Articles Posted in Police

A St. Johns County police deputy was recently arrested.  According to an article in the St. Augustine Record, the officer was arrested for domestic battery, which is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida.  The deputy allegedly hit a woman in the face at his house.  His St. Johns County bond was set at $500.00 and he has been released.

In Jacksonville and all over Florida, a battery is committed when someone intentionally touches or strikes the victim against his or her will or intentionally causes bodily harm to another person.  The battery becomes “domestic” when the victim is a family or household member.  This includes spouses, ex-spouses, blood relatives, people who have children in common and people who reside together as if a family or who have lived together as a family sometime in the past.  A simple battery, without the domestic part, is a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a year in jail.  When the charge becomes domestic, punishments can be more severe.  The court may impose mandatory jail time and the defendant may have to complete a twenty-four class batterers’ intervention program.  This is an intense program that is completed while the defendant is on domestic battery probation in Florida.  If there is a violation of probation, the defendant can be placed back in jail to address the violation.

In addition to simple and domestic battery, there are also higher levels of battery in Florida.  A person commits an Aggravated Battery when they intentionally committed a battery and in the process, caused great bodily harm or permanent disability to the victim or used a deadly weapon.  The elevated battery charge becomes a felony, punishable by prison time.  If the victim of a battery is pregnant, this also converts the misdemeanor battery to a felony.  If a person has been convicted of prior misdemeanor battery charges, the State Attorney’s Office may charge any subsequent battery charge as a felony in Florida.

A Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer’s actions are being evaluated after detaining a young man for jaywalking and threatening to put him in jail.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the man did not obey a walk signal and the officer detained him.  After being stopped, the man began to record the interaction on his cell phone.  At first, the man did not go to the officer’s car as directed because he did not know what crime/infraction he committed.  When he did not listen right away, the officer threatened to arrest the man for resisting without violence, which is a first degree misdemeanor in Jacksonville.  The man eventually complied and was issued a citation for jaywalking and for not having a Florida ID card or a driver’s license on his person.  Once released, the man posted the video interaction with the officer on social media.

Crossing the street on a red hand is a civil infraction and you can be issued a ticket.  The problem is that the jaywalking law can be selectively enforced in Jacksonville.  It gives officers probable cause to stop or detain a citizen for a period of time.  Very often, in certain neighborhoods, people are stopped for jaywalking, blocking the sidewalk, or riding a bicycle without a light.  Once stopped, officers can say they observe a bulge resembling a weapon on the person, justifying a pat down search.  If they find no weapon, but do find drugs, that person is going to be arrested for possession of a controlled substance in Duval County, which is a felony.  But for the civil infraction, it would be illegal for the police to stop and search that person.

When an officer has the legal right to detain you, you cannot just walk away.  Resisting an officer without violence is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida, punishable by up to one year in jail.  In order to be convicted of resisting in Jacksonville, the state attorney’s office must prove that the person resisted, obstructed or opposed the officer who, at the time, was engaged in the execution of legal process or the lawful execution of a legal duty.  For example, if a police officer is dealing with a situation and an onlooker intervenes, they can be arrested for this crime if the officer claims their intervention impeded the investigation.  Even talking can be interpreted as resisting.

The wrong woman was released from the Clay County Jail last week.  According to an article on Jacksonville.com, Jessica Davis’ family posted her bond for her to be released while her misdemeanor simple battery case is pending.  Instead of being released once the bond was processed, Clay County released another woman, Jessica Arnott.  Arnott was being held in jail on a pending felony aggravated battery charge in Clay County.   The right Jessica was eventually released to her family and the other Jessica was returned to the jail.  Jessica Arnott now faces an additional charge of Escape.  Escape is a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.

When you are arrested in Clay County or anywhere in Florida, you are entitled to be seen by a judge within twenty-four hours.  In some cases, you will get issued a bond prior to going to that first appearance.  These pre-first appearance bonds are reserved for minor crimes, such as petit theft and misdemeanor criminal mischief.  For the most part, the judge in first appearance court will issue a bond, depending on the charge.  There are two considerations judges take into account to set appearance bonds.  The first is whether or not the person is a danger to the community and the second is whether or not the person is a flight risk.  Judges will obviously look at the current allegations against the defendant to determine the level, if any, of danger the arrested person poses to the community at large.  They will also look at the person’s ties to the community and previous arrest record.

