A corrections officer in Duval County has been arrested on three felony charges.  According to an article on News4Jax, the officer was arrested this past Sunday for Delivering or Distributing Methamphetamine, Delivering or Distributing Marijuana and Bringing Contraband into a County Detention Facility.  All three charges are felonies in Florida.  The meth charge is classified as a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and the other two are third degree felonies, punishable by up to five years in prison each.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office received a tip that the officer may be smuggling the drugs into the John E. Goode Pretrial Detention Facility.  The corrections officer has been with JSO for four years and resigned his position after the arrest.  He was given relatively low bonds for Jacksonville, which are $7503 for both of the drug charges and $5003 for the contraband charge.

In Florida, if you sell, manufacture, or deliver a controlled substance, it is considered a felony.  The degree of felony depends on what exactly the controlled substance is.  Because methamphetamine is considered more dangerous, delivery of that drug is considered a higher felony than delivery of marijuana.  According to authorities, the Sheriff’s Office does not believe that the officer was “selling” the drugs, just being paid the smuggle them into the facility.  JSO is continuing it’s investigation by conducting interviews of inmates and fellow officers to try to find out how pervasive this issue is.

The third charge is introducing contraband into a corrections facility.  It is against Florida law to introduce contraband items into or possess in a county detention facility or give or receive contraband items from an inmate.  These items include money, food, tobacco products, intoxicating drinks, narcotics, hypnotics, nasal inhalers, sleeping pills, marijuana, guns and cell phones.  Anyone can be charged with this crime, including civilians, lawyers and law enforcement officers.  Speaking from experience, lawyers and civilians are searched before they can enter the facility.  We go through metal detectors and are subject to further search.  It is not clear what search procedures, if any, corrections officers go through before they begin their shift.  Since this arrest, security at the jail will most certainly be elevated.

Two teachers in Duval County were arrested on separate charges last week.  The first teacher teaches second grade at Greenland Pines Elementary.  According to a report on First Coast News, the teacher was under investigation and was being reassigned.  Upon hearing the news, the teacher allegedly became “enraged and aggressive”.  She was asked to leave by school staff and allegedly refused to leave the school.  At that point, after refusing to leave, the teacher was arrested for Trespassing on School Grounds after Warning, which is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida.  This further escalated the situation and the woman allegedly pushed the police officer.  Police report that the teacher continued to resist the officers and would not allow them to handcuff her.  In addition to the trespassing charge in Jacksonville, the teacher was also arrested for Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer.

In Florida, a law enforcement officer includes police, correctional officers, probation officers and Fish and Wildlife Commission officers.  A battery is when someone intentionally touches another against their will.  If the “victim” of a battery is a civilian, the criminal charge is considered a misdemeanor in Duval County.  When the victim is a law enforcement officer, the charge is elevated to a third degree felony.  Because the woman is a teacher, she likely has no criminal history.  Programs for people who have no previous arrests may allow her to have the charge dropped if she completes certain requirements, such as anger management and performing community service.  Probation in Jacksonville is also an option.

The other teacher is a chorus teacher at First Coast High School.  She is accused of having sexual contact with a student.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the victim was sixteen or seventeen years-old at the time.  This teacher has been charged with several counts of Unlawful Sexual Activity with Certain Minors.  Each of these charges is a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and the possibility of becoming a sex offender in Florida.  Under Florida law, when a person who is 24 years-old or older engages in sexual activity with someone who is 16 or 17 years-old, they can be arrested for this charge.  Each act is considered another crime.  Sexual activity includes oral, anal or vaginal contact.  Under this law, the “victim’s” sexual history is considered not relevant.  As with the other teacher, this chorus director likely has no criminal past.  And although the victim’s prior sexual history is not considered important under the letter of the law, it is very important to understanding what happened and important in mitigating the charge.

A Jacksonville man is in custody for allegedly dragging another behind his car.  According to an article from the Florida Times Union, the suspect has been charged with attempted murder in Duval County.  Investigation revealed that the victim was dragged behind a stolen vehicle that was allegedly driven by the suspect.  Jacksonville police have obtained a video that shows the vehicle traveling near 36th Street and Moncrief Road West.  The car then traveled west on 36th Street with the victim behind it and then turned north on Pearce Street.  The car did not come to a rest until it was in front of the Jacksonville Electric Authority power park at 4700 Pearce Street.  Police investigation revealed a witness who allegedly observed the arrested suspect drive off from the complex with the victim tied behind the vehicle.  When found by law enforcement, the victim was naked and feet were bound.  The victim has serious life-threatening injuries.

