Articles Posted in Assault / Battery

Gun PointExercising your Florida gun rights can turn into “gun wrongs”, if you don’t know what to do and what not to do.  Last week I received a call from South Florida.  On the other end was a panicked young concealed carry permit holder; we’ll call him “Eric”, which isn’t his real name for obvious confidentiality reasons.  Eric had been arrested for pulling his gun to stave off a would-be road rage incident.  As Eric drove, there was apparently something about his driving that ticked off another driver.  The other driver began to drive erratically, darting in and out of traffic to catch up with Eric.  Once the other driver caught up to Eric, the other driver rolled down his own window and began to yell at Eric.  Believing things were about to escalate into a bad situation, Eric pulled his gun to encourage the angry driver to back off.  Eric was subsequently arrested for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, pursuant to Section 784.021, Florida Statutes.

Florida law defines an assault as “an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent.”  Aggravated Assault with a Firearm carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in Florida State Prison under chapter 775, specifically Section 775.087.  I imagine that you are starting to see the importance of knowing what not to do as a gun owner.  This is not a very pleasant position to be in.  Making a claim of self defense may not be a viable option here.  Key to a self defense claim is that a person uses the same amount of force that is used against the claimant.  It also has to be a reasonable amount of force under the circumstances.  As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I’ve represented people that have been in Eric’s position.  The majority of them were law abiding citizens and good people that made a poor choice in a stressful situation. Continue reading

baseball-bat-toy-990124-mWhen Jimmy Morris discovered that his daughter’s boyfriend had beaten her bloody in front of her children, Mr, Morris took matters into his own hands before police arrived.  Witnesses who were present at the scene reported that Morris took a baseball bat from his truck and hit his daughter’s abusive boyfriend with enough force to crack the bat.  Top Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers immediately begin to think of ways to defend against potential aggravated battery charges after hearing the facts in this case.  Morris’ best hope of a legal defense lies in the principle of self defense, which includes defense of others, being applied to Morris’ case.  So what is the likelihood that Morris could be saved by the principles of self defense?

Under Florida law, a battery is simply a harmful or offensive touching of another; this offense is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one (1) year in jail.  Section 784.045 elevates a simple battery offense up to aggravated battery  when great harm is done to the victim, when the victim is permanently disfigured or disabled, or when the defendant uses a deadly weapon; aggravated battery is a second degree that can land a defendant in prison for up to fifteen (15) years.  Whether an object is a deadly weapon depends on the way that it is used.  Taking a bat to an individual’s head is absolutely enough to qualify the bat as a deadly weapon.

Applying a self defense theory to Morris’ defense may prove difficult in this situation.  Self defense does not mean what I’ve found that the average person thinks it means.  You hit me– I hit you back.  Or in Morris’ case… You hit my daughter– I crack your skull.  Self defense (or defense of others) applies when a certain amount of reasonable force is used to stop unlawful force from being used against you (or the person you’re defending).  Simplified, it boils down to what needs to be done to get the attacker off you or someone else while the attack is happening.  Hitting his daughter’s boyfriend after the boyfriend beat her, rather than while he was attacking her, creates a problem.   Continue reading

“Crime doesn’t pay.” I’ve heard this cliché over and over, but rarely in my capacity as a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. The few times I did hear it as a criminal defense lawyer, it didn’t come from other Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers or from Jacksonville prosecuting attorneys for that matter. It always came from people that aren’t familiar with the details of what actually goes on. Most often it would be from parents or other family members who say that they’ve tried to counsel the client and advise him or her into doing something more positive in life.

141229_McCaully.jpegTampa thief, Malik McCaully would probably say that crime does in fact pay–in more ways than one. Recently, McCaully was over $2,000 in the green after stealing a wallet from D’Andre Rivers’ car that contained Rivers’ credit cards, identification, and social security card. Although criminal plots are never a good idea, it looks as if crime does, in fact, pay sometimes. However, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” A series of bad decisions leads to a severe beating and getting arrested. McCaully really didn’t know who he was dealing with.