Once a bond is set, there are two ways to post it.  You can post the whole amount with the Sheriff’s Office and that amount will be returned when the case is disposed of.  The great majority of people utilize a bondsman.  Most bondsman take 10% of the bond amount and demand collateral to cover the rest.  Bondsmen essentially provide an insurance policy to ensure your appearance in court.  When the bond is posted, the jail runs checks to make sure you don’t have any outstanding warrants or capias’.  If you have nothing holding you, you will be released on the condition your return for your court dates.

A Jacksonville police officer is facing several criminal charges stemming from separate alleged incidents.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the officer of fourteen years is charged with grand theft, petit theft and official misconduct in Duval County.  Those charges are pending after allegations that the officer was paid for time he did not work in off-duty jobs.  Official misconduct and grand theft are both third degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison each and the petit theft is a first degree misdemeanor.  The State Attorney’s Office has not made a decision about filing those charges.  There is another allegation of sexual battery in Jacksonville that the prosecutor on the case has made a decision on.  The officer was accused of paying prostitutes to have sex with him while on duty.  One woman told police she was forced to have sex with the police officer, which is considered a sexual battery in Florida.  The State Attorney’s Office has decided not to file this charge because there is no reasonable probability of conviction.

When someone is arrested for any crime, the prosecutor’s office in that county has to make a decision on whether or not to file the charge.  In order for the police to make an arrest in Jacksonville, they must have “probable cause”.  This means, more likely than not, the accused committed a crime.  Once the case lands on a prosecutor’s desk, that prosecutor must decide whether or not they can prove the case beyond all reasonable doubt, which is a much higher standard than an arrest.  When someone is arrested for a felony in Duval County, which all sex charges are, the prosecutor’s office has a period of time to make a decision about what to do.  They can file the felony case as charged, drop the case if there is not enough evidence, or file the case as a misdemeanor.  Assistant state attorneys have a lot of discretion when deciding what to do and that is why it is so important to hire an experienced criminal attorney.  The Jacksonville criminal attorney can gather evidence and meet with the prosecutor to present your side prior to any charges being filed.

A sexual battery in Florida is defined as oral, anal or vaginal penetration, or union with, the sexual organ of another person or an object without the victim’s consent.  Consent is defined as knowing and voluntary, not coerced.  There are also different levels of sexual battery in Jacksonville.  If the accused sexually battered a victim without violence or physical force, the crime is considered a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a lifetime of being labeled a sex offender.  If the accused used violence or if the victim was physically incapacitated at the time, the sex crime is elevated to a first degree felony.  “Physically incapacitated” can mean asleep or even drunk, which is obviously subject to interpretation.  Often times, rape cases come down to a he said, she said.

A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office police officer has been fired after being arrested for beating a woman in custody, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  The officer was at the base of the jail in the intake area with the woman who he arrested.  That area, as well as other areas in the jail, is video monitored.  The officer was surrounded by three other officers, who did nothing, as the woman was hit repeatedly while restrained.  The officer was arrested for misdemeanor battery in Jacksonville.

In Florida, a simple misdemeanor battery is defined as an intentional touching against someone’s will or intentionally hurting someone.  Even a touch on the shoulder could be considered a battery in Jacksonville if unwanted.  If the victim of the battery is pregnant, the crime is elevated to a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  A simple battery can also be converted to a felony if there is great bodily injury caused by the touching.  Also, if there is a deadly weapon used to injure someone, it is considered a felony in Duval County.  The fired officer will have to face a county judge with his pending case.

Police officers are taught how to handle a “hostile” person in their custody.  There are many ways to restrain an already restrained person that poses little physical threat to the officer.  Presumably, that is why the man was arrested.  The sheriff’s office chose not to discipline the three male police officers who just stood and watched the rogue officer lose his temper on this woman.  The office claims that it is not a crime to witness a beating.  That statement is true in the civilian world, but aren’t police officers held to a higher standard when they witness a crime less than four feet in front of them? Don’t police officers have a duty to protect the community, which this woman is a part of, from present harm.  Harm they knew was illegal as evidenced by them reporting the incident “almost instantaneously”, according to the JSO.

