Clay County officers sent female officers undercover to try to catch a man accused of watching passersby and neighbors, then fondling himself in their presence. The investigation started after a jogger said in February she saw a man expose himself as she went by and, when she passed back by the house again, the man’s pants were at his ankles, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Female officers were then sent in plain clothes to walk or jog past the house and they say a man was hiding behind a fence, repeatedly exposing himself and fondling himself. George Hager was then arrested in Clay County last week on five counts of exposure of sexual organs. All five charges are Clay County, Florida misdemeanors, so he faces up to one year in jail on each charge. Police said they suspect there are more women out there who know about Hager and are asking more to come forward.
Typically, these types of resources are saved for crimes with more significant penalties – at least some sort of felony. For example, police will often target people buying or selling drugs, with hopes of eventually getting a higher-level drug dealer. In this Clay County Sex Crimes case, Hager is the end game, and he can only be charged with misdemeanors. The state is likely trying to stack as many cases up as possible, in hopes of multiple convictions and asking a judge to run Hager’s’ sentences consecutively. Consecutive sentences mean he could serve one year on the first charge and, once a year is up, the second sentence would start and so on. Concurrent sentences are far more common in Florida, which allows a defendant to serve all five sentences at one time, meaning the person would really be in jail for just one year.
The element of this case that might be surprising to people is that, as he is charged right now, Hager would not be eligible to be listed as a sex offender. Only people who are convicted of or plead guilty to felonies can be included in the Florida sex offender registry. Police told the newspaper Hager had multiple arrests on similar charges in the past. The only way Hager could be charged with a felony in Clay County is if he had exposed himself to a child under the age of 12, then it would considered a felony. The Florida sex offender registry forces all people who are convicted of or plead guilty to a felony sex offense to register their address with the local police departments. There are serious restrictions on where people can live – not within 1,000 feet of a school, for example – and every time a sex offender moves into a neighborhood, the residents who live in a certain radius are notified.
No other crime requires such a notification. Not even murder. Florida sex crimes, especially in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties, can be the most devastating for a person’s reputation and ability to move on and live a normal life. Accusations are extremely serious and require an experienced Clay County sex crimes lawyer to go over your option and consider all of the evidence the state has gathered. In many Florida sex crimes cases, it is often one person’s word against another’s.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Clay County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Clay County sex crimes lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.