Articles Posted in Police

A veteran Jacksonville police officer resigned last week after he was arrested on two counts of soliciting for prostitution in Duval County. David Sumlin, an eight-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, was charged last week with two counts of soliciting for prostitution. The charge is a second-degree Jacksonville misdemeanor and punishable by up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation and a $500 fine. Sumlin was on-duty, in uniform and in a patrol car when the alleged crimes occurred, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The police department learned of Sumlin’s behavior two months ago and spoke with a known prostitute who said she had negotiations with Sumlin about having sex with him, according to the newspaper report. Police then used her as a decoy on two separate occasions, the second last week in which Sumlin agreed to pay $20 for sex, the newspaper reported.

Sumlin, 49, resigned from the sheriff’s office the next day and his law enforcement career is all but over. In cases like this with Jacksonville misdemeanor charges, the punishment from the judicial system tends to dwarf the other penalties Sumlin faces, both professionally and personally. An Duval County arrest like this, especially in his patrol car, is difficult to live down. But, from the perspective of a Duval County Misdemeanor Crimes Attorney, there could be a significant benefit to fighting the charges and making sure the state can prove its case.

An Experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney would at least have a listen to the recordings police made in the case which document the conversation between Sumlin and the woman he thought was a prostitute. If Sumlin does agree to pay her $20 for some sort of sex act, then the case may be a tough one for Sumlin, but it would be worth hearing who was driving that conversation. Soliciting for prostitution cases can be very difficult for the state to prove, unless actual money changes hands as a part of the deal. Police regularly conduct undercover stings where they have either a male posing as someone looking for a prostitute or a female officer undercover as a prostitute. The decoy operation never gets to the point where a sex act takes place, but in some cases there can be doubt as to what constitutes an actual agreement. Another factor in these types of Jacksonville criminal cases is the state is likely to make an offer that does not include any jail time, unless a defendant has a lengthy criminal record. And most of the men involved just want the case over with sooner rather than later, so they’ll plead guilty, avoid jail time and try to move on with their lives. Depending on their chosen profession, it might not be that easy.

Davinian Williams, an unarmed man, was shot and killed by a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer during a routine traffic stop in the Arlington area of Jacksonville, according to a report on News4Jax. The officer fired seven shots at Williams, six of which hit their target. Williams was pulled over for what the officer described as erratic driving, which is a common justification police officers give to stop a vehicle. The area was known for drug trafficking, another common justification. Williams was described by police as a “career criminal” due to his long Jacksonville arrest history. Despite all these factors, he had no weapon on him or in his vehicle and showed no aggression towards the officer. The officer claims he ordered Williams to stop “fidgeting” and, when he failed to comply, opened fire. Powder cocaine and crack cocaine were found in Williams’ socks, likely the reason he was “fidgeting.”

While the officer has been placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is being investigated, likely nothing will come of the killing on the officer’s end. Police officers are given extreme deference in their decision making and they only have to be in fear for their safety to exercise deadly force. They do not have to see a weapon of any kind. Their decision to use force only hinges upon fear. Looking at the factors surrounding the shooting, when the officer pulled Williams over, the first thing the officer probably did was run the tags on his vehicle. From this information he would find out to whom the vehicle is registered and could then run a background check. Before the officer even approached the vehicle, he potentially knew the owner’s Jacksonville criminal history. Police often use a victim’s prior arrest record to establishing the “fear” necessary to justify a homicide by an officer, and in some cases rightly so. You must not forget that police officers are still human, and when pulling someone over in a high crime area, and with the knowledge that the person they are about to confront has a criminal record, they are likely already on edge.