In Baker County this week, a man was arrested for fleeing police and for kicking a police dog, according to an article in the Florida Times Union.  Officers claim that the man drove over 100 miles per hour while fleeing them.  Police also allege that the man intentionally drove his car at the them, which led to the added charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  Once the car hit a tree, the man allegedly refused to exit the vehicle.  Police sent in a canine and the man allegedly kicked and hit at the dog.  The man was treated for injuries at a local hospital and medical staff apparently found a handcuff key up his anus.

The man now faces numerous felonies in Baker County.  The first is an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  This crime is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.  A car is considered a deadly weapon and when used to threaten someone with violence, it becomes “aggravated”  Simple assault in Florida is the intentional and unlawful threat, by word or act, to do violence to another person while having the ability to carry out that violence.  The victim of the assault must have a well-founded fear that the violence may occur.  In this case, the man was driving the car and “drove at” the police officer.  The officer is going to claim that he or she was in fear that they were about to get injured with the vehicle.

The man also was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer, which is also a third degree felony in Florida.  Many people may not know that a K-9 officer is considered a law enforcement officer, just as a human.  Battery is defined as intentionally touching someone against their will or intentionally injuring someone.  A simple battery becomes a felony when the victim is law enforcement.

Police arrested a Jacksonville corrections officer this month, following a tip that he received money to smuggle items into the jail for an inmate.  The investigation began with a tip in August and is still ongoing, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The corrections officer is accused of meeting a woman to get cigarettes and pornographic magazines to be delivered – and receiving payment to make the delivery, the newspaper reported. Neither cigarettes nor pornography are permitted in the county jail and would be considered contraband. The corrections officer is charged with introducing or smuggling contraband into a detention facility, as well as conspiracy to introduce contraband to a detention facility. Because of the type of contraband, both charges are third-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison on each count.

The charges can be elevated in this Jacksonville Felony Case, depending on what the person is accused of bringing into a jail. For example, if the contraband were to be drugs, a weapon or a communications device such as a cell phone, the charge can be a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. Police did not identify the inmate or what he was initially charged with – though authorities did say it is a serious charge, the newspaper reported. The inmate was not been charged related to the contraband, nor has the woman accused of paying the corrections officer to deliver the items.  The corrections officer has been with the department almost three years and the tip to police came from an inmate, the newspaper reported. Police officers can get arrested and get in trouble just like anyone else and, in Jacksonville DUI Cases or others that sometimes occur, they can end facing discipline but still keeping their jobs. This Jacksonville Felony Case differs somewhat because the officer is accused of using his position of authority at the jail and profiting from it. The other main factor is the charge is a felony, and most law enforcement agencies do not allow convicted felons to be sworn officers. It’s also not beyond the realm of possibility to think the officer will get a stricter sentence from the judge based on his positon than the inmate would have had he snuck in the cigarettes and the magazines – or even if the girl involved did the same.

Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney represents people charged with all types of crimes – from misdemeanor theft and battery charges on up to serious drug and gun crimes. Our Jacksonville Felony Attorney will fully investigate the crime against you or your loved one so you can make an informed decision going forward.

A Jacksonville man who escaped while serving a nine-month sentence is now facing decades in state prison.  The man was reported as escaping in June, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man was finally captured after trying to flee from police during a traffic stop this month and is now facing multiple felony charges, the newspaper reported. The defendant ran from the vehicle and was caught on foot, the newspaper reported. For his alleged actions in leaving the detention facility in June, he is charged with escape, a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in state prison.

For the chase after the attempted traffic stop, the man is charged with fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer without violence, reckless driving and driving on the wrong side of the road. Fleeing and eluding can be a number of different felony degrees, depending on the circumstances of the chase. In this Jacksonville Fleeing Case, it is charged as a second-degree felony because the driver is accused of driving at a high rate of speed, or “in a manner which demonstrates a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” as described in Florida law. This second-degree felony has a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison. Resisting an officer without violence is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a year in the county jail and reckless driving is a second-degree misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months in the county jail. Driving on the wrong side of the road is a civil traffic ticket.

