A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office police officer has been fired after being arrested for beating a woman in custody, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  The officer was at the base of the jail in the intake area with the woman who he arrested.  That area, as well as other areas in the jail, is video monitored.  The officer was surrounded by three other officers, who did nothing, as the woman was hit repeatedly while restrained.  The officer was arrested for misdemeanor battery in Jacksonville.

In Florida, a simple misdemeanor battery is defined as an intentional touching against someone’s will or intentionally hurting someone.  Even a touch on the shoulder could be considered a battery in Jacksonville if unwanted.  If the victim of the battery is pregnant, the crime is elevated to a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  A simple battery can also be converted to a felony if there is great bodily injury caused by the touching.  Also, if there is a deadly weapon used to injure someone, it is considered a felony in Duval County.  The fired officer will have to face a county judge with his pending case.

Police officers are taught how to handle a “hostile” person in their custody.  There are many ways to restrain an already restrained person that poses little physical threat to the officer.  Presumably, that is why the man was arrested.  The sheriff’s office chose not to discipline the three male police officers who just stood and watched the rogue officer lose his temper on this woman.  The office claims that it is not a crime to witness a beating.  That statement is true in the civilian world, but aren’t police officers held to a higher standard when they witness a crime less than four feet in front of them? Don’t police officers have a duty to protect the community, which this woman is a part of, from present harm.  Harm they knew was illegal as evidenced by them reporting the incident “almost instantaneously”, according to the JSO.

A man is being held in the Pretrial Detention Facility after being charged with aggravated child abuse in Jacksonville.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the mother of the child left her boyfriend, the accused, home alone with the two year-old while she went to work.  The woman told police her boyfriend told her he disciplined her daughter because the child misbehaved, according to the report.  The woman reported that the child had cuts and marks when she returned home and the child passed away later that day.  Homicide detectives are still investigating the abuse case and it may turn into a murder case before all is said and done.

It is unclear whether or not the man was interviewed by investigators before or after being arrested.  Police will always try to get a potential suspect to tell their side of the story prior to arresting them.  Police are allowed, even taught in interrogation classes, to lie to suspects to get the suspect to talk about their case.  If police ask you to come down to the police station to “clear things up”, you probably getting handcuffed at the conclusion of the interview.  If you are ever asked to be interviewed by any law enforcement agency, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney first. Discuss your rights before giving them up.  More often than not, there is no benefit for you to talk to the police.

The man was arrested for aggravated child abuse, which is a first degree felony in Florida.  The maximum exposure is thirty years in prison if that is all the man is charged with.  If he is eventually charged with murder, the potential penalties could go even higher.  To prove this Duval County child abuse charge, the State Attorney’s Office have to prove the man willfully caused great bodily harm to the child (aggravated battery), or tortured or caged the child.  Willfully, as defined by Florida statute, means knowingly, intentionally and purposely.  If the man exercised his right to remain silent, it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove the man purposely harmed the child.  The State will attempt to use any alleged conversation with the girl’s mother as evidence against the man.

A Jacksonville man accused of a heinous sex crime will be judged by a jury of his peers this coming August.  According to a report on news4jax.com, the man is accused of raping a woman who was pushing her child in a stroller in Bartram Park in February.  A warrant for sexual battery was issued for the man after his DNA was allegedly found on the woman after she was swabbed by a rape kit.  The woman also identified the man after being shown his picture in a police lineup.  The accused has a one million dollar bond for this Jacksonville sex charge.

When someone is arrested for a sexual battery, or any other sex charge in Duval County, they are going to get no bond or a bond so high it will be difficult to make.  When arrested on a warrant, the judge who signed the warrant will usually attach a bond amount to the warrant.  On rare occasions, the judge will leave the bond blank for the judge in first appearance court to set.  No matter what the bond amount is, a Jacksonville bond attorney can motion the court to set a reasonable bond or reduce a high bond.  There are two reasons to set monetary bonds in criminal cases.  The first is if the person is a flight risk.  If the accused does not live in Jacksonville, their appearance bond will be set higher.  The second reason bonds are set high is if the judge deems the accused to be a danger to the community.  When it comes to sex accusations, most judges will set a very high bond even though nothing has been proven in the case.