So what is the takeaway from a story like this? The officer was a three year veteran of JSO, not a very long time as a cop. Williams was seen “fidgeting” in the car. Was he going for a gun, hiding crack, or just nervous? It doesn’t matter, because now he is dead. All the officer had to establish was that he thought Williams was going for a weapon, and he is now justified to use force. And cops shoot to kill. Of the seven shots fired, six hit Williams. If you are ever pulled over, regardless of your criminal history, but especially if you have a record, always comply with the officer’s orders. If you have nothing to hide, then nothing should come of it. And even if you are breaking the law, as Williams was by possessing illicit drugs, no arrest is worth your life. The officer cannot just search your car without a reason. Officers will often cite the odor of marijuana in the car as a reason to search a vehicle. If a Jacksonville police officer asks if he or she can search your car, you are allowed, under our Constitution, to say “no”.

The state has dropped DUI charges against a former Jacksonville police officer, now that blood tests show he was not impaired at the time of the crash. Michael Rolison’s career with JSO is still likely over though. He had 12 years with the agency but resigned the day after the crash, telling News4Jax he was given the option of resigning or being fired. Employers don’t always have to be lined up with the courts when it comes to employee arrests in Jacksonville. Police agencies are particularly sensitive in that regard – especially when an officer in arrested for DUI in his patrol car, wearing his police uniform. Rolison was on his way home from work about 2 a.m. last November when his car crossed the center line on a St. Johns County road and crashed into another vehicle, according to the television news report.

As the Florida Highway Patrol investigated the crash, the trooper smelled alcohol on Rolison, and found a bottle cap in the car that matched a beer bottle found outside the car near the crash, News4Jax reported. Those factors led police to start a DUI investigation. Normally, field sobriety exercises would be next up. In this case, they could not be performed. Both Rolison and the 18-year-old whose car he hit were hospitalized following the crash. At the hospital, Rolison initially refused to submit to a blood test, but then decided to after meeting with internal investigators from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, according to the news report. The blood sample was submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and came back with no evidence of drugs or alcohol in Rolison’s system. The results came back months ago, but Rolison’s criminal defense attorney was waiting on records from the hospital he could then give to the state to tie everything together legally, the television station reported.

Last week, the state then dropped the charges of DUI and DUI causing property damage, citing a lack of evidence, according to the news report. For Rolison, the damage is likely done. He admits to News4Jax that he violated department policy by having a beer in his uniform after his shift. His criminal record is now clear. But what about his reputation if he tries to find another law enforcement job? That remains to be seen. The first step in a situation like this is to find an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer that will delve into your case and look for ways to have the charges reduced or dropped. DUI charges are often knocked down, typically because of a technical issue – an error in the way the defendant was pulled over, a lack of reasonable suspicion before asking for field sobriety tests, etc. In Rolison’s case, there’s no technicality. There’s just no evidence.

A Clay County sheriff’s deputy was fired last week, immediately after his arrest on a rape charge. A woman told police about the alleged assault that happened March 8. Two days later, Deputy Jacob Middleton, 26, was arrested and fired, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Very few details on the case were released, though the woman said she did know Middleton prior to the incident and that she went to his apartment that evening. Middleton was released from jail on a $50,000 bond, the newspaper reported.

Organizations like the sheriff’s office have little tolerance for any arrests – especially a sex crime and especially for a rookie cop still in his probationary period. Middleton had been with the department since September. Clay detectives are also the ones investigating the case, so they know as much about what actually happened as anyone – excluding Middleton and the alleged victim. The quick firing could mean they have a good idea Middleton is guilty and can be convicted. Or it could mean he’s not worth the bad headlines for a few months while the case plays out. One certainty is sexual assault charges can be difficult for the state to prove, depending on how much physical evidence is available. In many cases there will be evidence of sexual contact, but one side will be saying it was consensual sex, while the other says it was rape. Then, it’s her word against his.

Depending on the severity of the charge the state ultimately files, Middleton could be looking at life in prison. That’s unlikely, since he’s been released on a $50,000 bond – but a significant prison sentence is indeed a possibility. Moreover, any plea or conviction would brand him as a sexual offender and Middleton would have to register and have his picture broadcast whenever he moves his residence.

