Panhandle Prosecutors Intent On Securing Conviction For Twice-Released Alleged Sex Offender


In a previous post, I discussed how the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment bars a Destin prosecutor from twice prosecuting a defendant for the same crime. As a recap, this clause forbids four different situations: (1) prosecuting a defendant for the same offense after an acquittal, (2) prosecuting a defendant for the same offense after a conviction for that offense, (3) prosecuting a defendant for the same offense after a specific type of mistrial, or (4) penalizing a defendant multiple times for the same offense.

Local Man Immediately Charged Before He Can Be Released Following an Acquittal

In Panama City, prosecutors are attempting to circumvent problems with the Double Jeopardy Clause in a long series of criminal litigation by bringing back-to-back charges against a local defendant. The defendant was acquitted in August of 2015 of one count of sexual battery, but prior to being released, the prosecutor immediately slapped him with new charges for two counts of sexual battery and one count of lewd and lascivious molestation.

The defendant’s saga began in January of 1995. The complainant had just turned 16 and celebrated by drinking with her friends. While drunk, she and her friend rode in the defendant’s pickup truck. At some point, she either blacked out due to alcohol consumption or fell unconscious. She was woken up in the middle of the night by the Bay County Sherriff’s Office. Officers were shining flashlights into the bed of the pickup truck where she was lying. She realized she was naked and saw the defendant was naked next to her in the bed, but she couldn’t recall how she got there or what had happened. However, she testified at trial that her “body parts hurt – they were sore. . . [her] lady parts.”

The defendant was arrested at that time, but not in conjunction with the intercourse. The complainant said nothing about how she was feeling to the officers and instead went home. A while later, she discovered that she was pregnant with a child conceived that night. She gave birth to the child and eventually reported the rape in 2013.

At that time, the defendant was already serving probation for one count of molestation that occurred on a child in 2006. The prosecutors immediately filed charges, and the defendant was tried in August of this year. At trial, the defendant argued that intercourse had occurred but that it was consensual. He did not refute paternity of the baby. The defense focused on the complainant’s voluntary intoxication, her lack of reporting the incident for almost 20 years, and her criminal history. The defense argued her decision to file charges in 2013 coincided with a desire to seek child support.

The jury acquitted the defendant. However, as he awaited release, the prosecutor served a new arrest warrant to keep him in jail, this time for lewd and lascivious molestation against a minor. The new charges involve a 2011 incident.

This endless string of prosecution for molestation and sexual battery does not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause because the charges all arise from separate incidents. For example, the conviction the defendant received for the 2006 molestation did not involve the same victim or event for the 2011 alleged molestation. However, the clause would prevent the prosecutor from re-bringing charges of sexual battery for the acquittal case described above.

Talented Destin Criminal Defense Attorney Serving Okaloosa Clients Accused of Molestation

Were you charged with lewd or lascivious molestation of a minor? Contact Stephen G. Cobb, Destin’s leading sex crimes defense lawyer. To schedule a free consultation about your charges, call (850) 669-5882 now.


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