Though initial reports indicated police did not suspect any criminal wrongdoing by two female passengers in a Clay County stolen car crash incident, warrants have now surfaced for both women. All four people have warrants now for charges ranging from grand theft auto to aggravated battery, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. One remains hospitalized, two are in the Duval County jail on unrelated charges and the fourth, one of the women involved, remains at large, according to the newspaper report.
The incident began when a man was eating at a Clay County McDonald’s when he saw someone trying to steal his car from the parking lot. The man ran outside to stop the thief and Aaron Beckworth, allegedly driving another stolen vehicle, ran into the victim, knocking him onto the hood of the Toyota, the newspaper reported. Michael Rafuse did end up stealing the Ford Explorer from the McDonald’s parking lot and, after driving off, the group of four ditched the Toyota and were all inside the Explorer. As the group tried to flee from police, the Explorer crashed into a tree, the newspaper reported. No charges were filed immediately, though the most severe charge police now have warrants for is the Clay County aggravated battery, which Beckworth is facing for hitting the man with the stolen car. Aggravated battery is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. Grand theft of an automobile is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
These charges make sense for the two Beckworth and Rafuse in this Clay County Theft Case. But, for now, it’s tough to determine where the criminal exposure falls for the women, especially since police initially said the women were not being looked at for a potential crime. That would seem to rule out a drug possession charge, especially because everyone in the Explorer was hospitalized. If they had drugs on them, police would have found them already. They could be loosely connected to the thefts, maybe they knew one or both of the victims and police are alleging they helped orchestrate the thefts. There are a number of possibilities, but the one our Clay County Theft Attorney tends to see the most in these cases is charging people in order to give them more incentive to talk. It’s much easier to ignore police and not cooperate with their investigation when you are home and free than it is when you are looking at five years in prison. It will be interesting to see what charges are eventually filed against the women and if they end up testifying against Beckworth and Rafuse.
If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Clay County or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Clay County Theft Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.