In the above case, the woman was examined and a rape kit was used.  A medical exam is conducted which includes a whole body check, including documenting of any and all physical injuries and the collection of physical evidence. If the patient reports to law enforcement, the evidence is provided to the appropriate law enforcement agency to be used in criminal prosecution. If the patient chooses not to report, the evidence is stored by law enforcement for a period of time.  The people who examine alleged victims only examine alleged victims.  Their job is to conduct the examinations and to testify for the prosecution in criminal cases.  As an experienced sex crime attorney, I have had many sexual battery cases that include these rape examination reports.  Even if there is no physical injury, not even redness on the woman, the examiners will testify that “most of the time” there is no physical evidence in rape cases.  And, they say, just because there is no physical evidence doesn’t mean there wasn’t an assault.

Jacksonville police have arrested a former NFL player from Jacksonville on a marijuana drug charge and on a warrant for violation of injunction.  Jabar Gaffney, according to an article in the Florida Times Union, was arrested for possession of less than twenty grams of marijuana after police claim he was smoking in a parking lot.  Police say an officer was approached by a citizen claiming a man was smoking pot in a car.  The officer then went up to the car and claimed he smelled marijuana emitting from the vehicle and from the man’s clothes, according to the report.  The police allege they saw a joint in the center console which led them to search his car.  Two other joints were found, according to the article.  Once Gaffney was under arrest, an outstanding warrant for violation of injunction in Duval County was found in the system.  He was arrested on the warrant and the two Jacksonville misdemeanors are pending.

Possession of less than twenty grams of marijuana is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.  If you are issued a notice to appear or are arrested for this misdemeanor drug charge, you are most likely not facing any jail time.  A person with no record is eligible for pretrial diversion programs and other options when facing this crime.  One big issue that is not widely known is that if convicted of a possession of marijuana, even a misdemeanor, you will lose your driver’s license for two years.  In Gaffney’s case, the police approached his car and claimed to smell the odor of burnt marijuana.  This observation allows police to search the car they believe the smell is coming from.  Even if no pot is found, the police will claim the person must have thrown the marijuana out before they got there.

A violation of injunction charge is also a first degree misdemeanor in Florida.  If an injunction is signed by a judge, whether temporary or permanent, and that injunction has been served on the respondent, each violation is considered a new charge.  Injunctions usually prevent a respondent from going within 500 feet of the petitioner’s person, home and place of work.  Injunctions also prevent the respondent from possessing any firearms and may require the respondent to take anger management or domestic battery classes.  In Gaffney’s case, the petitioner had a temporary injunction on him and a hearing on making it permanent has not yet occurred.

A man from Ponte Vedra Beach, along with seventeen others, was arrested on various sex charges in Polk County recently.  According to a report in on First Coast News, Polk County initiated Operation April Fools, which is a sting to catch sex predators.  Detectives posed as minors, or guardians of minors, trying to seduce men into coming to meet the minor for sex.  The news reports that some men brought birth protection and drugs to a house they thought housed a child waiting for sex.  Some men allegedly asked for pictures from the “child” and many sent nude pictures of themselves.  The men were arrested, in total, for over 100 sex or sex related crimes in Florida.

Almost every month, counties in Florida set up these stings, often referred to as “traveler” stings.  Local police set up an online advertisement, often times on Craigslist, with a general title not specifying the person posting is a child.  Once a man contacts the poster, the sex detective posing as a child will message back to the man telling him they are a child.  Most times, they ask if the man minds being with a younger person.  This first messaging contact is all recorded to be used in the future prosecution.  The conversations then move to cell phones with back and forth texting. These dialogues are also recorded for further use by law enforcement.  Text messaging is where photographs are sent back and forth.  The police even have pictures of the “minor” ready to send. These pictures are of a younger looking adult so the men don’t get get spooked. After the back and forth texting, some agencies set up a phone call with the suspect.  Eventually, a meeting is scheduled and as soon as the man shows up, they are arrested.

