A Jacksonville man picked up his 18th arrest last week, charged with Jacksonville DUI Manslaughter and vehicular homicide after an April crash that killed a passenger in his car. The Duval County arrest was the third DUI for Douglas Hippen and the judge ordered him held on a $300,000 bond, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. As expected, the local media focused on the 18 arrests in the headline for the story, and the commenters in online message boards have been having a field day ranting about how Hippen never should have been out of jail to begin with. While that may be some people’s perspective, it also highlights the distinct differences between an arrest and conviction – despite the fact many people use the two terms interchangeably.
Arrests are not convictions. Period. Arrests are made typically by one officer using his or her judgment, often in the heat of an incident or along the side of a road. Convictions are made if a person admits guilt by pleading guilty or if the person is found guilty by a jury of his or her peers after a trial. The arrest is simply the first step in a Jacksonville criminal case. That is typically where a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney would enter the picture. When an arrest is first made, police often do not have all of the facts of the case they’ll need before going to trial. A Duval County Criminal Defense Attorney will take their own look at all of the facts – including the encounter with police that led to the arrest. There are many examples of why an arrest doesn’t result in a conviction. One is obvious – the defendant takes the case to trial and a jury finds him or her not guilty. Another factor is a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney finds enough issues with the case that the state agrees to either drop the Jacksonville criminal charge or reduce it to a lesser charge that does not carry significant jail time. That happens occasionally when a crime charged as an aggravated battery with a 15-year maximum prison sentence is reduced to a simple battery where a defendant can face now more than a year in the county jail.
People are not punished on an arrest alone, at least in terms of jail or prison time. Societally, as in Hippen’s case, can be a different story. Most employers will separate the two, asking applicants if they have ever been arrested and, in a separate question, if they have been convicted of a crime. Regardless of whether a charge is eventually dropped or dismissed, the arrest is almost always still a public record. And while getting arrested is never a positive thing, getting convicted is far worse.
If you or a loved one needs an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County violent crimes lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.