McCaully allegedly went on a shopping spree, making over $2,000 worth of fraudulent credit card charges on Rivers’ card. Rivers, who has a criminal past himself, began to conduct his own investigation. Rivers tracked down a car rental agency where McCaully had used the stolen credit card to rent a car using Rivers’ identification. The car rental agency turned over the contact information that McCaully provided when MCCaully rented the car. Why McCaully provided his real contact information is a mystery. Rivers made contact with McCaully to set up a drug deal at the Westfield Brandon Mall in Tampa. If your first thoughts were, “What criminal receives a random call from a stranger about a drug deal, then agrees to meet with the caller?” you’re not alone. It’s unclear whether McCaully would be the buyer or the seller, but agreeing to meet a random caller for a drug deal is equally unwise either way.
Continue reading

As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, brazen acts committed in front of authority figures are like nails on a chalk board. Perhaps the only things that could be worse for a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney are videos of the offense and confessions. Recently at Jacksonville’s Wolfson High School, 18 year old Chynna Cinnamon Thompson allegedly attacked another student and the Dean of Discipline, Joshua Kristol, when he tried to intervene. According to firstcoastnews.com, both acts took place in front of a school resource officer. Thompson was arrested for misdemeanor battery, as well as, battery on a school employee.

Battery occurs when someone intentionally touches or strikes another person against the person’s will or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person. Battery is typically a 1st degree misdemeanor, but under Florida law, when certain classes of people become victims of a battery, the offense is automatically reclassified as a felony. In the case of a school board employee, as we have here, the battery is reclassified a 3rd degree felony. Felony offenses, by definition, are offenses where a person can be imprisoned for more than one year. In these cases, hiring an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney to defend you or loved one is important.

Battery on a school board employee is punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison, while a simple misdemeanor battery can have a punishment up to one year in jail. This puts Thompson in jeopardy of spending up to six years behind bars. However, based on the limited information available to the public and the apparent lack of any serious injuries in this case, it is unlikely that Thompson will be sent to prison, but the boldness required to launch an attack in font of a school resource officer will most certainly be of great concern to the State Attorney’s Office and the presiding judge.
Continue reading

As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney, I’ve represented my share of clients that suffered from mental illnesses. John McFarland, self-reported as schizophrenic, was arrested for aggravated battery after an unprovoked attack against a total stranger, according to news4jax.com.

As Roger Chan waited in line to pay for his groceries, McFarland used a hunting knife to stab Chan in the back of the head, face, and neck. The injuries were described as lacerations. Police arrived on the scene and took McFarland into custody without incident. McFarland, who has a history of mental illness, has been arrested for violent offenses in the past, but found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Aggravated battery is a serious offense. It carries a maximum possibility of 15 years in Florida state prison. Based on McFarland’s history of mental illness, however, it is likely that he will end up in the state hospital again, rather than in prison. If it can be demonstrated that McFarland’s actions were a result of his mental illness, another not guilty by reason of insanity will be the likely result. McFarland could end up spending many years in state custody in a mental health facility.
Continue reading

A West Palm Beach man, 27 year old Dechazo Harris, placed an order at a Checker’s drive-thru, but changed his mind about the order once he got to the window. According to huffingtonpost.com, Harris was told that he would have to drive back around to change his order. Harris pulled a gun on the employee and threatened to shoot the employee if Harris wasn’t given a burger.

141103_grilled-sausage-patties-1422473-m.jpgHarris ended up being arrested on aggravated assault charges, pursuant to Florida statute 784.021. Assault occurs when a person makes a threat, either by word or by doing some act, that causes another person to reasonably become fearful. A weapon being involved is what makes this a case of aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is a third degree felony that carries a maximum sentence of 5 years, but under Florida’s minimum sentencing scheme for gun-related crimes, Harris faces a 3 year mandatory minimum sentence. If convicted, he will not be eligible for early release or gain time.

At the law office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers that can help if you or a loved one are charged with aggravated assault or any other offense. Initial consultations are free. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 or on our 24-hour helpline at (904) 302-7629. You can contact me directly via e-mail by clicking here.

In June, Thomas Trent was found dead in a shopping center parking lot on Jacksonville’s westside. The 54 year homeless man had died from a gunshot wound to the head. Authorities have now accused 13 year old Sharron Townsend of the homicide. Townsend was 12 years old at the time of the shooting, according to Jacksonville.com.

State Attorney Angela Corey has decided that 13 year old Townsend should be charged as an adult in relation to Trent’s second degree murder. Life is the maximum sentence for second degree murder. Section 985.56, Florida Statutes (2014) authorizes state attorneys to charge a child of any age as an adult when a child commits an offense that is punishable by death or life in prison; the child will then be treated as an adult in all respects. In a recent statement, State Attorney Corey expressed her belief that juvenile sanctions were not enough to punish and rehabilitate a child that commits this type of violent crime. Townsend is the second juvenile that Corey has charged as an adult in a murder case. The first was Christian Fernandez, who was accused of killing his 2 year old brother. Fernandez, like Townsend, was 12 years old at the time.

