Photo credit: taliesin from morguefile.com
On Christmas night at river city market place, chaos erupted when teenagers began fighting, jumping on cars and even rushing an off duty police officer. Jacksonville.com reported that hundreds of people became involved and approximately 62 police officers were called in to handle the unruly crowd.
Five people, aged 19 and younger were arrested on misdemeanor charges of “fighting”. “Fighting” is a local crime under Jacksonville Municipal Code Section 614.123 entitled “affray.” The affray ordinance makes it illegal to engage in a fight or mutual combat with another person in a public place. As a result, unless these teenagers hire a good criminal defense attorney who can either persuade the state to drop the charges or allow them to enroll in a pre-trial diversion program, they are beginning their young adult lives convicted of a crime.
Since the investigation is still active, more arrests and charges are possible such as assault and criminal mischief. When a person is charged with assault, they are being accused of unlawfully threatening someone by word or act and having the ability to act on the threat, which is a violation of Florida Statute 784.011. An assault is an intentional threat by word or act to do violence to someone. The person threatening must have an apparent ability to commit the violence, which results in creating a well-founded fear in the other person that violence was imminent. An assault in Florida is a second-degree misdemeanor. This means if you or a loved one are convicted of a simple assault in Florida, you or your loved one will face up to 60 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
However, if a weapon was used during the assault, the state may charge you with the felony of aggravated assault. Under Florida Statute 784.021, an aggravated assault is an assault committed with a deadly weapon. An aggravated assault is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in the state prison system, however there are several enhancements which depending on the circumstances can more than triple that time.
For example, where the deadly weapon is a firearm or destructive device, the crime or its attempt carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years. Under Florida Statute 775.087, where a firearm or destructive device is also discharged during the crime, the mandatory minimum sentence is twenty years. If such firearm was discharged and caused death or great bodily harm, the minimum mandatory sentence is 25 years to life.
Since witnesses report that the teenagers were also jumping on cars, criminal mischief is another type of charge that some of these teenagers might face. Whether criminal mischief is charged will depend on whether or not there was damage to any of the vehicles in the parking lot. Criminal mischief is committed when someone willfully and maliciously damages a victim’s real or personal property, in this instance, the vehicles.
The amount of damage to the vehicle and whether the person accused has previously been convicted of criminal mischief previously will dictate on how the state would charge the offense. For example, if the damage caused is $200.00 or less such as minor scratches or damage to a cheaper side mirror, and the defendant has not previously been convicted of criminal mischief, the criminal mischief would be considered a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail. If the damage is valued at over $200.00, but less than $1000.00, the criminal mischief is considered a first-degree misdemeanor punishably by up to a year in jail.
If the damage involved in the criminal mischief is $1000.00 or over, the criminal mischief can be prosecuted as a third degree felony. In addition to the amount of damage being taken into consideration, if you have been convicted of criminal mischief previously, the state attorney can raise the penalty. For example, if you have previously been convicted of a misdemeanor criminal mischief, the state can advance that charge to a felony charge this time around.
If at any time you or a loved one is charged with a crime after you or your loved one defended his or herself, it is important that you seek a Jacksonville Criminal Defense attorney immediately.
As a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney who has represented thousands of clients in northeast Florida and has argued and won numerous motions, I can fight to protect your rights and aggressively represent you. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with a Jacksonville Criminal Attorney, you can contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman at (904) 685-1200.