St. Augustine city commissioner found guilty of obstructing justice, avoids jail time

March 30, 2012

A St. Augustine city commissioner will not serve any time in the St. Johns County jail, despite his conviction last week on a charge of the misdemeanor of resisting an officer without violence. A jury found Errol Jones guilty after he was arrested and accused of grabbing a police officer's arm when trying to settle a domestic dispute at his mother's home, according to a report in the St. Augustine Record. Jones was sentenced to six months of St. Johns County probation and 50 hours of community service. If he pays his fine and finishes the probation and community service, the conviction will be removed from his criminal record, according to the newspaper report.

Jones said he arrived at his mother's house to try to calm a family dispute, though the officers said he charged them and played the "Do you know who I am" card, trying to influence their actions with his political position, according to the newspaper report.
Prosecutors had asked for Jones' sentence to include a letter of apology to the officer and substance abuse counseling, but the judge did not include either in his sentence last week. Jones' case is not uncommon in the basic facts. But most like it don't go to trial and even fewer make the newspaper --the latter of which is a product of Jones' role as an elected official. But it does provide insight in the potential trouble that can come front getting sideways with a cop. It doesn't take much to meet the threshold to be arrested for resisting and officer without violence in St. Johns, Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties.

Our advice, from a St. Johns County criminal defense law firm: Be quiet. And if you have to speak with police about something you are not a suspect in, always be respectful.
The officers hold the cards in these situations. Don't let your mouth give police a reason to haul you downtown. It won't always result in a conviction, like it did for Jones, but it could easily get you a night in jail. It is very easy to get arrested for resisting an officer. especially in Jacksonville. In order to be convicted of this misdemeanor, the state attorney would have to prove that you resisted, obstructed, or opposed the police officer. At the time you resist the officer, he or she must have been in the lawful execution of a legal duty, was in fact an officer legally authorized to execute process, and at the time you knew the person was a police officer. Often times, it is your word versus the officer's. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in St. Augustine or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our St. Johns County criminal lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.