The Florida Department of Law Enforcement last week said a St. Augustine police officer followed proper procedures when he arrested City Commissioner Errol Jones during a domestic dispute. That report from the St. Augustine Record has left many saying the misdemeanor charge of resisting an officer without violence must be true and Jones is guilty.
While it’s all well and good that one police agency is patting another police agency on the back, it means absolutely nothing in Jones’ St. Johns County misdemeanor case.
In all criminal cases in the state of Florida, including charges in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties, the State Attorney’s Office makes the final decision on whether charges will be filed. Just because someone is arrested does not mean the case will go forward.
In many cases of resisting arrest, it comes down to the officer’s word against the suspect. Jones’ case is no different, it is just getting more attention because he’s an elected official.
Jones was arrested at his mother’s house, where he says he was trying to calm down a dispute between his niece and his brother’s roommate. Jones said a police officer grabbed him by the wrist and, when Jones told him to stop, the officer slapped handcuffs on him. The officer said Jones was intoxicated – which the commissioner denies – and disrupting the crime scene. Police said Jones played the dreaded “Do you know who I am?” card and told officers they would not have jobs the next week.
So who’s right?
That judgment lies for now with prosecutors and possibly with a jury down the road – but certainly not with the FDLE. A regular citizen’s word against a police officer’s word can be an uphill battle and that’s where skilled St. Augustine criminal defense attorneys come in.
If you need a criminal defense attorney in St. Augustine or the surrounding area, call Mussallem & Associate, PA at 904-365-5200 for a free consultation.
For more information on this St. Johns County story see: http://staugustine.com/news/local-news/2011-10-28/fdle-says-police-arrest-jones-order#.Tq9A-0PqdPM