A Jacksonville man is in police custody facing a pending sexual battery charge.  The man also happens to be a registered sexual predator in Florida who is on probation.  According to an article in the Florida Times Union, the man was drinking with a woman and later in the night, the woman claimed she woke up to her pants being pulled down.  She alleges the man engaged in several sex acts with her without her consent.  The man then quickly left the apartment because he had a curfew as part of his probation, according to the woman.  Another condition of the suspect’s probation is that he wear a GPS monitor.  Police confirmed that the man was at the alleged victim’s apartment at the time of the alleged rape.  The man’s DNA was allegedly found on the woman’s pants.

Because the man was arrested for a new law violation while on probation, his Duval County sex offender probation is going to be violated.  Even though he now has a $500,000 bond on the new sex charge, the bond for the violation of probation will almost surely be NONE.  That means once arrested on the violation, he cannot bond out at all.  When you are on probation in Jacksonville and are arrested on any new charge, you can be violated if the new arrest was based on probable cause.  That means that more likely than not, the arresting officer believed a crime was committed.  The man is on probation for sexual battery of a minor, which is a first degree felony.  That means he is facing up to thirty years in prison if he is found in violation of his probation.  This possible sentence does not include the new charge.

The new sex charge is sexual battery, which is a second degree felony in Florida.  If filed, this charge carries a maximum of fifteen years in prison.  Sexual battery, also referred to as rape, is usually a he said/she said.  That appears to be the situation in this case, although police claim the man denied any sexual contact with the woman.  This presents a problem if his semen was in fact found on her pants.  The fact that the man is a registered sex predator is going to hurt his credibility with prosecutors assigned to make the decision on whether or not to file the new charge.

A woman was recently arrested in St. Johns County, Florida on several charges resulting from her being found sleeping with a baby on her.  According to an article on News4Jax.com, Police say the woman was parked at a gas station and was seen sleeping with a child in her lap.  Police checked the plates on the car and found out the car was stolen from another state.  Upon searching the car, police allegedly found heroin and drug paraphernalia along with used baby items.  The woman was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, child neglect, grand theft auto and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The basis for the child neglect charge is most likely the several used diapers found in the car along with bad milk.  In order to prove a child neglect charge in Florida, the State Attorney’s Office has to prove that the woman willfully failed to provide the child with the care, supervision and services necessary to maintain the child’s physical or mental health.  Neglect of a child in St. Johns County can be repeated actions or a single incident.  Certainly, being passed out with drugs in a car can be seen as purposely failing to provide the baby with supervision.  Neglect of a child is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

Heroin is considered a controlled substance in Florida and possession of it is also a third degree felony.  Syringes were found along with the heroin.  This is the basis of the possession of paraphernalia charge in St. Johns County.  Drug paraphernalia, in Florida, is defined as any equipment, products or materials of any kind intended for putting illegal drugs in the body.

A woman in Jacksonville was arrested on the charge of child abuse after being accused of leaving her child in a hot car with no air conditioning.  According to a report in a report from News4Jax, the woman allegedly left the small child in the car for a minimum of forty minutes outside the woman’s place of work.  A passerby saw the child in the car and noticed she was unattended and sweating.  The witness contacted police.  Officers noted that while the child was very sweaty and hot, the child did not appear to be physically harmed.  After being arrested, the woman’s bond was set at $20,003.00.

In order to be convicted of child abuse in Duval County, the State Attorney’s Office must prove certain things.  The defendant must have knowingly or willfully:  1.  intentionally inflicted physical or mental injury on the child or 2.  committed an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to the child or 3.  actively encourage someone else to commit the act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental harm.  If the State goes forward with the charge against the woman in this case, they will probably be proceeding on the theory that her act of leaving the child in a hot car could be expected to cause physical harm to the girl.

When someone is arrested in Jacksonville on any charge, the judge in first appearance court sets a bond.  In this case, the woman’s bond in $20,003.00.  It is unclear whether or not the woman has any criminal history, which would be a factor in determining her Duval County bond.  Judges must also consider whether or not the woman is a danger to the community and whether or not the woman will likely flee the jurisdiction.  Most Jacksonville bondsmen require ten percent of the bond as payment to get out of jail.  In this case, the woman or her family would have to pay the Duval County bond company $2003.00 and have collateral to cover the rest of the bond should she not appear at a future date.

A recent article from the Associated Press highlights the growing number of people being placed on sex offender registries all over the country.  According to the report, there are more than 800,000 people on registries in the United States.  Their crimes vary from relatively minor indecent exposure charges to serious child molestation charges.  In certain states, Florida included, once you are placed on a sex offender registry, you can NEVER get off.

When someone is arrested for any sex crime in Jacksonville, they will most likely have a very high bond.  As high as if they were facing a murder charge with a lot less evidence.  The State Attorney’s Office then has about two and a half weeks to make a decision about what to do with the case.  They can file the case as charged, they can drop the case because of a lack of evidence, or try to negotiate a disposition prior the the filing decision.

