September 2012 Archives

Disgraced Jacksonville cop sentenced to 30 years for Jacksonville sex crimes

September 28, 2012

A former Jacksonville police officer will spend 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting two young girls and then admitting to doing the same things to other children over most of his law enforcement career. Richard Cannon was a Jacksonville police officer for 25 years before his arrest on 13 Duval County sex charges in 2011, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He pleaded guilty to two of the counts last month and the state dropped the rest, part of a plea deal that kept the victims from having to testify in court, the newspaper reported.

Cannon pleaded guilty to Jacksonville attempted sexual battery on a girl younger than 12 and sexual battery on a girl under the age of 18. He faced 30 years in prison on each of the two charges. Cannon, 48, must also serve 15 years of sexual offender probation after he is released from prison. Jacksonville police became aware of Cannon's criminal behavior once one of the victims told a school official, who contacted the state Department of Children and Families. The state then brought the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office into the investigation. Cannon apologized to many people during the sentencing, including the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. Police have said very little publicly about Cannon, likely trying to distance themselves from the man as much as possible - as well they should. Very few circumstances can erode the public's trust in police more than an officer being sent to prison. And the fact that no one knew anything - or no one said anything - about a pedophile in the ranks for 25 years doesn't look good in the eyes of the public.

Similar questions were raised in the wake of the rape cases against former Penn State University defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. While in Cannon's case there is no evidence that officials knew about the Duval County sex crimes and did little to report them - as was the case with Sandusky - many will question how police didn't know. Officers often work very closely with a partner, someone they sometimes spend more time with than their spouse, and detectives get to know each other very well. No employer, including a police department, can be expected to know everything every employee does when they are off the clock. But it doesn't change the fact that people look at police officers in a different light than other professions and expect cops to follow the law. And when they don't, the credibility of the department suffers.

If you or a loved one needs a Sex Crime Defense Attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Experienced Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

State drops appeal, concedes to judge's ruling to suppress police interview in boy's Jacksonville murder and rape cases

September 26, 2012

The legal chess match continues to be interesting theater in the case of Cristian Fernandez, the youngest person in the state of Florida to be charged with first degree murder. Last month, a Jacksonville judge threw out video interviews of police interrogations of Fernandez, ruling that the then-12-year-old did not understand that he was waiving his rights to an attorney, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Prosecutors appealed the judge's ruling but, last week, reversed course and dropped their appeal. By dropping the appeal, it also prevented the defense from its own appeal - called a cross-appeal - of the judge's decision to allow a separate conversation between Fernandez and two detectives, the newspaper reported. Preventing the cross-appeal could have been at least part of the motivation in dropping the appeal, perhaps with a realization that if it didn't have a great shot at getting overturned, it wasn't worth opening the door for Fernandez' Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyers to get even more out of the ruling.

The two sides have been back and forth for months, ever since Fernandez, now 13, was indicted in December, accused of killing his 2-year-old half-brother. Fernandez was offered a plea deal and prosecutors said that if he did not take it, they would file more charges -- this time Jacksonville Sexual Battery Charges on accusations Fernandez molested a different half-brother, this one a 5-year-old. He turned down the deal and the Jacksonville criminal charges were filed. Now, a hearing is set for next week and trial dates could be determined at that time, the newspaper reported.

In this case, Fernandez' statements to police were among the key evidence at the state's disposal. It is fairly common to try to have various components of evidence suppressed - typically a statement to police or, often times in the case of a DUI arrest, a traffic stop. In the case of a Jacksonville DUI, if the traffic stop is deemed inadmissible, there isn't much left of the state's case.

In Jacksonville violent crimes cases, or in any criminal case, it is imperative for the defense to try to limit the evidence against the suspect to only what was gathered according to the rules of the court. For example, a defendant can confess on tape, but if he or she has already asked for a Duval County lawyer and police continued to ask questions, there could be grounds for the statements to be suppressed. An experienced Jacksonville violent crimes lawyer will give a comprehensive review of all of the evidence in the case and make a decision on whether to contest some of it in pretrial motions in front of the judge.

