Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

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When a criminal conviction is invalidated on appeal, the state is obligated to refund fees, court costs and restitution paid by the defendant, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month.

In Nelson V. Colorado, a violation of due process rights was found under the 14th Amendment. The state’s statute regarding compensation for the exonerated, which allows the retention of conviction-related assessments until the exonerated person proves his or her innocence by clear and convincing evidence in a civil court proceeding.

“Is there a risk of erroneous deprivation of defendant’s’ interest in return of their funds if, as Colorado urges, the Exoneration Act is the exclusive remedy? Indeed yes, for the act conditions refund on defendant’s’ proof of innocence by clear and convincing evidence,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. “But to get their money back, defendants should not be saddled with any proof burden.”

Two petitioners both had convictions dealing with sexual abuse or attempted sexual abuse of children. One was ordered to pay $8,192.50 in fees, and was acquitted of all charges on appeal. The Colorado Department of Corrections kept $702.10 of that money. The other petitioner had one conviction reversed on direct review, and the others were vacated on post-conviction review. He was ordered to pay $4,413 in fees, and paid the state $1,977.75 after his conviction.

Neither person filed a claim under the state’s Exoneration Act, but both petitioned the court for a refund. The first petitioner’s trial court denied her motion, and the second petitioner’s post-conviction court refunded costs and fees, but not restitution. The Colorado Court of Appeal reversed, but the state supreme court found that since the two did not file a claim under the statute, the trial courts did not have the authority to grant refunds.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the majority. Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the case.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent, arguing that the majority did not address whether petitioners could show “a substantive entitlement” for the money they paid in accordance with their criminal convictions.

“No one disputes that if petitioners had never been convicted, Colorado could not have required them to pay the money at issue. And no one disputes that Colorado cannot require petitioners to pay any additional costs, fees, or restitution now that their convictions have been invalidated,” Thomas wrote. “It does not follow, however, that petitioners have a property right in the money they paid pursuant to their then-valid convictions, which now belongs to the state and the victims under Colorado law.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote a concurrence for the judgement, finding that the majority’s treatment of restitution wasn’t “grounded in any historical analysis.” He wrote at length about Mathews v. Eldridge, a 1976 U.S. Supreme Court case that established a three-part balancing test to determine if the government must offer a hearing to a citizen who faces losing his or her property.

“The Court summarily rejects the proposition that ‘equitable considerations’ might militate against a blanket rule requiring the refund of money paid as restitution…but why is this so,” Alito writes. “What if the evidence amply establishes that the defendant injured the victims to whom restitution was paid but the defendant’s conviction is reversed on a ground that would be inapplicable in a civil suit?”

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Jacksonville police have made a massage parlor prostitution arrest.

A 57-year-old woman was arrested Thursday after she allegedly offered to perform a sex act for $70 on an undercover police officer who was getting a massage, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Police said a 55-year-old woman was arrested earlier this month during a prostitution sting at a different Jacksonville massage spa.

Prostitution is defined as any sexual activity in return for payment. If you have been accused of prostitution, understand that you are innocent in the eyes of the law until proven guilty. You have the right to a criminal defense attorney and due process under the law. Our Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you establish a viable defense when facing prostitution charges.

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A woman accused of performing oral sex on a man inside the Duval County Courthouse and then posting a video of the act has been arrested.

The 26-year-old was booked into the Duval County jail Wednesday night, according to jail records.

Authorities started investigating after a video surfaced on social media showing a man receiving oral sex from a woman in front of what appears to be a courtroom in January. The woman had been in the courthouse for an arraignment for a drug paraphernalia arrest, according to court records. She pleaded no contest and was sentenced to time served.

The incident also was captured on a courthouse security camera.

If you think you are doing something illegal, it is never a good idea to take a video and post it on social media. The same goes if you have been arrested for a crime. While you may want to post about your arrest as a way to blow off steam or gain support, this is just a bad idea and could be deemed as evidence and eventually used against you in court. Your post could even get you arrested again. When in doubt, the rule is simple: don’t post it on social media!  

Being arrested and charged with a crime is extremely stressful. If you have been charged with a criminal act, you need to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to make sure your rights remain protected. Our Duval County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you establish a solid defense against your charges.

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A Dunedin man was arrested last week on charges of sexual battery on a minor.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office alleges that a 15-year-old girl was in the care of the 32-year-old man when he engaged in sexual activity with her on at least two occasions.

The teen apparently told an adult what happened, who reported it to the sheriff’s office.

The man is charged with one count of sexual battery and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation.

He was booked into the Pinellas County jail.

Anyone can be accused of a sex crime. Once you have been accused, police will investigate and usually make an arrest. All it takes is one person’s word against yours. When children are involved, police and prosecutors tend to side with whatever they say happened, regardless of whether it’s true. Because of this, you must take appropriate action to protect yourself and your future. You need a criminal defense attorney who can tell your side of the story and make sure your rights are protected.

If you or someone you know has been accused of a sex crime, you must act fast and obtain legal representation. Our Pinellas County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you through this difficult time. We will investigate the charges against you and make sure any evidence against you was obtained legally. We will also look into the credibility of your accuser.

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A recent Polk County six-day-long undercover sting resulted in 114 arrests.

The sting — dubbed “Operation Not So Silent Night” — focused on suspects allegedly advertising prostitution in online ads and human trafficking.