Law enforcement usually rents a house in a residential neighborhood for the meetings.  They set up video cameras outside and inside the house.  The men are filmed driving up to the house and walking to the door.  A young girl, or boy, will answer the door and as soon as the man walks in, they are thrown to the ground by police officers and handcuffed.  The men are then taken to a room that is set up with a video camera and are read their rights.  If the men don’t invoke their right to remain silent, they begin to answer questions about the situation and why they were there.  After the interview, the men are taken to jail.

In Baker County this week, a man was arrested for fleeing police and for kicking a police dog, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  Officers claim that the man drove over 100 miles per hour while fleeing them.  Police also allege that the man intentionally drove his car at the them, which led to the added charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  Once the car hit a tree, the man allegedly refused to exit the vehicle.  Police sent in a canine and the man allegedly kicked and hit at the dog.  The man was treated for injuries at a local hospital and medical staff apparently found a handcuff key up his anus.

The man now faces numerous felonies in Baker County.  The first is an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  This crime is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  A car is considered a deadly weapon and when used to threaten someone with violence, it becomes “aggravated”  Simple assault in Florida is the intentional and unlawful threat, by word or act, to do violence to another person while having the ability to carry out that violence.  The victim of the assault must have a well-founded fear that the violence may occur.  In this case, the man was driving the car and “drove at” the police officer.  The officer is going to claim that he or she was in fear that they were about to get injured with the vehicle.

The man also was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, which is also a third degree felony in Florida.  Many people may not know that a K-9 officer is considered a law enforcement officer, just as a human.  Battery is defined as intentionally touching someone against their will or intentionally injuring someone.  A simple battery becomes a felony when the victim is law enforcement.

A new-to-the-job teacher was arrested on her first day in Jacksonville this week.  The teacher allegedly brought a stun gun to her classroom, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  The report indicates that the woman felt threatened by the students and had the weapon in her purse, but denied ever taking it out or displaying it.  The students that were interviewed apparently described the weapon.  The teacher was arrested for possession of a weapon on school property, which is a third degree felony in Florida.

Florida law prohibits the possession or discharging of firearms or weapons on any school property or school-sponsored event.  “Weapons” are defined as stun guns, knives, slingshots and tear gas guns.  A common pocket knife is not considered a weapon in under this gun/weapon law.  If a person knowingly possesses a weapon on school property, they are facing not only becoming a convicted felon, but also five years in prison.  If a person fires or discharges the weapon on school property, the Jacksonville gun case becomes more serious and converts to a second degree felony exposing the person to fifteen years in Florida prison.

The article indicates that the woman had no prior criminal history.  This is extremely important and plays a big part in the possible disposition of her case.  When someone is arrested for a non-violent and non-gun felony in Jacksonville and they have no prior arrests or convictions, the person is eligible for a diversion program called Pretrial Intervention. (also referred to as PTI)   This is a program through the State Attorney’s Office and is discretionary, meaning the prosecutor picks and chooses who gets in.  The value of hiring a private Jacksonville criminal defense attorney is that the attorney can contact the prosecutor assigned to the case before they make a decision to file or not to file.  If you are able to participate in the program, you must sign a contract promising to complete the conditions required.  Conditions of a PTI contract vary depending on the crime charged.  If the crime is a weapon crime, such as in this teacher’s case, conditions could be completing a weapon/gun safety class, completing a anger management class and a paying a fine.  If the criminal charge is a marijuana possession case, conditions of PTI are usually getting a drug evaluation with random urinalysis.  If a person is arrested for a theft charge, a condition of PTI would be taking an anti-theft class and possibly completing community service hours.  Once all conditions are completed, the charge or charges will be dropped completely.

A former Jacksonville football player will not be prosecuted any further on the domestic battery charge that allegedly occurred last year.  The player was taken into custody in 2015, according to an article in the Florida Times Union, for allegedly head-butting his wife while the two were arguing.  Police were dispatched to a domestic dispute that resulted in the player being detained under Florida’s Baker Act provision, which allow police to detain someone if they pose a danger to them self or others.  The State Attorney’s Office investigated the case and chose not to file formal misdemeanor charges.  A possible insanity defense and no victim cooperation were cited as some of the reasons for the decision.

