man was driving down Beach Boulevard with three other people in the vehicle after leaving a New Year’s Eve party when he lost control of the vehicle while attempting to make a right turn.

He struck a metal pole, which fatally injured a 20-year-old passenger. The other two passengers suffered serious injuries, but recovered. The investigation revealed that the man was intoxicated, with a blood alcohol level of .178.

He faces up to 25 years in prison. He will be sentenced the week of Oct. 31.

No matter what the situation, a car accident that results in a death is always a tragedy. Adding a DUI charge to this just makes the situation that much worse. Knowing what to do after you have been charged with DUI manslaughter can be confusing if you do not seek the legal help you need. It is crucial that you understand the charges you are up against, the potential consequences, and your viable defenses.

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You want to avoid getting arrested for DUI in Florida on New Year’s Eve and “becoming a statistic.” New Year’s Eve is a holiday that it is both cause for celebrating and relaxing. After the stress of getting ready for Christmas, people usually take this time to enjoy the end of the holiday season and contemplate their goals for the new year. However, because this is the last holiday of the year, there tends to be an increased number of people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Listed below are several tips to help drivers avoid a DUI this New Year’s Eve.

  1. Limit Drinks

If you are at a party that has an open bar, and you know you are driving, know exactly how many drinks you are having so that you can watch your personal limit. Remember that once you start drinking it can be difficult to stop yourself from having too many. Be mindful of the exact amount you have had to drink.

  1. Call a Cab or Uber or Lyft

Public transportation can save many people from DUI-related accidents and arrests. Save the number of a local cab company in your phone, use a ride share app on your phone or attend parties or social gatherings close to a bus route.

  1. 15958303240_5a5181cc2a_zDon’t Go Solo

Don’t go to a party or social gathering by yourself. Bring along at least one other friend and make sure to determine who the designated driver is for the entire group before any alcohol is consumed.

  1. Eat!

While many people have New Year’s resolutions about weight loss, New Year’s Eve is one of those nights where you should eat. Food fills the stomach, making less room for alcohol. Try to snack on foods like meats or dark chocolate, which are known to keep you fuller longer.

  1. Offer Alternative Drinks

If you are hosting a party, include “mocktails,” sodas, punch, or even just water on your drink menu.

  1. Make Accommodations for Guests

If you know your guests have a far trip ahead of them, arrange for them to stay with you or at a nearby hotel. That way, no one drives home drunk.

  1. Leave the Party Early

New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year. You can expect delays for taxis and other modes of public transportation, so be prepared. Leaving your party or social gathering early can also ensure that you get home safely and at a reasonable hour.

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State Attorney Angela Corey announced Thursday afternoon that she is prosecuting a 13-year-old boy accused of second-degree murder of a homeless Jacksonville man as an adult.

This is the second time she’s charged a young juvenile with murder.

The 54-year-old homeless man was found dead in a shopping center parking lot on 103rd Street in June. Police said he was shot in the head.

A month later they arrested the then-12-year-old juvenile after a 16-year-old friend was charged in an armed robbery and motor vehicle theft and implicated him.

A grand jury indicted the boy Thursday in the homeless man’s death allowing the adult charges to be filed by the State Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors did not provide a motive for the killing and they did not discuss the case in detail or explain why they filed second-degree murder charges.

According to police, surveillance videos showed the youths at the scene. There was no apparent motive for the shooting, it was described as spontaneous.

Corey said her reasoning for trying the boy as an adult is because even if he was convicted of murder in juvenile court, he could be released in as few as 18 months, but he would have to be released in 36 months.

In the meantime the boy is being housed in the Duval County jail in a wing for juvenile defendants.

The juveniles are not housed with adult offenders even though they are in adult jail. There are 10-minute checks by corrections officers and a school inside the facility.

Juvenile crime is defined as any illegal act that is committed by an individual who is under the age of 18. In most cases, juvenile crimes are governed by a separate court system, with a separate set of rules from the adult court system. However, as this case shows, there are some cases where a minor will be charged as an adult. The main factor in deciding how the juvenile will be tried all boils down to the type of crime that has been committed. In recent years, there has been increased regularity of minors in Florida and across the country being tried and punished as adults due to the types of crimes that have been committed.

