A longtime officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was arrested this month and charged with 27 felonies after authorities say an internal investigation found he falsified time sheets. Police say Denny Hamlin, a 17-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, lied about more than $4,000 in overtime, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Hamlin resigned from his position after being confronted about the falsified documents, the newspaper reported.
The investigation in this Jacksonville Theft Case allegedly revealed that of more than 40 overtime submissions between January and June, 26 were falsified, the newspaper reported. For each of the 26, Hamlin was charged with misconduct by a public official – a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Hamlin was also charged with grand theft and the severity of the charge varies based on the amount stolen, what was taken and where it was taken from. In this Duval County Theft Case, Hamlin was arrested on a first-degree felony grand theft charge, presumably under the provision in state law claiming the money was “law enforcement property.” Normally, the amount Hamlin was accused of taking would only merit a third-degree felony. Instead, he is looking at the possibility of 30 years in prison for the first-degree felony, and 130 more if sentenced to the maximum on each of the 26 official misconduct counts. Now, it’s highly unlikely anyone would receive that amount of time for allegedly stealing about $4,000, and that is not expected in this Jacksonville Theft Case.
But this does show what could be the balance of power between police officers and prosecutors when it comes to Jacksonville Theft Cases. Police officers make the arrest and suspects are booked into jail on charges that police believe qualify. Prosecutors then examine the case and determine which charges they will file. Typically, there are a few weeks between when a person is arrested and when he or she is formally arraigned on charges – and that delay is partly to allow prosecutors to make that decision. In this Jacksonville Theft Case, Hamlin’s arraignment was set for about three weeks after his first appearance in court. This period is also a time where a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney can begin talking with the prosecutors about the case, even starting negotiating if the client wishes, before charges are officially filed. In many Jacksonville Theft Cases, prosecutors are hesitant to drop or reduce charges once they have been filed.
It will be interesting to see if this Jacksonville Theft Case remains a first-degree felony. Granted, Hamlin is facing plenty of other charges here, but any potential sentence is likely to be much lighter for a third-degree felony than it is for a first-degree felony.
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.