Having an experienced Jacksonville violent crimes attorney in your corner could be the difference between a case moving forward full speed ahead or tying the state's hands if prosecutors have to look at how to go on without a key piece of evidence. If you or a loved one needs a Sex Crimes Attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Lack of evidence and witnesses leads to a one-year term for driver in hit-and-run death

September 21, 2012

He faced up to 30-years for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident that killed a 23-year-old woman, but Michael Levi Beauregard was sentenced last week to just one year in jail. Beauregard will also be on probation in Jacksonville for five years for the May 2011 accident that killed a woman who was riding a motorized wheelchair on the side of a road, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. This Jacksonville vehicular homicide case was problematic from the start because there was no physical evidence and there were no eyewitnesses who could testify on court. Moon's fiancé was at the scene, but was unable to identify the driver. Beauregard is accused of speeding and hitting the woman, stopping briefly, then panicking and taking off, essentially leaving her to die. He admitted to the accident and said he did not see her in the road.

Part of the plea deal required Beauregard to pay $3,700 for the woman's funeral expenses and $2,000 for the wheelchair. The woman was not disabled, but had taken her finance's father's motorized chair to go pick up a pizza, the newspaper reported. The case is a prime example of the elements needed to prove a case in a trial, and how those may not always be there - regardless of what everyone thinks and assumes happened. Beauregard made a serious mistake and was willing to take responsibility and do some time as punishment. And it likely wasn't worth the risk of 30 years in prison if he was convicted at trial of vehicular homicide. But the state could not take the case to trial, and it obviously knew that. There was no one to put on the stand and say Beauregard was driving, no way to prove that he was even the one driving the truck. The cases that often seem the easiest to just rule with a "guilty" verdict aren't always like that.

An experienced Jacksonville Traffic Attorney knows what to look for to see if the state has what it needs to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, gives cases a comprehensive analysis and will then meet with you or your loved one to advise you or your best options going forward. Sometimes, that's a trial. In other cases, like this one, it can be best to take advantage of the state's weak case, get the best deal possible and move on.

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

Jacksonville police charge man with vehicular homicide for driving into home, killing teen

September 19, 2012

More than two weeks after a Jacksonville teen was killed when a van drove into her bedroom, police have charged a 51-year-old man in her death. Ismet Sijamhodzic was arrested in Jacksonville and charged with vehicular homicide and was being held in the Duval County jail on a bond of $250,000, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He faces up to 15 years in prison on the Florida second-degree felony charge. Sijamhodzic ran a stop sign about 2:40 a.m. on an August morning and drove straight into the bedroom of the Wolfson High School student, trapping her between the van and a wall, according to the newspaper report. There were no signs that he tried to stop or steer the van to avoid the home, nor were there skid marks in the road near the home, the newspaper reported.

Sijamhodzic had marijuana in system as well Xanax, a prescription muscle relaxer and anti-anxiety drug, and told police he hadn't slept for three days before the accident, according to the newspaper. In Florida, vehicular homicide that Sijamhodzic is charged with is a second-degree felony. In a case where someone leaves the scene or doesn't render the aid he or she could have to help the victim, it becomes a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Sijamhodzic was injured in the crash and hospitalized, so the enhanced charge would not apply in his case. The drugs in his system aren't likely to help him in terms of plea negotiations, nor are the 10 traffic tickets the newspaper reported he had received since 1996. Jacksonville traffic citations like these are not used in the sentencing guideline formula that is used by the court to determine a range for a sentence, but they are generally placed under consideration by prosecutors when they are determining what, if anything the state would offer in lieu of taking the case to trial.

Public opinion also plays a role, and the state may be unlikely to look like it is giving a favorable deal to someone who killed an innocent honor student while she was sleeping.
Yet there are still facts that are not known. Was the road wet that night? How exactly do police know he did not try to steer around something in the road? Sijamhodzic clearly has an uphill battle in this Jacksonville vehicular homicide case, but his lack of a serious criminal record could help reduce his sentence. He would have been wise, and may have, contacted a Jacksonville Traffic Crime Attorney immediately after released from the hospital. He had to know charges were coming and it is best in these cases when the defendant comes to police, with a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, instead of the police running the defendant down.

