A St. Johns County Commissioner was cleared of a felony charge brought against him in North Carolina. He was charged with obtaining property by false pretense, accused of taking $500 from an account he used to share with his ex-girlfriend and former business partner, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man said he mistakenly transferred the money from the wrong account and fixed it right after he realized the mistake, the newspaper reported. A warrant for the man’s arrest was issued Monday and, by Thursday, after the man drove to North Carolina to talk to police and turn himself in, the charge had been dropped. The man’s attorney said the arrest warrant was issued without police even trying to get the man’s side of the story, which would have explained that the transaction was a simple mistake, the newspaper reported.
But, instead, the man had to go prove his innocence – the complete opposite of how the criminal justice system is supposed to work. Police and prosecutors are supposed to have a good idea they’ll be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt before they get an arrest warrant. That was clearly not the case here. Felony degrees and potential sentences vary from state to state, but any St. Johns County Felony in Florida has a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. The case made headlines in Northeast Florida because of the man’s public position, but it is something he’ll now have to explain – even though the arrest warrant should have never been issued in the first place. The case sounds like a personal dispute between the man and his former girlfriend and business partner – a fight that the criminal justice system has no place in. Prosecutors and police are supposed to be able to recognize that and not allow the criminal justice system to be used like this. Presumably, if the decision to drop the charges was made this quickly after the arrest warrant was issued, it could have been handled just as quickly by picking up the phone and calling the man or his attorney before issuing the warrant. Our St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney represents people on all types of criminal charges. Oftentimes, arrest warrants are issued for people to turn themselves in on, rather than police hunting someone down and arresting them like you’d see in the movies. A St. Johns County Criminal Defense Attorney can go with you to turn yourself in – and help drive the conversation about what you say to police, if anything.
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 St. Johns County Felony Crimes Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.