Controversial Jacksonville preacher, Kenneth Adkins, has been sentenced after being found guilty of several child sex charges in Brunswick, Georgia.  According to an article on News4Jax, Adkins was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison followed by sex offender probation for his natural lifetime.  Adkins was accused of having sexual contact with both a teenage girl and boy.  Per the article, Adkins criminal defense attorney argued that the teenage boy was sixteen at the time of sexual contact.  This is relevant because the age of consent in Georgia is sixteen.

This is in stark contrast to Florida’s age of consent.  In Florida, and many other states, eighteen is the minimum age that a person can consent to sex.  Consent is defined as intelligently, knowingly and voluntarily consenting to the contact and cannot be coerced.  Ages of both the accused and the alleged victim are extremely important to the various sex charges in Jacksonville.  For example, sexual battery, or rape, in Jacksonville is defined as oral, anal or vaginal penetration by any means without consent.  If a person eighteen years of age or older commits a sexual battery on another adult, the crime is considered a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  If the accused is eighteen or older and the alleged victim is twelve or older and less than eighteen, the sex crime is elevated to a first degree, punishable by up to life.  The same elevations apply to lewd or lascivious crimes in Florida. Lewd molestation is when someone intentionally touches, in a lewd or lascivious way, the breasts, genitals, genital area or buttocks or the clothes over them of a person under sixteen years of age.  If the accused is eighteen or older and the alleged victim is less than twelve years of age, it is considered a life felony.  If the accused is an adult and the alleged victim is twelve or older but less than sixteen, the level is dropped to a second degree felony.

No matter the ages, when someone is convicted of a sex crime in Florida, they are looking at being a sex offender or predator for their entire life.  Restrictions will be placed on where they can live, where they can work and who they can associate with.  In addition to the registration, they are subject to being on sex offender probation, which is the most stringent probation by far in our state.  Sex offender probation in Florida includes intensive psychosexual counseling, periodic polygraph examinations, restrictions of where you can live, restrictions on where you work, restrictions on where you go and restrictions on being around any minors, including natural born children.

Sixty people have been arrested in Duval County as a result of four month drug sting operation.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, there are eleven others that have pending arrest warrants in Jacksonville.  Because of citizen complaints in the area, “Lockdown in O-Town” is a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office drug operation that started in October and ended in January of this year.

Most of the criminal charges stemming from this drug bust are sale of drug charges.  The people arrested for selling drugs in this sting are accused of selling cocaine, heroin, controlled substance (commonly pills), marijuana and methamphetamine.  In order to be convicted of sale of any illegal drug in Florida, the state of Florida must prove that the substance is a controlled substance and that the suspect either sold, bought or delivered the drug.  Selling a drug is defined as transferring or delivering something to another person in exchange for money or something of value.  Delivery of a drug is defined as transferring of a controlled substance from one person to another.  Under the “delivery” part of the statute, you can be prosecuted even if you are just the middle man.  Sale of drugs in Florida is a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.

The second most common crime people were arrested for is possession of the drugs mentioned above and possession of paraphernalia.  You can possess anything under Florida law in two ways.  Possession of drugs in Jacksonville means you have personal charge of a thing.  Actual possession is when you have the drug in your hand, on your person, in a container in your hand or so close it is in your ready reach and control.  Constructive possession of drugs is a bit more obscure.  Constructive possession means the drug is in a place over which the suspect has control.  When police search a car and find drugs with multiple people in the car, they will often arrest everyone for possessing the drug, even though under our law, they all cannot possess it.  Police threaten to arrest everyone or in fact arrest everyone to get someone to either take responsibility for the drug or point fingers.  If everyone in the car says nothing, it is very difficult to prove who had sole possession.