If you or a loved one needs a vehicular homicide attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County Criminal Defense Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Man found not guilty of Jacksonville sex charge of molesting 2-year-old daughter, sat in jail six years awaiting trial

September 17, 2012

A Jacksonville man walked out of court a free man last week, acquitted of Duval County sex charges that he molested his 2-year-old daughter more than six years ago. Jerry Paul Tippins had been in jail for more than six years awaiting the trial, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. He was initially represented by the Public Defender's Office, but shortly before the trial was set to go, a conflict was discovered and another Jacksonville criminal defense attorney was appointed, adding to the delay. He was charged with Jacksonville sexual battery of a child under the age of 12 and molestation, facing up to life in prison if convicted. Tippins maintained his innocence the entire time and a jury agreed last week.
Police were initially brought into the case when Tippins and the child's mother brought the young girl to a hospital with bleeding from her vagina, injuries medical staff deemed consistent with sexual abuse, the newspaper reported. Medical experts presented at trial discredited those findings, as well as a jailhouse snitch who said Tippins confessed to him that Tippins and the child's mother involved their child in their sex life.

Sex crimes in Jacksonville can be by far the toughest accusations to live down, even if you are found not guilty, as Tippins was. During his time in jail, waiting for his day in court, Tippins' custody of his daughter was taken away by the state - even though he had not been found guilty of the sex crime.
If you are convicted or plead guilty to a sex crime in Florida, you will have to register as a sexual offender for the rest of your life. That means every time you move into a new neighborhood, everyone nearby will be notified of your presence and your past. And while these penalties for sex crimes are often the most severe in terms of life-long implications, the cases are among the most difficult to prove. In many cases, there is little if any physical evidence. In this case, there was blood on a diaper and a small amount of semen on a baby wipe that had Tippins' DNA, the newspaper reported. In the trial, Tippins' Jacksonville sex crime attorneys argued the child mother touched the wipe shortly after having sex with Tippins and that's how the semen got there, the newspaper reported.

It was enough for the jury to have reasonable doubt, and Tippins was set free. But not without sacrificing six years of his life in jail for a Jacksonville crime he didn't commit. In the long term, Tippins will not have to register as a sex offender and will not have a conviction on his record, though the arrest will remain on his record and be something he'll have to answer for the rest of his life. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, has represented hundreds of people accused of sex crimes and knows that false accusations are more common than people tend to think - especially in sex cases.

If you or a loved one needs a sex crimes attorney in Duval, Clay or Nassau Counties, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Facing 15 years, former Jacksonville teacher sentenced to one year for Jacksonville sex charge

September 14, 2012

A former Jacksonville high school teacher pleaded guilty to sexually abusing one of his former students and two counts of unlawful sex with a minor in Duval County. But instead of getting the 15 years in prison he was facing, Leonard Adams Hoffman, was sentenced last week to one year in the Duval County jail, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Hoffman, 32, will also serve eight years of sexual offender probation in Jacksonville, the newspaper reported. Hoffman has been in jail since March, when he was arrested in Sarasota County on a sex crimes warrant from Jacksonville, so he is scheduled to be released in early 2013. State prosecutors said they agreed to the deal so the 16-year-old victim would not have to testify at a trial, according to the newspaper report. The investigation into Hoffman began after the Duval County Public Schools suspended him in 2011 for throwing a pencil at a student and telling the class they were going to be discussing vaginas. Hoffman, who started teaching in Jacksonville in 2007, resigned after the administration recommended he be fired.