The suspect is charged with Attempted Murder by committing a Dangerous Act Evincing a Depraved Mind without Premeditation, or second degree murder.  In Jacksonville and all of Florida, second degree murder is the unlawful killing of a person caused by any action imminently dangerous to another person showing a depraved mind regardless of human life.  Premeditation is does not have to be proven for this degree of murder charge.  The maximum punishment for second degree murder in Florida is Life in prison, but is lessened if the crime is an “attempt”.  If the victim dies from the injuries, this charge will no longer be “attempted” and the charge will be upped to murder.  In addition to the murder charge, the man will likely also be charged with Grand Theft Auto in Duval County.  The car he was allegedly driving was reported stolen prior to the incident.  This theft charge is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Any time a person is arrested for a felony charge in Jacksonville, the State Attorney’s Office assigns a particular prosecutor to that case.  The prosecutor has great discretion in what happens in a case.  They have to look at the apparent evidence and decide if there is a reasonable probability of conviction at trial.  Prosecutors talk to the officers involved as well as witnesses in making their decision.  It is of the utmost importance for any suspect to have a lawyer represent them at this critical time of the case.  A knowledgeable and experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will make contact with the prosecutor involved and present mitigation as well as additional evidence the police often miss.

A Jacksonville man has been arrested for and accused of taking a video of a six year-old boy while he was using the bathroom.  According to an article in The Florida Times Union, the crime allegedly occurred at a Walmart in the Northside of Duval County.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was called to the store after they boy’s brother, who is twelve years-old, told his parents he saw a cellphone in his brother’s bathroom stall.  After the man was confronted by the boy’s father, Walmart security staff held him there until police arrived.  According to the story, video surveillance showed that the man was in the bathroom for several hours prior to the alleged incident.

The man is charged with video voyeurism, which is considered a second degree felony in this case in Florida.  The maximum punishment if convicted is fifteen years in prison.  To prove the crime of video voyeurism in Jacksonville, the state attorney’s office must prove that the man intentionally used an imaging device to view or record the boy, without the boy’s knowledge or consent, who is privately exposing his body.  “Privately exposing the body” is defined as exposing a sexual organ.  “Imaging device” can be any electronic viewing device, camera, video camera or cell phone.  The state of Florida would also have to prove that the recording was made for the man’s amusement, sexual arousal or gratification.  Because the man is twenty nine  years-old and the boy is six, the crime is elevated to a second degree felony.  If the suspect was under nineteen, the voyeurism case would be considered a first degree misdemeanor.

While the crime of video voyeurism is sexual in nature, it is not considered a sex crime in Jacksonville that would require sex offender/predator registration.  Even though registration is not required when convicted of this crime, the likely punishment would include probation to complete many of the conditions required on a sex offender probation in Duval County.  The conditions may include getting a psychosexual evaluation and comply with any recommended follow-up, not being allowed to have unsupervised contact with minors, payment of restitution to the victim’s family for any psychological treatment of the boy, and possibly the wearing of a GPS monitor while on probation.

A man dubbed the “Arlington Rapist” has been arrested for yet another rape in Jacksonville.  According to an article on News4Jax.com, the man is currently serving a life sentence for a previous Duval County sexual assault.  The State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville has been granted with funds to test untested rape kits.  Apparently a rape kit was tested from a 2005 sexual assault and kidnapping downtown.  The alleged victim reported that an unknown black male pointed a gun at her at the Greyhound Bus Station and was told to walk with him.  The man allegedly led her to a church and forced intercourse with her.  After, she had a sexual assault forensic exam.  Twelve years later, her examination was selected for further processing and was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for DNA testing.  A foreign profile was discovered and it allegedly matched the man who was arrested.  The woman was shown a photo line up with the man in it and she could not identify her attacker, but told police none of the men were consensual sexual partners.