A local man is facing three separate criminal cases related to him allegedly exposing himself to the University of North Florida students.  According to an article on news4jax.com, the man showed his penis to two woman students on the actual campus and two women off campus.  The man is facing one count of misdemeanor stalking and four charges of exposure of sexual organs.  The stalking charge stems from allegations that after exposing himself to one of the students, he followed her in his vehicle all over town.  The woman saw the man’s car tag and it matched the suspect’s car.  This particular stalking charge is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.  In order to prove it, the State Attorney’s Office must prove the man willfully, maliciously and repeatedly followed, harassed or cyberstalked the woman.

The other charges of exposure of sexual organs fit the same pattern, according to reports.  The man allegedly asked the women for directions or some other question while masturbating.  Police showed the women photo spreads of potential suspects and all of the women picked him out of the lineup.  The women also described the man’s car and surveillance video shows the women making contact with the same vehicle.

Exposure of sexual organs, while not a delineated Jacksonville sex charge, is still considered sexual in nature and more serious than other misdemeanors.  This Duval misdemeanor is also a first degree misdemeanor and the law makes it unlawful to expose or exhibit one’s sexual organs in public or on the private property of someone else in a vulgar or indecent manner.  The law also applies to being naked in public.

First Coast High School has had an dramatic increase in weapon related arrests at their school this month.  According to an article on News4Jax, there have been 5 weapon related arrests at the school in just under a month.  The most recent case was a student who brought a gun to school last week.  The child was arrested on possession of gun charges in Duval County and in addition to the criminal charges, will face school disciplinary actions no matter the disposition of the criminal case.  According to the article, there have been eight separate instances of guns being brought to area schools in 2017.

In the state of Florida, it is illegal to bring a gun or any weapon on school property.  “School” is defined as a preschool, elementary, middle, junior high school secondary school, career school or post secondary school.  This ban also applies to school sanctioned activities.  The child who allegedly brought the gun to school at First Coast was most likely arrested as a juvenile in Jacksonville on a charge of possession of a firearm on school property.  This is a third degree felony in Florida.  If a child is under eighteen, they will be taken to the Juvenile Detention Center on 8th Street.  Once there, the Department of Juvenile Justice will determine if the child is allowed to go home with the parents or guardians or will be detained.  If the child is detained, he or she will have a mandatory detention hearing within twenty-four hours in front of a judge.  The judge will then determine whether or not to keep the child in detention or to release the child on home detention while the juvenile gun case is pending.

If the student was eighteen years of age or older, the student is looking at up to five years in prison and possible becoming a convicted felon.  This is the worst case scenario.  After being arrested, the student will see a judge to determine pretrial release.  Most likely, a bond will be set and there will be a court date about 2 weeks after that first appearance.  Soon after the first appearance date, a prosecutor will be assigned and that prosecutor will make a decision about what to do with the case.  They could file it as charged, reduce the gun charge to a misdemeanor or drop it outright.

The wrong woman was released from the Clay County Jail last week.  According to an article on Jacksonville.com, Jessica Davis’ family posted her bond for her to be released while her misdemeanor simple battery case is pending.  Instead of being released once the bond was processed, Clay County released another woman, Jessica Arnott.  Arnott was being held in jail on a pending felony aggravated battery charge in Clay County.   The right Jessica was eventually released to her family and the other Jessica was returned to the jail.  Jessica Arnott now faces an additional charge of Escape.  Escape is a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.

When you are arrested in Clay County or anywhere in Florida, you are entitled to be seen by a judge within twenty-four hours.  In some cases, you will get issued a bond prior to going to that first appearance.  These pre-first appearance bonds are reserved for minor crimes, such as petit theft and misdemeanor criminal mischief.  For the most part, the judge in first appearance court will issue a bond, depending on the charge.  There are two considerations judges take into account to set appearance bonds.  The first is whether or not the person is a danger to the community and the second is whether or not the person is a flight risk.  Judges will obviously look at the current allegations against the defendant to determine the level, if any, of danger the arrested person poses to the community at large.  They will also look at the person’s ties to the community and previous arrest record.

