Mistaken Arrest Lands Florida Teen in Jail for 35 Days

According to an Associated Press report published last week, a 17-year-old had adult charges of sexual battery leveled against him, charges that forced him to live inside a jail for 35 days, all because deputies mixed up his name with that of the intended suspect. One deputy will be suspended and transferred due to the slipup. A disciplinary letter written by the sheriff said that "an innocent man was arrested for an offense that he did not commit."

This horrific error stemmed from the fact that the teen who was arrested has the same first and last name as the suspect; only their middle names differ. As it turns out, not only does the innocent teen share a name with the suspect, but they also go to the same school and have the same birth year. The charge was filed this past August when a girl under 12 approached police, saying that she had sex with an older guy, and she could only give them the name. A suspect could not be identified in a photo lineup. Investigators had to go off of the name they were given, but unfortunately, the sheriff said that investigators did not follow policy. An innocent teen spent more than a month in jail before the mistake was cleared up. The real suspect was arrested and charged with sexual assault in November.

This past December, the sheriff's office asked for the innocent teen's arrest record to be expunged (or erased) otherwise the wrongful arrest would remain a matter of permanent public record, one that could interfere with college, job, and housing applications. The teen has since hired an attorney and may be getting ready to file a lawsuit.

Even the taint of being accused of a sex crime can ruin someone's prospects, and a conviction would seal that destroyed reputation, forcing the convicted person to register as a sex offender. Any wrongful arrest is a terrible and harmful matter, and when someone is accused of a sex crime, then that person can face more than an undeserved sentence in jail or prison.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a serious crime, you can find the powerful defense you need at Thomas & Paulk, P.A. When you are looking for a criminal lawyer in Tampa who can produce optimal case results even in complex cases, and who has the experience and dedication you need, you can rely on our firm. You can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and we also provide a free case consultation. When the rest of your life is on the line, you cannot afford delay. Be sure to contact our Tampa criminal defense firm as soon as you can.