The man is facing kidnapping with a weapon and sexual battery charges in Florida.  Both charges are considered life felonies in Jacksonville.  To prove the charge of kidnapping in Florida, the state would have to prove that the man confined, abducted or imprisoned the woman by force, secret or threat with the intent to commit any felony.  Sexual battery is defined as any oral, anal or vaginal penetration or union with the sexual organ of another person without their consent.  The State Attorney’s Office has established a new unit within their office to handle these “cold cases”.  As more and more rape kits are tested, more and more people will be identified through DNA and will be eventually be arrested in Jacksonville on sex charges.  While DNA evidence is powerful, there is a spectrum of levels the DNA matches and points to a particular person.  The level of accuracy of the evidence found depends on how much of a foreign DNA strand is located in the kit.

Sexual charges are the most serious charges one can face.  They are punishable as if you have killed someone and there is rarely physical evidence.  Just someone saying it happened.  If you or someone you love is accused of committing a sex crime in Duval, Clay, Nassau or St. Johns Counties, call an experienced criminal attorney immediately.  You have the right to remain silent.  Exercise that right and call.

A Duval County firefighter was arrested this week for child abuse in Jacksonville.  According to an article on News4Jax.com, the man was arrested last week in relation to an incident at the end of March.  He is accused of removing his child from the bed during the night and taking the child to the garage.  The accused allegedly turned on an industrial fan and beat the child on the buttocks and upper thighs with a wooden 2×4 and his hand over the course of several hours.  The firefighter then allegedly pinched and kicked the child.  According to public records, the child’s backside was covered in bruises.

The charge the man is facing is child abuse, which is a third degree felony in Jacksonville.  “Child abuse” is defined as intentionally inflicting physical or mental injury on a child, intentionally committing an act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child, or active encouragement of a child to commit an act that results or could be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a minor.

Corporal punishment, or physical punishment, is still legal in the United States.  You are allowed to physically discipline your child.  That being said, police are arresting parents at a higher rate in recent years for child abuse charges in Duval County and all over Florida.  If a child has ANY mark on them and the child tells authorities that the mark came from physical punishment, the Department of Children and Families and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office are most likely going to contact the parent or guardian.  It is up to the officer that interviews the parent or guardian to make the call on whether or not to arrest.  Out of an abundance of caution, many parents are arrested on this felony charge.  Once the arrest is made, a judge make a decision about bond and the parent will have a court date approximately 2 weeks from arrest.  This is a critical time.  If you have been arrested for child abuse or child neglect, contact an experienced child abuse attorney in Duval County immediately.  Just because you have been arrested does not mean that the state attorney’s office will file charges.  Whenever anyone is arrested on any felony or misdemeanor in Jacksonville, a prosecutor has the discretion to file or not.  A criminal defense lawyer can accumulate mitigating information and provide evidence to present the whole story.

A pair of brothers have been arrested on out of county warrants for defrauding customers.  According to an article on news4jax.com, the two men owned a roofing company that has received complaints from customers for some time.  Currently, they are facing criminal fraud charges in Volusia County, but more charges may come.  The men are accused of taking money for roof repairs, mostly from hurricane damage, and not returning to complete the jobs.  Other counties involved are St. Johns, Flagler, Duval, Clay and Nassau.  I would expect the men to be arrested on warrants from several, if not all of the other counties where alleged victims live.  In the three counties of St. Johns, Volusia and Flagler, the estimated loss to potential victims is over $455,000.00.

The crime the brothers have been arrested for is Organized Scheme to Defraud in Florida.  A “scheme to defraud” is defined as a systematic and ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud a person or persons or intent to get property from a person or persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises of a future act.  If the value of the property, or money in this case, is $50,000.00 or more, the crime is considered a first degree felony in Florida.  For each of these charges, the men are looking at a maximum of 30 years in prison.

The men will probably not get decades in prison because one of the factors the State Attorney’s Office considers is their ability to provide restitution to the alleged victims.  Restitution is re-payment of money taken.  It is obvious from the report that the restitution amount will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It is not clear whether or not these brothers have the ability to pay back all of it, but they may be able to pay some.  Often times in Fraud cases in Jacksonville, any jail or prison term is followed by years of probation.  The main condition of fraud probations in Duval County of the payment of restitution to make the victims whole.