Once a bond is set, there are two ways to post it.  You can post the whole amount with the Sheriff’s Office and that amount will be returned when the case is disposed of.  The great majority of people utilize a bondsman.  Most bondsman take 10% of the bond amount and demand collateral to cover the rest.  Bondsmen essentially provide an insurance policy to ensure your appearance in court.  When the bond is posted, the jail runs checks to make sure you don’t have any outstanding warrants or capias’.  If you have nothing holding you, you will be released on the condition your return for your court dates.

A Jacksonville man is in police custody facing a pending sexual battery charge.  The man also happens to be a registered sexual predator in Florida who is on probation.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the man was drinking with a woman and later in the night, the woman claimed she woke up to her pants being pulled down.  She alleges the man engaged in several sex acts with her without her consent.  The man then quickly left the apartment because he had a curfew as part of his probation, according to the woman.  Another condition of the suspect’s probation is that he wear a GPS monitor.  Police confirmed that the man was at the alleged victim’s apartment at the time of the alleged rape.  The man’s DNA was allegedly found on the woman’s pants.

Because the man was arrested for a new law violation while on probation, his Duval County sex offender probation is going to be violated.  Even though he now has a $500,000 bond on the new sex charge, the bond for the violation of probation will almost surely be NONE.  That means once arrested on the violation, he cannot bond out at all.  When you are on probation in Jacksonville and are arrested on any new charge, you can be violated if the new arrest was based on probable cause.  That means that more likely than not, the arresting officer believed a crime was committed.  The man is on probation for sexual battery of a minor, which is a first degree felony.  That means he is facing up to thirty years in prison if he is found in violation of his probation.  This possible sentence does not include the new charge.

The new sex charge is sexual battery, which is a second degree felony in Florida.  If filed, this charge carries a maximum of fifteen years in prison.  Sexual battery, also referred to as rape, is usually a he said/she said.  That appears to be the situation in this case, although police claim the man denied any sexual contact with the woman.  This presents a problem if his semen was in fact found on her pants.  The fact that the man is a registered sex predator is going to hurt his credibility with prosecutors assigned to make the decision on whether or not to file the new charge.

A woman was recently arrested in St. Johns County, Florida on several charges resulting from her being found sleeping with a baby on her.  According to an article on News4Jax.com, Police say the woman was parked at a gas station and was seen sleeping with a child in her lap.  Police checked the plates on the car and found out the car was stolen from another state.  Upon searching the car, police allegedly found heroin and drug paraphernalia along with used baby items.  The woman was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, child neglect, grand theft auto and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The basis for the child neglect charge is most likely the several used diapers found in the car along with bad milk.  In order to prove a child neglect charge in Florida, the State Attorney’s Office has to prove that the woman willfully failed to provide the child with the care, supervision and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical or mental health.  Neglect of a child in St. Johns County can be repeated actions or a single incident.  Certainly, being passed out with drugs in a car can be seen as purposely failing to provide the baby with supervision.  Neglect of a child is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Heroin is considered a controlled substance in Florida and possession of it is also a third degree felony.  Syringes were found along with the heroin.  This is the basis of the possession of paraphernalia charge in St. Johns County.  Drug paraphernalia, in Florida, is defined as any equipment, products or materials of any kind intended for putting illegal drugs in the body.

A woman in Jacksonville was arrested on the charge of child abuse after being accused of leaving her child in a hot car with no air conditioning.  According to a report in a report from News4Jax, the woman allegedly left the small child in the car for a minimum of forty minutes outside the woman’s place of work.  A passerby saw the child in the car and noticed she was unattended and sweating.  The witness contacted police.  Officers noted that while the child was very sweaty and hot, the child did not appear to be physically harmed.  After being arrested, the woman’s bond was set at $20,003.00.

