Jacksonville police officer charged with theft for allegedly taking a purse she was thought was lost

February 19, 2013

An officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was charged with theft in Duval County last week after she allegedly stole a purse that she thought was brought to a police substation after someone found it in the parking lot. But, the purse was really brought by an FBI agent as a decoy after police were given a tip that Cheryl Cummings was stealing items from the substation, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Cummings was then allegedly seen on surveillance video taking the purse to her car, where it was for several days before the purse disappeared, the newspaper reported.

She was charged with Jacksonville petit theft, a second-degree misdemeanor in Florida punishable by up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation and a $500 fine. She has been a police officer for more than 15 years and has been on light duty working at this substation on Jacksonville's Westside for medical reasons, the newspaper reported. After Cummings was contacted about this Jacksonville theft investigation, she allegedly brought in a missing wallet and told an internal investigator she had taken it home and was trying to find the owner.

While the investigation continues, Cummings will be assigned to other duties and stripped of her police powers, the newspaper reported. In terms of strictly legal issues, Cummings' crimes are not major and it is rare for someone to be jailed their first time arrested for petit theft in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties. But this is a case where Cummings' career could play in role in sentencing and could hurt her. Police officers are held to a higher standard when it comes to breaking the law - right or wrong, they are. And while she was never charged or disciplined, Cummings was also investigated on a theft charge in 2004 involving taking money for fixing someone's credit report, the newspaper reported. That could play a role as her employment status is being sorted out.

Not having it on her record, though, is huge - especially in a Jacksonville Theft Case. Theft cases are one of the few where a case can be escalated to a felony based on a person's record. Normally, thefts of less than $300 are misdemeanors, but if the value of the property is more than $300, the charge is a third-degree felony - punishable by up to five years in state prison. However, that all changes if someone already has two theft convictions or pleas on their record. Then, the state can file the crime as a felony - regardless of how much money the property is worth. In Cummings' case, it is possible the state could try to charge her with a crime for the wallet she brought in, and there may be other cases that surface. Once police and internal investigators dig into a Jacksonville Theft Case like this, in many instances they'll find a pattern or behavior that's been ongoing for some time.

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 Theft Attorney, Victoria "Tori" Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.