Reports say beat girlfriend’s 3 year old with a belt

A registered sex offender was recently arrested and booked into the Duval County Pretrial Detention Facility on a first degree felony charge of aggravated child abuse.  The allegations are that the defendant beat the three year old boy with a belt because the child kept falling asleep in the bathtub.  A first degree felony, under Florida law, carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.  The defendant was released from the Florida Department of Corrections in June of 2013.  Records show that he went to prison twice on a 2007 case for lewd battery, victim between 12 to 15 years.  He originally served 15 months, was released on probation, violated probation and was subsequently sentenced to what was a total of 6 years.  He left prison as a designated sexual offender subject to lifetime registration. His residence will always be available by checking online with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, FDLE for short.  If this defendant pleas or is convicted here, he will “score” prison under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code.  The state attorney assigned to the case, in addition to the offender’s  defense attorney, will quickly be able to calculate his minimum prison sentence exposure. Unless there are statutory departure qualifiers here, the judge assigned to this case, must give what is called a “guideline sentence” as a minimum.   Factored into his score will be his criminal record to date since Florida law uses the cumulative history of an individual much like a potential lendor views a loan applicant’s history of payments or non payments which helps formulate a credit score. As people with a checkered credit history pay more to borrow money, offenders with serious criminal histories pay more in terms of incarceration for their instant offenses.  The present offense will also be scored and that score may include extra points for the level of injuries to the 3 yr. old.

First Appearance or “Bond Hearing” Court

This defendant’s bond is currently set at a million dollars.  If a defendant goes to jail on an arrest warrant, the judge that signed the warrant for the police and/prosecutor will almost always set a monetary bond on the warrant. Sometimes the judge will let the bond be set at first appearance.  The judge issuing the warrant will also state the additional conditions for monetary release. Typical conditions range from no contact with the victim, no unsupervised contact with minors, no driving, no drugs or alcohol, no guns or ammunition.  At first appearance the judge, when considering a dollar range of bonds, takes into account whether the arrested is a danger to the community and/or a flight risk.  In our county judges usually examine in great detail, the complete local record of the arrested.  In analyzing any danger to the community, judges look for past violent behavior, any threats to the victim, witnesses,statements made to the arresting officers, input from the victim(s) of the current crime charged, any documented gang affiliation, and of course, the nature of the instant offense.  The analysis of whether the defendant is a potential flight risk considers: ties to the local community, any failures to appear (FTA) in the person’s history and whether a passport needs to be surrendered.  In certain cases, such as drug-trafficking cases, a Nebbia hold is placed on the defendant.  This means before the defendant can be released on bond, the judge wants a formal hearing, called a Nebbia Hearing, conducted in order to determine t the source of funds for the bond is derived from legitimate means.  Bondsmen in Florida actually are licensed in the insurance industry.  The 10% premium one puts up on a surety bond is akin to the premium one pays on a term insurance policy.  The term here is from the defendant’s release from jail on the case until the case is disposed of in court. Once the case is over, the 10% premium is gone.  Bondsman have underwriters also that have standards as to who they will take a chance on. Collateral property is usually required.  Bonds are routinely revoked on defendants who reoffend or can’t adhere to the additional conditions while out on bond.  Folks who arrested on violations of probation, even very small crimes resulting in  misdemeanor probation, are not entitled to a bond.  If arrested for not living up to their conditions of probation, they are usually given about a 3 week pass date( which means 3 weeks of jail) in order to go back to their respective county judge.

Domestic Violence Injunctions

This defendant also had what the public commonly refers to as a “Restraining Order.”  Duval County conducts hearings 5 days a week in Domestic Violence Court.  This is not part of the criminal justice system. Circuit Judges rotate through and hear cases that petitioners have filed against respondents.  If the petitioner convinces the judge that an injunction is justified, most judges, without hesitation issue the injunction.  If the respondent violates the conditions of the injunction, that’s a first degree misdemeanor under florida law and the person is exposed of up to 12 months in jail.  The judge, as part of the injunction, order the respondent to attend 26 batterers intervention classes. These are the same classes defendants in criminal domestic battery cases are ordered to attend and complete.  Even though these are not criminal cases, should a respondent fail  to get his classes done, the judge can give him or her up to 179 days in jail on a contempt charge.  The respondent will then take the classes in jail.  Injunctions are harmful to respondents.  They damage careers. They affect gun ownership rights.  Overall, it is this writer’s opinion that the judges are trying to keep two people from beating the hell out of each other, or worse, usually in front of young children.  There is almost a nonexistent level of proof required by some judges as they default to the position of keeping the petitioner safe.  Other judges conduct detailed mini-trials and balance keeping the petitioner safe verses the damage and stigma an injunction has on a respondent.  If served with an injunction, keep in mind it is not a criminal accusation.  Reports indicate this injunction was petitioned for by his ex-wife.

Sex Offenses

This defendant has a criminal history of sex offenses with at least one minor.  Most probably, he was not even allowed to have unsupervised contact with any minors.  Sex offenders, once out of prison, for the balance of their lives, must strictly adhere to a litany of state imposed restrictions.  Sex Crimes are prosecuted by select members of the state attorney’s office.  If you or a family member has any concerns about what could even remotely be a sex offense, our firm offers a free consultation and jail visit.  The Forbess Law Firm has years of experience representing those accused of sex crimes in Duval, Nassau, St. Johns,  Clay, Baker and Bradford counties.




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