Articles Posted in Sex Crimes in Jacksonville

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.

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 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.

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.

Clay County Police conducted a recent sting, or set-up, that has led to multiple sex related charges and arrests, according to an article in The Florida Times Union.  Eleven total men were arrested at the beginning of March, some of them involved in law enforcement.  The charges range from soliciting for prostitution to battery on a law enforcement officer.  Contrary to what was reported in the newspaper, it appears that none of the men were arrested on any sex crimes related to children.  All of the arrests occurred on Black Creek bike trail in Fleming Island.

The majority of the arrests were solicitation for prostitution, which is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida.  The men are accused of asking an undercover police officer to engage in an “indecent or obscene” act for some compensation.  It is an interesting charge because all of men, according to the reports, asked the officer to engage in sex but offered no money.  It is common for the police, vice units usually, to set up these stings.  Often times, these stings take place in public parks where men sometimes meet.  When the police get enough complaints about this activity, the result is the implementation of these stings.  Even though the men were there for consensual adult sex, the prostitution charge can ruin their lives, both with family and with work.

One man was charged with Simple Battery in Clay County.  Battery, according to Florida Statute, is defined as intentionally touching someone against their will or intentionally causing someone bodily harm.  The man allegedly touched the undercover officers genitals while engaged in conversation in the park.

A former teacher a Nease High School has been arrested for two sex crimes in St. Johns County, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  The physical education teacher, who is 28 years-old, is accused of having sexual contact with a 17 year-old student at her home two separate times.  Even though the alleged victim is the same person, if the acts happened on two completely separate occasions, the suspect can be charged twice.  According to the report, the teacher was fired from her position earlier this month.

This former teacher is facing two counts of “unlawful sexual activity with certain minors”, which is a Florida sex crime.  Any person over 24 years-old who has any sexual contact with someone 16 or 17 years-old can be charged with this St. Johns County sex charge.  When we hear “sexual activity”, many people think it is intercourse, but the Florida statute is much more broad.  Sexual activity includes any oral, anal or vaginal penetration, or union with, the sexual organ of another or any object.  “Union with” means just touching.

It is unclear at this point how the allegations came to light.  Often times, a parent will look at their teenager’s cell phone and discover inappropriate texts from an adult.  The parent will confront the teenager and call the police.  Once the police get the alleged victim’s statement, they will turn their attention to the suspect.  Often times, they will simply call the accused and ask them to come down to the police station to give their side of the story.  Many suspects think that if they have nothing to hide, there is no harm in giving a statement.  What they don’t realize is that the majority of times that interview ends in handcuffs.

A Jacksonville man who is a registered sex offender is on the run, possibly still handcuffed.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the man was at the Jacksonville Re-Entry Center trying to register as required by Florida law and the police discovered that he had failed to register sometime in the past.  Police arrested and handcuffed the man before letting him go to the restroom.  The man allegedly jumped out of the bathroom window and is still at large.  He was required to register because he had been convicted of Lewd or Lascivious Battery in Duval County. There are now two sex crime warrants outstanding for the man.

In Jacksonville and all over the State of Florida, convicted sex offenders and predators must submit all of their information to a registry.  Of all crimes, sex crimes are the only ones that will follow you visibly in the community for the rest of your life.  If you are adjudicated guilty or receive a withhold of adjudication on a sex crime, you must register in the county where you reside.  This requirement also applies to convictions by a military tribunal, including courts-martial by the Armed Forces of the United States.  Some examples of crimes that require registration are sexual battery, lewd or lascivious molestation or battery, unlawful sexual activity with a minor, sexual performance by a child, possession of computer child pornography, kidnapping a child under 13 and false imprisonment of a child under 13 years of age.

If you are required to register, within 48 hours of being released from custody or from moving into Florida, you have to:

While Bill Cosby has certainly been accused by many women of sex charges, only one case to date has been filed. Cosby faces prosecution in Pennsylvania for allegedly giving the woman drugs without her consent and having sexual relations with her. Los Angeles prosecutors have recently decided not to charge the television star in two accusations from two woman in the California city, according to an article in the LA Times.

In one of the cases in California, prosecutors decided there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute this alleged sex crime. In Jacksonville and all of Florida, this alleged crime would most likely be categorized as a Sexual Battery without force. To prove this, the state attorney would have to show that the suspect’s sexual organ penetrated or had union with the victim’s sexual organ. They would also have to prove the victim was physically helpless to resist or that the suspect administered a narcotic or other intoxicant to the victim unknowingly and without her consent that rendered her incapacitated. These Jacksonville sex charges are sometimes hard to prove because the victim admits that he or she was not of sound mind at the time and most likely cannot provide details. Often times, prosecutors will bring a sex case just based on the alleged victim’s word. Sometimes, there is no physical evidence to even prove that a crime was committed at all.  This is a scary prospect because the punishments are so severe if one is convicted of any sex crime in Florida. There are minimum mandatory sentences and a lifetime sentence of becoming a registered sex offender or predator.

The other California case was not brought because of the expiration of the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations is a bar on the prosecution of crimes because of too much time lapsing. In Florida, there are several categories with different time limitations. There is no time limit for the state to prosecute life felonies or capital felonies. These cases consist of murders and certain sex crimes, such as capital sexual battery. A first degree felony must be prosecuted within four years after the offense date. A second and third degree felony in Florida must be commenced within three years. First degree misdemeanors hold a two year time limit and second degree misdemeanors hold a one year time limit.