Florida Statute S794.05, Unlawful Intercourse With a Minor of Previous Chaste Character

Under the above statute, a 24 year old who engages in sexual activity with a person 16 or 17 years of age commits a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.  The former school security officer in the instant case, according to Jacksonville.Com, Douglas Tilley, was arrested in January of this year for having sex with a 17 year old 12th grader he knew from the school he was assigned to guard.  Tilley’s arrest paperwork shows him as 25 years old.  Tilley’s attorneys were skilled enough to have the prosecution reduce the sex case down to a 3rd degree felony of Child Neglect, to which Tilley entered  a guilty plea.  Tilley received a withhold of adjudication meaning he was not convicted of the felony.  He entered a plea to a felony and will go on three years of felony probation but most importantly, he is not a convicted felon.  Should he come back to court for a violation of probation  during the next three years he would be facing possible jail or prison time and the withhold of adjudication would probably be converted to an adjudication of guilt, i.e., conviction.  Under Florida Law a probationer who violates probation is not entitled to a bond, even if on misdemeanor probation.  The setting or not setting of a monetary bond  on a warrant or capias for a violation of probation is purely at the discretion of the supervising  judge.

Rule Number One: Avoid the Sexual Offender or Sexual Predator Designation

The above defendant avoided a sex charge that would have had him registering with the State of Florida, or any state he moved to, for the remainder of his life.  On balance, many times a prosecutor will make a very fair offer to the defendant regarding any jail or prison time but still insist on the defendant getting the designation and strict monitoring as a sex offender.  Sex cases “score” in Florida.  This means that a person with no criminal history, once scored under the Florida Sentencing Guidelines Worksheet, is usually facing prison.  The prosecutor on the case has tremendous discretion and power as to just how the case is filed.  If the prosecutor files a case where the defendant “scores”, and the defendant either pleas or is convicted, the judge must sentence the defendant to at least the bottom amount of time on the sentencing worksheet. Defense attorneys can file a departure memorandum and motion prior to a sentencing hearing but the motion must clearly designate what are statutorily listed reasons for departure.  The court then has a two part test. First,the court has to determine if a departure is allowed. Secondly, the court determines is a departure should be allowed.  Many sex crimes carry minimum mandatory sentences up to an including a mandatory life sentence.  On mandatory life, if the defendant rolls the dice and exercises his or her constitutional right to a trial, and loses, they are going to die in prison. The judge is required to give a life sentence by law.  In many sex crimes there is no forensic evidence.  Often, the defendant is arrested and charged on allegations, 100% verbal statements of a victim only, that can come forward years later. The accused either negotiates a sentence that allows him to be released after 10 plus years into society as a sex offender, or, takes his chances at trial.  At trial, the defendant has to prove a negative which is a pretty hard task.  Usually the defense strategy focuses on the motivation and inconsistent statements of the victim.

Do Not Try to Clear up the Allegations Yourself

Sex crimes detectives will many times contact an individual to just come down to the station and talk over some allegations on a potential sex case.  The detectives will also set up “controlled calls” where the alledged victim will call the suspect.  These calls are to elicit any statements that can be used against the suspect.  The victim will be coached and reading scripted questions, all business with a little chit-chat added in.  The central question is why the suspect did what he did to the victim. In rare cases the detectives will “wire up” the victim for a potentially damning conversation with the suspect.  A cursory “I am sorry” out of the suspect, regardless of context, is later used to show consciousness of guilt. The detectives are not there to clear anything up. They wear handcuffs for a reason.  The naive suspect going to the detective’s interview also has no idea he is being audio and video recorded.  If you or a loved one has heard even the slightest accusations about a past act being construed as a sex crime contact and experienced Jacksonville, Nassau County or Clay County sex crimes attorney.  If the allegations are totally bogus, still sit down with a sex crimes attorney.  Ray Forbess, Sr., has defended hundreds accused of sex crimes in North Florida.  Our firm always offers a  no cost, no obligation consultation or jail visit.  We are available 24/7 at 904-634-0900.

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