Withheld adjudication in Jones verdict means no conviction

The jury returned a guilty verdict in the misdemeanor trial of St Augustine City Commissioner Errol D Jones this evening; however, Judge Charles Tinlin, who heard the case, announced that he would withhold adjudication on the obstructing a police officer charge — requiring Jones to pay $273 in court costs and to serve 50 hours of community service.

Charges that Jones tampered with a witness, who was one of the police officers in the case, were dropped by the state before the jury began hearing testimony.

Jones has been free on $500 bond since the incident occurred at his mother’s house located at 60 Julia Street on Saturday night, October 22, 2011. The 68 year-old city commissioner lives at 60 Palmer Street in St Augustine; just around the corner.

Errol Jones holds power of attorney to act for his mother; who is in failing health. Jones’ brother, Robert, and Janice Higginbotham reside in the house with Jones’ mother.

Prosecuting attorneys Ben Rich and Jason Lewis asked the court to order Jones to write a formal “letter of apology” to St Augustine Police Officer Michael Linsky; however, the court declined.

When the court withheld adjudication on the jury’s first-degree misdemeanor verdict, it means that Jones was not convicted. Withholding adjudication essentially forgives Jones for his uncharacteristic behavior; allowing him “one free bite at the apple” to avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction on his record.

Because of the minor level of the offense, it also leaves the door open for Jones and his attorney to have the charges sealed or expunged by the court. If that happens, the records would only be available to Jones or his attorney, criminal justice agencies, or to certain entities for their respective licensing and employment purposes.

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