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13 Aug 2014

Saint Lucie Criminal Lawyer

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Revoked Bond Lands Citizen in Jail…Thrice Ready for Trial Secures His Release

Ron Wilson (not his real name) ran into trouble upon trouble. Initially jailed on the say so of a
neighbor with known mental instability, Ron secured his release on bond. He then ran into problems
with his estranged wife, with whom he was attempting a reconciliation, which again landed him in
jail. The second arrest resulted in the revocation of the bond on the first charge. After spending
some quality time at the St. Lucie County crossbar Hilton, the court reinstated the bond.
Unfortunately, Ron was again arrested, because his daughter spoke to his estranged wife about the
possibility of dropping charges. Police misconstrued the daughter’s communication as direct or
indirect contact by Ron, causing him to be arrested for violation of domestic battery bond restriction.
Ron was returned to the quality accommodations provided by the St. Lucie County Jail – with all
bonds revoked.

Only after his cases became thoroughly mucked up did Ron retain the services of Saint Lucie Criminal Lawyer Jeffrey H. Garland. Garland assessed the problem as complicated, but solvable. The solution would be to announce ready for trial on all charges as soon as possible and not to waive speedy trial. The first arrest was made on 2/9/14 for aggravated assault with a firearm. The “firearm” portion of the charge was totally bogus, because no one saw Ron with a firearm and certainly did not see him
discharge one. The charges were, however, refilled in misdemeanor court as simple assault and criminal mischief.

Attorney Garland was retained on 4/25/14. Knowing that any delay would cost the client dearly,
Garland announced ready for trial on 5/1/14 at the first docket call for the assault/malicious mischief
charges. When County Judge Clifford H. Barnes set the case for trial on 6/25/14, Garland objected,
because the trial date was outside the 90-day speedy trial period. Judge Barnes then reset the case
for jury selection on 5/29/14. The defense had located an eyewitness to the incident and was fully
ready to proceed to trial. The State chose not to prosecute the case and dropped both charges at the
5/29/14 docket call. Case No. 1 dropped! Unfortunately, Ron had to stay in jail, because bonds had
been revoked.

The next case scheduled for court was a misdemeanor charge of violating a bond restriction. The
defense ignored threats to “upfile” the charge from a misdemeanor violation of Section 741.29(6)
to felony witness tampering. The defense maintained that the State should either bring the case to
trial immediately or drop the charge. Ron maintained he was entirely innocent of the charge. There
was no proof that Ron had personally attempted to contact his estranged wife or requested that his
daughter do so. As the initial arrest was made on 4/17/14, the State was running up against a speedy
trial problem for a misdemeanor prosecution. Faced with a defendant who was actively asserting
his rights, the State again abandoned the charge by filing a no information on 6/4/14. Case No. 2
dropped! At this point, Ron was able to bond out.

As to the only remaining charge – domestic battery – the defense had located an eyewitness to the
incident. The eyewitness had been walking his dog in the early morning hours of 3/29/14. He
noticed that a woman was talking very loud and the front door was wide open. The woman behaved
in a manner that suggested a high degree of intoxication. She seemed to be upset with a man, who
was later identified as Ron. The man was not, according to the eyewitness, loud or threatening. He
then observed the woman throw a hard object, possibly a cocktail glass, at the man’s head. The man
fell back as if injured, then laid on the couch. The woman continued to harangue the man, who
begged the woman to let him go to sleep.

The woman disappeared momentarily, then returned with scissors. She began to cut the man’s hair
as he was attempting to sleep. The man had long hair, which extended most of the way down his
back. The man asked the woman to stop. When she continued her bad behavior, the man stood and
pushed her away. The woman, who was dressed in no more than skimpy underwear, then left the
house and got into a car parked in the driveway. According to the eyewitness, the woman appeared
to “go to sleep”.

The next morning, the woman was to call the police. She advised the police that her husband had
“strangled” her without cause. Police reports reflect that the woman denied that she had been
drinking. Police took photographs which confirmed that there was some type of bruising on the
woman’s neck. Of course, the police placed Ron under arrest for felony battery by strangulation,
without ever asking for his side of the story.

Several days after being delivered to the St. Lucie County Jail, a public defender investigator would
interview Ron at the jail. Thankfully, the PD investigator took several photographs of the obvious
injury to the defendant’s head. Attorney Garland was later able to secure digital copies of these
photographs. These photographs became important corroborating evidence of Ron’s innocence. The
eyewitness and the pictures showed that Ron was justified in using force to defend himself from an
armed battery, to-wit: the cutting of his hair with scissors. Ron was certainly entitled to use
reasonable force to prevent the attack.

The eyewitness had inconveniently moved from Fort Pierce to Nashville, Tennessee. Attorney
Garland realized that the eyewitness’ story was corroborated by the significant head injury
documented by the photographs taken several days after Ron’s arrest. The eyewitness was willing
to return to Fort Pierce to give testimony, but had medical problems, as well as mechanical problems
with his car.

Attorney Garland appeared for docket call on the case, which had been reduced to misdemeanor
domestic battery, on 6/5/14. At that time, Attorney Garland was not yet ready for trial, because
arrangements had not yet been made to bring the eyewitness back to Fort Pierce to give testimony.
The case was continued until 7/3/14, at which time Attorney Garland announced ready for trial.
Judge Barnes set the case for jury selection on 7/24/14. The prosecutor elected to drop the charge
rather than to test the strength of the case before a jury. Case No. 3 dropped!

Discussion

Prosecutors in the 19th Judicial Circuit employ a simple technique to encourage defendant’s to plea.
Any arrest or violation of a bond condition will cause the prosecutor to file an ex-parte motion to
revoke bond. 19th Circuit Judges routinely revoke such bonds on request, then refuse to reinstate the
bonds.

The prosecutors know that jailed defendants are far less likely to exercise their constitutional right
to jury trials. After all, the State almost always seeks to “continue” the trials of incarcerated
defendants, because the accused will often plea guilty/no contest to get out of jail.
Not so with Ron Wilson. He insisted on exercising his constitutional right to a jury trial –
three times he did. Three times, the State dropped the charges.

Judges in the 19th Judicial Circuit should reconsider their unthinking and spasmodic kowtowing
to the State’s bond revocation requests. Sometimes prosecutors are justly moving to jail a
dangerous individual. More often, the State is seeking to jail individuals to coerce pleas. The
routine revocation of bonds deny accused citizens their right to pre-trial release under Article I,
Section 14 of the Florida Constitution.

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