The police got involved and found he had sexually abused a student, the newspaper reported. It is not known why the three Duval County sex charges were separated, but it is likely because the student was a student of Hoffman's for one of the incidents, but not the other two. Very few details of the case have been released, as is the case in most Jacksonville sexual assault cases involving a minor. But avoiding any prison time at all for a teacher having sex with a student has to be considered a victory for the Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney. Hoffman will be on sexual offender probation into his 40s and it is very unlikely he'll be back in a classroom at any time. Florida sexual offender probation prohibits any unsupervised contact will a person under the age of 18, if the crime involved a minor as Hoffman's clearly did. Other requirements of sexual offender probation include being at home between 10 p.m. and 6 p.m., undergoing sex offender counseling, not working anywhere where children congregate and submitting to blood and DNA testing when asked. Some of the penalties never go away. Hoffman will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life and will always have to contact police when he moves to another residence and his status will be announced to all of his neighbors.

Understandably, many people charged with sex crimes are reluctant to plead guilty to anything because sex crimes are not crimes where you do your time and you're done. But that, coupled with the state often wanting to shield an alleged victim from a trial, can lead to complex negotiations.

Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, has represented hundreds of clients charged with sex crimes in Northeast Florida and is experienced in balancing the desire to limit potential damages as well as the defendant's right to a trial. If you or a loved one needs a sex crimes attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville sex crimes attorney is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Mistrial declared after man representing himself on attempted murder charge decides he wants a Jacksonville criminal lawyer

September 12, 2012

Halfway through his own Jacksonville criminal trial where he is accused of attempted murder and facing up to life in prison, a Jacksonville violent crimes suspect changed his mind and opted for a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney. Because of the defendant's change of heart, the judge said he had no choice but to end the trial and start over with a new jury and an appointed Duval County Criminal Attorney representing Delvin Thomas Jones, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The trial had progressed to the point where Jones had cross-examined the man he was accused of shooting in the face, who told the court that Jones was the man who shot him. Shortly after that testimony, Jones told the court he wanted to be represented by a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney. An appointed criminal attorney had been on standby for the case, but the judge ruled the case was far enough down the road, the only alternative was to start over, the newspaper reported.

Prosecutors said they were disappointed the victim would have to testify again but, ultimately, the judge would have likely faced serious scrutiny from an appellate court if he didn't grant the defendant's request for a lawyer and begin a new trial. While there are countless television shows and movies that make a trial look like a simple operation that's opened and closed in an hour that is not the case. There are countless legal rules and procedures that must be followed to ensure a fair trial for both sides and someone without legal training is nearly guaranteed to miss - despite their best intentions. Most people wouldn't attempt a life-saving heart surgery on their own and, while it may seem like a stretch, representing yourself on a Jacksonville criminal charge where you face life in prison is a similar proposition. The trial is your one shot at not spending a significant time, most likely the rest of your life, in prison. Is that something you'd prefer to handle on your own, or put in the hands of someone who has represented thousands of clients in our criminal justice system?

A Jacksonville Criminal Trial Attorney has relationships with prosecutors and attorneys, knows who is likely to go to trial and who is more likely to want to work out a case, all things that can be critical to ensuring the best possible result that someone representing themselves would not be aware of. Granted, some people do represent themselves and are successful, but the examples are few and far between.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville Criminal Trial Lawyer, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Mentally ill murder suspect, 97, won't face a trial but remains jailed by St. Johns County assistant state attorneys

September 10, 2012

A 97-year-old St. Augustine woman has already been declared incompetent to stand trial in the shooting death of her nephew, yet the state wants to keep her in jail until more mental health evaluations can be done. For now, Amanda Stevenson will remain in the St. Johns County jail while she is evaluated again by two doctors, according to a report in the St. Augustine Record. Stevenson's limbo comes from a July court ruling that declared her incompetent to stand trial, yet not in a condition that warranted her being committed to a facility run by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the newspaper reported. Stevenson's St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney argued the only alternative was for her to be sent home, and is trying to work out a set of conditions - including counseling, psychiatric care and terms of a court-ordered probation - that the court would accept. The only time a murder suspect is ever held in a county jail is when they are awaiting trial. A judge has already ruled Stevenson won't stand trial, which led St. Augustine Criminal Defense Attorneys to argue why she was even still there and file a motion asking for her release.