When police are dispatched to a domestic dispute/battery/assault, someone is going to jail.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, as well as other law enforcement agencies, will usually separate the parties to get each person’s story.  If one party has visible injuries, they are most likely going to be considered the “victim” and the other party is going to be arrested.  Domestic battery, in Florida, is defined as touching someone against their will or intentionally causing physical harm to someone.  That someone has to be a spouse, family member, or person they live with “as a family”.  If convicted of domestic battery in Jacksonville, a suspect will have to be placed on probation for 12 months to complete a batterers intervention program as well as other special conditions.  This is the minimum punishment when adjudicated guilty of domestic violence.  The maximum punishment is one year in jail.

Once a battery arrest is made, the prosecutor’s office will assign the case to a particular prosecutor.  That prosecutor has the discretion to file or not file the case.  The beginning of a battery case is the most important because formal charges have not yet been filed.  The value of hiring an experienced Duval County domestic battery attorney is that the attorney can meet with the prosecutor before the decision is made.  The alleged victim’s input is very influential on what the assistant state attorney decides to do.  A victim’s advocate will contact the “victim” to see if they want to press charges or not.  Even if the victim tells the prosecutor they do not want the case to go any further, the prosecutor can still press forward if they think they have a viable case.

A woman from Jacksonville may be facing a gun charge arrest in Putnam County after she was shot by her four year-old son.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the woman was in the driver’s seat of her truck and the child unbuckled himself from his car seat.  The child then apparently touched the gun, which was not in a holster, and managed to pull the trigger.  The mother was shot through the back of her seat.  The Putnam County police have filed a complaint recommending a misdemeanor gun charge for the injured woman.  The article also indicated that the owner of the gun was the mother and she had a concealed weapons permit.

The recommended Florida gun charge is under the safe storage of firearms requirement of the Florida Statutes.  Under 790.174 of Florida law, it is unlawful for a person to leave an unsecured gun in a place where that person should have reason to believe a minor is likely to get access to the gun without supervision. If you have minors who can find and gain access to the gun, the firearm has to be kept in secure box or container.  If the adult does not have the firearm left in a locked place and a child possesses or exhibits it without supervision, the adult can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor.  The child has to exhibit it in a public place or in a “rude, careless, angry, or threatening manner”.  A minor is defined as a person under sixteen years of age.

Obviously, this incident was a tragic accident, but the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office wants the woman prosecuted.  It is now up to the State Attorney’s office to make the decision about whether or not to file formal gun charges.  When you are arrested for a crime or even accused, it is so important to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer.  Just because you are arrested does not mean that formal charges will follow.  The State Attorney’s Office has the discretion and that office holds immense power.  In order for a police officer to make an arrest, they have to have probable cause to believe a crime was committed.  This means that more likely than not, a crime occurred.  The State Attorney’s Office has a much larger burden of proof.  In order to file a criminal case, they have to believe they have a reasonable probability of conviction at trial.  Furthermore, at trial, the prosecutor must prove all allegations beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt.

A young mother has been arrested in Duval County after allegedly leaving her two young children with no supervision, according to a report in the Florida Times Union.  The mother was arrested on one count of child neglect, which is a third degree felony in Florida.  Police claim that the mother left her two children, ages three and five, alone while she went to work.  Apparently someone, probably a neighbor, reported this to the police.  The woman’s children have been placed in foster care pending a family placement while this criminal case progresses.

To be convicted on child neglect in Jacksonville, the State Attorney’s Office must prove that a child’s caregiver, usually a parent, does not provide the child or children with the care, supervision and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical and mental health.  A caregiver can be a parent, adult in the house with the child or a person left to watch a child.  A person can also commit  child neglect if they failed to make a reasonable effort to protect a child from abuse or exploitation by another person.  The neglect can be ongoing or only occur only once.

If a person neglects a child and in doing so the child suffers great bodily harm, the person is facing a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  The neglect charge is lowered to a third degree felony if there is no injury stemming from the neglect.  If the person arrested has no prior criminal history and there is no injury, the defendant is eligible for a Diversion program through the State Attorney’s Office.  This program is discretionary and once accepted, a defendant may have to participate in parenting classes as well as other conditions.  Once the program is complete, all charges will be dropped.