Office of the State Attorney Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida www.sao4th.com
Contact: Jackelyn Barnard Tel: (904) 630-4995 JBarnard@coj.net
ANGELA B. COREY
On December 15, 2012, at 1:30 a.m., Monica Jones and three co-defendants committed an armed robbery with a firearm of an innocent store clerk at a BP gas station. Ms. Jones was arrested shortly after the violent crime and charged with Armed Robbery and Resisting Officer Without Violence To His Or Her Person. The 17-year-old’s case was then sent to Juvenile Court. Juvenile cases and the negotiations that occur in juvenile cases are handled no differently than how an adult case moves through the judicial system. Once a crime has been committed, a prosecutor reviews the facts of the crime to first determine if the charge is provable beyond a reasonable doubt. The State Attorney’s Office (SAO) then provides the juvenile and their defense counsel with the option to present mitigation and negotiations begin. If the juvenile commits a violent act, defense counsel is notified that the case is being reviewed for possible Direct File in adult court, in accordance with Florida law. Multiple Assistant State Attorneys (ASA) review a possible Direct File case and an appropriate filing decision is then made. While that process is underway, prosecutors routinely ask defense counsel for offers in their cases. This is a standard part of criminal case resolution. That is exactly what happened in Ms. Jones’ case. Her attorney, Chris Carson, even detailed in an email the negotiation process and that Ms. Jones was involved in a “serious” crime. Carson told the prosecutor, “
I have all of the mitigation together and we are working on formulating an offer. Obviously she will be willing to cooperate fully. Now I understand that there may be some commitment involved if we are able to settle. She is on board, I am just curious as to what level of commitment we should offer. I hate to come in with a lowball on such a serious case.”
Ms. Jones was detained in a juvenile detention facility until she pled guilty to the Armed Robbery and Resisting Without Violence charges in February 2013. The decision to keep a juvenile in detention, while a case is pending, is determined by Florida Statutes that assess a score based upon the serious nature of the charge.