St. Johns County state attorneys are arguing that Stevenson is a danger to society and that, while she is frail and mentally ill, she is in court because she is charged with murder -- accused of shooting and killing someone. Until she can be placed somewhere that will ensure public safety, prosecutors said she should remain in jail, the newspaper reported. The case presents an interesting quandary regarding the mental health of defendants, especially when they are accused of serious crimes, as Stevenson is. On one hand, the charges against her are not going forward. On the other, she hasn't been cleared - simply found not of the mental state to understand what is going on around her and to face a trial. In similar cases, a defendant is typically committed to a state mental hospital where they live, receive treatment and are kept in confinement in many ways similar to a prison, though they are not around a general prison population. Residents are not free to leave, but have been deemed unfit by doctors to live on their own in society, based both on mental evaluations and the crime or crimes they are accused of committing. In this St. Johns County murder case, Stevenson has essentially been declared too mentally ill to stand trial, but not sick enough to be committed to a state hospital.

Our justice system is built on ensuring that people accused of crimes are able to receive a fair trial and able to defend themselves in court. When mental illness is an issue, it is imperative that the person is still treated fairly in the system. Our St. Augustine Criminal Defense Attorney understands the complications involved in cases with potentially mentally ill clients and has a network of physicians to evaluate a client and determine the best steps moving forward.

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

Family who allowed convicted Jacksonville sex offender to live with a young girl to be tried at same time as alleged abuser

September 8, 2012

Two family members accused of allowing a convicted sex offender to live in their home and abuse their young daughter are now scheduled to go to trial at the same time as the alleged abuser. The state plans to seat one jury for Christopher Perry, 41, charged with five counts of sexual battery in Jacksonville and one count each of molestation and of selling, distributing or showing obscene material to a minor, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. A second jury will be assembled to decide the fate of Robert Goeing Young, 52, and Patricia A. Woloszynowski, 63, both charged with Jacksonville child neglect and several counts of being principals to Young's crimes.

The dynamic of the three trials going on at once is interesting, but not surprising in a sex case involving a child victim. Much of this is likely being done in the interest of the child victim in the case. The state doesn't want her to have to testify in court more than once, which is understandable. But having all three trials at the same time could also be trouble for the defendants in this Jacksonville sex crimes case - particularly Young and Woloszynowski. If Young and Woloszynowski were tried separately from Perry, the jury would obviously learn about the details of Perry's crimes - it would be impossible for a jury to be asked to convict someone without at least that basic knowledge. But that's also much different than sitting through Perry's entire trial - when the state is putting its best case forward on how to convict Perry. Logistically, it's been done before. In 2010, three brothers accused of shooting into a home and killing and eight-year-old girl were tried simultaneously with two juries - one for two of the brothers and the other for the third. One of the juries was deadlocked, so a mistrial was declared, according to a Times-Union report. In that case, the judge sealed the verdicts of the first two brothers, and they were read at the end of the second trial for the third brother.

The dynamics in this Jacksonville sex crimes case are a little different. One man, Perry, is accused of committing the actual assault and the other two are essentially charged with letting it happen. There are several key questions that haven't been answered in media reports that will likely surface in the trial: What did Young and Woloszynowski know about Perry's criminal past - if anything? Were they aware the assaults were occurring and just chose to ignore them? Were they actively encouraging the sexual encounters between Perry and the girl? The case brings up interesting issues in terms of how criminally responsible someone can be found for a crime that someone else physically committed. Two others in the case pleaded guilty to charges similar to Young and Woloszynowski. They are clearly rolling the dice and would likely get more time if they are convicted at trial. Sometimes those calculated chances can be worth taking, and our Jacksonville sex crimes attorney has represented hundreds of clients charges with all types of sexual offenses.

