Based on allegations in Pennsylvania, Bill Cosby will face trial for sexual assault.  According to an article in the Washington Post, the criminal judge in Cosby’s case issued a ruling that the prosecutors in his case had enough evidence to submit his case to a jury.  Even though Cosby has faced many allegations of sexual assaults from multiple women, this will be the first he will be tried for if the case actually goes to trial.

When someone is arrested for a sex charge in Duval County, the State Attorney’s Office will assign the case to a particular prosecutor.  That prosecutor will be in the Special Assault Division, commonly referred to as “SAD”.  Once assigned, that prosecutor must make a decision about what happens in the case.  This part of the process is called pre-filing.  The prosecutor will look at all of the reports and speak to the detective, witnesses and alleged victim.  This is the most critical part of any case.  The benefit of hiring an experienced sex crime lawyer in Duval County is that the lawyer will meet with the assistant state attorney before they make any decisions about the case.  The criminal defense lawyer can also accumulate evidence that the police missed or were not interested in.

If the prosecutor elects to file the sex case in Jacksonville, a defendant has a few options.  The accused can fight the charge in court.  Their sex defense attorney will get all of the reports generated in the case and any video and audio recordings taken.  At that point, depositions will be scheduled.  Depositions are where sworn testimony is taken of any and all witnesses in the case, including the person making the allegations.  Almost anything can be asked at depositions, even if those questions cannot be asked in a trial.  Once all the depositions are completed, the case will go to trial.

A man from Clay County has been accused of raping an incapacitated woman and subsequently posting pictures of the woman online.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the man knew the woman before the alleged incident, which police are saying occurred this past New Year’s Eve.  The article reports that the two were together the next day, after the alleged rape.  The man allegedly put provocative pictures of the woman on social media after the encounter.  Those posts will most certainly be used in the prosecution of the accused.

The first and most serious charge the man is facing is sexual battery while the victim is incapacitated.  Under Florida law, a sexual battery is any sex act forced on someone else without consent. Consent has to be “intelligent, knowing and voluntary”.  When a victim is helpless to resist, the sexual battery is elevated from a second degree felony to a first.  This means the accused is facing up to thirty years in prison and being a sexual offender for life.  A victim is considered physically helpless if they cannot tell the other person they are unwilling to consent to the sex act.  In most Clay County rape cases involving physical helplessness, the victim is drunk on alcohol or high on some kind of drug.  If the sexual battery case went to trial, a jury will have to be convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that the alleged victim was in fact incapacitated.

The other two charges are less common and are both misdemeanors in Florida.   Sexual cyber harassment is when a person publishes sexual images of someone on the Internet without that person’s consent.  The person posting the sexually explicit material must have the intent to cause the victim substantial emotional distress.  It has to be willful and malicious.  This law does not just apply to pictures.  It also includes videos or any other real depiction of another person in a sexual position.  Video voyeurism is the second misdemeanor the man is charged with.  This occurs when a suspect installs a recording device to record someone where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  If the suspect is nineteen years-old or older, the Clay voyeurism charge is a third degree felony.  If the suspect is under nineteen, it is a first degree misdemeanor.

Nassau County Sheriff’s Office recently launched a campaign to bust people for selling and possessing drugs in Fernandina Beach, Yulee and Hilliard.  According to a report in The Florida Times Union, “Operation Liquidation” has been ongoing for several months as an undercover buy/bust operation.  The people busted were arrested for a myriad of drug charges including sale of cocaine, sale and possession of methamphetamine, sale of a controlled substance and sale of marijuana.

In many Florida drug bust cases, the narcotics officers posing as drug buyers approach a person and ask if they can buy drugs.  Often times, the detectives are led to the “seller” by a confidential informant.  This informant is usually working off a criminal case of their own hoping to make their situation better by setting up others.  Once the introduction is made, police give marked money in return for the drugs. The police can make a Nassau County drug sale arrest right after the transaction or wait to conduct future sales.  Police often use audio or video recording devices to chronicle the exchange.  After the arrest is made, police attempt to get the suspect to confess to the sale.

Sale of drugs, from cocaine to controlled pills, is a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  Under Florida law, the substance sold has to be a controlled substance, such as heroin, cocaine, hydrocodone, etc.  “Sale” is giving the drug to another person for money or something else of value agreed upon by both parties.  If the quantity of the drugs is more than a set threshold under Florida law, the sale can transform to trafficking.  When someone is charged with trafficking a substance, minimum mandatory sentences and immense fines come into play.  Some people under Operation Liquidation were arrested for possessing drugs.  “Possession” can be actual or constructive.  Actual possession means you actually have the drug in your hand or on your person.  Constructive possession means that you have control over the place where the drug is located.  Possession of cocaine and heroin is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  If you possess over twenty grams of marijuana, it is also a third degree felony.  If under twenty grams, the Florida marijuana possession charge is a first degree misdemeanor.