Two Gainesville-area businessmen were sentenced last week for bribing top Department of Corrections brass to get a lucrative concessions contract – seven years after the scheme went down. Eddie Lee Dugger was sentenced to 26 months and Joseph Arthur Deese was given 14 months in federal prison for the conspiracy to pay up to $130,000 to disgraced DOC secretary James Crosby, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The sentences cap an ugly eight-year tale for the prison system – and provide a textbook example of how federal investigations can work.

It began in 2004 with a look into rampant steroid use among corrections officers who played in high-stakes softball tournaments on the weekends. It spread to theft of goods meant to be recycled, and with each guilty plea and agreement to cooperate, investigators were gathering string on who they thought was the big fish – Allen Clark.

Turns out, when they went to Clark, he said he could get them Crosby, his best friend and the man who aided Clark’s rapid ascent in the department, according to newspaper reports. Clark served just more than two years and was released in 2009. Crosby is serving an eight-year sentence and is scheduled to be released in two years. Both Crosby and Clark agreed to help the government – presumably to tie up the cases against Deese and Dugger, according to the newspaper.

A Nassau County Sheriff’s Office detective crossed the vaunted “thin blue line,” going to the FBI and wearing a wire to try to take down his boss. A Florida Times-Union investigation published over two days last week provides an inside look at what the feds might be looking for with their probe into the department and retiring Sheriff Tommy Seagraves. A former detective went to the FBI after fearing Seagraves would not take action against deputies seen as friendly to Seagraves who were accused of corruption and civil right violations. The cop-turned-informant secretly recorded conversations within the department for over a year, gathering string for an investigation the FBI is keeping quiet about. Seagraves dismisses the informant as a disgruntled employee with an ax to grind.

Employees usually raise a fuss about corruption for one of two reasons: They’ve got the goods on their employer and there’s a serious problem, or, they are disgruntled.

Either way, it could be trouble for Seagraves and the department.

An Edward Waters College student has filed an internal complaint with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office after police pointed a gun at him during a traffic stop.

The student was on his way to work after class about 1:30 p.m. Thursday when police said they pulled him over because his grey Crown Victoria matched the description of a car used in a Jacksonville burglary, according to a First Coast News Report.

The student told the television station he was not speeding and didn’t know why he was being pulled over. Next thing he knew, officers had drawn their guns and one told him he’d blow his head off if the driver didn’t take the keys out of the ignition, the television station reported. Officers handcuffed the student and held him in the back of a police car for 45 minutes before eventually letting him go. He says police never told him why he was stopped, but First Coast News reported that the information about the burglary was in the police report. The student says the officer popped the trunk of his car and searched without asking permission, but the report says the officer asked for and received consent from the student, the station reported. This is very common when someone is pulled over in Jacksonville. As a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney, many clients tell me they never gave the police permission to search their vehicle. As a matter of fact, most were never even asked.

A former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office records clerk has pleaded guilty to leaking confidential information, including pictures of undercover officers. Kenitra Casper was arrested in June and pleaded guilty last week to 12 counts of disclosing or using confidential law enforcement information, according to the Florida Times-Union. The technical title of these crimes is “Disclosure or use of confidential criminal justice information” and each count is a third degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Casper is facing up to 60 years in prison, but the newspaper story said it is possible Casper will only receive Jacksonville probation. In order to convict someone of this Florida crime, the prosecution must prove that you were a public servant and while working for the city, you did with intent to obstruct, impede, or prevent a criminal investigation or a criminal prosecution, disclose active criminal investigation information that is not available to the public. Casper was leaking pictures of undercover narcotics detectives, confidential photos of juveniles, suspect names and other records that were not supposed to be public. She used her JSO password to cull the information from a police database, the newspaper reported. Police told the newspaper the five detectives were reassigned and have not been injured.

Casper has entered pleas of “guilty” to all the charges against her. It is now up to the judge in the case to decide what sentence she should receive. When a criminal defendant enters a plea to the judge, it is always risky. The judge in Casper’s case can sentence her to “time served”, place her on probation in Duval County, sentence her to jail time or even send her to prison. A “Pre-Sentence Investigaion Report” (PSI) was ordered in Casper’s case. This is a report that is completed by the Florida Department of Corrections. An officer from the Department talks to the defendant and family members to discover what kind of person the defendant is. The Department also runs a background investigation. The purpose of the PSI is to present the judge with enough information to make an informed decision about the defendant he or she is about to sentence.

