For the second time this year, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office has paid tens of thousands of dollars to a person who had the same name as a suspect, but was still held in jail for a crime he or she did not commit. The second settlement was announced this month, as police paid $50,000 after a teen sued following a month in jail accused of sexual battery on a child younger than 12, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Police were looking for another teen with the same name at the same high school, but did not show the alleged victim a photo of the person they arrested before they locked him up, the newspaper reported. Earlier this year, the sheriff’s office settled another suit, paying $67,000 to a woman who was extradited from Louisiana on a charge and was falsely arrested twice, the newspaper reported. She, too, had the same name of a person who was wanted on various felony charges.
The two incidents were several months apart and led to suspensions for five officers and new policies that verify the identity of suspects that are arrested, the newspaper reported. The incidents underscore the importance of the multiple layers and balances in our criminal justice system. Although there is a constant rush to judgment once a person is arrested, mistakes happen. Unfortunately, as was the case here, once a person is arrested, it almost becomes up to the defendant and his or her Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney to prove innocence in order to be set free. The foundation of our system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. But so often, that is applied at trial and the months that lead up to it are not taken into consideration.
In the Clay County Sex Crime Case involving the teen, the sheriff requested that that teen’s record be immediately expunged so there is no sign of an arrest on his criminal record. That can be the most difficult piece of a wrongful arrest – getting potential employers or others who do a background check to look past the arrest. Whenever you or a loved one is being questioned by police about a crime, it is important to speak with a Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney. It’s human nature to want to talk to the police and explain yourself – especially if you are wrongly accused. But an experienced Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney can help you navigate the system and potentially limit jail time and even avoid charges when police have the wrong person.
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 Clay County Felony Attorney, Victoria “Tori” Mussallem, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.