A Duval County teacher was arrested last week in Jacksonville for sex related crimes.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the male teacher is accused of sending and asking for pictures from underage children.  Police report that the educator used social media accounts while pretending to be a fifteen year-old.  The alleged victim reported the issue to police when the “fifteen year-old”  requested naked pictures from her, an underage girl.  Another girl told the first that she also was communicating with the man.  The second girl reportedly confronted the man and he allegedly told her he was a teacher.  While these sex charges are pending, the man is no longer able to go back to work.

The teacher is charged with two separate crimes.  The first is Sexual Performance by a Child, which is a second degree felony.  This charge carries up to 15 years in prison and a sexual offender designation.  In Jacksonville, “sexual performance” is defined as any performance that includes sexual conduct by a child less than 18 years of age.  A “performance” is further defined as any play, motion picture, picture, exhibition, show, image, data, computer depiction, representation or other presentation over a period of time.  In order to prove this charge in Duval County, the state attorney’s office has to prove that the teacher, knowing the content, he or she produces, directs or promotes any performance that includes sexual conduct of a child.

The other charge the teacher is facing is Transmission of Material Harmful to Minors by Electronic Device or Equipment.  The man has to have actual knowledge or believed the recipient of the communication was a child.  Knowing this, the state of Florida has to prove that the teacher believed he was transmitting an image, information or data that is harmful to minors.  This charge is one level down from the previous charge.  It is considered a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Former Jacksonville Jaguar football player, Roy Miller, will continue with the diversion program he was accepted to on April 9th.  According to a story on News4Jax, Miller was arrested in November of last year for a charge of Domestic Battery in Jacksonville.  He was released on his own recognizance, which means the judge did not require him to post any bond to get out of jail and subsequently appear in court.  Miller was placed in what is called the Pretrial Intervention Program, also called “PTI”.  Entry into a diversion program is discretionary, meaning that the State Attorney’s Office must make the decision to put you there.  People in the diversion program must complete a series of conditions in a certain amount of time.  Miller, for example, has to perform community service hours, participate in counseling and pay fees.  If the program is completed successfully, the Jacksonville criminal charge will be dropped.

There are a couple of things that make Miller’s case unusual.  First, the fact that he was placed in the diversion program to begin with.  It is very rare for a criminal defendant to be offered diversion for a domestic battery charge.  Although the charge is a misdemeanor and not a felony, obviously it is considered a crime of violence.  Diversion programs are usually reserved for non-violent crimes, such as theft crimes.  Domestic violence charges in Jacksonville usually do not make the list.

The second unusual part of this case is that the alleged victim, Miller’s wife, petitioned the county court to re-open the case and consider the possibility of kicking Miller out the diversion program.  According to the news report, the wife claimed that she was not given the opportunity to speak on her own behalf to the judge.  The victim of any case, particularly cases in which violence is alleged, are given the opportunity to address the court before sentence is decided and imposed.  These cases are very “victim driven”, meaning what the alleged victim tells the State Attorney’s Office and the Judge presiding over the case are given a lot of weight.

A Jacksonville man has been arrested on a charge of video voyeurism, which is considered as a third degree felony in Florida.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the man and two women lived in a home together.  One of the women was taking a shower in the master bathroom and noticed that there was something black and hard in the loofah.  She found a small black object attached to the bottom and showed it to the suspect.  The man allegedly told her it was a camera.  The man also, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, allegedly claimed that he was a “dirty old man”.  It is not clear whether or not the man has a criminal history, but his bond was set very high at $25003.00.

Video voyeurism is not a common crime in Jacksonville, but that is the charge this man faces.  In order to convict someone of this Duval County sex crime, the State Attorney’s Office has to prove that the man intentionally used or installed an imaging device to secretly view or record the women, without them knowing.  They have to have been undressing or privately exposing their body at a place and time when they had a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Installing the camera has to be for his amusement, entertainment, sexual arousal, gratification, profit, or to degrade another person.  As you can see, there are quite a few things the prosecutor assigned to the case would have to prove.

Because the man is nineteen years of age or older, the crime of video voyeurism is considered a felony.  If convicted, the man faces up to five years in prison.  If the man was under nineteen, the crime would be considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.

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