Jacksonville police arrest wrong man in theft case, he’s finally released after nine months in jail

A Jacksonville man spent nine months in jail for a robbery he didn’t commit, and it took those nine months for prosecutors to pay enough attention to the case to figure it out and release him from jail. Joshua Angel was arrested in September 2012, the night two men robbed a man in a wheelchair of $20 using a toy gun, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Angel was charged with robbery in Jacksonville and, because he has a criminal record, the state was planning to charge him as a habitual offender, exposing him to 30 years in prison, the newspaper reported.

This Jacksonville Theft Case is a perfect example of why eyewitness testimony in Jacksonville Criminal Defense Cases is inherently flawed, as is the way it is often obtained by police. In this case, the victim called police immediately after the robbery at a gas station that ended in him being knocked from his wheelchair and gave police a description of the two suspects, including their approximate ages, clothing and any tattoos they had, the newspaper reported. Police canvassed the area and found Angel at a different gas station nearby and pulled him out of a group of people, even though he was eight inches taller than the description, had exponentially more tattoos and slightly similar clothing, the newspaper reported. Officers then told the victim they found someone matching the description, showed him the side of Angel’s face and the victim, who was not wearing his prescribed eye glasses, told police he was the guy and Angel was arrested.

Angel was furious with police and proclaimed his innocence, but he was still arrested in Duval County and, most likely, his record didn’t do him any favors. Police had what they needed. But the way the identification was conducted has some questioning the tactic and it’s a common criticism in Jacksonville Criminal Defense Cases. By bringing the person there and saying he matches the description, police are inherently suggesting they think they have the guy. And it takes a lot for a victim, especially one who is probably shaken up and angry an hour after being robbed, to tell the police they are wrong. Study after study consistently shows the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. Two people can see the exact same thing and describe it differently, especially in the heat of the moment. Other evidence in the case also pointed away from Angel. Most notably, the victim ended up with the toy gun that was used and, when it was tested for fingerprints, there were no ties to Angel. Angel’s attorneys had to hire a an expert to examine the surveillance video to prove that it wasn’t Angel for prosecutors to even look at the case – something that should be done before criminal charges are filed. Angel was eventually released in June, but he had to prove his innocence to get out. So much for innocent until proven guilty in this Jacksonville Criminal Defense Case.

If you or a loved one needs a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm at (904) 365-5200 for a FREE CONSULTATION. Our Jacksonville Theft Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.