If you or a loved one needs a sex crimes attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville Sex Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Man who tried to rob Jacksonville store charged with murder after his accomplice is shot

September 6, 2012

A botched Jacksonville Armed Robbery last week left one suspect dead and the other charged with murder, though he wasn't the one who pulled the trigger. Two men started threatening employees at a Dollar General store one night last month, with one of them holding the store manager at gunpoint with what police described as a BB gun that looked extremely authentic and was easily mistaken for a real gun, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union.
A man who just happened to be shopping in the store on his way home from work, saw the commotion at the front of the store and walked to the front with his gun drawn, the newspaper reported. The man ordered the suspect holding the clerk at gunpoint to drop his weapon and, when he didn't, the man shot the suspect in the head, chest and shoulder, killing him. The second suspect took off running and was arrested in Jacksonville the next day after a family member alerted police, the newspaper reported. The shopper has not been charged with a crime and is not expected to be, as police lauded his bravery in helping prevent further violence and crime that evening.

But the charges got exponentially worse for Aundre Krishna Campbell, 19, who is now charged with Duval County felony murder in the death of his accomplice. In Florida, a person can be charged with murder if someone is killed while that person is committing a felony. In this case Campbell and Rakeem Deveal Odoms were trying to rob the store - clearly a felony and Campbell is also charged with robbery in Jacksonville in this case. And the fact that the guns turned out to be fake has no bearing on the seriousness of the charges in this case. More charges against Campbell could be coming, because police say they suspect he and Odoms in several other similar robberies throughout town. The state uses felony murder charges pretty regularly in Jacksonville. Last month, a man accused of chasing and beating another man who was trying to drive off was charged with murder after the driver ran over another man and killed him. Several years ago, three teens who robbed a video game store were charged with felony murder after their getaway driver tried to elude police and was shot and killed by an officer after crashing the vehicle and running, refusing to put his hands in the air. In many cases, felony murder is a charge the state uses as a hammer in cases like this, trying to get a suspect to accept a lengthy prison sentence. It seems a little much to charge someone with murder when they don't even pull the trigger, but the state says it uses the charges as a deterrent for other violent crimes -- armed robbery, for example - that can lead to murder.

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

College student charged after lying about rape in Jacksonville on college campus

September 4, 2012

A University of North Florida student was arrested in Jacksonville last week for filing a false police report after her story about being sexually assaulted in Jacksonville in a recreation center locker room didn't check out. The woman was charged with filing a false report by the University Police Department, which said several women have done the same over the past couple of years, according to the a report by News4Jax. Police have pushed for each of the women to be charged with filing a false report, which in Florida is a first-degree Duval County misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The State Attorney's Office will have the final say on whether charges will be filed against the female student. The school put up fliers all over the recreation complex and the woman provided police with a seemingly detailed description, including her alleged attackers' clothing and his height within two inches, the television station reported. Students who were interviewed by the station following the alleged Jacksonville assault said they were surprised it could have occurred because there are so many employees working around the gym at all times. It turns out they were right.

The false report charge about this Jacksonville Sex Crime appears to be more to send a message to others than it is to punish the student who lied about the rape, though it would be interesting to know how many man hours were spent investigating the case before the woman admitted to lying about the Jacksonville sex case. News reports that she made the story up came about a week after the alleged Duval County rape. It will be interesting to see how far the state pushes the false report case, if at all. One possible condition of a plea bargain could be her paying back the University Police for the money spent on the investigation of the alleged Jacksonville sex crime. Luckily, there was no one in their early 20s with dark blonde hair between 5-foot-10 and 6-feet tall that police had locked in on before the woman came clean. Sex crimes carry an enormous stigma and even an accusation can be extremely difficult to recover from. And, in many cases, all it takes is an accusation for the state to file charges. There is often very little physical evidence in Jacksonville sexual assault cases and the word of the alleged victim is sometimes the only evidence. The stakes are extremely high for a he-said, she-said case like that - especially since capital sexual battery carries a mandatory life sentence. Lesser offenses require people to register as sexual predators or offenders for the rest of their lives.

Our Jacksonville Sex Crimes Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, has represented men falsely accused of sexual assault, and taken cases all the way to trial to clear their names. If you or a loved one needs an experienced sex crimes attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Jacksonville sex crimes lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.