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Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents arrested Mike Classey, who resigned just last week as chief of the Atlantic Beach Police Department.

Classey, 50, was placed on administrative leave Sept. 19 after the city learned of a criminal investigation being conducted by the FDLE. And one week ago, Classey resigned.

Classey was arrested Tuesday and charged with 18 counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of trafficking in codeine, tampering with evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to reports, Classey turned himself in and was booked into the Duval County jail on $136,036 bond.

State Attorney Angela Corey and FDLE officials claim agents began investigating Classey after receiving a tip from the Department of Homeland Security. They allegedly intercepted a package containing controlled substances from India addressed to “Michael Cassey” at a UPS store post office box. Agents claim Classey showed up at the store to pick up that package, as well as a second package.

One package allegedly contained Xanax and the other contained injectable steroids.

5231885791_da7b35bea4_zFDLE searched Classey’s home on Sept. 19 and reportedly found what was described as large quantities of various steroids, Codeine, Xanax and syringes.

Agents apparently asked the man for the computer that he ordered the alleged drugs on, and he told them he had asked his son to dispose of it. Investigators claim they later found it in a trash container.

The man’s resignation is not tied to the Police Department or his job.

In order for police to charge you with tampering with evidence, you must have done either of the following while knowing that an investigation is going on or will soon:

  • 1. Hide, destroy or alter a piece of evidence, such as a document, weapon or even drugs in order to interfere with the investigation.
  • 2. Use false evidence to trick or confuse investigators or to interfere with the investigation.

If you are convicted of tampering with evidence, this is something that will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. Despite the circumstances surrounding your case, even just an accusation that you tampered with evidence in a criminal investigation can tarnish your reputation and good standing in the community. With that said, understand that these charges are extremely serious and must be given the high level of attention that they deserve.

A Duval County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help you if you have been charged with tampering with evidence. First and foremost, we will conduct an extensive investigation into the charges to look for any mistakes law enforcement made during their investigation, as well as any other legal issues that can be raised on your behalf.

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Florida will have 159 new laws starting Tuesday that address various issues, including college tuition, corporate tax credits, abortions and sex offenders.

One of the most prevalent laws is one that aims to protect children and others from dangerous sex offenders. The laws are intended to keep the most violent sexual offenders locked up longer and close any loopholes in a law that allows the state to send predators to a high-security treatment center once they have served their time in prison. The new laws will subject more offenders to potential civil commitment and prosecutors, detectives and victim advocates will be part of the committee that reviews their cases.

The sexually violent predator package of bills was among the first of the legislature sent to Gov. Rick Scott during the 60-day session that ended in May. The new laws are meant to create a better child welfare system in Florida. As of now, Florida is the only state in America that has a 50-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for violent sexual offenders.

gavelAnother law that seeks to protect children concerns the Department of Children and Families. The law changes how the department investigates and responds to cases; now placing a higher emphasis on shielding a child from abuse rather than focusing on keeping a family together. Moreover, the law also pays for 270 additional child protective investigators so that caseloads can be reduced and a response team can be sent out quickly to investigate child abuse deaths when the child had previous dealings with the system.

Another law will establish a statewide pilot program to pay for foster children’s driver’s education classes, license fees and car insurance so that they can be better prepared to gain employment when they turn 18 and leave the system.

The children of immigrants in the country illegally will now be able to receive in-state tuition at state universities after Scott changed his position on the issue. Another bill will give tuition breaks to honorably discharged veterans as well as waive professional licensing fees for them.

Local school boards now have the responsibility of selecting textbooks, whether or not they are on a state-adopted list, and will be required to put policies in place that allow parents to object to the books they choose.

Another new law took effect on June 20 that expands a voucher program, giving corporate tax credits to companies that provide money for low-income families to send their children to private schools.

As far as criminal laws go, there will be increased penalties for spiny lobster poachers, people leaving the scene of an accident that causes injury and people who illegally sell prescription drugs. Additionally, electronic cigarette sales to minors are now illegal in Florida. Another law forbids sending text messages soliciting products to residents on the state’s “no sales solicitation calls” list.

