An 18-year-old high school student in Florida was arrested and jailed for sexual battery involving an individual under the age of 12. However, it now appears that he was arrested because he had the same name as the person who allegedly really committed the assault.
The wrongful arrest resulted in three police officers receiving formal counseling for their part in the mix-up, and one other officer faces a suspension. The officer facing the suspension received a disciplinary letter from the sheriff that stated: "As a result of your incompetence, an innocent man was arrested for an offense that he did not commit."
The 12-year-old girl stated that she had sexual relations with an individual who had the same name as the person arrested. Police then went ahead and made an arrest without showing the girl any photos of possible suspects. The person arrested was 17-years-old at the time, but he was charged as an adult.
The sheriff who wrote the disciplinary letter to one of the officers stated that this incident would never have occurred if department policies had been followed. Because policies were apparently not followed, supervisors of the officers were also being held accountable.
Mistakes do occur when it comes to arrests. Anyone charged with a crime can retain a criminal defense attorney who is both knowledgeable and experienced in this area of law. The penalties for a sexual assault conviction are severe. Besides facing long-term imprisonment, those convicted may see their personal reputation permanently tarnished. Mistaken identity resulting in an arrest and prosecution happens more often than many believe. In this case, the young man was lucky that the mistake was found and corrected quickly. Unfortunately some who are wrongfully identified and convicted have spent years in prison. In this case, the wrongful arrest was due to poor police work and so the mistake was easy to detect and correct.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Florida teen wrongly jailed in Halloween sex attack on girl," Feb. 25, 2014