“The Result Was The Wrong Person Was Accused of Crimes She Didn’t Commit”

Those are the words and apparent logic of Clay County Sheriff Rick Beesler according to an article in  Ashely Nichole Chiasson was more than wrongfully accused.  The Sheriff, obviously an elected official, chose his words as euphemistically as possible.  His trusted counsel was mentioned in the article as well.  The Sheriff’s apology could not have taken long to put together since he just recently apologized for his department’s wrongful arrest of a young Clay County man.  Both apologies were necessary because his officers have demonstrated that investigations cease, warrants are obtained, arrests are made and poor people like Ms. Chiasson, unable to make a $10,003 bond, travel several states in a “prison van” while chained hand and foot, based solely upon a match of names.   Ms. Chiasson, per jail records, arrived at the Clay County jail shortly after 3 a.m. on January 23, 2014.  She had been arrested in Louisiana, sat in the Parish jail for days until she received “diesel therapy” heading eastbound on the road in what the apparent transport service here, Prisoner Transportation Services, describes on their corporate website as a “mobile jail.”  Now Beesler’s department has another lawsuit to defend or settle, using collected tax dollars, because of the “hey, we got a name match” style of investigation.   What Ms.Chiasson went through, the lawsuit the Clay County now has to defend, the bogus or incompetently completed affidavit for a warrant presented under oath by a sworn detective to a judge, the State Attorney’s office bringing forth two cases in error are all results of Ms. Chiasson being “accused” as the Sheriff says. One result might be an erosion of the public’s trust in his department.  One result might be that potential Clay County jurors are less inclined to believe Sheriff Beesler’s officers as they testify in future trials.  One result is that the true criminal here is possibly still in the community, possibly still committing crimes.


If an officer does not effect a probable cause arrest, he or she will fill out an “Affidavit for Arrest Warrant” and take it to a judge for a signature.  The officer will either show identification or be “personally known” to the judge.  Most importantly, the officer swears to the judge that what is in the affidavit is the truth.  The judge will either sign and issue the warrant or send the officer away with instructions that more is needed, in the judge’s opinion, before a warrant can be lawfully issued. The judge is looking to see that a crime occurred and what the officer has to present to prove that a certain person committed the crime.  When the judge signs the warrant a decision is then made on the amount of monetary bond.  If the charges are serious enough or the danger to the community is great, the judge may make it a zero bond warrant.  Once arrested and represented by counsel, defendants that cannot make their bond usually schedule a court date, prior to arraignment, to be heard on a Motion to Reduce Bond, or Motion to Set Monetary Bond.  The sitting judge at first appearance court will almost never change the dollar amount of the bond.  This is because another judge, with more knowledge of the case(as presented by detectives above), made a decision on the bond amount.  Judges also set plenty of other pretrial release restrictions.  Common restrictions are; no returning home, no contact with the victim, no guns or ammo, gps ankle monitors, no driving, alcohol intake monitors, reporting to pretrial services and the accompanying drug screens, anger management and no leaving the county without permission.

Turn Yourself In

Defense lawyers are considered “Officers of the Court.”  When a client has a warrant the defense attorney is not allowed to advise the client how to “lay low” and avoid arrest.  Most attorneys(all should) will advise the client to turn themselves in.  It is much safer for the client, his family and any officers. It saves plenty of law enforcement resources that can be deployed elsewhere.  It demonstrates to the prosecutor that the person did not run from the problem or the court system.  Many times, defense attorneys or defendants can discover the amount of the bond pre-arrest and have a family member prepared to bond out the soon to be arrested.  Many counties post warrants online.  If you, a friend or family member knows or even thinks you may have an active warrant in the system take proactive steps immediately.  All jacksonville criminal defense lawyers are experienced with warrants. The Forbess Law Firm, at 904-634-0900 offers a free, no obligation consultation regarding Jacksonville, Clay County, Nassau County and St. Johns County arrest warrants.



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