Negotiations in sex cases are very important and can have lifelong consequences.  Sometimes, the prosecutor assigned to the case will offer to file a non-sex charge in return for the defendant serving jail time, going on probation, or both.  Sometimes, the prosecutor will offer the sex charge with no jail or prison time, but require sex offender probation with the added bonus of being labeled a sex offender for life.  In Duval County and every county in Florida, when you are convicted of a sex crime, such as sexual battery, sex offender probation is going to be part of the punishment.  Florida sex offender probation is the most difficult probation in our justice system.  An offender will be required to successfully complete psychosexual counseling, have no unsupervised contact with minors, cannot live within 1,000 feet of places where children regularly congregate, submit themselves to searches from the probation officer at all times, may have to wear an ankle monitor as well as many other conditions.

A deputy clerk or court in Orange County, California, has been arrested on federal charges of violating RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, bribery and money laundering.  According to a report in the Orange County Register, the clerk changed dispositions, marked as “paid” unpaid fines and court costs, changed actual charges, and posted a defendant as completing jail time that was never served.  The clerk allegedly hired recruiters who would advertise the illegal services.  The article reported that of the over 1,000 cases, sixty nine were Driving Under the Influence, 160 were other miscellaneous misdemeanor charges and the remaining appear to be traffic citations.

The county clerk’s office in any city is extremely important.  They are tasked with keeping all records of civil and criminal cases.  With traffic tickets and all criminal cases in Duval County and the surrounding counties, the clerk’s office assigns a case number and a case record in every case.  With traffic tickets, the records payments of fines or schedules court dates and the dispositions of those dates.  As with civil traffic citations, the clerk’s office also records every step of criminal cases in Jacksonville.  The website contains information on each and every case including what division it is assigned to, the arrest and booking report, information on what happens at every court date, all motions that are filed and all fines and court costs owed.

In the California case, the clerk is accused of lowering charges in the system.  For example, when someone is arrested for a DUI in Jacksonville, the State Attorney’s Office has the discretion lower the charge to a Reckless Driving.  Prosecutors decide what to file or not to file.  The clerk in this case allegedly forged prosecutor’s signatures on some of the dispositions.  Changing the DUI to a Reckless can have very good consequences for a defendant, including avoiding a driver’s license suspension and avoiding future elevations of punishment should they be arrested for DUI again.

A  mechanic working for the City of Jacksonville was recently arrested on one charge of grand theft in Duval County.  According to an article in The Florida Times Union, the now ex-employee stole paint and various automotive parts from the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, where he worked.  A friend of the accused reportedly told the Authority he believed the man was stealing the parts and paint after the two had a disagreement.  The “friend” gave an auto part he received from the accused and after looking at the serial number, it was confirmed to belong to JTA.

All thefts in Florida, no matter the value stolen, are proven the same way.  To be convicted of any theft, the State Attorney’s Office has to prove that a person knowingly obtained or used, or attempts to obtain or use, property belonging to another person, either temporarily or permanently.  That means, for example, if you pick up a pen in a store and conceal it, but decide to abandon the theft and put the pen back, you can still be arrested for stealing the pen because you “temporarily” deprived the store of their pen.

There are different severity levels of thefts, the most serious being stealing cash or property valued at $100,000 or more.  This is considered a first degree felony in Florida punishable by up to thirty years in prison.  If the property taken has a value of between $20,000 and $100,000, it is one level down to a second degree felony.  The maximum punishment on this level is fifteen years in prison.  If the value is over $300 and less than $20,000, it is a third degree felony with an exposure to up to five years in prison.  The most common theft charges are considered misdemeanors, with value under $300.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with multiple other law enforcement agencies in Florida, has made several arrests connected to an internet/traveler sting.  According to an article in The Florida Times Union, four men have been arrested this week on sex charges in Jacksonville.  This is the tail-end of the arrests, according to the report.  Eleven arrests were made in July after the sheriff’s office conducted “Operation Blue Hawk”.  Typically, detectives pose as either a boy or a girl, between twelve and fourteen years of age, asking to meet up.  When the man appears at a time and location certain, they are usually arrested on the spot for soliciting a minor, traveling to meet a minor, and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.  All of these Duval sex charges are felonies.  One of the men allegedly involved in this sting possessed child pornography when arrested.

When police set up these stings, they have their act together.  All communications with a subject are saved, including emails, direct messages, texts and phone calls.  When the suspect comes to the location set up by the detectives, they are immediately arrested when they walk in the door.  All electronic devices are taken from them, including their cell phones and computers.  The phones and computers are searched and if any questionable images or videos are found, a new charge will be added.  Under Florida law, if you seduce, lure or entice a child, or someone you believe to be a child, to commit illegal sexual conduct, this is a third degree felony.  In addition to facing up to five years in prison, you are facing being labeled a sex offender, forever.  Traveling to meet the minor is also a third degree felony, punishable the same way.  The one felony associated with these stings that is not a “sex” charge is unlawful use of a two-way communication device.  This is also a felony in Florida.  The one man in this sting has an additional charge of possession of child pornography.  Child pornography is defined as any image showing a minor engaged in a sex act.

