As a Jacksonville criminal lawyer, I receive telephone calls and emails from people that have been falsely accused and arrested. I have represented people that were arrested for Florida battery or affray charges when they were the ones that were attacked. I have fought for people falsely accused of violent crimes, such as aggravated battery in Jacksonville FL. I have represented people that allegedly committed serious felony crimes just to learn that they was not guilty of the offense charged. False accusations can occur in any county. It could happen to a man in Duval County. It could happen to a woman in St. Johns County. It could even happen to a child in Clay County. First Coast News recently reported a case in which a teenager spent over a month in jail for a crime for which he should have never been arrested. A 17-year-old boy “spent 35 days in the Clay County jail after being charged as an adult in a sexual battery case.”
In this Clay County case, another person did not false accuse the child of committing sexual battery. This teenager’s arrest was due a mistake made by the Clay County Sheriff’s Department. Three deputies “had been seeking another student at the same high school with the same name.” They arrested the wrong person. “Authorities say investigators failed to confirm their suspect’s identity with a photo lineup.” He sat in jail for so long, because “the mistake wasn’t discovered until the teen received court documents detailing the charges against him.”
The “three northeast Florida sheriff’s deputies have been disciplined after [this] arrest mix-up sent the wrong teenager to jail.” The Florida Times Union reported that “one deputy also faces a suspension and a transfer…. In a disciplinary letter, Sheriff Rick Beseler wrote that because of that deputy’s incompetence, ‘an innocent man was arrested for an offense that he did not commit.’”
As a Clay County attorney, I think that there is a big problem that it took 35 days to discover the mix up. The article stated that the mistake was not discovered until the teenager received documents outlining the charges against him. This does not make sense. This problem should have been brought before the court much earlier.