I’ve participated in murder trials and sentencing hearings in Jacksonville as a criminal defense attorney. The devastation to the families on the victim’s side and the defendant’s side is unreal. Dealing with offenses of this magnitude are draining to all involved. Choosing the right attorney to represent you or a loved one in a serious criminal case is an important task that is not to be taken lightly. At the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC, we have experienced criminal defense lawyers with years of experience defending serious felony offenses. If you, or a loved one, are arrested for a violent offense, we can help. Initial consultations are free. Call us today at (904) 685-1200 or on our 24-hour helpline at (904) 302-7629. You can contact me directly via e-mail by clicking here.

NFL star running back, Ray Rice, has been all over headlines lately after a video surfaced that shows Rice punching his then-fiancée, Janay Palmer, in the face… knocking her out cold. TMZ.com first posted the full video on September 8, 2014. The video shows Rice hit Palmer inside an elevator, then drags her out after he knocks her unconscious.

Rice was indicted for aggravated assault as a result of the domestic violence incident that took place. The incident occurred in Atlantic City; Palmer was also charged with assault by Atlantic County, but the charges against her were later dismissed. Other States label offenses differently in some circumstances. In Florida, Rice’s conducted would be labeled as battery, rather than assault. A battery occurs when a person is touched or struck against the person’s will. An assault occurs when a victim is put in fear of being touched or struck. The fear has to be reasonable and the person threatening some sort of harm must have an apparent ability to follow through with the threat.

A battery or assault offense can carry a range of degrees in Florida, and accordingly there is a range of possible penalties that apply. Additionally, domestic battery convictions result in the loss of firearm rights, even in cases where the offense is not a felony offense. Criminal defense lawyers most often look to self defense as a shield against battery or assault charges. In cases like Ray Rice’s case where the attack is on video and clearly shows that self defense is not an available defense, an experienced criminal defense attorney that can negotiate on behalf of the defendant is invaluable.
Continue reading

A criminal defense attorney’s worst enemy is a confession, whether in writing or one that is video taped. As a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, I’ve had my share of clients confess to crimes, even after they had been warned and told that they have the right to remain silent. At least these confessions came while they were being interrogated by trained detectives. I am completely baffled by the number of people that use social media to “confess” to criminal offenses by posting statements, and the ultimate confession… posting videos of themselves committing the crimes.

A teenager in Oregon was arrested after he made a Facebook post concerning a crash that occurred while the teen was driving under the influence, according to abcnews.go.com. The teenager posted, “Drivin drunk… classsic 😉 but to whoever’s vehicle i hit i am sorry. :P”. After the messages were sent to the local police station, the teen was arrested for hitting two parked cars, but not for DUI.

140908_capture-1046263-m.jpgNydailynews.com reported that Facebook also led to a North Carolina mother’s arrest after a video was posted on her son’s Facebook page. The video showed the teen’s mother helping him attempt the “fire challenge“. The forty-one year old mother was arrested for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor after her son had to be treated for the burns he received while attempting the challenge.
Continue reading

If you were to ask a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer when was a good time for his or her client to resist an officer, the most likely answer you would get is, “never”. Most of the time, resisting an officer invites unwanted trouble. Over the years I’ve seen many clients who could have avoided arrest all together by simply relaxing. Whatever the reason was that the officer had to “harass” the client went away, but the Resisting Without Violence offense that came as a result of the client walking away when the officer had a legally valid reason for the stop would still stick around; often leading to a night in jail and unnecessary court costs and other fees.

In a July 23, 2014 article entitled Know Your Rights Under Florida Law, I discussed some of the basics regarding what you should do (and not do) when you encounter police. That article also contains a link to an ACLU rights card that is available as a free download and is very informative about your rights. It is never a good idea to physically resist an officer, with incredibly limited exception. Usually, the consequences of not putting your hands behind your back as directed means an additional offenses being charged, additional fines, and the like. Well, in the case of 43 year old Eric Garner, the ultimate price was paid after Mr. Garner refused to be taken in to custody in New York.

Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by police while officers tried to subdue Mr. Garner, who pulled away when they attempted to arrest him for illegally selling cigarettes, according to FindLaw.com. An eyewitness recorded the entire incident. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LSBpwmMnVM Continue reading

Contact Information