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.