In order to be convicted of child abuse in Duval County, the State Attorney’s Office must prove certain things.  The defendant must have knowingly or willfully:  1.  intentionally inflicted physical or mental injury on the child or 2.  committed an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to the child or 3.  actively encourage someone else to commit the act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental harm.  If the State goes forward with the charge against the woman in this case, they will probably be proceeding on the theory that her act of leaving the child in a hot car could be expected to cause physical harm to the girl.

When someone is arrested in Jacksonville on any charge, the judge in first appearance court sets a bond.  In this case, the woman’s bond in $20,003.00.  It is unclear whether or not the woman has any criminal history, which would be a factor in determining her Duval County bond.  Judges must also consider whether or not the woman is a danger to the community and whether or not the woman will likely flee the jurisdiction.  Most Jacksonville bondsmen require ten percent of the bond as payment to get out of jail.  In this case, the woman or her family would have to pay the Duval County bond company $2003.00 and have collateral to cover the rest of the bond should she not appear at a future date.

A recent article from the Associated Press highlights the growing number of people being placed on sex offender registries all over the country.  According to the report, there are more than 800,000 people on registries in the United States.  Their crimes vary from relatively minor indecent exposure charges to serious child molestation charges.  In certain states, Florida included, once you are placed on a sex offender registry, you can NEVER get off.

When someone is arrested for any sex crime in Jacksonville, they will most likely have a very high bond.  As high as if they were facing a murder charge with a lot less evidence.  The State Attorney’s Office then has about two and a half weeks to make a decision about what to do with the case.  They can file the case as charged, they can drop the case because of a lack of evidence, or try to negotiate a disposition prior the the filing decision.

Negotiations in sex cases are very important and can have lifelong consequences.  Sometimes, the prosecutor assigned to the case will offer to file a non-sex charge in return for the defendant serving jail time, going on probation, or both.  Sometimes, the prosecutor will offer the sex charge with no jail or prison time, but require sex offender probation with the added bonus of being labeled a sex offender for life.  In Duval County and every county in Florida, when you are convicted of a sex crime, such as sexual battery, sex offender probation is going to be part of the punishment.  Florida sex offender probation is the most difficult probation in our justice system.  An offender will be required to successfully complete psychosexual counseling, have no unsupervised contact with minors, cannot live within 1,000 feet of places where children regularly congregate, submit themselves to searches from the probation officer at all times, may have to wear an ankle monitor as well as many other conditions.

A deputy clerk or court in Orange County, California, has been arrested on federal charges of violating RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, bribery and money laundering.  According to a report in the Orange County Register, the clerk changed dispositions, marked as “paid” unpaid fines and court costs, changed actual charges, and posted a defendant as completing jail time that was never served.  The clerk allegedly hired recruiters who would advertise the illegal services.  The article reported that of the over 1,000 cases, sixty nine were Driving Under the Influence, 160 were other miscellaneous misdemeanor charges and the remaining appear to be traffic citations.

The county clerk’s office in any city is extremely important.  They are tasked with keeping all records of civil and criminal cases.  With traffic tickets and all criminal cases in Duval County and the surrounding counties, the clerk’s office assigns a case number and a case record in every case.  With traffic tickets, the records payments of fines or schedules court dates and the dispositions of those dates.  As with civil traffic citations, the clerk’s office also records every step of criminal cases in Jacksonville.  The website contains information on each and every case including what division it is assigned to, the arrest and booking report, information on what happens at every court date, all motions that are filed and all fines and court costs owed.

In the California case, the clerk is accused of lowering charges in the system.  For example, when someone is arrested for a DUI in Jacksonville, the State Attorney’s Office has the discretion lower the charge to a Reckless Driving.  Prosecutors decide what to file or not to file.  The clerk in this case allegedly forged prosecutor’s signatures on some of the dispositions.  Changing the DUI to a Reckless can have very good consequences for a defendant, including avoiding a driver’s license suspension and avoiding future elevations of punishment should they be arrested for DUI again.