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.

The rate that children are being treated as adults in our criminal justice system has plummeted since State Attorney, Melissa Nelson, has taken over the office.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the rate that minors are prosecuted as adults has fallen by forty three percent.  The dramatic drop has been attributed to new policies instituted in the prosecutor’s office.  Juvenile justice in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties was a large part of Ms. Nelson’s platform when she ran for the office.

Prosecutors in the state of Florida have the discretion to charge a juvenile as an adult.  If charged, the child faces the same punishment that an adult would facing the same criminal charges.  If a child is found guilty in adult court, the sentencing judge could sentence the child to adult sanctions, such as sending the child to adult prison.  In Florida, a boy can be housed among men if he was charged in adult court.  Sentencing judges also have the option to impose juvenile sanctions, such as committing the child to a juvenile program.  Regardless of the sentence, if convicted in adult court, the record will stay with the child for the rest of their life.

In order to treat the child as an adult, the state attorney’s office has to file a piece of paper with the court system.  Once filed, there will be a capias (bench warrant) issued and the child will be arrested again.  Often times, there will be an adult bond set on the charges, even if the child has been released by the Jacksonville juvenile court.  The child will be taken to adult jail in Duval County, where there is a special wing for the children being treated as adults.  If the family can, they will bond the child out while the case is pending in adult court.  If not, the child will remain incarcerated in adult jail awaiting their fate.

A fireman working in Jacksonville has been arrested for solicitation of a child via computer and unlawful use of a two-way communication device out of St. Johns County.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the man allegedly engaged in an online discussion with a child he was told was fourteen years-old.  The discussion, according to the police, turned sexual, with the firefighter allegedly sending pictures of himself to the “girl”.  A St. Johns County arrest warrant was issued and he was arrested shortly after.

This arrest was out of a sting called Operation Cruel Summer.  Periodically, police departments all over Florida conduct online trolling operations and make several sex crime arrests.  Local law enforcement will usually post an online profile on a website, such as Craigslist.  The men will begin a chat with a detective posing as a child and the “child” will eventually reveal his or her age.  Some of the men continue the conversation, whether via email, text or messaging.  Some men will ask for pictures and send pictures of themselves.  Some clothed and some not.  Often times, the “child” will ask the men to meet up at a location, usually their house.  This house has been procured by the police and is full of officers waiting to pounce on the suspect as soon as he comes to the door.

The charges that come out of these stings can vary, but the most common are what the firefighter has been charged with.  Solicitation of a child via computer is a third degree felony and is considered a “sex” crime in Florida.  If convicted, at a minimum, the man will be a sex offender for the rest of his life.  Any person who uses a computer service to seduce, solicit lure a person believed to be a child to commit a sex act is guilty of this offense.  The maximum time in prison for this St. Johns County sex case is five years.  The other felony charged is unlawful use of a two-way communication device, which also is a third degree felony.  Although punishable by the same amount of prison time, this is not considered a sex crime in Florida.  Any person who uses a two-way communications device, such as email or text, to facilitate or further the commission of ANY felony commits this crime.

A Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer has been arrested for domestic battery in Duval County, making him the tenth employee of the office arrested in 2017.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the officer allegedly bit his wife’s wrist and finger during an argument.  Police say they observed bite marks on the wife and made the arrest.  The officer was released on his own recognizance and has another pending court date.

When a call comes into Jacksonville 911 alleging a domestic disturbance, someone is going to jail.  In order to make any arrest, the officer has to have probable cause.  Probable cause means more likely than not, a crime was committed by the person being arrested.  Unfortunately, Jacksonville police do not always have probable cause to make an arrest in every domestic battery call, even though they almost always make an arrest.  In the case above, there were bite marks as well as the testimony of the alleged victim.  It is unclear whether or not the officer gave his side of the story.  He, as well as every other citizen, has the absolute right to remain silent.

The officer was released on his own recognizance, also referred to as ROR in Jacksonville.  This means he was released without having to post a bond.  This is not always the case, especially with domestic violence charges in Duval.  Judges have to consider whether the accused is a flight risk as well as considering whether or not the  person is a danger to the community or the alleged victim.  The judge in the offier’s case added the condition that he have “no victim contact”.  No contact means no contact, even through a third person.  If it is proven the officer did have contact with his wife, he could be placed back in jail while his case is pending.