SUSPECT NOT ARRESTED UNTIL MULTIPLE SALES
A recent News4Jax story gives details into the arrest of Reco Benefield and Amber Troutman for drug charges and child neglect. The news report states that an undercover Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Detective met with Benefield to purchase crack cocaine on January 11, 2017. After the alledged hand to hand drug sale was completed a takedown signal was given and Benefield was taken into custody. The same Detectives apparently had previously purchased crack cocaine from Benefield on December 15, 2016. Benefield was also out on bond for 2016 Drug Charges dealing with the Sale of Pills (Oxycodone and Dilaudid) as well as crack cocaine on September 13, 2016 and September 14, 2016.
EVERYDAY TECHNOLOGY AND CELL PHONE USE COMES BACK TO HAUNT THE ACCUSED
Benefield’s cases all involve Undercover Narcotics Detectives utilizing cell phones to contact Benefield as well as to text Benefield. The live phone calls between Benefield and JSO certainly will be recorded as evidence setting up the transactions. Further it is fairly simple for JSO to print out copies of the text messages to utilize as evidence against Benefield. Video recording devices are also often utilized to capture the transactions and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Arrest and Booking Reports reflect that they were used in all of the transactions with Benefield.
Mr. Benefield already has a tough road in front of him. Each drug sale he is charged with carries a maximum of 15 years in Florida State Prison. He currently has four separate and individual sales. The maximum Benefield faces on just the drug sales is 60 years in Florida State Prison. Further the State of Florida will be able to try each sale individually against Benefield. Benefield would have to be found not guilty at trial four separate times. The State of Florida can sit down and pick which case to try first, likely their strongest one. The State of Florida gets to choose which case is tried first, as they have the burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Many times, the local police will set up several “buys” with the same dealer. Rather than arresting the dealer after the first sale, the police will leave a known dealer on the street, knowing full well that he or she is still selling. The objective is to load the soon to be arrested dealer up with multiple cases. If undercover police or a confidential informant conduct a purchase of drugs and the seller is arrested on the spot, that is called a “buy-bust.” Here, the method employed originally was a “buy-walk” where the drugs were bought but law enforcement did not arrest the seller until later, and when arrested later, that was a “buy-bust” arrest. The accused is entitled under the rules of discovery to see all of the evidence against him. In most of these drug sale cases the police have fairly decent videos of the transactions. It is not known to this writer if the videos of Benefield show him doing anything illegal. While he awaits trial he is also presumed to be innocent.
A NEW ARREST WHILE OUT ON BOND EQUALS A BOND REVOCATION
Since Mr. Benefield was out on bond for his earlier drug sales accusations, he likely will remain in the Duval County Jail until his cases resolve. Anytime an individual is arrested for new charges, commonly referred to as “New Law Violations,” the State of Florida is able to file a Motion to Revoke Bond. All that is required by the State to have a Motion to Revoke Bond Granted, is that probable cause existed for the arrest of Benefield on new charges. Attaching an Arresting and Booking Sheet is all that is typically needed. The State of Florida filed a Motion to Revoke bond against Benefield, which is almost automatically heard by the Judge. The Judge heard the State’s motion and in fact revoked Benefield’s bond on January 18, 2017. Benefield is now being held with No Bond until his case is resolved. Possibly down the road Benefield’s lawyer may be able to file a Motion to Set Bond, similar to a Motion to Reduce Bond, however the chances of the Court granting that motion are very slim. One additional concern, for those defendants that remain in jail, is the recording of all phone calls they make. Local Prosecutors have made hundreds of cases simply because the inmate or his or her family bring up and discuss the facts of the case, even with a recorded warning issued at the start of every call.
ALLEGATIONS OF AN INFANT CHILD AT THE DRUG SALE LOCATIONS
Some other troubling facts that Benefield will have to face will be based on the September 14, 2016 Sale of Crack Cocaine, and January 11, 2017 Sale of Crack Cocaine the defendant was not alone in his car. On each of these Sales Charges Amber Troutman and a one year old child were also present. Clearly the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office will make an argument that Benefield and Troutman put an innocent one year old child in harm’s way.On the January 11, 2017 sales charge, Amber Troutman was arrested for Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Sell, Child Neglect, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of Less Than Twenty Grams of Cannabis. Troutman was interviewed about the case and denied any knowledge of the drug transactions. Further Benefield was interviewed and stated that Troutman had no idea about the drug transactions taking place.
CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION ARGUMENT
The State of Florida will certainly have interest in keeping the young child safe and away from both Benefield and Troutman. This issue is can the State of Florida prove their case against Troutman. The drug charges Troutman faces involve the standard argument of constructive possession. Simply riding in a car with drugs is not enough to convict Troutman of them. The State of Florida will have to prove that Troutman had knowledge of the drugs within in the car, facts that are simply missing based on the police reports. To prove the child neglect charges the State of Florida must prove that Troutman either Willfully or by Culpable Negligence failed or omitted to provide the one year old with care, supervision, and services necessary to maintain physical or mental health, OR failed to make a reasonable effort to protect from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by another person.Troutman and Benefield’s interview state that Troutman had no knowledge of the drug transactions. Further all of the reports state that Benefield is the only one the undercover detectives interacted with on the cases. If the State can’t show Troutman knew or should have known what happened during the drug transactions, they may have a hard time proving the child neglect charge.
Perhaps the State will have an argument to charge Troutman with Child Neglect based on the September 14, 2016 sale as Benefield conducted the sale from within his vehicle with Troutman and the child present. However, Benefield was arrested on September 14, 2016 and Troutman was not charged. The most recent drug sale Benefield conducted, he left his vehicle and approached the undercovers on foot. Troutman remained in the vehicle with the child. The State will have a hard time proving Troutman knew what Benefield was doing when he exited the vehicle.
If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged similar to the individuals talked about above, it would be beneficial to consult an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. Almost all North Florida criminal defense lawyers give free consultations and/or jail visits. Please give the Forbess Law Firm, 904-634-0900, a call for a free consultation. Our firm handles narcotics and drug cases on a daily basis as well as any crime involving Child Abuse or Child Neglect, in Duval (Jacksonville), Nassau, Clay, Baker, St. Johns, Bradford, Volusia, Flagler, Putnam and other surrounding counties. Further, upon the arrest of yourself or a loved one, our law firm is always available to argue for a reasonable bond in First Appearance Court. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to represent you and your loved ones.