While a total of 114 people were arrested, warrants were filed on two others.

During the investigation, female undercover detectives posted fictitious ads online, and male undercover detectives responded to ads posted online by others.

The suspects ranged in age from 17 to 64 years old. In a news release, the sheriff’s office highlighted some of the arrests.

Undercover prostitution stings happen every day across the U.S. Police usually employ any tactics, even if they are not legal, to try and make arrests. Our Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton understand how unfair these stings can be. We can help you understand the charges you are facing and make sure you have the best defense possible.

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Four women, who range in age from 29 to 52, were arrested Wednesday on prostitution charges during a citywide sting, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Three of the arrests happened in the urban core area, but one of the women was arrested near 103rd Street on the Westside, according to reports.

In all four cases, the women allegedly offered to perform oral sex on an undercover detective for $23, the arrest reports say.

The bust was part of the Sheriff’s Office’s efforts to crack down on prostitution in Jacksonville and cut down on crime.

Last month, police arrested 12 men for allegedly soliciting for prostitution during a sting operation along Philips Highway.

If you have been arrested for prostitution, you need to understand what the law says about this sex crime and your rights. Prostitution is offering or agreeing to engage in the act of prostitution, which is the exchange of a sexual act for money or other goods or services. Florida law enforcement officers have the right to arrest any person that assists in arranging an act of prostitution.

Prostitution is typically a misdemeanor offense and the penalties for a first-time prostitution charge can include up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

There are several different defense strategies that could help you defeat your prostitution charges, and our Duval County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton will take every single option into consideration to try and achieve a positive outcome for your case. We are well aware of how law enforcement officers will use undercover sting operations to make arrests for prostitution. Most of these busts involve sneaky and sometimes even not so legal tactics to obtain an arrest.

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The Lake County Sheriff’s Office arrested 10 men last week following a recent undercover cyber operation dubbed “Treasure Florida’s Kids.”

Detectives said during the week-long operation, they posed online as a teenager or a child’s caregiver to target those looking online for sex with children.

Eight of the men reportedly traveled to the Golden Triangle area. Authorities said it includes Eustis, Tavares and Mt. Dora.

Two other men were arrested at their homes after detectives allege they sent explicit pictures.

Authorities claim some of the men brought items with them, like blankets, pillows, beer and money.

Ten other law enforcement agencies participated in the sex sting, including Osceola, Seminole, Polk and the Citrus Sheriff’s Offices.

Internet sex stings are nothing new. In fact, these are a common occurrence with police departments across the state of Florida as well as throughout the United States. Police stage these stings and use all kinds of tactics to get normally law abiding citizens to agree to their requests so they can arrest them. In fact, police will bend the rules in order to make an arrest in these undercover schemes. Many of the men arrested for allegedly seeking to have sex with a child were not trying to meet children online. Rather, they were looking for other adults when detectives started to persuade them to break the law.

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A Citrus County man was found guilty for sexual battery on a person 12 – 18 years old and lewd/lascivious molestation of a child.

Authorities claim the 46-year-old man sexually battered the child while in a position of familial or custodial authority.

He was found guilty during a retrial after the first trial ended in a hung jury.

The man could face the following at sentencing:

  • 3 counts sexual battery punishable by 30 years each count.
  • 2 counts of Lewd/Lascivious punishable up to 20 years each count.

Once a person is found guilty by a jury at trial, one of the most important stages of their criminal case is sentencing. At a sentencing hearing, the judge will issue a written judgment of your guilt as well as a court order for the penalties imposed. These penalties can vary, but your criminal defense lawyer should be able to prepare you for what to expect.

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A state investigator has been arrested on charges that he sexually abused two young boys.

According to officials, the man was working on a case at a children’s home for boys who’ve been abused. Investigators claim two 8-year-olds allege the man inappropriately touched them and made them perform sexual acts on him.

The man used to work for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in Tampa investigating crimes against children.

Investigators reported that the man has denied any allegations against him.

The man is charged with lewd and lascivious molestation of two victims under 12 years old. He has also been placed on administrative leave.

When a police officer or other law enforcement official is charged with a crime of any kind, it is absolutely vital that they speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure that their rights are protected. When it comes to sex crimes cases against a law enforcement officer, prosecutors will vigorously try to make it known that the officer is not above the law. It is likely that the prosecution will seek the maximum penalties, maybe even enhanced penalties, just to “make an example” of the officer charged.

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New Smyrna Beach Police said a man has been charged with lewd acts on a child.

Officers were called shortly after 7:40 p.m. Wednesday to Florida Memorial Hospital. The dispatcher advised that a child had reportedly been sexually abused.

When police arrived at the hospital, they claim a witness told them that a 5-year-old boy was allegedly victim to lewd acts by a family friend.

The child was out of sight for only a few moments when the act allegedly occurred, according to police. When the boy’s guardian went to check on him, she claims she saw the 59-year-old family friend performing ‘a lewd act’ on the boy.

A short time later, the accused was located at his home and was placed under arrest for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 12.

He was transported to the Volusia County Branch Jail without bond.

If you or someone you love has been accused wrongfully of child sexual abuse, you will need the best possible criminal defense attorney handling your sex crimes case. Our Volusia County Criminal Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have the experience, knowledge and dedication that you need. We recognize that these cases require an aggressive line of defense as a conviction can result in harsh sentences potentially involving years in prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender.

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