Readers of this criminal defense blog about sex crimes know that a suspect still has rights after an arrest. First and foremost, an accused has the right to request legal representation. Having an attorney present may help prevent violations of a criminal defendant’s procedural and constitutional rights.
However, one Florida youth spent 35 days in jail before the police mistakes resulting in his wrongful arrest came to light. Apparently, the Clay County officers who were investigating an alleged sexual assault against a minor may have been too invested in the alleged victim’s account to follow proper protocols.
The 12-year-old victim provided investigators with her alleged assailant’s name, the school he attended, and a general description of his appearance. However, the officers failed to confirm a visual identification by showing the alleged victims photographs of the suspect. Instead, they went to the high school and arrested boy.
To make matters worse, the prosecutor declined to charge the 17-year-old as a juvenile, and instead sought adult charges against him. That ultimately resulted in 35 days in jail until the young man learned the details that had led to his arrest. Upon realizing that the alleged victim has provided a specific name, he informed officers of another boy with the same name, who also attended his same school. When officers showed that other boy’s picture to the alleged victim, the victim confirmed the other boy was her alleged assailant.
A wrongful arrest, while uncommon, illustrates the devastating effect of criminal charges upon an individual’s reputation, social and professional circles. It’s hard to believe that a high school student could serve 35 days in jail because police took shortcuts. In the case of an alleged sex crime, a suspect may face experience even more prejudicial treatment and repercussions. With an experienced sex crimes attorney, however, a defendant may have a better chance of receiving fair treatment under the law.
Source: Florida Times-Union, “Name mix-up in sexual battery case sends wrong Clay County teen to jail for 35 days,” Topher Sanders, Feb. 24, 2014