The man was initially in jail after pleading guilty to battery and possession of marijuana – two relatively minor misdemeanors. Now, the man is looking at two felonies and a total of 30 years in prison should the judge choose to sentence him to the maximum on both counts and run the sentences consecutively. That is unlikely in this Jacksonville Felony Case, but escaping and then running from police again does not help defendants when it comes to getting the benefit of the doubt from a judge. Felony charges can add up quickly when a person flees from police and, in general, the punishment can be limited if a person simply complies with police. That doesn’t mean a defendant should speak with police – everyone has a right to remain silent. But running from police can simply increase the charges – and the severity of those charges.  Our Jacksonville Felony Attorney represents people charges with all types of crimes and will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one so you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.

A Jacksonville police officer was arrested this month on felony drug charges, accused of bringing pills to an acquaintance who said she was in pain.  The woman sent the officer a text message asking for pills and the officer brought her a bag with six pills, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The pills were painkillers and a muscle relaxer – and all but one would need a prescription, the newspaper reported. The officer is also accused of making sexual advances on the woman but she told him to stop, the newspaper reported. In all, he is facing two different felony charges for sale or delivery of a controlled substance, as well as a battery for touching the woman, the newspaper reported.

Police said there was not enough evidence to charge the man with sexual battery but, because a battery is any unwanted touching, that’s what he was charged with. That charge is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail. The drug charges are the real problem – both are second-degree felonies with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison on each count. Not only do felonies open up the possibility of state prison, for law enforcement officers it can mean the end of their career. Most police agencies will not allow someone to be a sworn officer if they have been convicted of or have pleaded to a felony. The officer is now on leave without pay while the Jacksonville Drug Crime investigation is completed. If the officer had prescriptions for the medication, that could make a big difference in the state’s willingness to discuss a plea agreement to something other than a felony.

The facts of the case, as they have been presented in the media, sound pretty thin. The woman did reach out to the officer for the pills and appears to have been offended by the sexual advances and then called police. The officer was arrested two days later and has not been back to work since. When it comes to the felony drug charges, the charge is the same whether someone sells prescription drugs or gives them to someone for free. The difference could come in sentencing, but the law treats both actions the same. This is where the discretion of prosecutors comes into play with the hope that not every Jacksonville Drug Crimes Case is treated exactly the same.  Our Jacksonville Drug Crimes Attorney represents people accused of all types of drug crimes, from sale or delivery on down to possession. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney will thoroughly investigate the case against you or your loved one, and give you the information needed to make the best decision on how to proceed.

Nassau County Sheriff’s Office officials fired an officer and charged him with felony drug charges the same day.  The investigation is ongoing, but police said they learned the man was selling prescription medication and they had what they needed to fire him, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The man is charged with conspiracy to trafficking hydrocodone and with selling a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a church or a school, the newspaper reported. Both are serious felony charges in this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case. Trafficking in hydrocodone is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and has a minimum mandatory sentence of at least three years in state prison, depending on the amount the person is accused of having. The charge for selling a controlled substance is a second-degree felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison.

And while the two charges in this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case are obviously related, they are not as intertwined as one might presume. Drug trafficking charges are based on the amount of the drug a person has and have nothing to do with whether the person is physically selling drugs. Trafficking charges themselves – and least from the outset – can be much more common in cases involving hydrocodone and other pills because the threshold is so low. Trafficking charges involving hydrocodone start at just 14 grams. For example, Nassau County Drug Crimes Cases involving marijuana are misdemeanors until the amount is 20 grams and trafficking charges don’t kick in until the defendant has 250 POUNDS of marijuana. Depending on how much the person is accused of having, and the amount was not specified in this Nassau County Drug Crimes Case, there are minimum mandatory sentences. For example, if the person is charged with having between 14 and 28 grams, the minimum mandatory sentence is three years. If the amount is between 28 and 50 grams, the minimum sentence is seven years, and it increases to 15 years when the amount is between 50 and 200 grams.

So the actual sale of the drugs carries less of a punishment than the possession, because of the amount. But the sale is likely the biggest issue in firing the officer immediately. Right or wrong, police are held to different standards, and having an officer selling drugs is not going to go over well. The charges in this Nassau County Drug Case may change as the investigation moves on, but the arrest and public release of the facts seem to be a little earlier than normal because of the fact the suspect was an active police officer.  Our Nassau County Drug Crimes Attorney has represented people accused of all levels of drug crimes, accused of having a variety of different substances and will fully investigate the case against you or your loved one so you can make the best decision going forward.