Florida has also changed its definition for its late-term abortion ban. Abortions will be illegal in Florida at any stage in a woman’s pregnancy if her doctor concludes that the fetus could survive outside the womb. The previous law banned abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy. An exception can be made to this law if the mother’s life is at risk.

Lastly, new laws will create a Florida Tourism Hall of Fame and the position of state poet laureate to promote poetry in Florida.

Laws across the United States are constantly changing. When you have been accused of committing a crime in Florida, only a Florida Trial Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can provide you with the legal representation that you need. While many attorneys are quick to negotiate with prosecutors to obtain a plea bargain instead of pursuing trial, our Florida Criminal Attorneys know that sometimes trial is the best option for your situation. We thoroughly evaluate every case and will always advise you of your best legal defense strategy.

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A Jacksonville insurance salesman pleaded guilty to a 15-year scam in federal court Friday. Reports suggest that more than 50 people were bilked out of nearly $5 million.

Prosecutors claim that the investments the man promised large returns on were actually a Ponzi scheme that he used to buy commercial property, luxury cars and other items.

The 49-year-old man faces up to 80 years in prison, a fine of over $1 million as well as paying restitution to the victims involved in all 34 counts of the federal grand indictment.

Court records indicate that many of the victims were Duval County School Board employees who invested money from their Deferred Retirement Option Program, also known as DROP. There were also out of state investors in Georgia and North Carolina.

The man pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. All other charges were dropped.

The man remains free pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

ponzi scheme betch.jpgCourt records claim the scheme started in 1996 when the man set up a shell corporation, Abaco Securities International, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, British West Indies, as a fake offshore investment company. The man was listed as the director of the company, but the only location was a post office. The man solicited his victims to invest their retirement savings in an investment product he described as ASI and promised interest rates sometimes exceeding 12 percent.

While some of the money was sent to a financial services company where the man had told his investors the retirement money would be invested, prosecutors claim the majority of the funds were deposited into SunTrust accounts set up by the man and then stolen by him. This apparently lasted until 2011.

A Ponzi scheme, also known as a business or investment pyramid, is defined as an investment plan where early investors are paid with the investments of later investors. While the plan may have started out legitimately, with everyone intention of delivering appropriate funds to investors, somewhere down the line the manager of the funds found that the investment strategy could not meet its goals, and in order to meet the demands of initial investors, used the money from later investors to pay early backers.

Due to the large sums of money involved in Ponzi schemes, these criminal cases are usually tried in federal court. They often include charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. When Ponzi schemes are uncovered and a person faces criminal charges in federal court, it is not surprising to find out that law enforcement has been investigating them for months, possibly for a year or more.

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A 70-year-old Middleburg woman has been arrested for allegedly attempting to hire an undercover detective to kill her daughter-in-law.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, she told the detective that he could take the expensive jewelry from her body when the job was done.

The sheriff’s office claims the woman offered the detective $5,000 to kill her daughter-in-law when she met with him at a Home Depot in Jacksonville on Wednesday.
She is accused of giving the detective $500 as the first payment as well as a photo of the woman, her address, and car description. She allegedly gave him another $1,000 when they met again on Thursday.

jewelry betch.jpgAccording to the sheriff’s office, the woman told the detective that her daughter-in-law wore expensive jewelry and could take the jewelry from her body once the job was complete. Police claim the woman told the detective that the diamonds could be removed and sold without a trace and that he could use that money towards the final payment.

The woman allegedly told the detective that she would take care of things if he could not.

The woman was placed under arrest and immediately requested an attorney after she was read her Miranda rights, the sheriff’s office said. It is unknown at this time whether or not she has secured representation.

The woman is currently being held in the Duval County Jail without bond on charges of criminal solicitation and criminal conspiracy, both first-degree felonies. She is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 31.

Criminal charges of solicitation and conspiracy can involve a variety of different crimes and it should be noted that these offenses carry very significant penalties. If you or someone close to you has been arrested for a criminal offense in Middleburg, Orange Park, Green Cove Springs, Keystone Heights or the surrounding area, you should speak with a Clay County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton as soon as possible to learn about how you can protect your rights and the possible defenses that may be available to you.