A Fletcher High School teacher was arrested for unlawful sexual activity with certain minors this week.  According to a report in The Florida Times Union, the teacher is accused of having sexual contact with a girl who is either sixteen or seventeen years-old.  Police allege that the two had intercourse and oral sex at the school, according to the article.  The alleged victim cooperated with police during their investigation and apparently wore a recording device on her person to document their conversations.  Once police completed their investigation, they sought and obtained an arrest warrant for this sex charge with a $35,003 bond.  The report indicates that the teacher invoked his right to remain silent when interviewed.

Unlawful sexual activity with certain minors is a second degree felony in Florida punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  Along with the possible prison term, this charge, along with all Jacksonville sex charges, can lead to the lifetime sentence of becoming a sex offender or predator.  To prove this charge, the state attorney’s office must show that there was sexual activity between someone who is twenty four years-old or older and the alleged victim is sixteen or seventeen.  Under Florida statutes, “sexual activity” is defined as any oral, vaginal or anal penetration or union with another’s sexual organ or an object.  The alleged victim’s prior sexual history is considered not relevant under Florida law.

During police investigations or sex accusations, JSO detectives follow a similar pattern.  It starts with a report of unlawful sexual activity, which can be sex with minors to allegations of rape.  A sex crime detective is assigned and depending on the age of the alleged victim, will interview the alleged victim.  If the victim is under eighteen years of age, the Child Protection Team will interview the minor.  If the case calls for it, a medical examination will be conducted as well.  Once an interview is done, the police will turn their attention to the alleged assailant.  One common tactic is to initiate a controlled phone call.  This is a recorded phone conversation between the alleged victim and the suspect.  The victims are instructed on what to say and even during the conversation, get prompts from the detective who is sitting nearby.  The goal is to get the suspect to make some kind of admission.  In the Fletcher teacher’s case, the girl wore a recording device.  This tactic is less common, but is used sometimes.  Police will then attempt to interview the suspect.  If you are approached to “give your side of the story” to police, don’t.  Detectives are allowed, even taught, to lie to potential sex crime suspects.  Common lies include telling the suspect his or her DNA was found on the victim when they have none, or that the victim has injuries that the actually don’t.  It is so important to consult with an attorney who is experienced in Florida sex crimes before talking to anyone else, especially the police.

A Jacksonville police officer is facing several criminal charges stemming from separate alleged incidents.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the officer of fourteen years is charged with grand theft, petit theft and official misconduct in Duval County.  Those charges are pending after allegations that the officer was paid for time he did not work in off-duty jobs.  Official misconduct and grand theft are both third degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison each and the petit theft is a first degree misdemeanor.  The State Attorney’s Office has not made a decision about filing those charges.  There is another allegation of sexual battery in Jacksonville that the prosecutor on the case has made a decision on.  The officer was accused of paying prostitutes to have sex with him while on duty.  One woman told police she was forced to have sex with the police officer, which is considered a sexual battery in Florida.  The State Attorney’s Office has decided not to file this charge because there is no reasonable probability of conviction.

When someone is arrested for any crime, the prosecutor’s office in that county has to make a decision on whether or not to file the charge.  In order for the police to make an arrest in Jacksonville, they must have “probable cause”.  This means, more likely than not, the accused committed a crime.  Once the case lands on a prosecutor’s desk, that prosecutor must decide whether or not they can prove the case beyond all reasonable doubt, which is a much higher standard than an arrest.  When someone is arrested for a felony in Duval County, which all sex charges are, the prosecutor’s office has a period of time to make a decision about what to do.  They can file the felony case as charged, drop the case if there is not enough evidence, or file the case as a misdemeanor.  Assistant state attorneys have a lot of discretion when deciding what to do and that is why it is so important to hire an experienced criminal attorney.  The Jacksonville criminal attorney can gather evidence and meet with the prosecutor to present your side prior to any charges being filed.

A sexual battery in Florida is defined as oral, anal or vaginal penetration, or union with, the sexual organ of another person or an object without the victim’s consent.  Consent is defined as knowing and voluntary, not coerced.  There are also different levels of sexual battery in Jacksonville.  If the accused sexually battered a victim without violence or physical force, the crime is considered a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a lifetime of being labeled a sex offender.  If the accused used violence or if the victim was physically incapacitated at the time, the sex crime is elevated to a first degree felony.  “Physically incapacitated” can mean asleep or even drunk, which is obviously subject to interpretation.  Often times, rape cases come down to a he said, she said.

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.