If arrested in a traveler sex sting, it is imperative to seek the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable Jacksonville sex crime lawyer.  Not every case is the same.  Mitigation can be presented to the state attorney’s office to possibly have the charges reduced or even dropped in the right circumstance.

A man is in jail in Gainesville, Florida after a Florida football player intervened in an alleged sexual assault on an intoxicated woman.  According to an article on KTLA 5 news, the football player was working security at a local bar and noticed the man and woman touching near a dumpster.  Both parties appeared drunk and when the man started touching the woman sexually, security pulled the man away and the police were called.  The woman was allegedly unable to hold her head up and had trouble standing.  The accused man was charged with sexual battery and has a $500,000 bond.

Sexual battery when a victim is physically incapacitated or unable to resist is one of the most serious sex crimes in Jacksonville and all of Florida.  It can be charged as a first degree felony, which is punishable by up to thirty years in prison.  Florida statutes define a “physically helpless” victim as one who is unconscious, asleep, or is physically unable to consent.  Being drunk or intoxicated on drugs can be considered physically helpless in this case.  In any rape allegation, it usually comes down to a he said/she said.  A woman saying she did not consent to sexual contact can be enough to prosecute a sexual battery.  Even if she did not physically resist.  Even if she did not initially report the alleged assault.  Even if the two were seen together, happy, just before the alleged rape.  In many cases, there is no physical evidence to substantiate the claim.  If the alleged victim seems credible to the prosecutor, that is enough to move forward.  In the Gainesville case, the security reportedly took cell phone video of the contact between the parties at the dumpster.  If there is video evidence of sexual contact, the issue will come down to whether or not the woman consented or had the ability to consent.

The extremely high bond, half a million dollars, is not abnormal when there are accusations of sexual misconduct.  In Duval County and around Florida, bonds for sex cases are far higher than any others, including some murders and violent crimes.  The mere suggestion or allegation of illegal sexual contact can lead to being arrested and put in jail on a bond so high you cannot meet it or you could have no bond.  Just based on a person’s word.  That is why it is so important to consult with an experienced Duval County Sex Crime Attorney the minute there is any word of sexual misconduct.

A manager at JTA, or Jacksonville Transportation Authority, is facing a felony charge of grand theft.  According to a report in the Florida Times Union, the man stole over $300,000.00 from the Authority.  Part of the manager’s duties included being involved in real estate transactions, according to the article.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is alleging that the man diverted funds that belonged to the authority to his personal bank account.  The alleged illegally obtained funds total $394,624.65.  The manager was arrested for grand theft of an amount over $100,000, which makes the charge a first degree felony punishable by up to thirty years in prison.

Grand theft charges in Jacksonville vary depending on the amount of money or the value of the property stolen.  In this case, because the amount is over $100,000, it is considered a first degree felony, which is the most serious level.  If the value of property or money stolen is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000, the theft is a second degree felony.  If the amount is $300 or over but less than $20,000, it is a third degree felony.  Any amount under $300 is a misdemeanor, which is handled in county court.

The manager’s bond is set at $300,003.  That bond is subject to what is called a “Nebia” hearing.  When a crime involves a lot of money, such as theft of the money or being accused of being a drug dealer, courts can require this hearing to find out where bond funds would be coming from.  The government does not want an accused suspect to use illegally obtained money to bond out of jail. Even if the case is eventually dropped, the suspect may still have to show where exactly the money is coming from.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reports that the thefts of motorcycles increased substantially this year compared to last.  According to an report in The Florida Times Union, there are already as many of these thefts this year than in all of 2015.  The article reports that the weather warming up contributes to the spike.  Many of the motorcycles are sold off for their parts either at a shop or online.  The state of Florida ranks second for motorcycle thefts in the United States.

If someone steals a motorcycle and sells off the parts, a couple of crimes can be charged in Jacksonville.  The obvious one is Grand Theft.  Theft is knowingly taking someone’s property intending to temporarily or permanently deprive them of their property.  It becomes “grand” and a third degree felony if the value of the item is over $300.00 or if the item is a motor vehicle.  If convicted of a third degree felony in Florida, you are facing up to five years in prison.  If the value of the item is below $300.00 and $100.00 or over, the crime can be charged as a first degree misdemeanor.  If below $100.00, it is a misdemeanor of the second degree.

The other crime that can be charged is substantially more serious and in most cases, easier to prove.  Dealing in stolen property in Duval County is a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  Any person who buys, sells or even tries to buy or sell items he or she knew or should have known was stolen can be charged.  In the motorcycle thefts, if the parts are put for sale on ebay, each part being sold can be a separate criminal charge.  When something is stolen either in a burglary or from a theft, police will scour pawn shops for recent sales and will peruse websites such as craigslist and ebay trying to find the items.

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