Two Jacksonville teens have been charged with animal cruelty after police allegedly found a cell phone video of cats being shot during a drug arrest, CBS News reports.
Given the potential for this turning into a high-profile media case, these two juveniles from Jacksonville may be in for a difficult road ahead in terms of getting a fair trial. As this case progresses, news media will continually report the initial facts as quoted by law enforcement until new facts come out.
And, in this case, the background information will be this initial information provided by police, which makes the defendants appear guilty. In cases where teens are arrested for crimes, especially felony charges, they must get the best possible representation from an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney.
According to CBS News, Officers say they smelled marijuana coming from an apartment and when officers knocked, the 18-year-old answered the door, making the smell even more apparent, they said.
Officers got a search warrant and confiscated about $9,000 in cash, two guns, 20 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The 18-year-old was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police then found the cell phone, though it’s unclear why they believed they had probable cause to search the phone. It’s doubtful that the 18-year-old’s cell phone had a connection to possessing marijuana. And even if it did, it may be even more of a stretch that the cell phone-shot videos would produce any evidence of drug possession.
After officers found the cell phone videos, they found some that included movies of cats being shot. The 18-year-old told officers that his 17-year-old co-defendant’s parents own a restaurant that had a “cat problem,” so they trapped the cats and shot them. The 17-year-old has denied making such a statement.
The news station reports that the stories about the incident have cost the 17-year-old’s family restaurant business after receiving threatening calls about the cats.
In Florida, animal cruelty under Florida Statutes 828.12 can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony. For either charge, a person can kill an animal. But the felony charge requires the state to prove the person intentionally caused the animal’s death. The difference is important, however. The felony is punishable by a five-year prison sentence, while the misdemeanor is one year.
But for juvenile defendants, these charges can carry other non court-related sanctions. For a teenager charged with a high-profile felony crime, it can strip them of the opportunity to go to college or earn scholarships to get a degree. A conviction can lead to disqualification of jobs and other opportunities that a teen must have in order to succeed.
This is part of the reason why fighting a juvenile crime aggressively is critical for any teen. Getting a felony conviction as an adult on their record can be particularly devastating. Successfully petitioning to move the case into juvenile court can reduce the possible penalties as well as keep the charge on the person’s juvenile record as opposed to the publicly open adult criminal record.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for more than a decade and is here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
More Blog Entries:
Jacksonville Juvenile Charged With Animal Cruelty: August 17, 2011
Jacksonville Juvenile Crimes Cause Long-Term Problems: July 28, 2011
2 Florida teens accused of cat shootings after cellphone video confiscated, by Casey Glynn, CBS News