Cases such as this are a nightmare for the sheriff’s office, showing that the criminal element has someone on the inside feeding them information. One rouge employee can severely damage the credibility of the office, and raises the question of what else may not be above board inside the department. From a defense perspective, it warrants a look at all of the cases involving the detectives whose identities were leaked and involving the suspects whose names were put out there by Casper. There may be something there, there may not be.

A decorated Neptune Beach detective who provided input into the city’s gambling laws now finds herself on the other side – facing a felony charge for her alleged involvement in a Clay County gambling house operation. Detective Camille L. Burban was one of four people arrested in Clay County, according to the Florida Times-Union. She is charged with being the “keeper of a gambling house.” The Florida felony charge is considered a third degree felony and carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Burban’s boyfriend owns a company that sells pool tables and pinball machines, along with video poker and slot machines. Burban’s Facebook page says she has worked for the company more than 20 years, the newspaper reported. According to the police report, the company installed the machines for free at two Clay County bars and would get a 50-50 split from the money collected. Two others were arrested last month, the alleged delivery drivers for the company. Burban called Clay County police several times after the first two were arrested, trying to get back a van that was seized in the first arrest.

Her Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney says he can’t figure what she’s accused of doing wrong and Burban maintains her innocence, the paper reported. Her attorney said Burban answered a few questions from the Neptune Beach City Council when the city was drafting its gaming ordinance and did not play the “instrumental role” her arrested report claims. recently outlined a case of mistaken identity that could end up haunting the falsely accused for life.

An arrest can be a damaging thing for a person who is falsely accused. Despite pleading that the charges aren’t true, police rarely listen they believe they have the right suspect. So, the only place to take those concerns is to the courthouse. Getting a fair trial can squash police malfeasance.Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers have fought hard for years to defend clients who are innocent of the charges where the state has little evidence, but is too strong-willed to listen. This requires a jury to acquit on charges of theft in Jacksonville, drug offenses or even violent crimes.

In this case, a woman was falsely accused and falsely arrested and experts believe there will be a long-lasting effect that could haunt her for years.

A Jacksonville woman was arrested and charged with shoplifting from the Wal-Mart on Normandy Boulevard after a shoplifter seen in the video dropped a purse that had Myrick’s driver’s license. Police hunted her down and arrested her, until the video surveillance proved it wasn’t her.

An expert said that even though she was falsely accused and not only the victim of identity theft, but also bad police work, she will not be able to live down the arrest. The expert, a former FBI agent, told the news station that she will continue to appear in law enforcement databases. So, if she gets pulled over, the officer will see the arrest and could treat her with heightened suspicion, asking if she has any stolen merchandise in her vehicle.

The woman said her driver’s license got into a shoplifter’s purse after she surrendered it to the Department of Motor Vehicles 10 days before the incident. The license had been reported lost by authorities.

But there are ways to fight back.

For one, a person who is arrested must hire an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so she can get involved in the case. That means working with police and prosecutors to dispute the charges and possibly get them dropped.

Even if they are too stubborn to drop the charges, an attorney is necessary to fight the charges before a judge or jury. And once the not guilty verdict comes in, it will be necessary to ensure your lawyer files the paperwork to seal and expunge the records leading to your arrest.

That will guarantee that records don’t show up in public view, but as the expert said to the news station, it’s possible that an arrest will still show up to law enforcement officers. And with the Internet, it’s always possible that mug shots and information that shows up on sheriff’s jail web sites could end up being preserved online forever.

That’s why we have to hope that officers do their due diligence and make arrests based on solid evidence and not weak eye witnesses and hunches. Sadly, that’s not always the case. They sometimes get caught up in the hunt for the arrest and don’t take into consideration the effects an arrest can have on the accused.
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