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875413_balance.jpgJacksonville, Florida – A 13-year-old boy, accused of killing his 2-year-old brother and sexually abusing his 5-year-old half-brother, has been charged as an adult, making him the youngest inmate awaiting trial in Duval County.

The boy is facing a first-degree murder charge in the 2011 beating death of his younger brother, and if convicted he could face a life sentence.

The boy being charged as an adult has received mixed reviews among the public.

Those that support the decision believe that if the boy is convicted, he should be held accountable to the full extent of the law. Still, others believe the boy should be given a second chance at life and needs help as opposed to life behind bars.

In most other states, children accused of violent criminal acts are usually tried in juvenile court. Last year, a Colorado boy received seven years in a juvenile facility and three years parole after being convicted of killing his two parents when he was 12. A boy in Pennsylvania accused of killing his father’s pregnant fiancée and her unborn child this year when he was 11, was recently sent to a juvenile facility where he could remain until his 21st birthday.

If this case gets as far as trial, the judge will have to determine whether to consider the boy’s past when deciding his future.

The 13-year-old was born to his 12-year-old mother in 1999 in Miami, Florida. His 25-year-old father received 10 years’ probation for sexually assaulting his mother.

Both mother and son went to foster care two years later after authorities in south Florida discovered the child wandering the street at 4 a.m., naked and covered in filth, near the motel where his grandmother apparently used drugs.

When the boy was 8, the Department of Children and Families was notified that he was possibly sexually molested by an older cousin. Other incidents involving the boy were also reported, including claims that the boy simulated sex with classmates, masturbated at school and allegedly killed a kitten.

In October 2010, the boy and his mother were living in Hialeah with his mother’s new husband. The school he was attending claims the boy suffered an eye injury that was so bad he was sent to the hospital to be examined for retinal damage. The boy told officials his stepfather punched him. Before officers could investigate, the man was found at the family’s apartment dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The family then moved to Jacksonville where the boy was enrolled in middle school and apparently received straight A’s.

A few months later, police were called to the family’s apartment because the boy’s baby brother had died at a local hospital from a fractured skull, bruising to his left eye and a bleeding brain.

The boy’s mother, then 25, apparently told police that on March 14, 2011 she had left her children at home alone. Police claim when she arrived at home later, she found her 2-year-old child unconscious but waited 8 hours before taking him to the hospital.
Police allege that she texted friends and searched “unconsciousness” online during those hours.

She apparently told police that two weeks before the toddler was killed her older son broke the child’s legs while wrestling.

The medical examiner said the child may have survived if the mother had taken him to the hospital earlier.

The mother pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in March. She could receive 30 years.

The 13-year-old boy was originally questioned by police as a witness, but was soon charged with first-degree murder. He was charged with a second felony after his 5-year-old half-brother told a psychiatrist that he had sexually assaulted him.

The boy has apparently talked openly to investigators and therapists regarding his life and the events leading up to his brother’s death. Prosecutors claim the boy poses a significant risk of violence, which is why he is being detained pre-trial and has been charged with two first-degree felonies.

In August, a judge ruled that police interrogations in the murder and sexual assault cases are inadmissible as the boy could not have possibly given consent to waive his rights to remain silent and consult an attorney.

Prosecutors are appealing this decision.

According to the Justice Department, 29 children throughout the U.S. under the age of 14 committed homicides in 2010. The complexity of this case could change how Florida courts handle first-degree murder charges involving juvenile defendants throughout the state. This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for juvenile offenders to receive life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Juveniles accused of committing felony crimes are placed in a tough position. A juvenile 14 years of age or older face mandatory filing of adult charges when facing certain felony charges, including:


• Armed Robbery
• Rape
• Carjacking
Additionally, a child 14 years of age or older can be tried as an adult if they are facing additional crimes of violence against others or have previously committed a felony offense involving the use of a firearm. For children under the age of 14, the State Attorney gets to decide whether or not to try the juvenile as an adult.

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