A Jacksonville police officer is now facing two charges – including one felony – in connection with allegedly lying about how many hours she worked in an off-duty role. Investigators had been watching the officer for more than a month and found she only worked about 15 of the 24 hours she was reporting for her off-duty role providing security at an apartment complex, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. The problem is, the officer filled out paperwork to indicate she worked all of the hours, but instead was leaving early or arriving late, the newspaper reported.
The officer is charged with official misconduct and petit theft. The official misconduct charge is the one to worry about. The charge is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison. More importantly, pleading guilty to or being convicted of a felony can have a crippling effect on her law enforcement career, as many agencies have specific policies against hiring people with a felony on his or her criminal record. The theft charge is a second-degree misdemeanor, which could include some county jail time, but rarely does.
Jacksonville police officers are allowed to use their patrol car and uniform when they work off-duty security jobs, such as the one the defendant was working at a local apartment complex. In exchange for the use of the uniform and car, the sheriff’s office must approve all of the off-duty work and employees must report their time. When Jacksonville Theft Cases like this occur, they are usually the result of a tip from the agency to police, though it is not clear how the investigation began in this case. In this Jacksonville Theft Case, the officer offered to go on unpaid leave until the criminal investigation is complete, the newspaper reported. Once the criminal case is over, police will conduct their own internal investigation to look at discipline for the officer. In many cases, the internal discipline can be more severe and have a greater impact on the employee than the criminal charges.
Jacksonville Theft Cases involving employees likely happen every day and don’t receive headlines. In this case, the amount of money allegedly stolen was less than $300. But in this case, it is a police officer lying about employment – which always earns attention from the media. There are certain balances people must make in handling a criminal case and making sure it is isn’t something that puts their career in even more jeopardy. Our Jacksonville Theft Attorney can help navigate that balance and look for a solution that minimizes both the criminal and employment consequences in your Jacksonville Felony 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.